Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Queen: Royalty & Rehoboam

I have never been an anglophile. I didn’t stay up to watch the Royal Wedding of Charles & Diana like a lot of my romantic peers. The British were always too stuffy for my taste. That was before I encountered The Queen.

The movie is a study in contrasts: The Royal Family - older, staid and traditional and the Blairs – younger, informal, modernizers. To a lesser degree, it is also a study of two princesses: Elizabeth, who was thrust into the monarchy at a young age and whose life seems to exemplify British ideals of a stiff upper lip, dignified carriage and proper conduct, and of Diana, who also was thrust into the royal life at a young age but in a completely different age, as it were. It is the contrast between paradigms – old/traditional and young/modern and the lifestyles inherent in each. This is the core story of the film while the events depicted center around the death of Princess Diana.

I was reminded of this movie recently as my hubby is preaching through the books of Kings.
I Kings 12:6-11 recounts King Rehoboam receiving two offers of advice on how to respond to Jeroboam’s request for a lightened load on the people:
Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders who stood before his father Solomon
while he still lived, and he said, “How do you advise me to answer these people?”

And they spoke to him, saying, “If you will be a servant to these people today, and serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever.”

But he rejected the advice which the elders had given him, and consulted the young men who had grown up with him, who stood before him. And he said to them, “What advice do you give? How should we answer this people who have spoken to me, saying, ‘Lighten the yoke which your father put on us’?”

Then the young men who had grown up with him spoke to him, saying, “Thus
you should speak to this people who have spoken to you, saying, ‘Your father
made our yoke heavy, but you make it lighter on us’—thus you shall say to them:
‘My little finger shall be thicker than my father’s waist! And now, whereas my
father put a heavy yoke on you, I will add to your yoke; my father chastised you
with whips, but I will chastise you with scourges!’”

The actual vulgarity of the advice of the “young men,” who were probably in their 40s, is missing from our translation. These middle-aged men acting like boys and their brashness and vulgarity contrasted with the thoughtful, diplomatic response of the elders is what reminded me of the movie, The Queen.

For the Royals, the world is black and white. There are things you do and things that simply aren’t done. Propriety rules. The Blairs were disdainful of the pomp and the pomposity of these royal figureheads. Cherie Blair’s contempt for Her Majesty has been widely documented. Members of the Blair camp are depicted referring to the Queen as an old bat, while the Queen is incredulous that her prime minister and staff “live like college students.” Tony Blair came to power on the promise of modernizing, changing the processes of power. The Queen is depicted in the film as not so subtlety reminding the new Prime Minister of his place:

HM Queen Elizabeth II: Have we shown you how to start a nuclear war yet?
Tony Blair: Er no.
HM Queen Elizabeth II: First thing we do apparently, then we take away your passport and spend the rest of our time sending you around the world.
Tony Blair: You obviously know my job better than I do.
HM Queen Elizabeth II: Yes well, you are my tenth Prime Minister Mr. Blair. My first of course was Winston Churchill, he sat in your chair in a frock coat and top hat. And he was kind enough to give a shy young girl like me quite an education.

However throughout the course of the movie, you see Tony Blair developing a respect and even affection for the Elizabeth. There is a scene in which he comes to her defense against his director of communications:

Alastair Campbell: Well, at least the old bat's finally agreed to visit Diana's coffin.
Tony Blair:
You know, when you get it wrong, you really get it wrong! That woman has given her whole life in service to her people. Fifty years doing a job SHE never wanted! A job she watched kill her father. She's executed it with honor, dignity, and, as far as I can tell, without a single blemish, and now we're all baying for her blood! All because she's struggling to lead the world in mourning for someone who... who threw everything she offered back in her face. And who, for the last few years, seemed committed 24/7 to destroying everything she holds most dear!
Helen Mirrem did a magnificent job and is well-deserving of her Oscar. This film humanizes Elizabeth. It paints a picture of a woman who had greatness thrust upon her and who tried to do her best for her country. A woman with frailties and foibles, but one who is always mindful of her duty. The movie paints a picture of The Queen as a monarch, grandmother and wife. The finished portrait, I believe, is a complimentary one.

God Save the Queen!

Monday, August 27, 2007

In His Feathers

Confession: I’m one of those people who often skips to the last chapter of a book to see if the ending will be satisfying. I don’t want to invest in a character only to be bummed at the end. However, I found a book whose final chapter I just wanted to skip.

In His Feathers tells the story (mostly in her own words) of Sharon Bomgaars’ last two years as she fought ovarian cancer. Sharon, an avid journal keeper and letter writer, pours out her heart in words which reflect her frustration, fear, anguish, joy, wonder, faith, resolve and, most of all, her authenticity.

With each turn of the page, I found myself liking Sharon more and more. She was an avid birdwatcher and as I read of her delight in finding bluebirds in her bluebird house or seeing an elusive warbler, it made me want to reach through the pages, back through the years and hug her.

I loved the gallows humor she and her husband used to deal with her illness. Once Sharon called her husband while away on a trip with her daughter and upon hearing her voice he asked, “Is this my Angel?” “Nope! I’m not one yet!” was her reply. Sharon would often make funny references to her husband’s “next wife” and justify expenditures because “Boo Boo” would spend it anyway!

I loved the honest acknowledgement of self-centeredness in pursuing trips and plans. She frequently references a Barney Fife-ism that dogs take care of their own but giraffes think only of themselves and Sharon readily admits giraffish tendencies! When tweaked about giraffish actions, she is actually playful in her retort, “But, are you dying?”

Knowing her time was short, her willingness to be adventurous increased. On a California trip to the mountains, Sharon writes of the experience:

[After a ranger had warned of a hike being too dangerous]
“Well, I’m really not too concerned about the risk,” I told her. “I already
have cancer. If something goes wrong, I’ll just go fast and easy instead of slow
and hard.”

My comment was a bit crude, but I truly meant what I said. In
the old days I held so tenaciously to life, gripping it with frightened hands.
That time is past. The days allotted to me are and always have been entirely
beyond my control. None of my care or foresight will stay the hand of God if He
chooses to end them.

There’s a lady who doesn’t just talk about the sovereignty of God, she understands it. This resonated with me so much. I saw my Mom lose a whole lot of fear post-cancer. That disease disabuses a person of any notion of control quite quickly.

Sharon didn’t like the path God chose for her, but she submitted to it. She clung to a good God “who doesn’t make mistakes.” She expresses gratitude for the time she did have on this earth with her family. Over and over again, she compares herself to people who had less time than she was being allowed.

What a lesson! My husband says people always compare up – we always look at those who have more and ignore how many more have less. We don’t see how truly blessed we are.

While my Mom was battling cancer, Tim McGraw’s song, Live Like You Were Dying was getting a lot of play on the radio. It meant a great deal to me then and still does now:

And he said some day I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dyin'
Like tomorrow was the end
And ya got eternity to think about what to do with it
What should you do with it
What can I do with it
What would
I do with it
Sharon has made me ask those questions. She wanted to suck life dry of experiences, live and end her life in a faith-affirming manner and cling to “...a good God and an Almighty God who has created us and saved us. I’ve moved beyond trying to figure all the rest of it out.”

Sharon Bomgaars was an ordinary Mississippi mom, but she is also an extraordinary someone you should get to know.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Every good gift and every perfect gift. . .

One more blurb about our trip out West. On our way home, we wanted to stop in Glenwood Springs, Colorado (right outside of Aspen) and see Maroon Bells again. This is such a lovely, peaceful stop. We got to our hotel late in the afternoon and Mom and I were big kids and anxious to go see it right now! My hubby reminded us that the sun would be setting and we would be there in the dark, but he relented and played chaffeur once more.

What we found was a wonderful gift from God. There in June - it was snowing. We were seeing Aspen with snow in the summer! It was breathtaking. The drive in was beautiful, but what the Lord arranged was magical:

Right around that curve, Bobby stops the car. There is an animal in the road in front of us. Mom and I were in such disbelief that Bobby had to say, "Ladies? That's a bear." A bear! In Aspen! Sure enough, a brown bear was just a few yards in front of the car in the middle of the road looking as stunned to see us as we were to see him! By the time the shock wore off and we reached for the camera, he had scurried up the hill. There were deer everywhere. Unfortunately, my photos aren't good, but I include them to give you an idea:

Here's the Currier and Ives scene that awaited us at the lake:

The setting sun gave everything the blue cast of twilight and I felt I was walking in a dream. But the best part was the look on my Mom's face. She had a look of pure joy and wonder.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Everlasting Covenant

The Drudge Report had this photo of a rainbow appearing after Hurricane Dean had passed over. Our God is a faithful God:

It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.”
Genesis 9:14-17

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Neti Pot Testimonial

I'm usually leery of anything that has an "eastern/mystic" origin. However, I kept hearing about neti pots and their beneficial effects for people who suffer from sinus problems. This year has been an especially rough one for me with my allergies, so I reached the "I'll-try-anything" stage and bought a neti pot.

It's basically nasal irrigation. You mix up warm salt water in the pot and then tilting your head, you pour the saline solution into one nostril and it drains out the other side (in theory - the first couple of times, you will swallow a little salt water!). Here's a photo of the process. I found it to be helpful (once I got over the "ick" factor).

There's an old adage that says if you don't have allergies when you come to Kentucky, you soon will! I've recommended this to a friend who also found it beneficial. You can get these at local drug stores.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Elvis Redux

In honor of the 3oth anniversary of his death, here are a couple of You Tube clips of Elvis. One from the 50s and another from his Aloha from Hawaii concert in the 70s. I saw him in the early 70s twice (sheesh that dates me, but I was a preteen for the record!) I can still feel the tympanis pounding 2001: A Space Odyssey before he took the stage.

I tease my hubby that I only married him because he does a killer Elvis impersonation!!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Yellowstone Animals

I fell in love with Yellowstone. I would love to go back tomorrow! The land is wild and free and beautiful. For an animal lover like myself, it was heavenly. I especially loved the buffalos.

The elks are nice too!

And no trip to Yellowstone is complete without seeing a bear (or two!)

But on the cuteness scale, it's hard to beat a marmot! (left)

On our last day as we were leaving, we finally saw a moose:

Ubiquitous You Tube

It seems everywhere I turn these days, someone is talking about something on You Tube. Knowing that "www" can stand for worldwide waste of time, I had made a diligent effort to avoid the site. Then it happened. I hear my hubby laughing uproariously and he says, “Alisa! Come here, you have to see this.” I like charlatans being exposed, so with that, I was hooked on You Tube.

It began innocently enough. My Mom came down for a visit and knowing how much she likes Merle Haggard, I showed her a clip of him from 1969 singing one of his signature songs.

I saw an interview with Bruce Willis. I’ve always liked him – so much so I actually own an album by him, Return of Bruno! He even had a modest hit, a duet with the Pointer Sisters, Respect Yourself. With a quick search on the web’s video nirvana, you can revisit that bit of 80s nostalgia here.

Always wanted to juggle? Learn how here.

Remember Alex P. Keaton’s dance with Ellen Reed to Billy Vera & the Beaters’ At This Moment? Relive it here.

Wanna see inmates dancing to Michael Jackson’s Thriller? Go here.

See "All for one and one for all" animal style here.

Politically minded? Watch Reagan’s “Tear Down This Wall” speech here. Two years later, the Berlin Wall did come down. Watch an ABC news report on the historic event here.

With the success of You Tube, other sites are getting on the video bandwagon. Google has a video section. There’s at least one video there I wish everyone would watch, The Great Global Warming Swindle. Get beyond the hype here.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Consequence of Ideas

What are you willing to die for? What ideas are so important that you would risk your life in their defense? These questions were prompted by a very powerful movie, Sophie Scholl. The movie depicts the nobility of ideas and courageous faith of German students during WWII. It is gripping, it is inspiring and it is a must-see.

Nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in 2005, it won several German film awards. Film critics raved. Christianity Today did a good review. The film is subtitled, but don't let that hold you back.

What's remarkable is the film is based in facts, newly available documents detailing Sophie's interrogation and trial. Sophie is a Christian heroine, someone whose courage and steadfastness is a worthy example to emulate. At the movie's end, my hubby expressed his gratitude that the Lord was honoring Sophie these years later.

". . . for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed." I Samuel 2:30

Creation Museum

A few Saturdays ago, we had a church outing to the
new Creation Museum in northern Kentucky. Coming during the week would have been hard for a lot of our members, so there we were on the day the museum had its 100,000th visitor! The museum had hoped for 200,000 the first year – they have far exceeded their own expectations! They’ve done it up right, not cheesy at all.

There are multimedia presentations, fascinating models (including a chance to go inside Noah’s ark) and, what the media and critics don’t want you to know, lots

of science! Every news report I’ve read

or heard has begun, "The controversial new museum."

The only thing controversial about the museum is it dares to teach creationism.

The museum’s ticket prices are a little pricey for large families, but the group rates are very affordable.

The museum’s diner, Noah’s Café, was a wonderful surprise. Often having a captive audience, on-site eateries are usually expensive. Noah’s Café was very reasonable and the food was good.

Genesis is foundational to Scripture. I know sincere Christians espouse non-six day theories, but in my opinion they are sincerely wrong. Their hermeneutic, when applied to the rest of Scripture, undermines Scripture. Check out the Creation Museum. The media preaches evolution all day long - why not hear the other side?