Monday, February 25, 2013

Fantine came to Refuge

I finally saw the movie production of the musical Les Miserables last Friday.  I'll be thinking about that movie for a long time, meaning it was a good one that impacted me.

But I see the anarchic state of France and I see America now.  And then I go on Facebook and see that one post about, "If you don't like abortion, don't get one; if you don't like premarital sex, don't have it, etc..."

I already had one big discussion over the abortion one, and I'm sure I'll have it again and again.  Tonight I will mention Fantine in the movie, portrayed by Anne Hathaway who did an excellent job.

Many people will say, if you don't like prostitution then don't do it.  They're having consensual sex.  They don't see these cases that are more the norm: a woman has a child.  Her baby's daddy leaves.  She gets a job.  She loses the job.  She feels like she has no other option than to cut her hair, knock out her teeth, and have sex with strangers, all for money because people will not hire an unwed mother in a decent job.  (Like there aren't that many unwed mothers in France). 

So, Fantine could choose not to resort to prostitution to feed her child.  But did anybody tell her what other choices she had?  I think not.  She was cut and beaten and humiliated all in the name of sexual freedom.  She was not uplifted by that.  She was thrown aside like she was trash.

If I was advocating Fantine at Refuge, I would point her to the same church that sheltered Jean Valjean, tell her to find her kid, and let them point her to the other options that don't resort to human degradation.

Now back to abortion, aka, I-can't-believe-it's-not-women's-health.  I suppose most of the ladies who get them can choose otherwise.  But in reality, they never feel like they have a choice.  They have parents throwing them out of the house, boyfriend's parents judging them, boyfriends who don't want the responsibility of whatever they put inside her womb, and she herself has no resources and no job to take care of a child.  No one is there to tell them that another loving couple who cannot have children but who can raise one can raise her child.  That other people can come support her as a church family and show her alternatives that do not lead to the death of a human and the lifetime of mental torture his or her mother experiences the rest of her life.  They don't warn her that the surgical procedure will ruin her reproductive system, causing her to have trouble having kids when she is ready, that her chances of breast cancer will increase, that she'll have PTSD, recurring nightmares, won't be able to listen to a vacuum cleaner without flashbacks, and will go for years not being able to forgive herself.  Last time I checked, none of that was healthy for women.  Btw, the chance of getting pieces of baby stuck in her uterus and catching disease and killing her is also not healthy, not to mention the money she'll pay if she does find a surgeon to finish the job.  Oh yeah, it's not very good for the unborn baby either as it's ripped apart and vacuumed in full pain and horror.

But this is what you get when you continue to promote libertine lifestyles.  Some people getting everything they want and most people barely able to live.  This is not freedom.  This is the ultimate lack of choice and lack of meaning in life.  I will not be silent on facebook over that.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Charlemagne and Feudalism

Charlemagne and Pope Leo III formed the Holy Roman Empire in order to unify the empire that was once ravaged by barbarians.  The Pope had helped in defending the lands against the savages, and now he has crowned an emperor.

After both of those men died, their successors could not carry on the dream.  While the Romans valued unity, the Teutons liked to divide their inheritance among their sons.  First, Louis the Pious succeeded his father Charlemagne.  Then, he had two sons: Louis and Lothair.  He then divided the empire among them, and then he had another son, Charles the Bald.  After the father's death, Louis owned the western empire, Charles inherited the east, and Lothair had everything else and was declared emperor. 

Louis and Charles met in Strasbourg in 842 and took an oath to be loyal to each other until they defeated Lothair.  Lothair threw up the white flag, and they formed the Treaty of Verdun in 843.  They no longer shared the continent.  Charles the Bald controlled what is now France, Louis controlled what is now Germany, and Lothair took Italy and everything else.  This is why they are separate countries today.

The practice of dividing land among people became the trend.  After the Roman Empire got so big, it could not take care of everybody anymore.  "Feudalism in one form or another always arises when a central government becomes weak and can no longer exercise effective authority over the areas under its control," (Cairns, 192).  People had to make their own living off of the land, and they divided the land between men who owned the land.  They pretty much had their own private states.  The lords who owned the land let vassals and serfs live on the land in exchange for helping on the farm.  This was a mini-communism.  The government owned the land and provided for the serfs.  The serfs had all things distributed among them and they were basically slaves.  They were loosely united until William the Conqueror solidified the feudal pyramid.

At some point, some people donated their land to the Pope in order to pay for some indulgence.  The Roman Church now owned a lot of real estate.  It was influenced by the feudal system.  The abbots and bishops tended the land, and clergy were like the serfs.  They were also peaceful.

The bad news: this began to secularize the church.  The good news: it did help them reach out to the people some.  They would open sanctuaries, monasteries, and convents for refugees who needed homes.

The bad news again: the lords could gain land and prestige through service in the church.  Since they gave the biggest donations, they could have a say getting bishoprics and abbeys for their relatives who had little interest in spiritual matters.  It was just a job to them.

An investiture controversy arose: could the feudal lord or the pope grant these feudal church leaders the symbols of authority?  This made relations between Church and state rocky.  The Church did have an influence in social activism.  They made the Peace of God, an agreement to ban private quarrels between lords.  They also enacted the Truce of God, saying that the lords could not fight each other except on Tuesdays.  This prevented much bloodshed.  And, of course, there were homes for the destitute.

At the same time, Slavs, Vikings, and Magyars continued to attack the empire, dividing attentions between homeland security and batting off the invaders.  Many of the invaders settled in England and Normandy: the Anglo-Saxons and Vikings respectively.  Slavs and Magyars occupied south-central Europe.  They posed a threat to the Papal power and broke the Eastern empire.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Women's Choirs and Page-Turning

Again, I began to reminisce toward my freshman year at Trevecca and the time I went through my music classes with stars in my eyes.

Being in Nashville, I actually wanted to be a famous star.  In those four years, it did not happen, but I was well-liked at least.  Looking back, I recall a friend I had who suddenly moved and I never heard from her again.

It was orientation week, and I auditioned for some choirs, in fact every choir I could audition for.  One of those choirs was an all-girl's group called Treble Tones.  I sang for the woman who would lead it.  We seemed to get along well.  Before I left, she told me that her three children were in a current CCM singing group at the time.  I didn't listen to them regularly, but they were well-known.  I left feeling very excited that I was going to be in Nashville, meeting semi-famous people without even knowing it.  Perhaps I'll even be discovered.

The school year started.  I'd go to the women's choir, then I'd go to lunch.  Sometimes I had someone to sit with.  As normal, I usually sat alone until I saw someone come in.  Often I would see the Treble Tones leader, DeLise, come in and sit with a tray covered in food (and she stayed thin b/c she was a concert pianist for different Trevecca functions.  Really, that's how she stayed thin).  I began to sit by her and talk to her.  She soon became a dear friend that I would sit with almost every day.

A few times, she invited the ladies to her house in Franklin, and sometimes we'd go to some function at her church.  We met her daughters and other well-known people.  We felt really cool.  One time, another girl and I even stayed at her house overnight and I woke up in the wee hours of the morning and ran into one of the daughters who recognized me from seeing me at Treble Tones outings.  We were both still asleep.

One time, the woman played piano for the Trevecca Master Chorale, the community choir on campus.  I can't remember how I ended up at that practice, but she asked me to turn pages for her.  I did so at the concert, too, and afterward the whole group would go to some restaurant in Nashville.  I thought it was absolutely amazing to turn pages for her, and she always seemed to appreciate it even though, looking back, I don't see how unique that is, but you do have to know how to follow music scores.

Sophomore year, I still sang on Treble Tones the first semester.  Second semester, I had to take an English class at the same time, so I could no longer sing on that group.  However, I still would sit with them woman and talk with her.  I intended to join the Treble Tones again the following year if I had no more class conflicts.

Junior year came, and the Treble Tones had a new director.  The original woman moved to Kentucky, got married, and I never had contact with her again.  I was fairly crushed by that, but I immediately auditioned for Covenant Choir, the co-ed group, and had a lovely time the next two years being led by Dr. Koehn and thriving.

However, I often think of DeLise, wonder how she is, and if I'll ever hear from her again.  I heard that she had called some other people I knew, but she never called or emailed me.  Perhaps it was for the best.  I don't begrudge it.  Sometimes, I just look back and wish I could tell her how I am doing now: how I've been to seminary, lead a youth group, go to paralegal school, work for an attorney part-time, and date a more-than decent boyfriend.

Either way, it's good to remember a woman who practiced piano all day long, truly believe in Jesus, supported conservative values (Trevecca was and is not as conservative as they would like to be), watched out for my spiritual well-being, only took one break a day from playing piano to eat in the caf, could identify the exact pitch I would play on piano whether Middle C or A#, and greatly appreciated even a small assistance such as turning her pages at the concerts.  I hope she reads this and sends me a holla.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Dear Fellow Pro-Lifers

Because I can't sleep.  This is never a good idea to blog when you can't sleep, but it's been a couple of days.  Anyway, I've had enough.

Hi!  I'm Meghan.  I'm pro-life.  I volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center.  I will defend the unborn if it means going to jail.  I can tell you many stories of these young women who are coerced into an abortion clinic both before and after and can tell, they never feel like they have a choice.  It goes to the point I'm actually starting to get more horrified from stories I hear from certain experiences and am finding reasons to fight simply for the sake of the victimized mothers.

However, there has got to be a better way to defend the dignity of the unborn victims than showing their naked, mangled bodies on the Facebook news feed.  I'm not saying there is not a time an place for those pictures.  I'm not saying I have never posted them.  They are great for showing people how inhumane and barbarous the practice of abortion actually is.  Facebook news feed is not that time or place for those pictures.

This is for the same reason I do not want to watch R-rated movies or expose young children to graphic images, whether it's porn, rape, or things that go on in the bedroom.  Facebook is a public forum viewed by pro-life and anti-life alike.  It is where I get my news.  Forget CNN or Fox News.  I just rely on facebook.  However, avid supporters of your cause such as I cannot sleep at night because of these pictures and the only people that ever really respond to them are the ones who agree with you.

So, for the sake of honoring the unborn children or victims of any age or situation, please stop posting them.  If you must, make another website, link to it, and warn people that there are graphic images.

Love you all,

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Busy Times and Reminiscing 2006

One week I am not going to be so overly busy that I can't blog about church history.  It's a risk I take but it's also my passion that I love to share.  Lately, I have to balance between paralegal job, church job, homework, tests and projects, and finding time just to be alone with God and to enjoy time with Tim.  But Spring Break is nigh, and I will hopefully get another post about the Holy Roman Empire into the blogosphere.

I do want to post more stories and ideas gleaned from my personal life.  The one this time is 2006.  2006, I was a junior at Trevecca.  I planned to stay there that summer.  Mom said to do so I need a job and a roommate.  So around March and April, I had a job at an Italian restaurant and planned to live in campus apartments with a friend from my music classes.

By the time summer came, I had no job and no roommate.  The job downsized and other plans came with the latter.  But the campus had me room with another girl, actually a former roommate of the other one.  Then I started a summer class and sat with another friend from my music classes.  She had just moved out from her previous roommate.  We agreed to room together in campus apartments in the fall.  I roomed with her, could live with her, and was still friends with her afterwards!  So, God took care of that situation.

Also, in June, another friend and I walked around Opry Mills filling in job applications.  Later, my best friend of all called to say Rainforest Cafe was hiring people off the street.  So, I drove to the Rainforest Cafe at Opry Mills and got a job for five months.  Again, God caused my details to fall into place in an even better way than I had originally planned.

At this point in my life, I feel like I'm heading into the unknown.  I do have plans, but what if something should change that?  So far, that has happened all year but God led me to dating my best friend and working for the world's only ethical criminal defense lawyer.  I must wait in faith for what he will bring me too as I finish up school for the third time.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Fig Tree Kreme

 I decided to post my lesson at Shepherd Staff from last Thursday.  I at least had fun doing it.  There are my notes.

Mark 11:12-14

 So, what do you see about the fig tree and what it would mean to Israel?  What if you went by Krispy Kreme and saw the “hot” sign on?  What if you went in and instead of having fresh glazed doughnuts, they instead had all the leftover donuts from yesterday?  They even had the nerve to have Dunkin’ Donuts.  Would you be very happy with Krispy Kreme?  This is what happened when Jesus saw the fig tree.  It promised wonderful figs, but had nothing.

Mark 11:15-19

What did the people expect from their long-awaited Messiah, Jesus?  They wanted him to save the nation of Israel from Rome and enhance their lives here on earth.  Jesus’s salvation is not for this world and it is for all kinds of people.  What did he do instead? Do you think they would be happy about this?  Why was Jesus not happy with the temple?

Can we tie these three stories together so far?  The Jews waited for Jesus.  He came to a nation that was supposed to know him and wait for him.  He found people who were happy with this current life and wanted satisfaction now.

Jesus went to a fig tree expecting figs, but he did not get any, so he cursed the tree.

Jesus whips the temple, much to the dismay of the Jews.

He came to Israel expecting worship and reverence, but only got people who loved themselves and wanted to make their own names greater than God’s.

Mark 11:20-25
They see the fig tree again.  It is now withered.  Jesus gives a homily about prayer and faith.  What is the connection?  People who truly believe in Christ will pray to him because they seek him.  Not because they want freedom, a doughnut, not even great things like justice.  They want Jesus.

Mark 11:26.  It’s not in the text.  What are we to do with that?

Mark 11:27-33

Why did Jesus think it was his place to take a whip to the temple?  Because all the earth is his and he created it all.  He specifically revealed himself to the Israelites who he brought out of Egypt.  He specifically showed them their only salvation in Christ.  These same people only wanted good things in this life.  He created them, saved them from horrors, and gave them a good life.  Should he not be angry that they don’t really worship him but treat him as a good luck charm?