The Whole Story

06/4/2008, 12:30 pm -- by | No Comments

Swearing, interrupting, speeding, gossiping . . . we all have bad habits, some more noticeable or annoying than others. I\’ve discovered a new one in myself, one that surprised me because of its irregularity and motivation. I tell people the end of movies, plays, and books, especially ones with surprise endings, like “The Sixth Sense” and Life of Pi. The reason is that I want them to appreciate the story as a whole, to grasp the metaphors and themes as they relate to our lives, because that\’s what makes a story meaningful.

I think my bad habit stems from something deeper, though. Forgive me if you\’re one of these people, but I have trouble with Christians who are intensely focused on prophecy. I know a few Christians whose belief system revolves around Revelation and Daniel, in conjunction with the works of Hal Lindsay and Tim LaHaye. These people believe we are in the end times right now, and therefore study and interpret prophecy in an attempt to divine where we are in the book of Revelation.

Revelation is the end of the story. But God seems to have always been about the journey, the lessons along the way. God\’s promises are fulfilled in time, from Abraham\’s descendants becoming a great nation, to the Israelites fighting for generations to fully claim Canaan, to David\’s struggle to get and keep his throne, to Jesus coming not as a great king, but as a baby who had to grow up. What\’s more, time is where His people learn the lessons that make them capable of fully grasping God\’s promise.

We know the ending of the story: Revelation. We also know the journey: the Great Commission. Therefore, while those who are focused on prophecy annoy me, they do recognize an important part of the story that I\’m missing. Likewise, they may miss out on the journey in their anticipation for the ending. One part without the other is an incomplete narrative, not what God intended.

Take up my bad habit. Look at the story as a whole, from the beginning to the end, and look for those overarching themes and metaphors, meant to infuse our journey with meaning and prepare us for the ending.

A Summer Reading List

05/28/2008, 2:30 pm -- by | No Comments

It\’s summer again, and that means everyone is playing outside, going on vacation and lying on the beach! Which is why a summer reading list is ludicrous, but I\’m suggesting some good books and authors anyway. The asterisk indicates young adult books, but I\’d recommend them for adults, too.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Neil Gaiman
Lauren Winner
Terry Pratchett
T.A. Baron
Amy Tan
*Scott Westerfield
*Ann Rinaldi

Life of Pi, Yann Martel
The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini
Lipstick Jihad, Azadeh Moaveni
Reluctant Saint, Donald Spoto
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Jean-Dominique Bauby
Behind the Lines, Andrew Carroll
Art, Yasmina Reza
Rhinoceros, Eugène Ionesco
All About My Mother, Samuel Adamson (contains graphic content)
*The Key to the Golden Firebird, Maureen Johnson
*Guitar Highway Rose, Brigid Lowry
*What Happened to Lani Garver, Carol Plum-Ucci
Song of Albion (3 books), Stephen Lawhead
Confessions, Saint Augustine
The Crystal Cave and The Hollow Hills, Mary Stewart
Wicked and Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, Gregory Maguire
1984 and Animal Farm, George Orwell
Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
Jacob Have I Loved, Katherine Paterson
The Nanny Diaries, Emma Mclaughlin and Nicola Kraus

One Hundred Words (9)

05/28/2008, 9:00 am -- by | No Comments

In the spirit of Proverbs 10:19, our newest regular feature will be a series of posts of 100 words — or fewer. Comments under ten words!

It snowed on Friday. In New Mexico. In May.

When I saw it, I laughed, the kind of laugh that only forms when the irony of life triumphs. And all day I kept thinking of “The Day After Tomorrow.” I don\’t know about global warming and all that, but I do know some pretty old people with some very long memories at the restaurant where I work, and none of them remember snow in May.

I\’m not saying there\’s going to be some catastrophic planet-wide climactic shift or anything. Nothing like that. It just freaked me out. That\’s all.


One Hundred Words (5)

05/21/2008, 9:00 am -- by | 3 Comments

In the spirit of Proverbs 10:19, our newest regular feature will be a series of posts of 100 words — or fewer. Comments under ten words!

My mother is complaining about the heat. It’s 103, no A.C., and I say, “Remembering this got me through five months of snow.” And she says, “You like this?”

I’m happier when it’s hot. I love emerging from a dark, air-conditioned house into the dry heat. I love the warm wind cooling my sweat and messing up my hair. I love evenings when it’s 75, and my sister and I lie on her back yard’s broad wall, recalling childhood memories because that’s all we have in common since I moved 2000 miles away.

What was I thinking?


Best of Chloe — The Whole Word of God

05/1/2008, 11:00 am -- by | No Comments

Originally published May 30, 2007.

Last week at an awards ceremony in a university chapel, I sat near a plain square box with a gold Star of David painted on the front. It was a Torah ark. I hadn’t seen one of those in years, not since I had been to a special shul with my mother, during which graduates of a Hebrew class were honored. My mother was a graduate with her friend Damon, a Messianic Jew who sat beside her with a yarmulke covering his mostly bald head. He sang the Hebrew in a strong and liturgical voice and made me wish I knew how to sing the words so I could join in.

The Torah ark at the synagogue I had attended was huge, painted with rich hues and accented in gold filigree. The wood was carved and the metal molded into complex designs that no doubt told a story I would only understand if I were Orthodox like the people around me. Everything in the decorations had meaning because that is how the Jews look at the world. God created the universe; therefore it is imbued with His symbolic meaning. If we unearth this meaning, we draw a little nearer to God.

The rabbi took the Torah out of the ark for the reading. As he carried it from the ark to the bima where it would be read, the members of the synagogue kissed it as it went by. The part of this that struck me as most profound was how reverent everyone was as the rabbi walked by. This was the Word of God passing through their midst, and their quiet demeanor showed that they would not forget that.

In the Jewish tradition, the old scribes who copied the Torah had certain rules that governed their discipline. For example, they would only write the secondary names of God (El, El Shaddai, Elohim, etc.) with a brand new pen, no matter how fresh the first pen had been. And YHWH, the name God used to reveal Himself, was an entirely different matter. “Before they wrote this highest and best name, [the scribes] rose from their seats and went into their personal quarters. They took off their robes, bathed themselves, clothed themselves with new, clean garments, and returned to their work. There they knelt down, confessed their sins, took a new pen, dunked it once into the inkwell, and wrote those four letters.” (Dr. D. James Kennedy)

Quite a few of my Christian friends tend to avoid the Old Testament. Some of the reasons I’ve been given for that decision include that it’s boring history, or that it’s hard to spot God’s grace and mercy through all the gore on David’s sword. Worse, it has been called outdated, the old law that isn’t important anymore and shouldn’t be bothered with — except for the Psalms, of course, and anything to do with Revelation and/or Messianic prophecy.

But I was enthralled with the Old Testament when I read it. I mourned with Leah over her husband’s neglect and yelled at David for not going to war in the spring, when kings were supposed to go to battle, not play peeping tom. I fell in love with the poetry in Job and sobbed when Jonathan died.

Most importantly, I discovered something that is denied by all those excuses for not reading the Old Testament. I discovered, as we’ve seen in our weekly Bible study, that Jesus was and is everywhere, saturating the narrative with His presence and reaffirming His role as the fulfillment of the law.

Houghton Going Green

04/22/2008, 1:30 pm -- by | 1 Comment

A new professor is coming to Houghton College — Dr. Matthew Sleeth, an environmentalist and the author of Serve God, Save the Planet. He\’s been hired to make the campus green.

I don\’t like the sound of that.

See, we all have our own opinions on how Houghton College spends its money. Personally, I\’ve been watching professors drop like flies. The sociology department\’s class offerings have dwindled to entry-level courses, and senior writing majors have been forced to coerce over-extended professors into doing independent studies, or else succumb to Intro to Creative Writing.

And instead of getting a few new sociology or writing professors, we hire some guy to make the campus green? Houghton doesn\’t care about being green! This is a marketing strategy.

This whole semester, every time I heard Sleeth\’s name, I went off on the poor souls who found themselves within a ten-yard radius of me. “Do you know they\’re requiring all the first-years to buy his book?,” I would cry. “He\’s rewriting the Scripture and calling it the first ”˜Green Bible!\’ It\’s going to be printed with recycled paper and soy ink. Soy ink!” Absolutely absurd.

Sleeth spoke in chapel yesterday. I would have boycotted, but I skipped too many chapels earlier in the year and had to go to meet the requirement. I decided I would go, but I wouldn\’t enjoy it.

Sleeth started off on the wrong foot, bragging about how his son was 19 and graduating from Asbury, and his daughter was 17, in her second year at Asbury, and looking forward to seeing her book, “It\’s Easy Being Green,” in bookstores soon. Well, whoopty-freakin-do.

But then he started talking about his life. He graduated third from the bottom of his high school class. Relatively Christian, he met a Jewish girl and got married, then together, they swore off religion. His wife announced soon after their wedding that she thought he should go to college, so he did, worked his butt off, and went to medical school just two years later.

Throughout his chapel talk, Sleeth spoke time and again of how someone — usually his wife, often God — challenged him, leading him to dedicate himself entirely to something: first emergency medicine, then Christianity, and finally environmentalism. When Sleeth chose to believe in something, he threw himself into the work of perfecting it. He loves what he does, he\’s passionate, and he wants others to be passionate with him.

I enjoyed his chapel, immensely. He\’s speaking again today, and I can\’t wait to hear him. Maybe the college isn\’t spending its money wisely, but that doesn\’t have anything to do with who and what Dr. Matthew Sleeth is. I can\’t wait to see what he will do for Houghton.

Please Procrastinate

04/16/2008, 10:00 am -- by | 1 Comment

Last Sunday, Erin and I went to Geneseo for some grocery shopping. Well, great, you\’re no doubt thinking, who cares?

But it was a very important day. I had just gotten back from a writing retreat and had a lot of homework to do. She always has a lot of homework to do. We needed to buckle down and plow through our respective to-do lists.

But the sky was piercing and the wind was meandering and everyone else was playing catch outside.

So we threw on capris and sleeveless shirts for the first time this year, and when our housemates asked us where we going as we giggled our way out the door, all we said was, “Crazy!”

We drove with the windows down, my feet on the dash (Death Cab in our heads), as I read a book out loud. We did our grocery shopping, then went to Starbucks. And Dunkin\’ Donuts. And Tim Hortons. To be fair, the last two were good deeds, not indulgences. (When everyone figured out where we\’d gone, they had called and placed their order.)

On the way back, as twilight settled and the warm air turned chilly and wet, we pulled over next to standing water and Erin introduced me to the peepers, those little frogs that almost sound like crickets. I had never noticed them before. We came home bearing gifts of coffee and donuts and ice cream; never mind that every donut had a sizable bite out of it. Finder\’s fee and all that.

The homework didn\’t get done. I didn\’t finish reading the chapter, I didn\’t do the worksheet, and I didn\’t write the reading response. But I got an A on the quiz, and it didn\’t kill me not to turn an assignment in. I\’ll forget that within the month. I will not forget my adventure with Erin. The essence of that little road trip will come back every time I hear the peepers, every time I drive with the windows down, every time I drive through Geneseo or go to Wegmans.

The work will get done. It always does. The adventure will pass you by.

Cactus Flowers

04/2/2008, 9:25 am -- by | 2 Comments

Bweinh! celebrates National Poetry Month this April.

I miss the desert like I miss a drink of water after a day of fasting, like I miss my bed after a year of traveling.
That grit in my teeth when the wind blows too hard, and that crack of thunder that makes me steady the expensive vases teetering in their tenuous places.
The rain on a tin roof a few times a year, and then the transformation, the green invasion in my trusty red dirt.

And I am missing it to live in a deadened landscape where the rain doesn\’t smell like anything and there is no noise at night but the absence of sound when there\’s snow on the ground.
I miss the crickets.
I miss the coyotes.
I miss those sounds in the night that bury me in my covers, that give me shifty eyes, or no eyes at all because I don\’t want to know what would make a noise like that.
Anything but this silence like life doesn\’t come around here anymore.

Continued here!

Luke 12

03/26/2008, 10:00 am -- by | No Comments

Last week’s Bible study was on Luke 12. That passage is my favorite in the whole Bible, so I\’d been looking forward to it ever since I heard we were doing Luke. However, college ate my life and I had no time for the Bible study. But I will not be deterred! I want to share with everyone what that passage has meant to me these last few years.

My father died when I was seven, leaving my mom, my sister and me with Social Security checks to take care of us. We lived off of those for several years, but we always knew that when I turned 16, my mom\’s check would stop, and when my sister and I turned 18, our checks would stop. I turned 16 the same year my sister turned 18, and that year my mom lost her job. She didn\’t find another one until after that last check stopped coming.

I cannot describe the fear we faced every single day for those two years, both together and in our own worlds. I remember staying up nights, terrified that we would have to give away our animals and everything we owned, that we would have to leave our apartment and live in our van, that we would starve. I remember the November the electricity bill was somehow $400, and my mom forbade us to turn on the heat or use the oven, and constantly yelled at us for having too many lights on. I remember the Pop Tarts for both breakfast and lunch, and running out of milk or bread near the end of the month and having to wait until the 1st or 2nd to get more.

But most of all, I remember being so afraid, always so afraid.

I do not remember going hungry. I don\’t remember going thirsty, or without decent clothes. I don\’t remember ever going to sleep without a solid roof over my head. I was helpless with worry those two years, but at least once a week I read Luke 12:22-34, and later committed it to memory. Experience has impressed on me the passage\’s truth. I have never gone hungry for lack of food. I have never been without clothes or shelter. And though I worried, I\’m sure I did not add a single moment to my life by doing so.

God is faithful. It\’s taken me a couple of years to get to the point where I can finally write those words and actually believe them, but God is faithful nonetheless. Luke 12 didn\’t teach me that — I had to learn it myself — but the passage certainly reminds me of the truth whenever I forget.

“Then Jesus said to his disciples: ”˜Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?\’ ”

Bweinh! Goes to the Movies — The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

03/12/2008, 10:00 am -- by | 3 Comments

The screen is blurry, and I blink several times to clear my eyes. No, still blurry. I blink again. So does the screen. A little better. There are shapes moving about now. The screen blinks again and the shapes become people. It wasn’t my eyes.

“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” is the story of Jean-Dominique Bauby, the former editor of French Elle, who suffered a stroke at the age of 43 and lived the remaining two years of his life locked inside his paralyzed body. The opening scene is a rendering of Bauby waking from the coma and learning that he has locked-in syndrome — he cannot speak, he cannot move, and he cannot communicate at all, despite his fully conscious and capable state.

But Bauby is a remarkable person, and so he does not only spend his last years longing for his past life and the release of death. Though he cannot speak, Bauby can blink his left eye. Therefore, his speech therapist devises a simple yes-no blinking system, then goes on to develop a list of French letters organized from the most common (e) to the least (w). She recites this list to Bauby until he blinks, thus enabling him to slowly spell out words and communicate with people. In this way, Bauby writes a book: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, an abstract personal narrative on which the film is loosely based. The final manuscript is strong and pristine, every word’s worth and work weighed by hours of solitude and stagnancy.

Throughout the film, the director parallels Bauby’s current life with his past life — being trapped inside his body as an invalid, juxtaposed with his life filled with supermodels and lovers and the mother of his children, who stays by him to the end, but whom he continuously reminds us is not his wife. There are scenes where, in flashbacks, he sneers at the invalids in holy places hoping for a miracle, and scenes where he is the invalid being wheeled toward the blessed springs. There are scenes where he plays with his three children and jokes obscenely with his teenage son, and scenes where they play around him, incapable of playing with him.

The film enables the audience to live life through the eyes of someone with locked-in syndrome. We experience Bauby’s muteness, humiliation, and helplessness alongside him. We feel trapped and frustrated and suffocated as he does. And when the movie ends we release our breath, unaware that we were holding it the whole time, dreading with Bauby the end.

Best of Chloe — The Dragon Tree

03/5/2008, 10:30 am -- by | No Comments

Originally published December 7, 2007.

The Dragon TreeIn a place called Clissold Park in North London, where dogs run without leashes and babies learn to walk, off the path and far into the cold emerald grass, there is a dragon, cursed by an English witch hundreds of years ago to be eternally rooted in the ground, to pay for transgressions long since forgotten.

The dragon is mossy green with age, and ribbons of bark twist around his huge serpent-like branches. His coils stretch far and low, curling like arabesques in stone cathedrals, and reaching out to those who happen by him. At first glance it is impossible to tell whether he is inviting people to take refuge under his canopy or clawing the sky, writing in agony with the wind.

I have only ever seen the dragon in the winter, when the leaves have all fallen and he looks ragged and lost, like nature put far too much work into one side and forgot about the other. His branches lie at the height of my shoulder, five feet from the ground, and I can wrap my arms around them as if I were holding a horse’s strong, muscular neck, and feel the strange warmth in the tree’s core, the flame of his breath that has yet to burn out. He is a climbing tree, and a limber person could clamber all the way to the top branches to view St. Paul’s and the Gherkin defining London’s horizon, or simply settle in the cleft of a low-hanging branch and write verse or read old novels.

When I first discovered the dragon, I couldn’t tell if he was writhing or beckoning, whether the warmth in his branches was from the burn of fighting muscles or the comfort he exuded. I couldn’t decide whether the holes in his trunk and the creeping moss were conquerors or companions. Perhaps, I thought, he was a content and wise old tree — or perhaps an embittered dragon biding his time, waiting to break free.

Whatever the case, I took on impulse the invitation to recline where the trunk had split at the base so that another gently sloping trunk had grown out of the ground. I accepted the proffered place to sit and muse, to lie back and tell him my thoughts on God and nature, on my fellow man and our history.

During these long afternoons, the dragon taught me things he had learned throughout his centuries in the ground. He described to me the great people who took their first steps within his circumference, the heinous crimes committed beneath his branches, and the everyday commonalities that taught him the most about humanity. He taught me that men search for God in whatever they can, be it mountains or oceans, stars or suns, or trees that reach out to touch people, to brush their shoulders and say, “Come, I have much to tell you.”

The dragon taught me that, as great as nature is, and as much as it can fill me with awe, the Creator is still greater. He taught me that I too must learn patience and discernment if I will be wise like the dragon. He taught how the world will go on after I have passed away and time has swallowed my memory, how I am so undeniably small.

There is a dragon in Clissold Park in North London. I have never hugged, never loved, never learned from a dragon before. But the dragon in Clissold Park, cursed by a good British witch, has learned much in his years in the ground, sedentary and silent but for the wind. He has learned that when one’s movement is measured in decades rather than seconds, one must calculate each choice carefully: that choosing to writhe is choosing to writhe for an eternity, and choosing to beckon is choosing to listen and teach forever. And he learned that though each small movement will make its impression on his form, only the results of centuries will be remembered.

The Depression Epidemic

02/20/2008, 10:30 am -- by | 4 Comments

Several friends have told me that they’re depressed these last few weeks. Symptoms have ranged from not feeling like doing homework, to not wanting to get out of bed, to avoiding other people at all costs. Most attribute their sadness to the fact that the sun hasn’t shown its face more than twice in the past three weeks. We’re in the lull before break right now, when everything is cold and white and icy, and a day consists of getting up, doing schoolwork, then going back to bed. In other words, this too shall pass, and soon.

But these conversations, combined with how many people I know who are medicated for clinical depression, has sparked me to question what might be causing an apparent epidemic of depression.

The National Institute of Mental Health reports that 18.8 million American adults suffer from depression, two-thirds of whom are women. Depressed Americans make up 6.2% of our population. This may not seem like a staggering statistic, the idea that 6 of every 100 people has depression, but that statistic is talking about clinical depression. It doesn’t include brief bouts of melancholy, or the type of depression that hits you with a razor blade and leaves you smiling and sunny six months later. The World Health Organization estimates that 15% of the world’s population has a depressive episode in a given year (which could range from two weeks to a full year). That’s 990 million depressed people. 990,000,000.

So there are the staggering statistics. Now I’ll introduce something that will sound entirely unrelated. I’m doing research on self-consciousness right now, and one study I came across tested boredom proneness (yes, they’re related, but it would take another article to explain how). Boredom proneness has, in several studies, been linked with depression.

I’ve found nothing that states which is the cause and which is the effect, but here’s my hypothesis: we as Americans are bored because of how used to being entertained we are. As a result, we have trouble finding interest in everyday life, and on some level we believe that our lives are unfulfilled, perhaps because they don’t look like television lives. Why should we get out of bed? What new and exciting thing will happen?

And again, we have lost our ingenuity, our ambition to create new and exciting ways to live life — because we can live on a mysterious island on Thursday night, and be the next top model or superstar any day of the week. All we have to do is turn on the TV. But the show always ends, and none of it is real. Is it any wonder that we are bored and depressed?

An important point I must make is that I don’t think boredom causes depression across the board. Sometimes depression comes from childhood abuse or trauma in one’s life, and sometimes it’s a chemical imbalance. The frustrating thing is that so little is known about the chemical aspect of depression that no definitive hypothesis can be formed. We can only tinker with dosages until a medication seems to work, while we play connect-the-dots with cause-effect relationships in research.

The thing that perplexes me is the sheer number of people suffering with bouts of depression (not clinical depression). Surely that isn’t common! Surely men and women haven’t suffered mind-numbing sadness like this since the beginning of time! I mean, I don’t deny that it’s possible. However, I suppose that when you had to run a farm to feed your family, you didn’t have the choice to think about how you didn’t see the point in getting out of bed. But that’s just speculation.

This is the part in the article when I provide some concise conclusion, or offer some advice on where to go from here, what we can do to alleviate the epidemic. I, of course, have no solutions. I only have hypotheses and questions and an urgency that something should be done. But I’ve found that often the best way to find a solution is to talk to people and get other opinions. So comment or email me your thoughts.

Therapeutic Truth

02/6/2008, 2:00 pm -- by | 2 Comments

Therapists have a bad rap. They get called names like “shrink” or “quack.” They’re accused of charging obscene rates for little or no work. People think they just mess with people’s heads and create neuroses to get clients to return. The worst thing I’ve heard anyone say about therapists, though, is that they’re significantly responsible for the degradation of Western society.

And the guy who said that is a therapist.

Speaking from an expert psychotherapist’s perspective, Dr. William Doherty writes in his book, Soul Searching, that from the inception of therapy, the trade has focused on the individual — stressing questions like, “What is this doing for you?,” “How is this benefiting you?,” and “What are you getting out of this relationship?” He gives examples of a therapist who told clients to stop volunteering in the community because he saw altruism as an unconscious attempt to fill a hole in the client’s life, of others who told divorced or separated couples anything from, “You need to think about yourself for a change — abandon the kids,” to “Take him for all he’s worth! You deserve it!”

These examples are frightening. Psychotherapists have taught their clients that the most important person in the world is oneself. People must act in their own interest. We can see how ingrained this lesson has become ingrained in our society.

But Dr. Doherty brings good news also. The subtitle to his book is “Why Psychotherapy Must Promote Moral Responsibility,” and it’s a herald to a new method sweeping the field — morals-oriented therapy.

Doherty wants therapists to be up front with their clients not only about their virtues (what a single person holds as important), but also about morals, which he defines as applicable to everyone. That’s right — absolute truth.

Examples include confronting ex-husbands about the way they manipulate their ex-wives or hurt their children, or doing the same to women who use their children against their ex-husbands. You can imagine how little these people want to hear what Dr. Doherty has to say to them; therapists who practice morals-centered therapy run the risk of being fired by clients who don’t particularly want to hear, “Why don’t you consider how your actions are affecting other people?” But Doherty’s examples tend to end with the clients growing as individuals, and more importantly, as members of a community.

This is exciting to me because this book, and most of the field of therapy, is secular; yet it’s moving towards thinking in terms of other people, of morality, of absolute truth. Therapists are coming to the conclusion that an individualistic life approach doesn’t work. The only way people can lead mentally healthy lives is through the good old Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have done to you.”

I ♥ Grocery Shopping

01/30/2008, 8:00 pm -- by | 3 Comments

The other day, a friend of mine was talking about “retail therapy,” which means going on a shopping spree until unhappy feelings go away. I declared that I was going to do that on Friday, and she said, “Ooh, where are you going?”

“Um. . . Wegmans,” I answered sheepishly.

“I don’t think grocery shopping counts,” she answered, but I still think it does.

I have never in my entire life been so excited to go grocery shopping. I made a list in class today of all the things I intend to buy. It was two pages long, and included such things as “cheeses” (you can never have enough cheese, and only one kind won’t do) and “ingredients for cookies,” which means any possible ingredient for cookies I could conceivably imagine in my wildest sugar-deprived dreams.

I’m ecstatic about the culinary delights that lie before me. My grandmother’s best dishes, my childhood favorites, my church’s famous potluck inventions…even a top secret recipe from Germany, for which I promised my firstborn son and daughter. Believe me, it was worth it. It was a cookie recipe.

I never thought I’d be thinking day and night about all the things I could buy at the grocery store, as if it were a stationery shop or shoe outlet. Those of you who have been college students may understand. Those of you who have been poor will understand even more. And those of you who have been both — you’ll know exactly how I feel.

But if you have never been any of the above, try spending $20 on groceries for a month and see how you feel afterwards. Suddenly the grocery store will look to you like Toys-R-Us looks to kids, a week before Christmas.

Is Good News A Myth?

01/24/2008, 12:00 pm -- by | No Comments

I check the news daily, but I rarely read any of it. It’s not that it’s bad writing (though it is) or that it’s slanted reporting (though it is). It’s not even that I’m bored with it (though I am). The reason I haven’t been reading the news is because it gives me nightmares. It makes me sick to read the headlines of FOX News and CNN, because their style of reporting is more like a parade of freakishly heinous crimes rather than anything resembling journalistic integrity.

I took a sampling this week of the headlines on the two sites. One day I had to copy nearly every single headline. These are just a few exemplary examples of the daily dose of bad news:

Sri Lanka clashes kill 59 rebels
Cops arrest 66 in online prostitution sting
Stabbed Woman, 4 kids found dead in burning home
Cops: Mom put son in oven as punishment (with video)
Bad Day: Doc delivers baby, watches house burn down
Macedonian army helicopter crash kills 11 (with photos)
Man found with maggots in eyes dies
Marine slaying crime scene photos

Our world is fallen. We can’t close our eyes to the fact that these types of things happen every day. However, I cannot stand any longer for their use as entertainment. The only reason news agents write articles like the above is because people read them. If it’s not bloody and bizarre, it’s not worth reading. It’s like ambulance chasers, or people who slow down at the scene of a car crash, trying to spot a mangled body or some bits of gore. It’s sick. There’s no other word for it.

But there’s some good news! Literally! I went searching for something to ease my discomfort after reading those headlines, and I found the Good News Network. GNN was started by Geri Weis-Corbley, a TV news producer who was exhausted by the inundation of bad news in her profession. Now it boasts such lines as “Johnny Depp donates $2M to Children’s hospital,” and “Couple reunited after 60 years apart since the war.”

This is what I was looking for. It’s just good news — in business, civics, earth, family life, health, recreation, and other fields. So if you feel burdened by the daily news reports, visit GNN. It’s a refresher and a reminder that though our world is fallen, good things still do happen.

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