Monday, May 20, 2013
I don't have to tell you that it's sort of all the rage to turn books into movies right now.
In 2012 alone, countless books made their way to the big screen including major bestsellers-turned-blockbusters like Breaking Dawn: Part Two, The Hunger Games, The Hobbit, Les Miserables, Life of Pi and more.
The most recent of these highly anticipated book-to-film adaptations is this month's release of The Great Gatsby.
In the ten days since Gatsby has been released, I've seen numerous Facebook statuses and Twitter posts proclaiming its awesomeness and the fact that everyone should go see it. One friend sent me a message and simply said, "Go see The Great Gatsby."
I will. After I've read the book again.*
In my many conversations with people about book-to-movie adaptations over the years, I've found that (generally) most people fall in the middle. They've seen some movies before they read the books. They've read some books before they saw the movie. Sometimes they didn't even know a book existed until after they saw the movie, and other times they were so intrigued by the book that they wondered if it had been made into a film.
However, when you talk to people who really love books or really love movies, they tend to hold a very strong opinion about whether or not you should see the book or the movie first.
In my experience, those who really love movies claim that it's better to see the movie first (or even worse...claim that if you've seen the movie, you don't need to read the book), and those who really love books (like myself) claim that it's better to read the book first.
A movie-loving friend told me that it's better for book lovers to see the movie first because the movie often deviates significantly from the book, and if you see the movie first there's a smaller likelihood of the book being ruined by any plot deviations the movie may make.
I can understand his logic.
After all, I wouldn't rant about my irritation with how Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban deviates unnecessarily from the plot or Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two epic fails at wrapping up the series as elegantly as J.K. Rowling does in the book if I had seen the movie before I read the book.
And yes, I am one of those irritating people that rants about how the movie often screws up the book. I am fully aware of the fact that I could relieve this irritation by simply watching the movie before I read the book, and yet, I hold fast to my motto of book before movie.
The answer is quite simple, really.
I believe that a great deal of the beauty in a book lies in the imagination of the reader. The thing that makes a book so beautiful is the fact that the experience of reading it is completely unique to every individual that enters into the world of that story.
You, as the reader, have the opportunity to take the bits and pieces of information that the author gives you about the world the characters are in and flesh it out.
Sure, J.K. Rowling tells you what color eyes and hair Harry Potter has and fills you in on the fact that he wears glasses and has a lightning scar on his forehead, but you, the reader, get to fill in the rest of the details. You get to determine how tall he is, what his clothing looks like, how his voice sounds. You get to determine his mannerisms and the way his hands gesture wildly when he speaks. The Harry Potter that you create in your head is completely your own, unlike that of anyone else.
As a child, that was my favorite thing about reading a book.
I could open those pages and escape to a world that was completely my own. It might look similar to someone else's, but the nuances of that world were completely unique to me. The way the houses and clothing looked, the colors of the fields, the little quirks of each character, I got to create those all on my own. And that world would forever be my own.
You lose that magic when you see the movie first.
Rather than interpreting the world of the story on your own, through your own eyes, with your own experiences, you see the world through the eyes of the director. You see the nuances of the character through the interpretation of the actor. Your experience with that story is not your own, but the collective experience of all of those who have worked on that film.
One of my favorite book series is the Anne of Green Gables series. It also happens to be my favorite film.
I saw the film long before I ever read the book. I still love the books dearly, and because of the way they did the second film in particular, there are still nuances about the story I was able to create for myself, but whenever I picture Anne Shirley in my head, I will always see Megan Follows. And whenever I picture Gilbert Blythe, I will always see Jonathan Crombie.
I'm mostly okay with this, because as I read the book series, I felt like Megan Follows perfectly captured the nuances of Anne Shirley's character. But it doesn't change the fact that my interpretation of that story will be forever colored by someone else's interpretation. It will never wholly be my own.
Now, some people might find this petty and a little bit ridiculous. But, as I said, that has always been one of my absolute favorite parts of reading stories. And it's one of the reasons I love stories so much.
Because every single individual brings their own experiences and thoughts and ideas to the table when they read a story. They take the bits and pieces of information and the dialogue provided to you by the author, and the story comes alive. It comes alive in a new way every time a new person reads the story.
And that is why I will always (if given the opportunity) read the book before I see the movie.
Are you a book person or a movie person? Which do you think is better to do? See the book or the movie first? Why? Does it matter to you at all?
*I read The Great Gatsby in high school, but I don't remember anything about it other than the fact that I hated it. I don't know why I hated it, I just remember that I hated it. I don't even remember the plot. So I've determined I'm going to read it again before I let Baz Lurhman's interpretation color my opinion on it.
Photo Credit: Cayou. Used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic, and 1.0 Generic license. Design by me.
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Wednesday, May 15, 2013
To my brothers,
Today, I want to share my heart for you. For who you are as men of God, for who you are to me, for who you are to each other. And hopefully, to encourage you some.
Many of you probably know that I have a huge heart for community. One of my greatest delights is in seeing the body of Christ come together in fellowship, worship, and study. Aside from our Savior and writing, building a beautiful, vibrant, healthy community is probably the thing for which I have the greatest passion.
I've personally seen the negative effects of bad community or no community, and I've also seen the positive effects of lives lived in solid community. And you, my dear brothers, are a huge part of what makes that community and the body of Christ so beautiful.
Some of you might not know that I wrote my senior seminar paper on Biblical masculinity. It was thirty-two pages long and it took an entire semester to write. I read countless books and articles and Scripture passages on what God desires masculinity to look like.
I studied it for weeks and months on end until I reached a point where I sometimes felt like I knew more about what Biblical masculinity was supposed to look like than some of the men I interacted with. And it's probably quite likely that I've studied masculinity more than some of you have, but that doesn't mean I know more about it than you do. After all, I'm not a man.
Perhaps one of the greatest things that came out of my senior seminar paper was an overwhelming amount of respect for all of you.
Being a man is hard enough, but being a man of God is even harder. It's not a job I would ever ask for and part of me is extremely glad that I am a woman because it means I don't have to do the job He's given you to do as a man of God.
I know that the current cultural climate is difficult for you.
There's the whole "war on men" going on in the secular realm and in the Church you're often being told that you're at fault for the decline of marriage because of emerging adulthood, laziness or immaturity, and everyone's yelling and telling you to "man up" or "grow a pair" and just go do something.
I admit, I have been guilty of this before.
I have bemoaned your seeming lack of initiation to my girlfriends. I have felt like I know more about how to be a man than you do. I have spouted idiotic and demeaning cliches like "boys are stupid, throw rocks at them" when one of you has hurt myself or a friend. I have declared you all idiots because of the actions of one.
And I am sorry. I am so very sorry.
I am sorry for being so insensitive to the difficulty that comes with being a man of God. I am sorry for assuming that I know better than you do how to live up to the standards set forth for you in Scripture. I am sorry for intentionally or unintentionally disrespecting you with my words and actions, even if you never heard or saw them. I am sorry for lumping you all together into one category because I've been hurt by one of you.
And so today, I want to encourage you and I want to tell you that despite the messages you hear from myself or from other women or from the culture or from the Church that I see your effort and I appreciate and respect it so very much.
You are doing a good job. You might not feel like it. You might not think it. Others might not think it. But the point is you're trying, and that's what matters.
When I was younger, I had a somewhat idiotic notion that I was going to marry someone who had the spiritual maturity of my father...30 years my senior. I passed all of you off as dumb and immature and not worth my time because you weren't like him. And what I failed to see was that you are just as much a work in progress as I am and by the grace of our good God, every one of you has the potential to be the man of God that my father has become after more than 50 years of life.
I have been blessed to interact with countless amazing men of God in my lifetime. Some of them are men like my father and my grandfather and some of them are you, my brothers that I count among my peers and who I am honored to call my friends.
I am grateful for your friendship. I am grateful for your encouragement. I am grateful for your opinions and thoughts and ideas. I am grateful for your humor and your wit. I am grateful for your height and handy-man abilities when I need things hung higher than I can reach. I am grateful for your trucks and ability to be easily persuaded by baked goods. I am grateful for your physical strength, your spiritual strength, and your emotional strength.
I am grateful for the fact that even though it's hard, even though it sometimes seems like everyone is against you and like everyone is telling you that you're failing and you're doing it wrong, that you still strive to glorify our amazing God and be the best man of God you can be.
Don't give up. Don't stop fighting. There will be times you will fail epically. There will also be times when you succeed in incredible ways. There will be times when you don't understand how Christ could still love you. There will also be times where the love and glory of Christ shines so brightly in your life that you'll hardly believe it. All of those times are beautiful, in their own way, and God has the ability to use all of those experiences, good and bad, for His glory.
Thank you for being a part of my life and for blessing me in so many ways. Thank you for answering the difficult call to be a man of God.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart and don't ever give up. I promise that I see you, your other sisters see you, your elders see you, and we are grateful and proud and hopeful because of the work of Christ in you.
Your sister in Christ,
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Monday, May 13, 2013
There are two things about me that, for almost all of my life, have had a significant effect on the way I am seen and perceived as a member of the church.
The first is that I'm a woman (obviously). That one you can figure out in three seconds or less.
The second is that I am single. This takes a bit more deduction. I admit, I'm one of those confusing women who wears a purity ring on her left ring finger, but if you look at it close enough, it's pretty obvious it's not an engagement ring. But even then, you need to actually talk to me to confirm my singleness (or ask questions about me).
Over the last few months, I've been thinking a lot about what it means for me to be both a woman in the Church and single, and there's one thing in particular that I've been reflecting on.
It's no secret that, in many respects, a good chunk of the Church is hyper-focused on relationships. That's part of the reason it can be rather strange and frustrating to be a single woman in the Church.
I've seen the negative effects that this perspective has had on the dating culture. And I'm also beginning to see how, in addition to the way it has shaped the dating conversation, the Church's hyper-focus on relationships has, in my opinion, become extremely detrimental to women in particular.
These thoughts first came up during a few conversations at Q and then, more recently, at a meeting with some other members of my church's young adult ministry to discuss what women's ministry will look like at our church now that we don't have a woman on staff (for the young adult ministry specifically, not the church as a whole).
Generally speaking*, when men interact, they don't do so based on their relationship status or the stage of life they're in. While, yes, there are conferences and studies regarding being a better husband or father, many men's ministry events are simply focused on being a man — regardless of whether you're married, single, divorced, have kids or don't.
For women, it's a completely different story.
A few months ago, my church's women's ministry had their annual retreat. Though I did not attend, a few of the girls in my all-single small group went. Their biggest complaint was that they felt the conference was so geared toward married women that, as single 20-somethings, they simply couldn't relate to the content discussed.
I'm not saying this to specifically call out the women's ministry at my church, but the way the Church as a whole seems to have geared the conversation regarding women.
Women are not worth something because of their relationship status or lack thereof. They are not valuable because of the man they are attached to or the number of children they have or haven't given birth to. Women are valuable because of who they are in Christ, because of who the Gospel makes them, and because they are human beings who bear the image of God.
When we make women's ministry all about becoming a better mother or a better wife rather than becoming a woman of God, we sell women short. We treat them like their biggest life goal is to become a godly wife and a godly mother. And that is dangerous and hurtful.
It perpetuates the lie that if you are 24 and single, you did something wrong.
It perpetuates the lie that a woman's ultimate goal in life is to find a husband, not to become a passionate woman of God who is completely on fire for the Lord.
It perpetuates the lie that God doesn't care how well you live your life as a single person if you never end up getting married.
It perpetuates the lie that you're somehow worth less if you don't have a ring on your finger and a man to call your own.
It perpetuates the
And this, my friends, is a disservice to women. It is a disservice to the Church, it is a disservice to the Gospel, and it is a disservice to our God.
Now, I'd like to point out that I am a complementarian, not an egalitarian. I don't consider myself a feminist. I believe that men and women were created with unique roles that God intended for them to fulfill. I believe that they are equal in worth and value, but distinct in the role they are to play in society, in the Church, and in the family.
But I have not ever, for one second, believed that a woman is worth less than a man.
I write this because I know many beautiful, wonderful, passionate women of God who are suffering from pain and frustration and brokenness because of how the Church has framed the conversation around them and they don't know how to talk about it.
They feel like they messed up, they did something wrong, because they haven't found "the One" yet. They feel like there isn't a place for them in the Church because they aren't attached to a man. They feel like all the conversations regarding their singleness have the ultimate goal of finding them a man. They feel that, while their opinions and thoughts may be valued some now, they will be valued so much more once they have a ring on their finger.
Why have we done this to our women?
I am not exempt from this kind of thinking. I am not exempt from these lies that Satan whispers to my heart. I am not exempt from thinking that my worth will somehow be validated if a man thinks I'm beautiful and worth his time. I am not exempt from thinking that people will pay more attention to what I have to say if I have a ring on my finger or a baby on my hip.
Speaking up about this kind of thing scares me and I know it scares the other women I know who feel the same way.
I'm afraid that people will think I'm just discontent with my situation in life, that I'm frustrated and angry at the women who married young or are my age and already have two children. I'm afraid people will think it's some desperate ploy to get the attention of a man. That is not what this is about.
This is about the fact that every human being, regardless of gender or relationship status, is of equal value in the sight of our Creator.
I am worth just as much now in my single and working season of life as I will be if I ever have a married with children season of life. My relationship status does not change my worth.
In an essay entitled "First and Second Things" from the book God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics, C.S. Lewis says what has become on of my favorite quotes in recent years:
"You can't get second things by putting them first. You get second things only by putting first things first."And I think that's what we need to focus on here.
I do believe it is important to emphasize the beauty of a godly marriage and to encourage believers to seriously pray and consider the possibility of entering into the covenant of marriage with another believer. But we have falsely come to believe that marriage is a first thing.
Marriage is not a first thing, it is a second thing that comes after the first thing of a life completely enraptured by the Savior.
And so, I propose we reframe the conversation.
I propose that we stop focusing so much on marriages and start focusing on the Gospel. I propose that we stop focusing on someone's relationship status with a person and focus on their relationship with our Savior.
Now you may be thinking, "Marriage is on the decline in our country! If we stop focusing on marriages, then no one will get married! No one will know how to have a Biblical dating relationship and if no one knows how to date, no one will get married!"
I understand those concerns, but I must disagree, because as I said, marriage is not a first thing.
I believe that when the lives of men and women are firmly rooted in the Gospel, the second things that we spend so much time worrying about fall into place naturally — and that includes marriage.
So please, stop sending the message (however unintentional it may be) that the women in your life are more valuable when they have a ring on their finger. Stop sending the message that marriage is what gives them value in the sight of our Savior. Stop sending the message that how they relate to the man is the most important thing.
Instead, send the message that the women in your life are valuable because they are a human being created in the image of God, because they hold imago Dei. Send the message that they are valuable and loved by their Savior because He has called them beloved, not because a man has called them beloved. Send the message that how they relate to our God is far more important than how they relate to a man.
Tell your women they are loved. Tell your women they are beautiful. Tell your women they are valued. Tell your women they have worth. Tell your women that you care about what they have to say. Tell your women you want them in your life. Tell your women you want them serving in your church.
Tell your women they are all of these things and more because they are women, not because they are a wife or a girlfriend or a fiancée or a mother.
As a woman, have you ever felt this way? If you're married, did you feel this way before you got married? If you're single, do you still feel this way? For men, how have you perhaps unintentionally sent this message to the women in your lives? And how can we, as a Church, begin to change it and reframe the conversation?
*When I say "generally speaking" I mean in my experience from what I have observed. That statement is not based on statistics or extensive research, but on what I have personally observed when comparing men's and women's ministries at a few different churches I've attended.
Photo Credit: Mindfulness. Used under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License. Design by me.
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The post The Worth of a Woman appeared first on Shades of Shayes.