My New Baby (Book)!

My new baby! Described by my husband as “well-written but weird”, this short book was inspired by personal dreams and way too much reading of Christian mystics over the past 2 years. It is with great pride and just a little trepidation that I present my new e-book, available exclusively on Amazon’s Kindle: I Am My Beloved’s: A Mystical Allegory

Is it a work of fiction, or not? Is it meant to be disturbing or reassuring? A work as mysterious as the subject matter, this short piece features the emotional highs and lows of spiritual mysticism from a Christian perspective.

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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Young Adult Fiction and the Youth of a Nation

IMG_7467_smallI’m getting a little tired of YA dystopian novels. They seem calculated only to make money, are highly unoriginal, morally questionable, and full of plot holes. But nobody cares because they are exciting and tell teens yet again, they are super-special (Honest Trailer quote) even before they have done anything. It always boils down to the kids’ destiny, they end up being “the chosen one” who will save the world in some overly dramatic and overly simple story line.

How many can I name? Twilight, The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Ender’s Game, Divergent, Prodigy, Matched, ok I’m done listing but this is by no means exhaustive. Love triangle dystopian novels are especially trite. Maybe it’s because I genuinely do love a good dystopian novel, that these bother me so much. Rather, try Brave New World, Animal Farm or 1984, Fahrenheit 451, The Giver (A YA novel recently made into a film), Lord of the Flies, The Handmaid’s TaleDo Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and a lot more.

Many of those books in my first list are no more than poorly written, scripted versions of those in my second list. There is a reason classics are considered, well classics, and one reason is that they continue to inspire and challenge. So don’t get cheap knock-offs, go to the source!

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Gone with the Vanity Fair

vanity fair coverI’ve been reading Vanity Fair, by William M. Thackery. It is a large, long book and I hesitated to pick it up at first. Still, it is considered a classic, and I have a personal goal to read as many classics as I can. I took a deep breath and began, and have been delighted ever since. After a few chapters, I began to notice a pattern and, just as Charlton Heston’s character learns the terrible truth that Soylent Green is people, so I excitedly proclaimed to my baffled husband my suspicion that Gone with the Wind was Vanity Fair.

While I have not read Gone with the Wind (yet), I have enjoyed the film many times, much to my husband’s chagrin. He is in for a disappointment, because I am about to enjoy it again.

I had my suspicions when first reading about the characters of Rebecca Sharp and Amelia Sedley, or should I say, Scarlett O’Hara and Melly. Just as with Scarlett, Rebecca is a strong, power-hungry, conniving little woman who can hold her own, and how! She is not entirely evil, but is certainly a very selfish person. Rebecca, like Scarlett, plots to become popular and rich, and sets her pretty, flirtatious eyes on any man who might fit the bill. Rebecca is rather shameless, always flirting with men young and old, single and married alike, thoroughly enjoying the attention and praise lavished upon her. The ladies are less thrilled with Rebecca’s charms.

party at tara
Shameless flirtation at the party of Twelve Oaks

Amelia’s character is highly contrasted with Rebecca’s, just as Melly’s is with Scarlett’s. Amelia and Melly are both very quiet, kind, and gentle souls who give their all to everyone else, hardly ever thinking of themselves. There are some significant differences between Melly and Amelia, for instance, Melly’s character seems very strong, although quiet, while Amelia nearly always seems childlike. Still, the caricature between the two is quite similar, even their names are alike. Both love with all their hearts, charm people by their goodness, submit to duty, refuse to gossip, lead quiet lives rather than flaunting about in high society, and, they pray sincerely.

The famous party scene at Twelve Oaks in GWTW, might have been lifted right from the pages of Vanity Fair. Another interesting similarity is that GWTW is set right before the outbreak of the American Civil war, while Vanity Fair is set right before the Battle of Waterloo, and although VF doesn’t go into it, Thackery mentions that the town of Brussels had been turned into a military hospital, just like Savannah, GA in GWTW. Thackery describes too, the anxiety and pain of reading the list of wounded, missing, and dead, a poignant scene in GWTW.

All these might have been mere coincidences until, about halfway through the “novel without a hero” (VF), Rebecca utters the famous flippant phrase of Scarlett O’Hara, “fiddlededee”. My suspicions were confirmed! I squealed to Ryan who was trying to sleep, “She said, fiddlededee!!!” No more evidence did I need, the case was closed.

soylent green

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The Bible’s “Song of Songs” vs. T.S. Eliot’s “The Wasteland”

(Originally written November 25, 2009)

song of songsIn contrasting Song of Songs in the Bible to T.S. Eliot’s poem The Wasteland, the nature of desire or passion and its difference from love will be considered in an ancient-versus-modern setting. It may be quite a surprise to many when reading the ancient text Song of Songs, that the strong language and heady insinuations could be found in none other than the Bible. However, Song of Songs explicitly states in celebrated fashion the passion, desire, love, and intimacy between two people.

The two speakers describe each other and their surroundings in terms of lush vegetation, beautiful flowers, strong implements, fragrant smells, and riches (consequently, these are things modern people find romantic as well),

“Thy cheeks are comely with rows of jewels, thy neck with chains of gold…a bundle of myrrh is my well-beloved unto me” (Solomon, 97).

While the poem is exciting and will bring a blush at certain points, it is about more than just sex. There is an intimacy implied between the two lovers not necessarily inherent in the sexual act, which is where the line between desire/passion and real love is. The woman in Song of Songs is detailed even to her teeth and nose, and unlike other ancient works (such as Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Homer’s The Odyssey, and Catulus’s love poem), the language proves there is desire and passion, but more than that-the lady is cherished.

“A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse…thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits…with all the chief spices: a fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon” (Solomon, 98).

Nor do the two lovers attempt to conceal their love for one another. The woman actively searches for her man through city streets, and presents him to her mother,

“The watchmen who go about the city found me: to whom I said, Saw ye him whom my soul loveth?…I held him, and would not let him go, until I had brought him into my mother’s house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me” (Solomon, 97).

At the other end of the spectrum in describing the nature of desire or passion and its difference from love, is T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland. Far from examining how two ideal lovers see each other, The Wasteland looks at modern-day London, England and its extreme lack of love. The horrors of sterility, loneliness, dryness, death, affairs, and rape abound in this depressing poem of hectic, gaudy, and false big-city life.

“Here one can neither stand nor lie nor sit/There is not even silence in the mountains/But dry sterile thunder without rain/There is not even solitude in the mountains/But red sullen faces sneer and snarl/From doors of mudcracked houses” (Eliot, 2089).

wastelandIn The Wasteland, rather than leading to intimacy, love-less sex leads to death both emotionally and physically in the form of abortions, “It’s them pills I took, to bring it off…the chemist said it would be all right, but I’ve never been the same” (Eliot, 2083). Passion or desire becomes lust wherein the “lovers” have no feelings towards each other once the act of sex is over,

“She turns and looks a moment in the glass, Hardly aware of her departed lover…’Well now that’s done: and I’m glad it’s over’” (Eliot, 2086).

As opposed to the Song of Songs in which the lovers could not bear to be parted and communicate eagerly back and forth, Eliot paints a very different picture, of a one-sided conversation vacillating between begging and demanding,

“Stay with me. Speak to me. Why do you never speak…I never know what you are thinking. Think” (Eliot, 2082).

A passion and desire-turned lust begets rape, which begets an abortion in the first section of Eliot’s poem, “Yet when we came back, late, from the Hyacinth garden, Your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither Living nor dead, and I knew nothing” (Eliot, 2080). “That corpse you planted last year in your garden, Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year?…Oh keep the Dog far hence…Or with his nails he’ll dig it up again!” (Eliot, 2081).

The vast differences between the ancient Biblical poem, Song of Songs and it’s to-the-point descriptions of true lovers in love (along with all the heady excitement therein), compared to T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland where desire and lust reign without love in a dry, ugly landscape; serves as a reminder of the thin line between lust and love and their subsequent outcomes.

Cited Sources

Eliot, T.S. “The Wasteland.” The Norton Anthology of World Literature: Volume F: Second Edition.Sarah Lawall, General Editor. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2002.   2079-2091.

The Norton Anthology of World Literature: Volume A: Second Edition. Sarah Lawall, General Editor. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2002.

Solomon. “The Song of Songs.” The Norton Anthology of World Literature: Volume A: Second Edition.Sarah Lawall, General Editor. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2002.  96-100.