Just A Few Questions, Please

I’ve compiled a list of questions you can ask Olympians to make your coverage more dramatic and interesting for the viewers. Don’t worry about the emotional well-being of the athlete, what you’re looking for is a good sound bite and enough tears to quench the thirst of the people in South Africa currently suffering from a drought.

  • Tell us how you feel about falling down four times during your first, and hopefully not your last, Olympic performance
  • Just to ask you another way, what was your emotional response when you fell down four times? Let me play a clip, to jog your memory. TELL US HOW IT MAKES YOU FEEL.
  • Do you feel like you have disappointed the 300 million Americans who watched you fail tonight? Look directly into the camera, because we are live.
  • Your parent/grandparent/sibling financed your athletic career and passed away recently, and they were counting on you to make their investment worth it, but you finished in 4th place. What do you think they would say? You know, if they were alive. Which they aren’t, because they died.
  • Will you regret any of this dismal performance for the rest of your life? Be specific.
  • Which part of the downhill run will you replay in your mind over and over and over again before you fall asleep, for the next 30 years or so, until you inevitably succumb to dementia after all the concussions you have suffered (which we played on an endless loop to hype your comeback that never came)?
  • Do you feel like you’re too old for this, since you’re 10+ years older than the person who beat you? Are you going to quit, or what?
  • What could you have done differently to win? Because, you lost.
  • You’ve trained for this your entire life. Based on what we just saw, it doesn’t seem to have paid off. Do you feel like you’ve wasted your life?

These are just suggestions. Be creative, but brutal.

 

 

 

 

 

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Feed Me All the Books

I don’t want to make you lose your mind, or overwhelm you here at the end of the day with something else to do, but I have a new blog.

IknowIknowIknow, it’s too much.

But listen, I need adventure in my life. Some people skydive. I create new blogs. I’m not getting rid of this one. I’m just supplementing it. Let me have my adventure.

The purpose of the new blog, Feed Me All the Books, is to review books. That’s it. If you have zero interest in that, no need to stress yourself out adding it to your blog feed. This blog here will remain a space for my incoherent ramblings. If you like reading books, or summaries of books, you will freaking love my new blog. Your pupils will turn into the shape of an actual heart. There are currently three reviews up:

“Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism” by Drew Hart (seriously, all the heart-eye emojis in the whole entire world)

“Talking As Fast As I Can” by Lauren Graham

“The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead

Truth be told, I have ideas for approximately 73 different blogs. The next one will probably just be called “This Is My House.” It won’t be a design blog. It will be a place for me to rant about all the things I do my way, with no input from anyone else, because this is MY house.

Hope you enjoy all the things I say in all the places I say them!

 

 

They Speak For Themselves

Looking through the list of books I read in a year is a fun exercise. Does it follow a pattern or theme? Does it reflect changes in my mood, or growth throughout the year? With the exception of some book club books and book subscription offerings that I didn’t choose myself, I see a common thread in this year’s readings. My hands reached for books that reminded me there is still sense, reason, truth, and beauty in the world. This was a chaotic year for America, and the world. In the midst of the awful shouting (because the worst voices are usually the loudest ones), I found respite (and maybe even hope) in books that spoke true words. Just give me a true word, and I calm instantly. I hope you also find them to be true and megaphone-worthy.

 

1. Just Mercy by Bryan Stephenson

“…we have to reform a system of criminal justice that continues to treat people better if they are rich and guilty than if they are poor and innocent.”

“…fear and anger are a threat to justice; they can infect a community, a state, or a nation and make us blind, irrational, and dangerous.”

“…the death penalty is not about whether people deserve to die for the crimes they commit. The real question of capital punishment in this country is, Do we deserve to kill?”

2. Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee

What was this blight that had come down over the people she loved? Did she see it in stark relief because she had been away from it? Had it percolated gradually through the years until now? Had it always been under her nose for her to see if she had only looked? What turned ordinary men into screaming dirt at the top of their voices…”

Why doesn’t their flesh creep? How can they devoutly believe everything they hear in church and then say the things they do and listen to the things they hear without throwing up? Everything I have ever taken for right and wrong these people have taught me – these same, these very people.”

3. Zero World by Jason Hough

“‘So much death,’ she whispered to the soil. To Gartien. These people were supposed to be on her side.”

4. The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman

Hitler had staged a phony attack..SS troops dressed in Polish uniforms commandeered a local radio station and broadcast a fake call to arms against Germany. Although foreign journalists imported to witness the events were shown dead bodies of prisoners as proof of hostilities, no one fell for the charade. Still, even such a hoax couldn’t go unanswered…”

Breaking laws or failing to report lawbreakers, were equally punishable offenses. Human nature being what it is, most people didn’t wish to get involved…Somewhere between doing and not doing, everyone’s conscience finds its own level.”

5. Befriend by Scott Sauls

Why would anyone begrudge the poor, think poorly of the poor, or pass judgment on the poor, especially when Scripture assumes such a compassionate, sympathetic posture toward the poor? For Christians, the chief reason is amnesia, a forgetfulness that whatever one’s station – whether empty-handed or rich in cash – all are laid low and made equal at the foot of Jesus’ cross.”

6. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

When asked ‘what do we need to learn this for?’ Any high-school teacher can confidently answer that, regardless of the subject, the knowledge will come in handy once the student hits middle age and starts working crossword puzzles in order to stave off the terrible loneliness…Latin, geography, the gods of ancient Greece: Unless you know these things, you’ll be limited to doing the puzzles in People magazine, where the clues read “Movie title, Gone ___ the wind” and ‘it holds up your pants.”

The New York Times puzzle grows progressively harder as the week advances, with Monday being the easiest and Saturday requiring the sort of mind that can bend spoons.”

7. David & Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell

When people in authority want the rest of us to behave, it matters – first and foremost – how they behave. This is called the ‘principle of legitimacy.'”

When the law is applied in the absence of legitimacy, it does not produce obedience. It produces the opposite. It leads to backlash.”

To the Mennonites, forgiveness is a religious imperative: Forgive those who trespass against you. But it is also a very practical strategy based on the belief that there are profound limits to what the formal mechanisms of retribution can accomplish.”

8. Troublemaker by Leah Remini

9. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

“…there is no substitute for competence. That, precisely, is the deadliness of second-handers. They have no concern for facts, ideas, work. They’re concerned only with people. They don’t ask: ‘Is this true?’ They ask ‘Is this what others think is true?’ Not to judge, but to repeat. Not to do, but to give the impression of doing. Not creation, but show. Not ability, but friendship. Not merit, but pull. What would happen to the world without those who do, think, work, produce? … When you suspend your faculty of independent judgment, you suspend consciousness. To stop consciousness is to stop life. Second-handers have no sense of reality. Their reality is not within them, but somewhere in that space which divides one human body from another. Not an entity, but a relation – anchored to nothing. That’s the emptiness I couldn’t understand in people. That’s what stopped me whenever I faced a committee. Men without an ego. Opinion without a rational process. Motion without brakes or motor. Power without responsibility. The second-hander acts, but the source of his actions is scattered in every other living person. It’s everywhere and nowhere and you can’t reason with him. He’s not open to reason. You can’t speak to him – he can’t hear. You’re tried by an empty bench. A blind mass running amuck, to crush you without sense or purpose.”

10. The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison

11. The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling)

12. Armada by Ernest Cline

13. Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

…the Captain belongs to the most dangerous enemy to truth and freedom, the solid unmoving cattle of the majority. Oh, God, the terrible tyranny of the majority.”

14. A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

You sound like a sulky boy…A child sees an obstacle, and his first thought is to run around it or knock it down. A lord must learn that sometimes words can accomplish what swords cannot.”

15. Of Mess & Moxie by Jen Hatmaker

Our living arrangements during the renovation were dismal enough to bring even Laura Bush to paint the universe with expletives.”
We need not fear that He will say, ‘You loved too greatly, too liberally, too generously, too shockingly.’ … People may hate us because of Jesus, but they should never hate Jesus because of us.”

16. Jesus Outside the Lines by Scott Sauls

In Hitler’s Germany, the poor in Rome were coldly viewed as ‘useless eaters,’ a drain on society. But in Christian community the poor were treated with dignity and honor. There was a spirit of compassion and generosity among Christians, which manifested in the sharing of wealth to narrow the income gap – a progressive value. But generosity was voluntary – a conservative value.”

17. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

It doesn’t matter if the group is a church or a gang or a sewing circle or masculinity itself, asking members to dislike, disown, or distance themselves from another group of people as a condition of ‘belonging’ is always about control and power. I think we have to question the intentions of any group that insists on disdain toward other people as a membership requirement. It may be disguised as belonging, but real belonging doesn’t necessitate disdain.”

18. Pop Goes the Weasel by M. J. Arlidge

19.  Waking Up White by Debby Irving

Discrimination and privilege are flip sides of the same coin…To really get racism, a white person must get both pieces. It’s not enough to feel empathy toward people on the downside; white people must also see themselves on the upside to understand that discrimination results from privilege. You can’t have one without the other. Like a seesaw, the upside and downside are joined together.”

20. Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown

Dehumanizing always starts with language, often followed by images. During the Holocaust, Nazis described Jews as Untermenschen – subhuman. They called Jews rats and depicted them as disease-carrying rodents…Hutus involved in the Rwanda genocide called Tutsis cockroaches. Indigenous people are often referred to as savages….I know it’s hard to believe that we ourselves could ever get to a place where we would exclude people from equal moral treatment…We can’t pretend that every citizen who participated in or was a bystander to human atrocities was a violent psychopath. That’s not possible, its not true, and it misses the point. The point is we are all vulnerable to the slow and insidious practice of dehumanizing, therefore we are all responsible for recognizing it and stopping it.”

21. I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

I raise my voice not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard.”

22. A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin

“…the more bizarre and shocking a tale the more apt it is to be repeated.”

23. The President’s Shadow by Brad Meltzer

24. Eyes Wide Open by Ted Dekker

25. Water Walker by Ted Dekker

26. Hacker by Ted Dekker

27. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

There are years that ask questions and years that answer.”

 

 

 

Another, Again

I wrote this post sometime in 2016. I didn’t post it because some things are better discussed in person. But I also know that “writing” is a thing that I do, even if just in blog form. Words keep me up at night if I don’t say them. They spill out of me onto “paper.” (Does anyone write on paper anymore?) I delete a lot of the posts I write here, or never publish them. I understand that sometimes people don’t want to hear my words. But I wrote all these words down, and then left them in a Word document for months. Some of the comments are a little outdated, as a result. But I wrote these words. And I could never bring myself to delete them. It’s a lot of words, y’all. I looked it over a few times this morning, made sure they were firey enough, laughy enough, and humble enough.

—–

The older I get, the more the news upsets me. When 9/11 happened, it did not even phase me. I felt no emotion. Something bad happened to strangers in another city, and had no discernible effect on my daily life. I was in high school, so calm down before you call me a narcissistic psychopath. Teenagers generally lack empathy. It’s like a scientific fact. A scientific brain fact.

But now when I see pictures of refugees in Syria, or a mass shooting somewhere, or violence – it upsets me. I understand these are people and lives on the line. I have a brain now. I think about how I would feel if someone in my family was a victim of violence. I can’t even imagine the sorrow.

I think that “oh my goodness, this is so horrible, I feel so bad for that family” is the appropriate gut reaction to a news story about someone’s death. Any someone’s death.

I am so disturbed by all of the “police brutality” stories on the news. I don’t mean that in a political way. I don’t mean that I’m angry at the police or think they are the scum of the earth. It’s just that each time a new story comes on the news, with another face and another name, it bothers me. I’m not sure what I thought when I heard these stories 10 years ago. Maybe I was one of the people who said,

“Oh great. Another black family complaining about the police shooting someone. Here we go again. Maybe if they stay out of trouble it wouldn’t happen.”

Without delving too much into ALL THAT IS WRONG with that reaction (because, I can’t even), I want to ask you to take a moment to think about the words

“Another”

and

“Again”

It is those words that tell the story. Those words explain the frustration and outrage you see on the news when another black man gets shot by the police again. Hear those words. Another. Again.

If anyone in my family got stopped by the police for something routine – rolling through a stop sign, having a broken light, running a red light – and ended up dead

I would not rest until I had answers. It is unacceptable. U.n.a.c.c.e.p.t.a.b.l.e. I do not accept it. There is no justification. It doesn’t matter if that person technically broke a rule by rolling through a stop sign. That does not justify death. It does not even come close to explaining why they are dead now. “Well if they hadn’t done that, it never would have happened.”

NOPE. Just no. Absolutely not. Not for my family. Not for yours.

I think I had this idea my whole life that my generation was the one that had risen above racism, and had it all figured out. We are the enlightened ones who don’t enslave people or make them sit in the back of the bus. Slavery was a long time ago. The civil rights era seemed like a long time ago to me, because it all went down before I was born. I’d learn about Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. in school and think “They were heroes. I’m glad they were so brave, because now we all get to live in a world where those problems are gone.” I have never known anyone who spoke a cruel word about any non-white people. I must have just assumed the whole world was like my family and friends. I thought to myself that there were probably some ignorant racist people out in the country, or far away from me. I wasn’t foolish enough to think there was no racism anywhere, ever. I just thought for the most part, it was over and done with.

I think that’s because if I had defined racism when I was growing up, I would have said that being racist means you think people of another color are inferior. I can’t name one person in my social sphere who thinks people of another color are inferior. It’s unfathomable to me. Like, no way. So by that narrow definition, I’m not racist! And neither is anyone I know! Great!

I had my head in the sand.

I knew there were some forms of “institutional racism” that existed. I understood this to mean that since I was born to white middle-class parents, I had a leg up in the world. They were able to help me some with college tuition, and that’s an opportunity that some people don’t have. I’ll probably never live in poverty, but maybe some people always will because they weren’t born to white middle-class parents. I can’t change my parents and neither can anyone else. And I do believe that no matter how hard some people work, the system is stacked against them. I hoped that it would not always be so. I moved into a more urban part of the city, so that even if there were gaps between us I could do nothing about (like the wealth of our parents), at least there wouldn’t be relational gaps. At least we could be part of the same community. It turns out I’m awful at forming relationships with any humans, regardless of color. I’m not the awesome neighbor that I daydreamed I would be.

I’m coming to understand that I live in a generation where we have more than just problems with economic inequality. There are some things need to be protested, because people are being treated unfairly and not just by “the system.” I can’t believe it. I can’t believe I live in a period of time where things need to be protested. Protests are just in history books. Not here, not now. (And just to be clear, I am only a supporter of non-violent protest…)

I used to live in a neighborhood where there were sometimes gunshots in the middle of the night. And if I’m being totally honest, when I imagine who is shooting a gun – I imagine a black man. I’m ashamed of this. That little image that forms in my mind without my permission, for just a second, is a kind of racism.

It’s the same kind of racism that some police officers might experience when they encounter black men. If they see a black man reaching into his pocket, their first thought might be that it’s for a gun – not an ID, or car registration. If I got pulled over and reached in my pocket, no one would shoot me. They wouldn’t shoot me if I resisted arrest. They wouldn’t shoot me if I argued with them. They wouldn’t shoot me if I ran away. There’s this unspoken assumption that black men are aggressive and guilty, and that assumption is what makes people angry. The terrorist from the New York bomb situation the other day was arrested without being fatally shot, and they already knew for a fact that he was violent – he had just set off bombs. It is possible arrest people (even if they are aggressive) without deadly force, so I understand why the black community is frustrated and angry that so many of their husbands, fathers, sons, and brothers are being killed by the police. It does not justify violence or retaliation in response. It is possible to acknowledge that anger and frustration and also respect the men and women who serve in the police force, simultaneously. I can do both. (Although, if I am being honest, I’m not really one for “hero worship” – there is currently no law that says police officers are gods that require my devotion and fealty without question…I happen to believe that people in positions of power have signed up for more scrutiny and accountability than the rest of us, and should be questioned, but my post on secrecy and transparency shall wait for another day).

I think when I am bothered by these stories, it is because I have come to understand that this darkness is not far away from me. It is sometimes found in my own heart. When gunshots wake me up in the middle of the night and I roll my eyes and think some black people are shooting some other black people again, that racism is right there inside of me.

The stories on the news make me upset that lives are lost, but I am also upset because I had my head in the sand. I brushed off the stories a decade ago because there weren’t smart phones recording all of it. I can’t believe I brushed it off and disregarded the cries of my black neighbors just because they didn’t have video evidence. How arrogant of me. I am so deeply sorry for this. I am so sorry that it took such a horrifying number of hashtags to change my perception of what happens.

The following statements are true:

The police put their lives on the line for the community, and deserve our respect and support

The police have a problem that needs to be addressed

Both are true at once.

50-100 years ago you could say “the police put their lives on the line! They deserve our respect.” That has always been true about the police in America. But in the past, those police have also allowed citizens to be lynched or beaten. There were people saying “The police put their lives on the line, they deserve our respect” while the police were allowing people to be lynched, or while the police themselves were beating people. Statement one does not negate statement two. Statement two does not negate statement one.

If a police officer pulls someone over with his 3-year-old daughter in the backseat, tells him to get his ID, and then shoots him dead as he reaches for it – that’s not okay. And that is a thing that happened. That police officer decided he felt threatened. Threatened enough to shoot a man (for doing what he was told) while a 3-year-old watched.

The police were not given a badge and a gun primarily to protect themselves.

Even one of those hashtags about a white person would have resulted in shock (probably even outrage) by white people in Franklin, TN or Kingwood, TX (where I grew up). If you think I’m delusional, um, JonBenet. Apparently the death of a cute white girl captivates us for twenty years, but suggesting the death of someone at the hands of a police officer warrants an investigation is preposterous.

I don’t know what the answer is. It’s not possible for police to be wrong in every case, and it’s not possible for the victims’ families to be wrong in every case – it just wouldn’t be rational for me to suggest that one side is always wrong, without question. So maybe what I am suggesting is that we just allow people the space to have questions, and grief, and even anger – without rolling our eyes. Because if even one of the deaths was a police error (and it is rational to say that at least one of them was, due to the sheer volume of cases), then anger is appropriate. Expressing that anger with violence is not, but the anger and grief is. Asking questions about how it happened, is appropriate. Investigating what happened is right. It is not crazy.

I believe that Jesus Christ has been so unspeakably good to me. He has shown me so much grace. My cup is so overflowing with grace and mercy that I have received from Him, that there will never be enough days or words to thank Him. Because I have been shown grace and mercy, the very least I can do is not shake my head at people or roll my eyes, even if I don’t understand their perspective. At the very least, if I am too much of a pansy to actually join in a protest, I can choose to not look down on another person’s anger or grief following the loss of their loved one. At the very least.

(I can also acknowledge that writing about racism, as a white woman, is maybe the dumbest thing I have ever done, and it’s possible I said a bunch of ignorant nonsense in this post that I am unaware of because of the head-in-the-sand situation. I am open to hearing about that, if that is the case. Be gentle, internet.)

Now You Know What I’ve Been Doing For A Year

I can’t help blogging the list of books I read this year, even though it’s the most boring blog post anyone can ever write, and the reason people make fun of blogs. This is the kind of blog post that I make fun of, actually. But here is the list anyway. I re-read a lot of books, went through a Dan Brown phase, read my first Wendell Berry (where has he been all my life?), read books by comedians, books for nerds, books for space nerds, books that preached the gospel of the Kingdom, and books that preached the gospel for me specifically. If you want to skip down, I picked just a handful of books to quote if you’re in the mood for a little substance.

1. The Return of the King – J.R.R. Tolkien (re-read)

2. The Martian – Andy Weir

3. The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins

4. Why Not Me? – Mindy Kaling

5. 101 Hymn Stories – Kenneth W. Osbeck

6. Palimpsest – Matthew Battles

7. Digital Fortress – Dan Brown

8. The Holcroft Covenant – Robert Ludlum

9. A Hope In the Unseen – Ron Suskind (re-read)

10. The Silver Chair – C.S. Lewis (re-read)

11. The Magician’s Nephew – C.S. Lewis (re-read)

12. The Great Divorce – C.S. Lewis (re-read)

13. The New Jim Crow – Michelle Alexander

14. A Severe Mercy – Sheldon Vanauken (re-read)

15. The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald

16. Executing Grace – Shane Claiborne

17. Bossypants – Tina Fey (re-read)

18. Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins (re-read)

19. Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins (re-read)

20. Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins (re-read)

21. The Davinci Code – Dan Brown (re-read)

22. Deception Point – Dan Brown

23. The Lost Symbol – Dan Brown

24. Inferno – Dan Brown

25. The Street Lawyer – John Grisham

26. Angels and Demons – Dan Brown (re-read)

27. Modern Romance – Aziz Ansari

28. How to Survive a Shipwreck – Jonathan Martin

29. Out of Sorts – Sarah Bessey

30. Searching for Sunday – Rachel Held Evans

31. Spiritual Sobriety – Elizabeth Esther

32. The Witch of Portobello – Paulo Coelho

33. Dreams and Visions – Tom Doyle

34. Leavings – Wendell Berry

35. Bittersweet – Shauna Niequist

36. – Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert

37. All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr

38. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

39. Crime and Punishment – Fyoder Dostoevsky

40. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and someone else?

41. Swords Into Plowshares – Ron Paul

Quotes from “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander

People choose to commit crimes, and that’s why they are locked up or locked out, we are told. This feature makes the politics of responsibility particularly tempting, as it appears the system can be avoided with good behavior. But herein lies the trap. All people make mistakes. All of us are sinners. All of us are criminals. All of us violate the law at some point in our lives. In fact, if the worst thing you have ever done is speed ten miles over the speed limit on the freeway, you have put yourself and others at more risk of harm than someone smoking marijuana in the privacy of his or her living room. Yet there are people in the United States serving life sentences for first-time drug offenses, something virtually unheard of anywhere else in the world.”

African Americans are not significantly more likely to use or sell prohibited drugs than whites, but they are made criminals at drastically higher rates for precisely the same conduct.”

The absence of black fathers from families across America is not simply a function of laziness, immaturity, or too much time watching Sports Center. Thousands of black men have disappeared into prisons and jails, locked away for crimes that are largely ignored when committed by whites.”

Okay that’s a little heavy, so here is a quote from “The Martian” – perhaps the funniest book I have ever read:

Astronauts are all inherently insane. And really noble.”

Some quotes from a book called “Executing Grace” by Shane Claiborne. It is a book about one of the things that makes America as uncivilized and barbaric as Saudi Arabia, Iran, and North Korea – the death penalty. (I know, right? Me and my opinions…)

“One landmark study showed that over half of the death sentences since 1976 came from 2 percent of the counties in the United States…We often say, ‘The United States practices the death penalty.’ But rather than referring to the country as a whole, it would be more accurate to say, ‘Texas has the death penalty. And Oklahoma, and Missouri…’ Or, to be even more precise…we might say just, ‘Harris County has the death penalty. And Dallas County. And Oklahoma County.'”

“…our churches would be empty if we killed everyone who deserved to die according to Old testament law.”

“Any Christian inclined to favor execution has what Brother Dale Recinella calls ‘the nagging problem of Jesus’ to deal with.”

Okay, another quote from the Martian to cleanse your palate…

All my brilliant plans foiled by thermodynamics. Damn you, entropy!”

This next book hit me at the right place and the right time, and I have not the words. It reminded me that Jesus is so Good with a capital G. So lovely, and so right and true and perfect in all His ways. “How to Survive a Shipwreck” by Jonathan Martin. It’s a little intense, so I promise to quote the Martian again when I’m done. (I’m working off the assumption that all of us are space nerds at heart?)

It does not really matter how you got here and why; and it doesn’t really matter if it was God or the devil or yourself or some ancient chaos that spilled up from the bottom of the sea. What matters now is that you are drowning, and the world you loved before is not your world any longer. The questions of why and how are less pressing than the reality that is your lungs filling with water now. Philosophy and theology won’t help you much here, because what you believe existentially about storms or oceans or drowning won’t make you stop drowning. Religion won’t do you much good down here, because beliefs can’t keep you warm when you’re twenty thousand leagues beneath the sea.”

Deep breath people, inhale…

This is the life hidden with Christ in God, where almost anything can happen at the top of things without disrupting the grace that lies in the bottom of the sea in you.”

PAUSE. Wipe your tears. RESUME.

This is the place in the depths where you can be cut off from your very self (as you understood it), and from the name your father gave you, and from the place where you grew up, and from the tribe that gave you language, and from the story that gave you meaning – only to find that nothing can separate you from the love of God.”

EXHALE.

The storms that come will test us all, and it is entirely possible one comes to you that will end in your failure before the wind and waves recede. But the Spirit in the wind whispers the words of Jesus again, inserting your own name for Simon’s: ‘I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail – and even when you do…that your faith may even grow stronger through your failure.’”

And, as promised, more from The Martian to close us out:

As with most of life’s problems, this one can be solved by a box of pure radiation.”

Life is amazingly tenacious.”

Hmm. I wonder if “How to Survive a Shipwreck” and “The Martian” are actually the same story told two different ways.

On Decision Making

“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”

– Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar