Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Books

Right, it's only about 5:30 here but I'm not going to get another book read before midnight.

So here's the count and list for 2011:

Final count: 186

The goal for next year is 300, as you can see by the little ticker I've got at the top of the blog. I don't think I'll make it, but that's the goal. And since my TBR 'pile' is 589 books strong I've got plenty to choose from.


  1. A Lick of Frost – Laurell K. Hamilton (1/1/11)
  2. Swallowing Darkness – Laurell K. Hamilton (1/1/11)
  3. Divine Misdemeanors – Laurell K. Hamilton (1/1/11)
  4. Nightseer – Laurell K. Hamilton (1/2/11)
  5. Strange Candy – Laurell K. Hamilton (1/2/11)
  6. The Battle for God – Karen Armstrong (1/3/11)
  7. Dead Beat – Jim Butcher (1/6/11)
  8. Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs – Molly Harper (1/7/11)
  9. Grave Sight – Charlaine Harris (1/8/11)
  10. Grave Surprise – Charlaine Harris (1/9/11)
  11. Fool Moon audiobook – Jim Butcher (1/11/11)
  12. An Ice Cold Grave – Charlaine Harris (1/13/11)
  13. Proven Guilty – Jim Butcher (1/14/11)
  14. Dead Until Dark – Charlaine Harris (1/15/11)
  15. Living Dead in Dallas – Charlaine Harris (1/21/11)
  16. White Night – Jim Butcher (1/22/11)
  17. Club Dead – Charlaine Harris (1/22/11)
  18. Dead as a Doornail – Charlaine Harris (1/30/11)
  19. Small Favor – Jim Butcher (2/1/11)
  20. Grave Peril audiobook – Jim Butcher (2/4/11)
  21. True Grit – Charles Portis (2/5/11)
  22. Bleach Vol. 33 (2/5/11)
  23. Definitely Dead – Charlaine Harris (2/6/11)
  24. All Together Dead – Charlaine Harris (2/11/11)
  25. From Dead to Worse – Charlaine Harris (2/12/11)
  26. Turn Coat – Jim Butcher (2/13/11)
  27. Dark and Stormy Knights: Even Hand – Jim Butcher (2/13/11)
  28. Dead and Gone – Charlaine Harris (2/16/2011)
  29. Dead in the Family – Charlaine Harris (2/18/11)
  30. Must Love Hellhounds: The Britlingens Go To Hell – Charlaine Harris (2/19/11)
  31. A Touch of Dead – Charlaine Harris (2/20/11)
  32. Changes – Jim Butcher (2/22/11)
  33. Summer Knight audiobook – Jim Butcher (2/23/11)
  34. Side Jobs – Jim Butcher (2/23/11)
  35. Hannibal Rising – Thomas Harris (2/25/11)
  36. Red Dragon – Thomas Harris (2/28/11)
  37. Silence of the Lambs – Thomas Harris (3/4/11)
  38. Hannibal – Thomas Harris (3/6/11)
  39. Holidays Are Hell: Two Ghosts for Sister Rachel – Kim Harrison (3/6/11)
  40. Dates From Hell: Undead in the Garden of Good and Evil – Kim Harrison (3/7/11)
  41. Storm Front – Jim Butcher (3/8/11)
  42. The Lost Gospel of Mary – Frederica Mathewes-Green (3/13/11)
  43. Dead Witch Walking – Kim Harrison (3/13/11)
  44. The Good, the Bad, and the Undead – Kim Harrison (3/17/11)
  45. Death Masks audiobook – Jim Butcher (3/18/11)
  46. Every Which Way But Dead – Kim Harrison (3/20/11)
  47. A Fistful of Charms – Kim Harrison (3/23/11)
  48. Finder Vol. 1: Target in the Viewfinder (3/24/11)
  49. Finder Vol. 2: Cage in the Viewfinder (3/25/11)
  50. For a Few Demons More – Kim Harrison (3/27/11)
  51. The Outlaw Demon Wails – Kim Harrison (3/27/11)
  52. White Witch, Black Curse – Kim Harrison (3/31/11)
  53. Unbound: Ley Line Drifer – Kim Harrison (4/1/11)
  54. Black Magic Sanction – Kim Harrison (4/2/11)
  55. Pale Demon – Kim Harrison (4/3/11)
  56. Blood Rites audiobook – Jim Butcher (4/7/11)
  57. Treasure Trail – ed. Jack Hart (4/7/11)
  58. Midnight Thirsts – ed. Greg Herren (4/8/11)
  59. Bad Heir Day – Wendy Holden (4/10/11)
  60. Fool Moon – Jim Butcher (4/12/11)
  61. Fairyville – Emma Holly (4/12/11)
  62. Inu-Yasha Vol. 54 (4/12/11)
  63. Inu-Yasha Vol. 55 (4/13/11)
  64. Inu-Yasha Vol. 56 (4/13/11)
  65. Naruto Vol. 43 (4/14/11)
  66. Naruto Vol. 44 (4/14/11)
  67. A Thousand Splendid Sons – Khaled Hosseini (4/16/11)
  68. Islam: A Short History – Karen Armstrong (4/16/11)
  69. Naruto Vol. 45 (4/16/11)
  70. Bleach Vol. 34 (4/17/11)
  71. Naruto Vol. 46 (4/17/11)
  72. Naruto Vol. 47 (4/17/11)
  73. Naruto Vol. 48 (4/17/11)
  74. Naurto Vol. 49 (4/18/11)
  75. Blood Price – Tanya Huff (4/19/11)
  76. Naruto Vol. 50 (4/20/11)
  77. The Footprints of God – Greg Iles (4/20/11)
  78. The Haunting – Shirley Jackson (4/23/11)
  79. Posted to Death – Dean James (4/23/11)
  80. The Jewel of Medina – Sherry Jones (4/24/11)
  81. Carpe Demon – Julie Kenner (4/24/11)
  82. Finger Vol. 3: One Wing in the Viewfinder (4/25/11)
  83. The Beekeeper's Apprentice – Julie R. King (4/29/11)
  84. Dead Beat audiobook – Jim Butcher (5/3/11)
  85. Dead Reckoning – Charlaine Harris (5/6/11)
  86. A Monstrous Regiment of Women – Laurie R. King (5/7/11)
  87. Grave Peril – Jim Butcher (5/12/11)
  88. A Letter of Mary – Laurie R. King (5/14/11)
  89. The Moor – Laurie R. King (5/18/11)
  90. O Jerusalem – Laurie R. King (5/21/11)
  91. Summer Knight – Jim Butcher (5/23/11)
  92. Justice Hall – Laurie R. King (5/25/11)
  93. The Language of the Bees – Laurie R. King (5/28/11)
  94. Voices Behind the Veil – Ergun Mehmet Caner (5/31/11)
  95. Death Masks – Jim Butcher (6/5/11)
  96. Bag of Bones – Stephen King (6/6/11)
  97. Proven Guilty audiobook – Jim Butcher (6/7/11)
  98. Carrie – Stephen King (6/7/11)
  99. The World Religions – Huston Smith (6/8/11)
  100. Interview with an Exorcist – Jose A. Fortea (6/9/11)
  101. Christine – Stephen King (6/13/11)
  102. Blood Rites – Jim Butcher (6/16/11)
  103. Cujo – Stephen King (6/17/11)
  104. Smokin' Seventeen – Janet Evanovich (6/22/11)
  105. Dead Beat – Jim Butcher (6/29/11)
  106. The Eyes of the Dragon – Stephen King (6/29/11)
  107. Naamah's Blessing – Jacqueline Carey (7/3/11)
  108. The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger – Stephen King (7/3/11)
  109. The Dark Tower II: The Drawing of the Three – Stephen King (7/8/11)
  110. Proven Guilty – Jim Butcher (7/11/11)
  111. The Dark Tower III: The Waste Lands – Stephen King (7/13/11)
  112. White Night – Jim Butcher (7/19/11)
  113. Naked City: Curses – Jim Butcher (7/25/11)
  114. White Night audiobook – Jim Butcher (7/25/11)
  115. Augustus: The Life of Rome's First Emperor – Anthony Everitt (7/25/11)
  116. Ghost Story – Jim Butcher (7/26/11)
  117. Bleach Vol. 35 (7/26/11)
  118. Naruto Vol. 51 (7/26/11)
  119. Ouran High School Host Club (7/26/11)
  120. Spell Bound – Kelley Armstrong (7/29/11)
  121. Small Favor – Jim Butcher (8/4/11)
  122. 1 Enoch – George W.E. Nickelsburg (8/6/11)
  123. The Naked City: Curses – Jim Butcher (8/9/11)
  124. The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass – Stephen King (8/14/11)
  125. Turn Coat – Jim Butcher (8/17/11)
  126. Dark and Stormy Knights: Even Hand – Jim Butcher (8/18/11)
  127. Small Favor audiobook – Jim Butcher (8/24/11)
  128. Changes – Jim Butcher (8/27/11)
  129. Side Jobs – Jim Butcher (8/28/11)
  130. Geek Wisdom: The Sacred Teachings of Nerd Culture – ed. Stephen H. Segal (8/28/11)
  131. The Tyrant Falls in Love Vol. 1 (8/29/11)
  132. Ghost Story – Jim Butcher (9/5/11)
  133. The Help – Kathryn Stockett (9/10/11)
  134. Finder Vol. 4: Prisoner in the Viewfinder (9/11/11)
  135. The Lincoln Lawyer – Michael Connelly (9/14/11)
  136. The Dark Tower V: Wolves of the Calla (9/15/11)
  137. The Eagle – Rosemary Sutcliff (9/16/11)
  138. The Mythology of Supernatural – Nathan Robert Brown (9/20/11)
  139. Turn Coat audiobook – Jim Butcher (9/21/11)
  140. Supernatural: Coyote's Kiss – Christa Faust (9/22/11)
  141. The Dark Tower VI: Song of Susannah – Stephen King (9/24/11)
  142. Author's Pet (9/24/11)
  143. Bleach Vol. 36 (9/24/11)
  144. Naruto Vol. 52 (9/24/11)
  145. Supernatural: Night Terror – John Passarella (9/28/11)
  146. The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower – Stephen King (9/28/11)
  147. The Dead Zone – Stephen King (9/30/11)
  148. The Brass Verdict – Michael Connelly (10/5/11)
  149. Desperation – Stephen King (10/7/11)
  150. The Reversal – Michael Connelly (10/13/11)
  151. Different Seasons – Stephen King (10/15/11)
  152. Dolores Claiborne – Stephen King (10/15/11)
  153. Changes audiobook – Jim Butcher (10/19/11)
  154. The Fifth Witness – Michael Connelly (10/24/11)
  155. Dreamcatcher – Stephen King (10/24/11)
  156. Destination Truth: Memoirs of a Monster Hunter (10/26/11)
  157. The Silver Pigs – Lindsey Davis (11/02/11)
  158. Duma Key – Stephen King (11/04/11)
  159. Everything's Eventual – Stephen King (11/14/11)
  160. Shadows in Bronze – Lindsey Davis (11/15/11)
  161. Side Jobs audiobook – Jim Butcher (11/17/11)
  162. Firestarter – Stephen King (11/19/11)
  163. Venus in Copper – Lindsey Davis (11/23/11)
  164. Explosive Eighteen – Janet Evanovich (11/26/11)
  165. Perfectly Plum – Leah Wilson (11/28/11)
  166. The Scottish Prisoner – Diana Gabaldon (12/1/11)
  167. The Dresden Files: Fool Moon Vol. 1 – Jim Butcher (12/1/11)
  168. Four Past Midnight – Stephen King (12/2/11)
  169. From A Buick 8 – Stephen King (12/7/11)
  170. Private Teacher Vol. 1 (12/7/11)
  171. Gerald's Game – Stephen King (12/9/11)
  172. The Iron Hand of Mars – Lindsey Davis (12/12/11)
  173. The Green Mile – Stephen King (12/17/11)
  174. Only Serious About You Vol. 1 (12/17/11)
  175. The Tyrant Falls In Love Vol. 2 (12/17/11)
  176. Ghost Story (audiobook) – Jim Butcher (12/20/11)
  177. Two for the Lions – Lindsey Davis (12/20/11)
  178. The Shack – Wm. Paul Young (12/26/11)
  179. Bleach Vol. 37 (12/28/11)
  180. Naruto Vol. 53 (12/29/11)
  181. The Tyrant Falls in Love Vol. 3 (12/29/11)
  182. The Tyrant Falls in Love Vol. 4 (12/30/11)
  183. Hearts in Atlantis – Stephen King (12/30/11)
  184. Mere Christianity – C.S. Lewis (12/31/11)
  185. In the Garden of Beasts – Erik Larson (12/31/11)
  186. Hidden – Kelley Armstrong (12/31/11)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 Meme

We're about at the end of the year so I'm finally doing this...

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?

*thinks* Nothing comes to mind. I think it was a very routine kind of year. Or, well, I'm planning a baby shower and I've never done that before. So we'll throw that out there.

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Didn't make any. 

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Not yet. Evesdottir will make her appearance in 2012.

4. Did anyone close to you die?


5. What countries did you visit?


6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?

Hmmm...I don't know. I want many things but they're all more long term. Right now I'm relatively content. Let's go with the old safety - a boyfriend.

7. What date from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Probably the night we heard bin Laden had been killed. Though I won't recall the date, specifically since I already can't remember what day it was. But I'll remember hearing about it and everyone being on FB all night.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Finally signing up to go back to school

9. What was your biggest failure?

I don't fail! ;D Um. I really don't know...

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Not really.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

I bought a bunch of presents for the Salvation Army Angel tree. I picked a little 2 yo girl and got her almost everything on her list, with some very wonderful and welcome help from my mom.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My boss.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

A co-worker. NOT SBW, by the way Susanne. Someone else entirely.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Books or training.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

So many things. SO. Many. I'm easily excitable! I got REALLY excited for Thor, Captain America, my best friend's pregnancy, The Avengers trailer, Ghost Story coming out, The Dark Knight Rises trailer, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo....are we sensing a theme?

16. What song(s) will always remind you of 2011?

The cover of Immigrant Song on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo soundtrack.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

i. Happier or sadder?

ii. the same

iii. Thinner or fatter?

iv. thinner

v. richer or poorer?

vi.*laughs* probably about the same as last year

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Reading. I fell down from last year, I think.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Hmmm...playing Mah-jong. I got addicted for a while and that ate significant amounts of free time.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?

I spent it playing with the puppy we're dog sitting and baking. Also, watching Alien and Aliens. 

21. How many one-night stands?


22. What was your favorite TV program?

American Horror Story

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

Nope. Same old list.

24. What was the best book you read?

Oh, that's tough. All the books? I'll actually have to look over my list at home tonight and get back to you on that.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

I've actually been listening to books on cd in the car and not listening to the radio. So really, nothing.

26. What did you want and get?

So very many things.

27. What was your favorite film of this year?

Surprisingly, I think it's going to have to be The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Yes, it's edged out even my comic book movies.

28. What did you do on your birthday?

Um. Perfect birthday!

29. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?

Casual and comfy.

30. What kept you sane?

Who says I am?

31. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Michael Fassbender and Jeremy Renner.

32. What political issue stirred you the most?


33. Who did you miss?


34. Who was the best new person you met?

I don't think I met anyone new!

35. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.

Enhance the calm.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Baby Shower Ideas

Okay, this is partially a place for me to keep track of 'game' ideas, etc. but also a place where you all can make suggestions.

Note: They're registered at Toys R Us & Target.

Note 2: No pork or shellfish - his family is 7th Day Adventist. Also, vegetarian option since Eve is a vegetarian.

Note 3: Possibility for shower: A tea with little tea/finger sandwiches and different hot teas for people to try.

Please, make suggestions! I need ideas! Very few of my friends have had children at this point so I haven't been to a lot of baby showers and am more than welcoming ideas!

1. Diapers = every guest gets a diaper and a magic marker. They write something cute/funny/uplifting on the diaper so when Eve and Kyle are changing diapers they get a laugh.

2. Scrapbook pages guests can write advice on, decorate with stickers, markers, etc.

3. Clothespins = everyone gets a clothespin when they arrive. If they say the word 'baby' they lose the clothespin. Whoever has the most clothespins at the end of the party gets a prize.

4. Have everyone personalize a baby T-shirt or one-piece outfit. Before the party, buy a bunch of white or light-colored garments and round up a few small, flat pieces of cardboard to slip inside the clothes to make them easier to decorate. Also pick up fabric paint, paint pens, and/or stamps and permanent fabric ink. Have the guests decorate the clothes any way they want — and make sure they sign them. People can take turns stopping by the craft table throughout the shower. When they're done, hang them up to dry on a clothesline or use baby hangers. Buy several different sizes. That way, the gifts last longer as the baby grows out of some and into others. Can also do this with bibs so there is less to decorate.

5. Everyone brings baby picture of themselves and people have to guess who it is.

6. Make a time capsule for the baby. In the invitations, ask everyone to bring in something that would fit into a gallon jar. The best items are things for the baby to have or read when he or she is older. People have brought in newspaper articles, messages to the baby written on paper or recorded on a CD or DVD, photographs, mementos, even jewelry. Anything will work as long as it fits into the jar.

7. Ahead of time, print each letter of the alphabet on an individual sheet of paper. Once your guests are seated, pass out one sheet of lettered paper to each person along with a supply of markers, crayons, colored pencils, and stickers.

Ask each guest to decorate her page with things that relate to her letter – for example, whoever has letter "A" might draw pictures of apples, alligators, and ants. Your guests should also put their name on the page somewhere and can include a note to the soon-to-arrive baby if they like. After the shower, laminate the pages and bind them together, then give the collection to the guest of honor. (This one would be a little problematic since she's only thinking that there will be about 12 guests.)

It's not like she didn't know the baby was coming...

And let's pause to have a moment of freaking annoyance.

Eve, who is carrying Evesdottir, has told me the entire time, very vehemently that she does not want a baby shower. She hates all the things that go with baby showers, doesn't like groups of people, etc. etc. So I told her fine, we wouldn't have a baby shower. Then I get a message last night on FB from her telling me to call her grandmother because Ada wants to volunteer her house for the baby shower.


Oh, the baby shower she didn't want, but now wants and I suddenly have to plan. THAT baby shower. Which, okay, it's going to be small - mostly family from what she's saying and nothing fancy. She doesn't want any games, nothing. Fine. I still need to get a list of names and addresses of people to invite, get where she's registered (because she registered and didn't tell anyone where) and get the invitations out in time for people to buy presents and actually show up. The woman is six months pregnant. By the time I get all of this done she could be bringing Evesdottir with her to the party! Outside of her stomach!

Okay. Moving on.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Movie: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

I know, fannish things belong on the fan blog but's my blog and I'll post what I want! :p

I'm thinking of moving movie and book reviews over here anyway, assuming that they're more than just me going: SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE and babbling about the shiny. ;)

First things first: I haven't read the books. I haven't seen the Swedish films. I am coming to this only through the American version of the movie.

That being said, I will be reading the books and seeing the Swedish films as soon as the opportunity arises.

So then.

I loved this movie. Though saying that does not, perhaps, convey the depth of ALL THE FEELINGS that I have for it.

Okay, a basic overview of the movie:

Mikael Blomkvist (played by the ever delicious Daniel Craig) is the editor of Millenium magazine. He's just lost a libel suit brought against him by Wennerstrom, a wealthy businessman. In the process Blomkvist has basically been wiped out. He's lost all his money, everything. He resigns from the magazine in an attempt to distance himself from it, hoping to spare his partner Erika (played by Robin Wright, whom I also adore) and the magazine from being destroyed along with him though everyone knows that Wennerstrom won't stop until he's burned them to the ground and then salted the earth.

In the middle of all this he gets called up to a remote island by Mr. Frode, the attorney for Henrik Vanger, another very wealthy man.

Vanger wants Blomkvist to solve the 40 year old murder of his great-niece, Harriet. She disappeared one day and he is convinced that a member of the family murdered her. Blomkvist is going to turn down the job but Vanger promises him not only a lot of money, but some information that will allow him to take Wennerstrom down for good.

Under the guise of writing Henrik's memoir, Blomkvist moves into a small guest house on the island and starts to investigate. He gets nowhere fast until his daughter drops by for a visit on her way to a Bible camp and notices that the meaningless numbers in the back of Harriet's notebook are references to Bible verses from Leviticus.

Blomkvist realizes that he needs a research assistant to help him track down and figure out what these verses have to do with the women's names beside them so he goes back to Mr. Frode to ask if he knows of anyone. Frode recommends the firm that they had do the background check on Blomkvist before they hired him. Which leads Blomkvist to Lisbeth Salander - the titular girl with the dragon tattoo.

Lisbeth is different, to say the least.

Visual aides are best, so here's a pic of what she looks like in the movie:

And it's not just her fashion choices, of course. She's antisocial, rarely faces anyone directly or looks them in the eyes. And she's a genius. There's clearly been a lot of abuse at some point in her life, and she's been marginalized because of the effects that the trauma has had on her. She was declared legally incompetent as a very young girl and the state has control of her finances. Lisbeth's guardian clearly understands the truth of her situation and lets her control her own finances but early on in the movie he has a stroke and is left unable to fulfill his legal role to her.

A new guardian is assigned, and he takes a hard line with Lisbeth, giving her a monthly salary and nothing else.

Soon after that her laptop is broken and she has to ask for the money to repair it. He gives it to her after forcing her to perform fellatio on him.

A little later on she calls him, claiming to need money for rent and meets him at his apartment. He beats her, knocks her out, ties her to his bed and rapes her. What he doesn't know is that Lisbeth records the whole thing. She calls him sometime later (a few days? the timeline there isn't quite clear in the movie) and tells him she needs money for food.

Once he lets her into the apartment she tasers his ass. When he wakes up she's got him tied to the floor of his bedroom and plays the recording for him. She shoves what looks an awful lot like a cattle prod to me up his ass and proceeds to kick the living shit out of him. Then she explains how he is going to give her control of her money, he is going to write glowing reports about her and how she is adapting to 'normal' society and he is going to start getting her declared competent so that she will have true control over her life. And he is never, ever to have another woman in private with him again. Ever. Or she'll kill him.

To make sure he won't forget the rules, especially the celibacy one, she tattoos 'I AM A RAPIST PIG' in giant letters on his chest and stomach.

I have to admit, I love Lisbeth a lot. A lot a lot. Anyway...

Blomkvist convinces the security firm she works for to give him her address, which does not go over well when he just sort of shows up and politely barges his way into her apartment. He comes within a few seconds of being tased himself. Then he draws her in: he wants her to help him catch a killer of women.

They go back to the island and...well. Investigation happens, secrets are uncovered and that's all I'm saying. I won't give away the ending or the plot twists, though if you've read the book you know what happens.

The mystery aspect of the story was decent. I had my suspicions as to who the killer was, but I wasn't positive and most of the time that's all I can ask of a mystery.

There is some (obviously) graphic violence and much of it is of a sexual nature. But I don't feel as though it was done for the sake of glorifying the violence or done in an over the top splatter-fest manner.

The creepiest part for me was the killer playing Enya (Orinoco Flow) in the background as he gets ready to murder someone, but that could just be me.

The title sequence reminded me a little too much of the Bond title sequences, but that's neither here nor there.

In conclusion: the movie is well worth the time and the money to go see it.

Also, ps: I totally ship Lisbeth and Blomkvist.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Great Sin

I am really trying to at least finish reading this book before New Years, if not finish posting about it. I'm a chapter or so ahead of what I'm posting at the moment.

Mostly this is due to the fact that one of my Christmas presents was American Jesus by Stephen Prothero and I'm going to break protocol and read that one next rather than throw it into the Bag of Books! So I'm really looking forward to getting to start it but I need to finish Mere Christianity first!

Another of my presents, by the by, was In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson, thanks to my fabulous Big Sis! That book is on Murdock so I'm reading it at the gym. I just started it, but it's already very engrossing. *blinks* I've just realised this means I'm not currently reading any fiction books. *waits to see if the world will come to an end* So far so good!
So let's see...we're up to Pride.

"There is one vice of which no man in the world is free; which every one in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else; and of which hardly any people, except Christians, ever imagine that they are guilty themselves. I have heard people admit that they are bad-tempered, or that they cannot keep their heads about girls or drink, or even that they are cowards. I do not think I have ever heard anyone who was not a Christian accuse himself of this vice. And at the same time I have very seldom met anyone, who was not a Christian, who showed the slightest mercy to it in others. There is no fault which makes a man more unpopular, and no fault which we are more unconscious of in our-selves. And the more we have it ourselves, the more we dislike it in others.

"The vice I am talking of is Pride or Self-Conceit: and the virtue opposite to it, in Christian morals, is called Humility. You may remember, when I was talking about sexual morality, I warned you that the centre of Christian morals did not lie there. Well, now, we have come to the centre. According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride."

And that's because...pride was the first sin, right? According to most Christian thinking at any rate. Pride was what caused Lucifer to refuse to bow down and serve humanity, who he saw as being lesser than himself and all the other angels, and/or to believe that he could sit on God's throne. 

"if you want to find out how proud you are the easiest way is to ask yourself, `How much do I dislike it when other people snub me, or refuse to take any notice of me, or shove their oar in, or patronise me, or show off?' The point is that each person's pride is in competition with every one else's pride."

I think that's true, to a point. But then you also can't allow yourself to be a doormat either. There are people out there who don't respect opinions, etc. and will just move you around like a doll if you let them. Users. Do they maybe have an overdose of pride? I think so. But you not having any pride/spine isn't a solution either. Sometimes the scenarios Lewis lists are clashes of egos(pride). Other times they're other people being assholes and/or manipulative.

"Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man."

"Pride is competitive by its very nature: that is why it goes on and on. If I am a proud man, then, as long as there is one man in the whole world more powerful, or richer, or cleverer than I, he is my rival and my enemy."

"Other vices may sometimes bring people together: you may find good fellowship and jokes and friendliness among drunken people or unchaste people. But pride always means enmity—it is enmity. And not only enmity between man and man, but enmity to God. In God you come up against something which is in every respect immeasurably superior to yourself. Unless you know God as that—and, therefore, know yourself as nothing in comparison—you do not know God at all. As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you."

I think it's obvious but I should point out that there is a difference between Pride and pride. And Lewis does make that point later on. There's the Pride that he talks about above, where it drives you to be in competition with, basically, everything and everyone under the sun because you need to be better than they are in every respect in order to feel good about yourself and then there's pride in things. We'll talk about that in a bit.

Lewis believes that people who are clearly Prideful cannot ever be truly religious. They 'worship an imaginary God' according to him and are in reality being misled by the devil. Or their own egos, since we know how much I hate blaming everything that goes wrong in a persons life (or the world) on the poor devil.

"They theoretically admit themselves to be nothing in the presence of this phantom God, but are really all the time imagining how He approves of them and thinks them far better than ordinary people: that is, they pay a pennyworth of imaginary humility to Him and get out of it a pound's worth of Pride towards their fellow-men. I suppose it was of those people Christ was thinking when He said that some would preach about Him and cast out devils in His name, only to be told at the end of the world that He had never known them. And any of us may at any moment be in this death-trap. Luckily, we have a test. Whenever we find that our religious life is making us feel that we are good—above all, that we are better than someone else—I think we may be sure that we are being acted on, not by God, but by the devil. The real test of being in the presence of God is, that you either forget about yourself altogether or see yourself as a small, dirty object. It is better to forget about yourself altogether."

I totally get this. I didn't think it at the time, but when I was covering I did fall into this category. I said that I wasn't judging the women who didn't cover, but I did. Not always consciously, but I did. I thought that I was better, closer to God than they were for doing so and that they just needed to be educated and then they'd see how wrong they were. I felt very good about being so humble.

The funny thing is this: Lewis points out that quite often people use Pride in order to overcome lesser sins. Cowardice, lust, anger, etc. have all been overcome by an appeal to Pride, that they are beneath someone's dignity.

"The devil laughs. He is perfectly content to see you becoming chaste and brave and self-controlled provided, all the time, he is setting up in you the Dictatorship of Pride—just as he would be quite content to see your chilblains cured if he was allowed, in return, to give you cancer. For Pride is spiritual cancer: it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or even common sense."

Okay. On to the lower case 'pride' which is not the same as the sin of Pride.

Lewis says:

1. Pleasure in being praised is not Pride. Feeling good that you've been told you did a good job is a good and natural thing. Because the pleasure comes not from feeling that you are superior inherently in and of yourself, but in pleasing someone that you wanted to please. The trouble, where this goes from pride to Pride, is when you go from thinking 'I've pleased them' to thinking 'How great am I that I've done all of this?' And the more you delight in yourself and the less in the praise, the worse you are. At the point when you feel completely self-satisfied all the time and don't care at all what anyone else thinks, ever, because you know that you're the best thing out there then you've hit rock bottom.

2. Pride in family, school, regiment, workplace. Lewis says that it all depends on what the person means when they say they're proud of such things. If they mean that they have warm admiration for them, then that's right and fine. You should feel good about the institutions that you join and participate in. But if they mean that they're somehow better than anyone else because they 'come from' such and such a family, or they went to such and such a school then that has gone over into the area of Pride.

3. God doesn't forbid Pride because He's offended by it. God wants to make people humble in order to make the moment possible where you can meet him. Lewis believes that you cannot get near God and not be humbled by it. (Which I totally agree with. If you were to really meet something so much more powerful than yourself, the only sane reaction is a realization of the very smallness of your own being.) So God forbids Pride because it is such the opposite of human nature in relation to Himself. Pride will not, according to Lewis, ever get you anything or where good in the long run, especially not in the spiritual sense. And since that's the ultimate end of everything, to die and go before God, that's the biggest thing to focus on.

4. A truly humble person is not one that is always telling you that they're nobody. It is someone who you would never even think of in that way. Someone who is cheerful and smart who people just generally like.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

AHS - All the love

You can have some coherence tomorrow. For now:

1) Tate. Tate. JFC. There is nothing that you can do that will make me not like you. Trying to 'make' Violet a boyfriend? I am aware of how messed up that is, and yet still find it adorable and want to cuddle you for the thought. Don't worry, she'll forgive you eventually.

2) The family ganging up to run off/save the new family.

3) Vivien and her baby.

4) Constance, whose name is never Candace. She's the real monster of the show, I don't care what anyone has said.

5) MICHAEL. I was half thinking that the 'devil' baby was not going to live up to the hype. That he'd be a normal kid. Happily, it appears that I was wrong.


I take it back. I think this is my favorite chapter, if only because there's nothing in it that I disagree with. There are things I don't understand, of course, but that's not actually a problem with Lewis and more an issue with Christianity itself. So hopefully someone can explain them to me here!

"I said in a previous chapter that chastity was the most unpopular of the Christian virtues. But I am not sure I was right. I believe there is one even more unpopular. It is laid down in the Christian rule, `Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.' Because in Christian morals `thy neighbour' includes `thy enemy', and so we come up against this terrible duty of for-giving our enemies."

This is true. Forgiveness is hard. We've been hurt. We've been wounded and we're bleeding, sometimes physically, sometimes psychologically, quite often both. And we want to make the person(s) who hurt us pay. We want to take the pain that we feel, carve it out of our bodies and give it back to them. To make them suffer as much as we've suffered so that we'll stop feeling it. The worst part of that though, is that it doesn't work. You could take someone and (somehow) manage to inflict the exact same wounds on them, the exact same amount of pain and loss. And you'd still feel yours. Sometimes there's a part of you that is relieved, that feels satisfied but that doesn't stop the pain.

Human nature is to seek vengeance. To seek a leveling of the field. We're bloodthirsty. Forgiveness runs counter to our base instincts. It does, however, work toward the ultimate goal of so many of our other instincts: the survival of the species. If our darker instinct, our blood lust, was left unchecked we would have killed ourselves off pretty quickly. Something else has to intervene, some order has to be imposed.

We're the ones doing the imposing, really. Even assuming that the order came from on high, a creator god or force that said, 'Okay, look. I know that you guys are just *angry* and want to give as good as you got. Better, even. But that's not in your best interests. If you can't work together you're going to die because I designed all the other animals with more on the ball in the natural defenses and physicality department. And if you keep trying to kill one another off you're eventually going to succeed. And then it's going to have been a total waste of my time. So here's what we're going to do. You're going to *want* to bash each other over the head. Don't. Forgiveness is better.'

Leaving aside that forgiveness is not even the first system that we came up with. We came up with a payment system first. Kill someone's donkey? Pay 30 sheckles (or *whatever*). Sometimes the payment was mandated by the government and could be a little bloody. I know we tend to think of the concept of 'an eye for an eye' as barbaric, but at the time? *That* was the restrained option! That was something that was imposed on the people to bring order out of the violence and chaos. So, you know, I think we've come a fairly long way.

Anyway...the point is, one way or the other, we've come to the conclusion that some measure of forgiveness is necessary to keep on rolling. But it's not what we feel in our guts. In our hearts. We (most of us, I'm sure there's someone out there, somewhere, whose first thought is gentle. Good for you.) want justice, which can quite often look like revenge. Forgiveness is something that we're trained into.

"Every one says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive,"

I just like that. It's very true, don't you think?

"Just as when Christianity tells me that I must not deny my religion even to save myself from death by torture, I wonder very much what I should do when it came to the point. I am not trying to tell you in this book what I could do—I can do precious little—I am telling you what Christianity is. I did not invent it. And there, right in the middle of it, I find `Forgive us our sins as we forgive those that sin against us.' There is no slightest suggestion that we are offered forgiveness on any other terms. It is made perfectly clear that if we do not forgive we shall not be forgiven. There are no two ways about it. What are we to do?"
Here's my question. Why? Why should it be that way? Let's go under the assumption that there is a God. Moreover, that there is very specifically the Christian God. He is supposed to be merciful, correct? Forgiving and loving. If God does not forgive us our sins, we cannot get into heaven. Yes, I know it's a little more complicated than that, there's the whole asking for forgiveness and salvation aspect but the point remains. God is, under this set up, basically holding salvation hostage. 'If you don't forgive the people who've hurt you, you're not getting in here.' Where does that leave the people who have been so hurt that they find it impossible to forgive? 

I get where forgiveness is useful to society. What I don't get is why it's essential to us getting into heaven. I mean I could come up with reasons; that our clinging to our pains causes anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering. But what if none of that's true? What if we just don't forgive this slight or that but we're not terrible, angry people? Does that keep us out of heaven? Isn't God supposed to be better than us?

Here's the part that really made sense to me in a way that this never has before. Okay, so we're instructed to love our neighbors (including our enemies) as ourselves. Well what does that mean? Do we feel particularly fond of ourselves? Not always. Sometimes we don't even like ourselves very much at all.

"Do I think well of myself, think myself a nice chap? Well, I am afraid I some-times do (and those are, no doubt, my worst moments) but that is not why I love myself. In fact it is the other way round: my self-love makes me think myself nice, but thinking myself nice is not why I love myself. So loving my enemies does not apparently mean thinking them nice either. That is an enormous relief. For a good many people imagine that forgiving your enemies means making out that they are really not such bad fellows after all, when it is quite plain that they are. Go a step further. In my most clear-sighted moments not only do I not think myself a nice man, but I know that I am a very nasty one. I can look at some of the things I have done with horror and loathing. So apparently I am allowed to loathe and hate some of the things my enemies do. Now that I come to think of it, I remember Christian teachers telling me long ago that I must hate a bad man's actions, but not hate the bad man: or, as they would say, hate the sin but not the sinner.

"For a long time I used to think this a silly, straw-splitting distinction: how could you hate what a man did and not hate the man? But years later it occurred to me that there was one man to whom I had been doing this all my life—namely myself. However much I might dislike my own cowardice or conceit or greed, I went on loving myself. There had never been the slightest difficulty about it. In fact the very reason why I hated the things was that I loved the man. Just because I loved myself, I was sorry to find that I was the sort of man who did those things. Consequently, Christianity does not want us to reduce by one atom the hatred we feel for cruelty and treachery. We ought to hate them. Not one word of what we have said about them needs to be unsaid. But it does want us to hate them in the same way in which we hate things in ourselves: being sorry that the man should have done such things, and hoping, if it is anyway possible, that somehow, sometime, somewhere he can be cured and made human again."

Okay. And then I can hear some people saying that, well, doesn't that mean that we can't punish anyone? Because we certainly wouldn't put ourselves up for punishment.

No. What Lewis says, and I get what he's saying, is that if you commit a crime and later come to the realization (supposedly through conversion to Christianity) of the severity of your crime, then the correct Christian thing to do is to turn yourself in and be punished for it. Even up to and including being put to death if that's the punishment for your crime.

Now I honestly can't see a whole lot of people up and doing that. The sense of self-preservation in humans tends to be to strong. We might seek to make amends in other ways, but actually walking into a police station and confession to a murder (or even a lesser crime)? Not so much. It's a nice ideal, sure. But I don't think it's going to be implemented anytime soon. And, of course, the assumption is always that, as a 'true' Christian, you wouldn't do things that would require such punishment anyway.

"I imagine somebody will say, `Well, if one is allowed to condemn the enemy's acts, and punish him, and kill him, what difference is left between Christian morality and the ordinary view?' All the difference in the world. Remember, we Christians think man lives for ever. Therefore, what really matters is those little marks or twists on the central, inside part of the soul which are going to turn it, in the long run, into a heavenly or a hellish creature. We may kill if necessary, but we must not hate and enjoy hating. We may punish if necessary, but we must not enjoy it. In other words, something inside us, the feeling of resentment, the feeling that wants to get one's own back, must be simply killed. I do not mean that anyone can decide this moment that he will never feel it any more. That is not how things happen. I mean that every time it bobs its head up, day after day, year after year, all our lives long, we must hit it on the head. It is hard work, but the attempt is not impossible. Even while we kill and punish we must try to feel about the enemy as we feel about ourselves—to wish that he were not bad, to hope that he may, in this world or another, be cured: in fact, to wish his good. That is what is meant in the Bible by loving him: wishing his good, not feeling fond of him nor saying he is nice when he is not."

*sigh* Anyway. My thing, if there is one, is this: I like what Lewis says in this chapter about forgiveness. Much of it makes perfect sense. I'm not saying that it's implementable or anything, but it's nice. There's plenty of things that Lewis says in this book that are nice, counterpointed with all the things he says that I don't think are very effective or correct. However, nothing in this book so far as made 'the case' for Christianity. It's all good if you already believe, but if you don't, or you have doubts, then it's just interesting and sometimes not very convincing.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

All-American Muslim - Ep. 6 - A Chance at Redemption

*snort* So from the description this is going to be all about football. We'll see. *cares nothing about football*

Oh! Before we get started, I had an idea earlier. There's this whole expectation for converts to behave perfectly, to take up all of Islam in one go. But when Islam was being revealed, it was a gradual process. Like with alcohol being forbidden (yes, I had this thought while drinking a Tequila Sunrise). It was revealed in stages. So even though the people who followed Mohammed believed in his revelation they didn't have to to everything at once. I know that's because it wasn't all revealed yet, but my point is: why can't converts take things in stages? It only makes sense.

Yes, the whole revelation is out there, but the covert is like the people who originally converted to Islam. They have lives that they're changing for this religion. It makes sense to me that they take things in steps. Like when I was reading about a woman who is converting to Orthodox Judaism and she said that you take on the practices as you feel called and able to. Same thing. You know what you need to do and you intend to do them, but doing them whole hog cold turkey is too much of a culture shock.

Baby steps people. Baby steps.

Though I absolutely get the convert desire to just *do* and be the 'perfect' member of that religion. And there's pressure from born members and other converts too, because they see you as a representative of the faith and there's likely some questioning in their minds about the sincerity of every conversion.

Right then.

Okay. The Convert who will not be named and His Terrible Wife. little for your 'pain'. Let's move on.

How old are kids when they're expected to be able to do the whole fast? Or is there not a set age and it's just that they do it when they feel able to?

Oh, look, it's Nina's husband. Who we nearly never see. Maybe he's camera shy?

'gasoline distributor' - so many options. Does that mean he works at a gas station? Runs the tankers that move gas around? Owns a bunch of gas stations?

I do like that he's willing to support her in her desire to have a club. Good for him.

*laughs* Dear Nader: *men* need 'like 20 minutes!' at the gym. Women need a whole lot more work. And it's hard to find the time to go to the gym when you've got an infant. Or so I assume.



She Who Will Not Be Named's Mom is an awesome person on this subject.

'Hey, your husband has made a lot of changes in his life. Maybe you should back the fuck up and be a human being.'

*bitch-slaps She Who Will Not Be Named* Maybe you should have had those thoughts *before* you forced He Who Will Not Be Named to give up Wrigley.

'I would consider myself a control freak in some scenarios...'

O.O Really? I am shocked. Shocked. Nawal, I love you and I'm glad you're feeling better. But calling yourself a control freak in 'some scenarios' is understating the case.

The handshake thing. I'm with Nina: 'If you're going to shake someone's hand and get sexy thoughts, then you have a hand fetish.''s not a universally accepted rule anyway.

I agree though that I prefer having a female trainer to. There are some things you do when you're weight lifting especially that can get very awkward.

If Nader freaks out about her shaking that man's hand I'm going to be at a loss. He doesn't seem like that kind of a guy. And I find the fact that she feels the need to 'confess' it very strange.

'literally felt like electricity went through my body or something' Really? That's weird.

Seriously. Nina is the most sensible person in the room on the handshake issue.


Commercial and then...more football. I will make a *terrible* football widow because I can't even pretend to care. Blah...blah...

He Who Will Not Be Named is on the tv...blargh. I know what's coming, and it's not helping you. So you went back and got her. Good for you. I don't forgive you for breaking her heart! Oh, but hey, fucking *compromise*, which should have been done in the first place.

And She Who Will Not Be Named - stop talking about the 'religious situation' because that wasn't your problem, you just used it as an excuse.

Moving on to More Important Things:

Ooof. That's cold. Three times in the back and once in the head when he's already on the ground? Over what? What in the hell were they fighting about and how do you feel that's the right response?

'We can't specify that murder only happens in a certain culture, or religion. It happens everywhere.'

Yeah. Just like every other kind of human evil.

I get what Suehaila is saying about wanting to be there to witness the killer being arraigned because the family can't be there.

*is all choked up*

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christian Marriage

I have to say, overall this has been my favorite chapter of the book. There are, of course, some things that I disagree with and some things that feel very old fashioned to me, but Lewis also espouses an attitude that surprised me coming from him! And then he ruined it for me with the last couple of paragraphs.

"There are two reasons why I do not particularly want to deal with marriage. The first is that the Christian doctrines on this subject are extremely unpopular. The second is that I have never been married myself, and, therefore, can speak only at second hand. But in spite of that, I feel I can hardly leave the subject out in an account of Christian morals."

So Lewis, like me, is talking from the peanut gallery on the subject of marriage. Just so we're all clear. This is someone who hadn't been married at the time writing about marriage and having his thoughts commented on by someone else who isn't married. We're Statler and Waldorf, basically. :)

"The Christian idea of marriage is based on Christ's words that a man and wife are to be regarded as a single organism–for that is what the words `one flesh' would be in modern English. And the Christians believe that when He said this He was not expressing a sentiment but stating a fact...The inventor of the human machine was telling us that its two halves, the male and the female, were made to be combined together in pairs, not simply on the sexual level, but totally combined. The monstrosity of sexual intercourse out-side marriage is that those who indulge in it are trying to isolate one kind of union (the sexual) from all the other kinds of union which were intended to go along with it and make up the total union."

I'm not going to go into polygamy, which existed at Christ's time (and afterward) and was never explicitly forbidden. This is one of those things where it's read into the text - that you can only be *completely* one with one other person. There're arguments on both side of that fence though. And there are some people who claim the title of Christian who do believe in and practice polygamy. It's not main stream any longer, but it does exist. So there's obviously, like in so many things, enough wiggle room within the text for people to come up with different answers to the same questions.

But Lewis saying that people who are having sex outside of marriage are trying to separate the kinds of union doesn't make sense to me. Just because these people may not legally be wed or wed in a religious manner doesn't mean that they aren't devoted to one another in the same way that people who have gone through one or both of those other options are. Do you really need a piece of paper or a ceremony to tell you that you're 'one' with the other person? Not always. Though, since we are humans we do like to mark special things like that with ceremonies. But it's not necessary.

"The Christian attitude does not mean that there is anything wrong about sexual pleasure, any more than about the pleasure of eating. It means that you must not isolate that pleasure and try to get it by itself, any more than you ought to try to get the pleasures of taste without swallowing and digesting, by chewing things and spitting them out again."

Clearly Lewis has never heard of a wine or beer tasting.

"As a consequence, Christianity teaches that marriage is for life. There is, of course, a difference here between different Churches: some do not admit divorce at all; some allow it reluctantly in very special cases. It is a great pity that Christians should disagree about such a question; but...all agree with one another about marriage a great deal more than any of them agrees with the outside world...all regard divorce as something like cutting up a living body, as a kind of surgical operation...What they all disagree with is the modern view that it is a simple readjustment of partners, to be made whenever people feel they are no longer in love with one another, or when either of them falls in love with someone else."

*waggles hand* Most churches do teach that marriage is for life. And it's not something that I think should be entered into lightly, but it's (again) nothing that's stated outright. It's not even implied, but something that is inferred from the text. From the same line that is used to teach that marriage is between one man and one woman. The bit about a man and a woman being 'one'. Because if two things have become one, they can't be separated again. Right? Eh. Actually, in many cases they can be separated and become the two distinct things they were before being combined. Now I'm not saying that people should be divorcing willy nilly. I've lived through my parents' divorce, and it wasn't pretty. It's a nasty thing, which just means, to me, that people need to be far more careful when they're choosing someone to marry in the first place. Whether or not you believe that a marriage should last forever, you don't want to turn around and fight a divorce if you don't have to.

Lewis feels that marriage is related to two virtues. Chastity (of course) and justice. Where does the 'justice' come in?

"Justice, as I said before, includes the keeping of promises. Now everyone who has been married in a church has made a public, solemn promise to stick to his (or her) partner till death. The duty of keeping that promise has no special connection with sexual morality: it is in the same position as any other promise. If, as modern people are always telling us, the sexual impulse is just like all our other impulses, then it ought to be treated like all our other impulses; and as their indulgence is controlled by our promises, so should its be. If, as I think, it is not like all our other impulses, but is morbidly inflamed, then we should be specially careful not to let it lead us into dishonesty."

Now, everyone, contain your shock. I *agree* with the first half of Lewis statement, even though it's not the position he takes. I believe that it is the *promise* that should hold people in their marriages. Meaning, if you promise, whether it's spelled out or not, to be monogamous with your spouse, then you be monogamous. Period. If you can't do that, then you don't promise to do it. Don't get married. Be up front about it. I'm certain that, somewhere, there is a person who will be willing and happy to let you be yourself while being themselves in return. If you absolutely cannot control your sexual impulses, you have a mental issue and need to seek counseling. Most of us don't have that excuse.

For me it's not so much the 'having sex with someone who is not your spouse' that gets to be about adultery because if it's an open relationship, where everyone involved knows about everyone else and is accepting of the dynamics, then I don't have any problem with it. I have a problem with the deceit and the lies - the abuse of the spouse and their trust.

"If people do not believe in permanent marriage, it is perhaps better that they should live together unmarried than that they should make vows they do not mean to keep. It is true that by living together without marriage they will be guilty (in Christian eyes) of fornication. But one fault is not mended by adding another: unchastity is not improved by adding perjury."

This is the attitude that surprised me from Lewis! I would have expected him not to make such a concession, but to stick to the black or white attitude. Either you wed and are morally 'legal' to have sex or you are chaste. But I do get the angle he's taking here. If you're already going to be sinning, why add another sin?

The thing that I really liked about this chapter was Lewis' focus on the fact that 'love' is not the basis for a good, long lasting marriage. That first crazy flush of passion dies out. And if there isn't something else there, something slower burning than the crazy infatuation, then you're going to fizzle out.

"There are several sound, social reasons; to provide a home for their children, to protect the woman (who has probably sacrificed or damaged her own career by getting married) from being dropped whenever the man is tired of her."

I have an issue with that statement, but it's a very time and place related one. Or it should be. I don't think that there's as much of a stigma about a woman working and be married any longer, but there are probably some places where there are. I do know that there are still problems with women working and having children. Yet another one of those things that is better but must continue to be worked on.

"People get from books the idea that if you have married the right person you may expect to go on `being in love' for ever. As a result, when they find they are not, they think this proves they have made a mistake and are entitled to a change—not realising that, when they have changed, the glamour will presently go out of the new love just as it went out of the old one."

This is so true. Books, movies, etc. Pretty much every form of entertainment that has this as a facet. My question is, it's so widespread, where did it start? Where did we first get the idea that love was some flowery ideal that would last and last? Basically, whose butt do I need to kick? :)

"This is, I think, one little part of what Christ meant by saying that a thing will not really live unless it first dies. It is simply no good trying to keep any thrill: that is the very worst thing you can do. Let the thrill go—let it die away—go on through that period of death into the quieter interest and happiness that follow—and you will find you are living in a world of new thrills all the time. But if you decide to make thrills your regular diet and try to prolong them artificially, they will all get weaker and weaker, and fewer and fewer, and you will be a bored, disillusioned old man for the rest of your life."

I just like this. I think it's very true.

"Another notion we get from novels and plays is that `falling in love' is something quite irresistible; something that just happens to one, like measles. And because they believe this, some married people throw up the sponge and give in when they find themselves attracted by a new acquaintance. But I am inclined to think that these irresistible passions are much rarer in real life than in books, at any rate when one is grown up. When we meet someone beautiful and clever and sympathetic, of course we ought, in one sense, to admire and love these good qualities. But is it not very largely in our own choice whether this love shall, or shall not, turn into what we call `being in love'? No doubt, if our minds are full of novels and plays and sentimental songs, and our bodies full of alcohol, we shall turn any love we feel into that kind of love: just as if you have a rut in your path all the rainwater will run into that rut, and if you wear blue spectacles everything you see will turn blue. But that will be our own fault."

"Before leaving the question of divorce, I should like to distinguish two things which are very often confused. The Christian conception of marriage is one: the other is the quite different question—how far Christians, if they are voters or Members of Parliament, ought to try to force their views of marriage on the rest of the community by embodying them in the divorce laws. A great many people seem to think that if you are a Christian yourself you should try to make divorce difficult for every one. I do not think that. At least I know I should be very angry if the Mohammedans tried to prevent the rest of us from drinking wine. My own view is that the Churches should frankly recognise that the majority of the British people are not Christians and, therefore, cannot be expected to live Christian lives. There ought to be two distinct kinds of marriage: one governed by the State with rules enforced on all citizens, the other governed by the Church with rules enforced by her on her own members. The distinction ought to be quite sharp, so that a man knows which couples are married in a Christian sense and which are not."

This. I don't know what or how Lewis thinks it should be made clear who is 'state' married and who is 'Christian' married, or that I even think that's necessary. But I do think there needs to be a distinction made between religious unions and legal/state ones, assuming that the second category even needs to exist. Religious custom should not be allowed to dictate policy for everyone.

"In Christian marriage the man is said to be the `head'. Two questions obviously arise here. (1) Why should there be a head at all—why not equality? (2) Why should it be the man?

(1)The need for some head follows from the idea that marriage is permanent. Of course, as long as the husband and wife are agreed, no question of a head need arise; and we may hope that this will be the normal state of affairs in a Christian marriage. But when there is a real disagreement, what is to happen? Talk it over, of course; but I am assuming they have done that and still failed to reach agreement. What do they do next? They cannot decide by a majority vote, for in a council of two there can be no majority. Surely, only one or other of two things can happen: either they must separate and go their own ways or else one or other of them must have a casting vote. If marriage is permanent, one or other party must, in the last resort, have the power of deciding the family policy. You cannot have a permanent association without a constitution.

(2) If there must be a head, why the man? Well, firstly is there any very serious wish that it should be the woman? As I have said, I am not married myself, but as far as I can see, even a woman who wants to be the head of her own house does not usually admire the same state of things when she finds it going on next door. She is much more likely to say `Poor Mr X! Why he allows that appalling woman to boss him about the way she does is more than I can imagine.' I do not think she is even very flattered if anyone mentions the fact of her own `headship'. There must be something unnatural about the rule of wives over husbands, because the wives themselves are half ashamed of it and despise the husbands whom they rule. But there is also another reason; and here I speak quite frankly as a bachelor, because it is a reason you can see from outside even better than from inside. The relations of the family to the outer world—what might be called its foreign policy—must depend, in the last resort, upon the man, because he always ought to be, and usually is, much more just to the outsiders. A woman is primarily fighting for her own children and husband against the rest of the world. Naturally, almost, in a sense, rightly, their claims override, for her, all other claims. She is the special trustee of their interests. The function of the husband is to see that this natural preference of hers is not given its head. He has the last word in order to protect other people from the intense family patriotism of the wife. If any-one doubts this, let me ask a simple question. If your dog has bitten the child next door, or if your child has hurt the dog next door, which would you sooner have to deal with, the master of that house or the mistress? Or, if you are a married woman, let me ask you this question. Much as you admire your husband, would you not say that his chief failing is his tendency not to stick up for his rights and yours against the neighbours as vigorously as you would like? A bit of an Appeaser?"

*sigh* Oh, Lewis. I was enjoying this chapter, and then this. First, there doesn't need to be one person who is the 'authority'. I've been there, I've thought that, and I'm over it. If two adults cannot reach a compromise, there's something wrong. Marriage, in my understanding, is about give and take. Compromise and understanding. It's not about having a disagreement and then one party whipping out the 'I've got a penis' card and getting their way.

For the second half. Well, hah. It sounds kind of good, if you're not thinking about it. Women are *too* strong and tough to be allowed to run around and do what we want. We're too apt to think only of our family and our offspring and conquer the neighbors because we want their pool. Only what it means is that we're too ruled by our emotions to be expected or allowed to interact with the general population. So we need the calm, rational man to negotiate with the other families.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

All-American Muslim Ep. 5 - Muslims Moving On

Ah, I'll have you know that I'm interrupting my reading of The Iron Hand of Mars to do this. I hope you appreciate my sacrifice! :)

Flashbacks to the last ep: I just want to hug Suehaila all over again! They aren't man enough for you!


Yeah, having a pet with severe allergies is hard. My sister is actually allergic to our cats so we have to keep them out of her room. Compromises can be worked out.

Naseem! *makes cooing noises* I spent most of the day with Eve, my friend who is 6 months pregnant with, of course, Evesdottir. So I'm feeling the whole baby thing right now.

Nawal: 'It's very rude!' for babies to cry in public. Ah...they can't help it. They're babies.

Nawal is very cranky. Is that like post-partum or is it just adjusting to new sleep patterns and everything else that's changed?

Meh, even Nina's sister is against her having a club. *side-eyes them all* I do get the issue with the reputation, but it's really unfortunate that this is a concern for them all. Also, I'm fairly certain they already talk about Nina.

The name of the shop is 'Hija Bee'. *dead from cute*

*glares at Shadia* It's Jeff's dog. Rather than trying to get rid of Wrigley you need to think of another way to deal with it. He's had her for 10 years. Okay, I'll be honest. I would never marry someone who didn't understand that I was going to have my pets. I'm torn, really. I know that she has allergies but she's being a bitch about this. Throwing in that it's 'forbidden' by Islam. It's *not*!

Right. Officially, Shadia is at the bottom of my list. And Jeff for giving in to her. You're going to give up a 15 year old dog? If she goes to a shelter she'll be put down. People don't adopt older dogs! Very unhappy.

The first morning of school scene in the Jaafar household is made of cute.

Nawal is not amused by the discussion of having four or five kids. You should take that hint and stop talking, Nader.

To be fair, I think all families give unwanted advice.

I have to say I do find it funny that Fouad is all...we're very against boys and girls mixing, dancing, he'd have a problem if his daughters decided not to wear hijab, but he's so very, very foul mouthed on the field.

'People seem to confuse culture with religion.' - True. But to be fair people within religion also confuse their culture with their religion.

And your kids are terrified of everything because they've never been around them. I guarantee that.

If your problem isn't that it's a religious issue, which it *isn't*, then why do you keep bringing it up? You're not religious but you're more than willing to use religion as an excuse for things that you want to happen. I don't respect Shadia and I don't like her. I'm just going to repeat that, in case you missed it before.

I know, I know. Judgy Amber is judgy. Hush.

Dear Nina: Re: previous conversation wherein you claimed that all the Qur'an asks is that you be modest. I'd agree. And I'd just like to point out that, even judging by modern American cultural standards, you aren't dressing modestly. I'd you'd had a tramp stamp I could have seen it, what with your pants and your shirt being about an inch apart.

Honest to god, I have no idea why Jeff married Shadia. 'It'll be good for Wrigley.' Bullshit. You're breaking that dogs heart. She's not going to understand why the man who loved her and took care of her for ten years is suddenly gone.

Right, back to Suehaila. It'd be great if this conference opened up a chance for her to move out of Dearborn and live the life she thinks she should be living. don't care.

And crap. I just realized I was supposed to remind my sister to take her antibiotics at 11. Well, her lights are out and her tv's off now. Hopefully she remembered on her own. Ooops.

You know, why are we focussing so much on Wrigley? Oh, I know, because it's a weird Muslim thing and so un-American that they can't have dogs. But you know what it tells me? Poor storyline choice since we could be focussing more on Suehaila and her conference or Nawal and the new baby. It also has made me loathe Shadia. I mean I'm happy that this dog sanctuary called but I still think it's a shitty thing for her to decide that 'compromise' means 'force Jeff to give up his dog'. Argh. Must remember that we don't see everything!

Ah...see...I think it would have been much better to focus more on Nawal, Nader and Naseem. Seeing a new family and how they adjust would be much better. And I'd be less pissed off.

I seriously don't see Shadia and Jeff's marriage lasting, which is a terrible thing to say and I think that he's going to really regret giving Wrigley up for her.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Sexual Morality

"We must now consider Christian morality as regards sex, what Christians call the virtue of chastity."

Must we? Well, if we must.

I think I should point out that Lewis deals mostly with the definition of 'modesty' as regards dress and 'chastity' as regards sexuality. There are other, related, definitions and there is a point where the definitions of both words sort of crossover and can become synonyms. But for the purposes here they're treated in that narrow fashion and I think it's easy enough to understand.

"The Christian rule of chastity must not be confused with the social rule of 'mod­esty' (in one sense of that word); i.e. propriety, or decency. The social rule of propriety lays down how much of the human body should be displayed and what subjects can be referred to, and in what words, according to the customs of a given social circle. Thus, while the rule of chastity is the same for all Christians at all times, the rule of propriety changes."

Interesting. But I think that there's some sort of underlying...assumption or belief that Christianity, whether it comes from the Bible, Tradition or just the consensus of the masses that there is a 'Christian' way to dress. I'm sure that it changes from era to era and place to place but the idea is that a Christian will not wear 'x' kind of clothing. There's also the factor that the concern over what is 'appropriate' clothing seems to focus mainly on the clothing of women. You cannot judge a persons spirituality or faithfulness to their religion based on their clothing, though we all do it. I'm certainly guilty of it, perhaps even more than most people. I'm trying to be better about that but it's something of an automatic process so it's hard to grab a hold of it and put a stop to it. 

Anyway. There are certain passages within the Bible that can be, and are in some circles, interpreted as directing what kinds of clothing Christians (mostly women) are supposed to wear. However there is, as far as I'm aware, no monolithic (as in believed by all of those claiming the title of 'Christian') consensus on a specific mode of dress labeling one as a 'Christian' or not.

And Lewis' point is that 'modesty' is a societal construct while 'chastity' is the religious requirement. He gives the example of a Victorian lady, covered from neck to ankles in clothing and a 'girl in the Pacific islands' who wears, essentially, nothing. Both, in their modes of dress, are meeting their societal standards of modesty. Both of them may *also* be chaste but their mode of dress is not an indicator of that chastity one way or the other. There is a tendency to equate modesty with chastity. It's a false connection though. One can be the most modest person in their own culture and not be chaste. In the same way someone can dress immodestly by the standards of their society and be chaste.

"I do not think that a very strict or fussy standard of propriety is any proof of chastity or any help to it, and I therefore regard the great relaxation and simplifying of the rule which has taken place in my own lifetime as a good thing. At its present stage, however, it has this inconvenience, that peo­ple of different ages and different types do not all acknowl­edge the same standard, and we hardly know where we are. While this confusion lasts I think that old, or old-fashioned, people should be very careful not to assume that young or `emancipated' people are corrupt whenever they are (by the old standard) improper; and, in return, that young people should not call their elders prudes or puritans because they do not easily adopt the new standard. A real desire to believe all the good you can of others and to make others as comfortable as you can will solve most of the problems."

I wonder what Lewis would make of modern society? I'm guessing he might not be as pleased by the 'relaxation of the standards' as he was in his own time. I think that this confusion he speaks of is something that always exists. After all, pretty much every generation rebels against the one that came before. I'm sure there were 'old folks' back in ancient pick-your-culture who were railing against the clothes and music and actions of the younger generation while the younger generation were complaining about how old fashioned and stuffy their parents and grand-parents were. The world is, in many ways, like a washing machine. It all just keeps going around and around, the same thing over and over just with different clothes. And yes, that made more sense in my head. I'm leaving it though! Pretend it's some sort of wisdom-y Zen koan or something. 'Life is a journey. Time is a river. The door is ajar.' Reality is a washing machine on spin cycle. Go with it.

"Chastity is the most unpopular of the Christian virtues. There is no getting away from it; the Christian rule is, `Either marriage, with complete faithfulness to your partner, or else total abstinence.' Now this is so difficult and so contrary to our instincts, that obviously either Christianity is wrong or our sexual instinct, as it now is, has gone wrong. One or the other. Of course, being a Christian, I think it is the instinct which has gone wrong."

I agree that some people find chastity hard. Others do not. So perhaps the problem is that we've tried to impose what is natural to a portion of the population on the entire population? I honestly think that many people would be better served if there wasn't still the assumption that only one way is the correct way to have a relationship. I don't believe that our instincts are wrong or that Christianity is wrong. Just that it *obviously* doesn't work for everyone on the planet. But nothing does. I've come to think that we're too diverse for any single theology or philosophy to encompass everyone and their needs.

"The biological purpose of sex is children, just as the biological purpose of eating is to repair the body."

Is that really the only purpose of sex? Maybe in animals, and while we may be descended from animals we've evolved since then. It's absolutely true that one of the primary biological purposes to sex is to reproduce and preserve the species. But for many humans there is also the biological need of companionship and bonding to be met. I think some people make the distinction and think of companionship as a mental need but I think, for many people, there's a physical/biological aspect to it as well. After all, if all we needed to feel fulfilled was an intellectual connection then the people who don't want children would never have sex. But they do. Yes, you could argue that that's part of our biology's way of forcing/tricking us into doing something that would produce children but even if that's so that doesn't change the fact that we have a biological *need* for sex in order to feel fulfilled, with or without the end result of children.

And yes, I am aware that there are asexual people who do not feel the draw of sex. That's why I said 'many' and not 'all'. It's very, very hard to make blanket statements about anything because there are always exceptions to the rule. And I find that wonderful. :D 

"if a healthy young man indulged his sexual appetite whenever he felt inclined, and if each act produced a baby, then in ten years he might easily populate a small village. This appetite is in ludicrous and preposterous excess of its function."

But that's not the way it works. Our *biology* ensures that not every single sexual act produces a child. The appetite is *not* ludicrous in excess of its function. I think it's important to keep in mind that not every sexual act produces a child and not every pregnancy lasts to term. I think it's also important to remember that the world has changed a great deal since our ancient progenitors sat in a cave and doodled on the walls. In the past the mortality rate of..well...everyone was much much higher than it is today. Than it was in Lewis' time as well though we've made a lot of progress even since then. 

When the sexual instinct/urge was developed it was appropriate to the needs of the species. Let's say, since I have no idea what the actual numbers were, that half of every sexual act historically, without the intervention of modern science and medicine, (in this case restricted to vaginal intercourse obviously) produced a viable embryo. So we have 1,000 couples having sex. Of them, only 500 embryo's are originally produced. Let's be nice and say that 75% of those make it to term. 375 babies are born. Of those let's say another 25% have some sort of birth defect that kills them before they hit puberty. 282 kids who are born healthy. Take away another 50% of those who are lost due to accidents, illness, etc. 141 children survive. 28% of the original embryos have survived to adulthood. 

Of those 141 adults, not all of them will survive to pass on their genes. Of those that do survive to the point of getting to try and pass on their genes, not all will succeed. Some of them will and the cycle starts again.

Of course these are all numbers that I pulled out of my ass, but you see the idea, right? Now days the rates of survival are much, much higher in developed first world countries. Our sexual urges, assuming that the main, if not sole, purpose of them is to drive us to produce future generations, are in proportion to the needs of the species as we evolved. Do we need to produce so many children now? Opinions vary. But assuming that your answer is 'no', that's why we invented birth control. And different sexual positions. Ones that do not include the possibility of offspring.

"a strip-tease act—that is, to watch a girl undress on the stage."

I find it charmingly adorable and funny that Lewis felt that he had to explain what a strip tease was. *laughs*

Lewis continues to equate the need for food with the need for sex. He says that if we went to a country where they had 'strip tease' style acts with food, where "you could fill a theatre by simply bringing a covered plate on to the stage and then slowly lifting the cover so as to let every one see, just before the lights went out, that it contained a mutton chop or a bit of bacon" that we would come to the conclusion that there is something very wrong with that country's appetite for food. And so, it being the same thing and all, there is obviously something wrong with the need for sex in any country that has such things as strip shows. *side eyes Lewis* Because those haven't been around since the beginning of time or anything, just like prostitution. Oh, wait, it's clear that Lewis believes that stripping is something new.

"One critic said that if he found a country in which such strip-tease acts with food were popular, he would conclude that the people of that country were starving. He meant, of course, to imply that such things as the strip-tease act resulted not from sexual corruption but from sexual starvation. I agree with him that if, in some strange land, we found that similar acts with mutton chops were popular, one of the possible explanations which would occur to me would be famine. But the next step would be to test our hypothesis by finding out whether, in fact, much or little food was being consumed in that country. If the evidence showed that a good deal was being eaten, then of course we should have to abandon the hypothesis of starvation and try to think of another one. In the same way, before accepting sexual starvation as the cause of the strip-tease, we should have to look for evidence that there is in fact more sexual abstinence in our age than in those ages when things like the strip-tease were unknown. But surely there is no such evidence. Contraceptives have made sexual indulgence far less costly within marriage and far safer outside it than ever before, and public opinion is less hostile to illicit unions and even to perversion than it has been since Pagan times."
Another explanation, apart from the 'starvation' or 'corruption' ideas is that there *was* starvation in the land and now that it no longer exists there're expressions of natural hunger that shock some people. People have always had the sexual appetites that we have now. The difference is that, as opposed to Victorian times (for example) we feel more free to express them. The culture is changing and so the visible availability of some things has increased. However, just because some people, in the past, chose to believe that such things never happened doesn't make it so. 
"You find very few people who want to eat things that really are not food or to do other things with food instead of eating it. In other words, perversions of the food appetite are rare."

That's not even remotely true. I'm going to chalk this one up to ignorance of the times and move on. 
"But perversions of the sex instinct are numer­ous, hard to cure, and frightful. I am sorry to have to go into all these details but I must."

Yes, dear lord, some people want to have sex for fun! *gasps in shock* I'm not entirely sure about which 'perversions' Lewis is referring to. He makes it clear that homosexuality is a perversion, of course, but I don't know if he counts wanting to have non-vaginal sex or perhaps the idea that women have (or would really like to have) orgasms. Or perhaps (probably) pain play, BDSM, roleplaying, or any other form of sex that is not 100% vanilla and 'normal' - and those are *sarcastic* air quotes around normal right there.
"We have been told, till one is sick of hear­ing it, that sexual desire is in the same state as any of our other natural desires and that if only we abandon the silly old Victorian idea of hushing it up, everything in the garden will be lovely."

I'm not advocating the idea that just getting rid of outdated ideas about sex and sexuality will fix everything, but it would help a lot of things. Think of all the people who feel the need to pretend to a sexuality or gender identity that is not true to them in order to please society or their family. And all of the ones who are so beaten and depressed by it and the harassment they are subjected to be people who believe that they are 'wrong' or 'dirty' or 'sick', the ones who wind up taking their own lives because they can't see any hope.

"They tell you sex has become a mess because it was hushed up. But for the last twenty years it has not been. It has been chattered about all day long. Yet it is still in a mess. If hushing up had been the cause of the trouble, ventilation would have set it right. But it has not. I think it is the other way round. I think the human race originally hushed it up because it had become such a mess."

Um. Twenty years is not a very long time for centuries and possibly millenia of a cultural problem to get cleared up. Just saying. It took a long time to get that way and it's going to take a long time to get it out of our collective system.

Lewis talks about how Christianity is one of the only religions that is sex positive. I have my doubts about that, and even about how sex positive you can even claim Christianity really is. Does it definitively say that sex is evil? *waggles hand* Depends on your reading of the texts. Some say yes, some say no. It's a matter of interpretation. I think it has been hijacked, historically, by men who did have issues with sex and their interpretation became the most widely read and believed for the longest time. However, talking to Muslims you find them saying that their faith is the most sex (and matter) positive. I'm sure I could find Jews who believed the same. And Hindus. Etc. Everyone thinks they're the best and every religion can and has been hijacked. *shrug* Happily I don't base my views on sex on religion.

On the heels of that, however, Lewis says that the 'modern' (his time) view of sex *has* gone wrong. It is warped. We are ill in the sexual sense and need to be cured, but before we can be cured we must admit that we need to be cured. This is one of those things where Lewis and I are just not going to agree. I don't believe that our society, in its continuing attempt to embrace healthy expressions of sexuality (those that are not inherently wrong - pedophilia, bestiality, and necrophilia, for examples of those that I believe are by their very nature wrong), is sick. I think we're on the other side of that - we've admitted that we were sick, that the shaming and oppression of natural sexual instincts and needs made us sick and that we are now getting better.
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