Friday, November 21, 2008

A Good Jew Candidate?

Anslee made the following list about me and put it on my Facebook wall. While most of my readers are "friends" with Anslee and me and probably got this on their mini-feeds, a few aren't. And it just made me laugh, so I thought I'd post it here so I'd have (because blogs live long enough for posterity...)

  • a writer/editor.
  • a fine supporter of obama.
  • an educator of recycling/composting/doing good environmental stuff.
  • a friend.
  • a daughter/sister/granddaughter/etc.
  • not a mom.
  • a good jew candidate.
  • not a dinosaur.
  • a hanger of art.
  • a driver of a toyota (i think?).
  • a knowledgeable person of free food.
  • my facebook wifey (hehe).
  • a ball of rage, sometimes, but within reason.
  • worthy of good things.
  • a great drunk dialer.
  • a hard worker, but sometimes lazy (and i love you for it).
  • tons more things than this list can provide, but definitely someone i cannot live without, even if most of these things were not true.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Rethinking the Holidays

My church and my friends have been engaging in conversations about our consumer culture and the empire it has created. Challenging our consumer culture is something I'm always thinking about (see old posts on corporations, fair trade, and the local economy).

But we're about to come upon our culture's greatest celebrations of gluttony: Thanksgiving and Christmas. So I thought I'd do some nerdy linguaphile investigating, and I looked up the definition of the verb "to consume".

con⋅sume /kənˈsum/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [kuhn-soom] verb, -sumed, -sum⋅ing.
–verb (used with object)
1. to destroy or expend by use; use up.
2. to eat or drink up; devour.
3. to destroy, as by decomposition or burning: Fire consumed the forest.
4. to spend (money, time, etc.) wastefully.
5. to absorb; engross: consumed with curiosity.
–verb (used without object)
6. to undergo destruction; waste away.
7. to use or use up consumer goods.

Notice that only the final definition, number 7, takes on our current-day economic meaning. It's also the only definition that is not negative (although I would argue that it very much is a negative definition).

And this is what most economists, companies, and corporations think of us - a market of consumers. A group of destroyers. In terms of the holidays, it makes me wonder: What are we really celebrating?

People always say the holidays are about family and the people you love. But isn't it more about eating too much, spending too much, and getting too much?

As I've wondered how the answer to that question translates practically, I've found a lot of people are trying to figure it out, too:
  • Buy Nothing Day. On the Friday after Thanksgiving, the crazy folks at Abusters are asking consumers to stop being consumers for a day and simply buy nothing. So instead of rushing to the mall to get those sparkling day-after-Thanksgiving sales, why not enjoy your day off, enjoy some leftovers, and actually spend time with your family (not shopping). Or you can protest in a Santa suit outside the mall.

  • The Advent Conspiracy. This brilliant idea came from the minds of a several churches who were tired of Christmas. Seriously. They were tired of it, tired from it. Then they started asking why it wasn't about Jesus anymore. So they came up with the Advent Conspiracy to get the church back to the meaning of Christmas and celebrate in more holistic ways.

So what does all this come down to? It's actually pretty easy. Consider a buy nothing Christmas and make gifts instead. If you find it hard to make gifts for family members (like younger brothers who don't want something "crafty") consider giving time and offering to do something for them instead. My dad always asks for socks for Christmas, so I'll probably still buy him socks but also offer to take him out to dinner for once (instead of the other way around).

There's a lot of alternatives. You just have to be creative and think of ideas tailored to each person. You know, put in some thought and effort. It's a bit tougher than buying a gift card, but I think it's more rewarding in the end. And you might just have your most memorable Christmas yet.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Why Does all the Good Television come from Britain?

So I was going to embed some YouTube videos of the delightful canceled-too-soon British sitcom Spaced. But the embedding has been "disabled by request."

But if you follow this link, you can see my one of my favorite scenes.

The show's premise: Friends Daisy and Tim need to find new places to live, and they decide to pretend to be a couple to get a flat advertised for "professional couple only." They befriend the other tenants and bring their weird friends into the mix, and for the most part, they do what normal 20-somethings do. They're all geeks and reference pop-culture and science fiction regularly throughout the show (note the great Star Wars reference in the link above). It features Simon Pegg before he was famous, and really captures the feel of the late 90s/early 00s.

It may just be one of the best shows of the last 10 years. Seriously. Pegg and company put together this great little show while Friends was at its peaked, and the two sitcoms could not be more different. While Friends featured yuppies with posh jobs and rather superficial dilemmas, Spaced captured the reality of living in crappy apartments and working shit jobs, all the while featuring a group of odd-balls who could live in the apartment next to you -- with some exaggerations. It' very much a product of 10 years ago, yet I still relate to it (not in the least because Daisy is a freelance journalist who makes no money...)

So go out and rent it!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Note on "I'm Proud of Us Slackers"

I removed the link to the Christian School Journal blog with my comment because the CSJ links back to posts that mention it. So any concerned Christian educator can follow a link to my post "I'm Proud of Us Slackers". So much for my anonymity.

I wanted to be anonymous primarily because I don't want to get into any ideology wars with older evangelicals. It's enough to deal with my parents, and they're going to love me no matter what. Plus, my mom has mellowed out a lot when it comes to politics (gone are her days running the Muscogee County Republican headquarters). Both my parents take the time to listen to my arguments and give me credit for thinking through the issues. They understand that I voted for things I care about (the war, the environment, health care, education).

I have a relationship with them, one that transcends political opinion. I don't with the readers of the Christian School Journal blog -- we are only represented by words on a screen. It's hard to overcome "worldview differences" with internet comments. I think finding common ground must be done relationally. That is what I'm realizing about so many of the tough issues that divide us -- we can find where we agree, but we need relationships first. We need to love first. It's easy with my parents -- we love each other by default. It's a lot harder with older evangelicals I only know through a blog.

And honestly, as much as I enjoyed being that postmodern heathen from the Satan's playground (a.k.a. Austin) the novelty wore off, and I just don't want to argue anymore.

[I'd also like to link to a post I wrote a few months ago about postmodernism, worldview, and faith. It pretty much explains where I am with my faith, and may shed light on why I see no point in arguing with evangelicals. Also, today some of my fellow "wayward" postmodern church friends sent me a link to the Emergent Village feed site, and that has made me feel better.]

O Valerie Plame

Friday, November 7, 2008

I'm Proud of Us Slackers

The slackers did rise, and Obama won. Hey, young people, I'm proud of us.

A black man was elected president. Even a few days later, I'm still a little in shock.

I cried along with so many others during his speech, and I believe this is a new era.

Enough of the feel-good comments: Let the Christian backlash begin. Check out the Christian School Journal (I can send you the link) for a good snapshot of evangelical reactions across the board. I left an anonymous comment, although it hasn't been approved yet. Once it's up, I'm sure you'll have no trouble figuring out which one it is.

Really, I'm proud of us. I've wasted a lot of time on the NY Times interactive electoral map, and I was fascinated by the county numbers. Every major city in Texas went to Obama, and almost every border county went to Obama. Georgia was even more interesting, as several Atlanta-area counties went Obama and my home county did, too.

So yes, it's a new era. I hope we can be unified, even those who believe that Obama is a baby-killer...

Monday, November 3, 2008

Slacker rising?

Who are these young people who don't vote?

Are they perennial slackers living in their mothers' basements?

Are they college students away from home who forget to fill out their absentee ballots?

Are they yuppies who just don't find time to get the polls?

It's not the hipsters. As much as I bash them (yet identify with them), I will give them due credit - they've been active this election season. Apathy still reigns in most respects, but somewhere between the emails claiming Obama's a Muslim and "Drill, Baby, Drill" they've started caring.

That said, I have a lot of friends back in Georgia who are in their 20s and love McCain. Probably because they're pro-life and think it's God's will that we're in Iraq. But at least they vote. At least they care. At least they go to the polls.

So yeah, who are these young people who don't vote?