Sunday, September 9, 2012

a conversation with God

I grew up in a Christian home, but I was coming back to my faith from agnosticism at the time this conversation happened.

me:  ...I just want to be in a relationship and have my love actually be returned, you know?

God:  Yeah. I totally know.

me:  Hey, wait a minute there-- I was talking about having a boyfriend.

God:  I'm better than any boyfriend.  I made you.  I know you.  And it's Me that made you to crave love, the way you are right now.

me:  So basically You are telling me that You are everything I could possibly want?

God:  Yep.

me:  Well... I don't know.  I mean, do we actually have anything in common?  I have no idea how to even have a friendship, let alone a relationship, with someone I can't see and don't have anything in common with!  I mean, this music I'm listening to now.  Alternative rock.  Do you like this?  I never hear this in church.  Church music is boring!

God:  You are aware that I invented music, right?

me:  uh, yeah...

God:  You are made in MY image.  I made humanity to enjoy music.  I delight in My creation's joy in My gift.  I gave you the ability to make music.  If you are enjoying my gift, as long as it honors Me, it could pretty much be said that I enjoy all types of music.

me:  Whoa... okay then.  What about The Lord of the Rings?  What do you think of that?

God: Well, I made J.R.R. Tolkien.  And I gave him the talents he used to make The Lord of the Rings.  I made C.S. Lewis too, in case you were going to ask me about that.

me:  um yeah... I was.  So basically You're telling me that everything I'm interested in and enjoy... You made.

God:  (laughs) Yes.

me:  Stop laughing at me.  I guess I knew that, I guess I just hadn't thought about it in those terms before... that I can't help but have common interests with You because You made me, and everything I enjoy.  That I'm made in Your image and not the other way around. (pause) You're a lot more, a lot deeper than I realized, God.  You don't fit what I thought about You at all.

God:  That's because you were putting Me in a box.  I'm bigger than the box.

me:  Wow.  That's too deep for me.  I need to think about this some more.  Let's talk later.

God:  What's the problem?

me:  (pause) ...Ummmm... I guess I'm scared.

God:  I gave you courage.  Don't be scared of Me.  It's time to stop running.  It's time to get closer.  But I want you to come to Me.

me:  Okay.  I'll come back in a bit.  I just need to process this.

God:  I'll be here.  I am always here.

(a little while later)

me:  So basically, this 'made in Your image' thing would also mean that you have a sense of humor, right?  I mean, when something ironic happens to somebody, they say "God has a sense of humor," but what they really mean is "the gods are laughing at me."  But we wouldn't enjoy humorous things unless You did, right?  Because humor couldn't exist unless You knew what it was.

God: (laughs and smiles indulgently) That's right.

me:  Stop laughing at me.  This is so weird.

God: (laughs) But it's a good weird.

me:  Yeah, it's a good weird.

(a little while later)

me:  So God... if You're bigger than the box... and You want a relationship with me... then let me ask You a big question.

God:  Yes?

me:  What exactly do You want from me?  I mean... I have talents and gifts and stuff... like writing, art, discernment, stuff like that.  But what exactly am I supposed to be doing with them?  'Cuz I don't think I am doing it now.

God:  Well, you'd have to go deeper with Me to really understand the answer.  But I want you to use those talents to tell others what you've found out about Me tonight.

me:  To get You out of the box?

God:  Yes, that's partly it.  To show others that a relationship with Me is the only thing that will fulfill them in life.  There's a lot more, and I can only show you a glimpse right now.  But I will tell you, I promise, if you seek Me.

me:  Hmmm... okay.  Thanks.

(a little while later)

me:  God, does this relationship thing mean I have to stop being myself?  I mean, people say you have to lose yourself in God.  But I like me.  I don't want to unlearn what I learned without You.  I don't want to go back to being judgmental and holier-than-thou and boring and puritanical, because being that way sucks.

God:  You know perfectly well that Christianity isn't supposed to be like that.  Some Christians you've met might be, but not all of them are.  Anyway, you're just making excuses now.

me:  Yeah, I am.  You're right.  It's just that this is weird... and hard... and scary.

God:  Only because it's new.  Courage, dear.

me:  Did You make me the combative type so that I could handle this? (weak laugh)

God:  No, I made you the COURAGEOUS type so that you wouldn't be afraid to speak the truth.  I made it so that you would get used to dealing with unpleasant situations so that you wouldn't place the opinions of the world above My own.  Because you're going to speak for Me, dear heart, and it's not going to be an easy road.

me:  My mom would say that bluntness is not a virtue.

God:  Are you going to listen to what your mom says, or to Me?

me:  (taken aback)  Well... You, I guess.  That's a weird thing for God to say-- 'don't listen to your mom.'

God:  Only because you're using it as another excuse.  Back to the box again.

me:  Yes, yes, the box.

God:  Obey your parents.  Love your parents.  But your HIGHEST calling is to Me.

me:  Oh, yeah... I knew that.  I mean, it was there as head knowledge, but I'm not really sure I understood it before.

And God smiled.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Book Review: The Sandman series

Neil Gaiman's Sandman books have been widely regarded as some of the best comic books in existence.  Intrigued, I decided to check them out for myself.  This series breaks the comic book mold and probably had a hand in shaping the concept of the graphic novel.  The characters include the Endless: Dream (also known as Morpheus, King of the Dreaming), his older sister Death (cute, cheerful, pragmatic, and instantly likeable), Destiny, Despair, Desire, Destruction, and Delirium (who used to be Delight). The Endless are not gods--rather, the personification of ideas of the human race. Each of the Endless have their own realm. It's as much fun to see Dream learn about himself and grow as it is to watch the antics of his wonderfully dysfunctional family. However, a word of warning. The books are listed at my library as being a 'young adult' series, but they are actually for 'mature readers' (read: adult). While the overall storyline is intriguing, there's a good deal of nudity and graphic violence throughout these pages. Some of the stories within the Sandman collection are excellent, but several are nightmarish. Watch out for blood, violence, and sexual content in what is otherwise a stellar tale.
The Sandman books:
1. Preludes and Nocturnes
2. The Doll's House
3. Dream Country
4. Season of Mists
5. A Game of You
6. Fables and Reflections
7. Brief Lives
8. World's End
9. The Kindly Ones
10. The Wake
11. Endless Nights
Pictured above: Dream and Death, my two favorite characters from the series.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Book Review: Sunshine

You wouldn't ordinarily think that vampires and dessert would mix well, but somehow in this book, they do.

Rae Seddon, nicknamed Sunshine, is the baker for Charlie's Coffeehouse in vampire-infested New Arcadia. When she is kidnapped by vampires, her entire world changes, and she must learn to adjust.

Sunshine tends to be a little wordy, and there's some brief sexuality. Aside from that, this book is very interesting, and will make you hungry. Frequently. Sunshine's gothic-named desserts sound amazing: Cinnamon Rolls As Big As Your Head, Sunshine's Killer Zebras, Bitter Chocolate Death, Lemon Lust, cherry tarts, the dramatic pudding known as The Death of Marat, and Sunshine's Eschatology are just a few of the bakery offerings for which you'll want the recipe.

iced tea how-to

I've liked hot tea--a lot--for about about seven years. I have an entire kitchen cabinet devoted to tea. As the weather has lately been growing warmer, I've been experimenting with iced tea. What kinds taste the best? Suprisingly, some of the teas that I enjoy hot don't make good iced tea, and some of the teas I don't like hot make wonderful iced tea. On with the experiment!
Top photo: Making several kinds of sweet tea at once. From left to right: orange pekoe, orange pekoe & raspberry zinger, chai, and vanilla chai.
Bottom photo: Sweet tea ready for the refrigerator. (The two kinds of chai on the right have milk added.)
Experiment conclusion:
Orange Pekoe is the basic tea used for sweet tea, so it was good.
Orange Pekoe & Raspberry Zinger was my experiment at making raspberry iced tea. It didn't taste quite right due to the hibiscus flavors in the Raspberry Zinger, so wasn't my favorite. Chai was suprisingly good, but Vanilla Chai wasn't. I'll definitely be experimenting with other flavors!

Want to make your own iced tea? You will need:
-One canning jar, with lid
-Two tea bags, preferably of the same kind of tea
-Sugar (if you want sweet tea) to taste
1. Place tea bags in clean canning jar.
2. Boil water and add to jar. Let tea steep for about five to six minutes (or a couple minutes longer, if you want it to hold up when you add ice).
3. Remove tea bags.
4. While tea is still hot, add sugar to taste. (I usually add about six tablespoons to a canning jar, but you can use more or less depending on your preference.) Stir the tea until the sugar is completely dissolved.
5. Wait until the tea cools a bit, until it is somewhere between warm and room temperature.
6. Put on the lid, and then put in the refrigerator.
7. Wait until tea is completely cold (about two hours, give or take) before serving.
Tip: It is very likely that the lid of the canning jar will be stuck to the jar at first. If this happens, don't worry. Just unscrew the outside ring, and then use a butter knife to gently pry open the lid. It should pop right off.
8. Serve in a glass with ice, and enjoy!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Book Review: Pegasus

This relatively new book is very similar in style to Robin McKinley's early works...until you get to the end.
In the world created within these pages, it is traditional for two peoples--the humans and the pegasi--to create a bond between carefully selected individuals in order for the races to better understand each other.
This is the story of a princess and her pegasus, and the secret that they uncover.
I didn't care for the ending at all--it was too abrupt, and didn't fully resolve things--but it was interesting until that point. However, the ending makes all the pages before it seem like wasted time, so I can't recommend this one wholeheartedly.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Book Review: The Blue Sword

Those of you who love Robin McKinley are no doubt already acquainted with The Blue Sword, as it is one of her very early works. However, I had the opportunity to discover it for the first time this past December, and fell completely in love.
This high-adventure tale has all the elements neccessary for a really good story: swordfights, kidnapping, danger, excitement, romance, and compelling characters. I loved it so much, I bought a copy online before I'd even finished reading the library copy. Highly recommended.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Book Review: Fire: Tales of Elemental Spirits

Another excellent story collection by husband-and-wife team Robin McKinley and Peter Dickinson, Fire brings together tales of such things as salamanders, hellhounds, and the Phoenix. Some of my favorite short stories included Dave's Wood (Dickinson), Hellhound (McKinley)--possibly the best story in the book, and Salamander Man (Dickinson), although I enjoyed them all. This one also includes a story about McKinley's Damar, entitled A Pool in the Desert. This anthology is even better than their previous endeavor, Water: Tales of Elemental Spirits!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Book Review: Water: Tales of Elemental Spirits

This four-star collection of six short stories by husband-and-wife collaborators Robin McKinley and Peter Dickinson is imaginative, satisfying, and extremely well-told. The tales are filled with mer-folk, sea serpents, water horses, and more, however, these are not your average mermaid tales. The rendering of the various worlds of the merfolk abound with rich descriptions, satsifying plots, and variety. Personal favorites among these stories included Water Horse (McKinley), Kraken (Dickinson), and The Sea-King's Son (McKinley). This last one surfaces as an unusual retelling of McKinley's favorite fairy tale, Beauty and the Beast. Excellent! [266 pages.]