Monday, May 25, 2009

Blog Recommendation: AcademiChic

As I sit here in my VBS tshirt from 1999 (ten years, yikes!) and shorts, looking for the motivation to exercise (motivation to do other things too, but exercise is first on the list today), I wandered across an amazing blog: AcademiChic. As far as I can tell, it's a group of 3 or 4 20-something women, in graduate school who give each other challenges for looking fashionable on a budget. That basically describes most of my blog readers whether you're in grad school or not. So pop it in your reader, and be inspired. :-) Warning though, it's almost summer and academic pursuits are fading to summer projects and having been aware of this site for all of 45 minutes, I don't know how that will affect blog quality.

To trace the blog trail, I found AcademiChic via (a bit extreme for me) which was featured on The Budget Fashionista which is another great fashion blog and has been in my blog reader for a very long time.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Pretty Flowers

I love it when people with real yards have an over-abundance of flowers.

PS it's so grey and rainy here that it took me forever to get this one decent shot. It would have been easier if I hadn't been so obsessed about how good those flowers looked on the aqua table and just took them over to the window.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Book Review--The Gnostic Mystery

One of my social networking sites (that I don't network a lot on) is It's a site that basically keeps a record of all your books online. Because LibraryThing has essentially collected thousands of enthusiastic book-lovers, they get several hundred early review books from various publishers and you can request to get a copy. You're more likely to get a copy if you've reviewed a lot of your own books on the site, and even then there's no guarantee that you will get a book every month or even at all. I've been requesting books for several months (since I subscribed to the LibraryThing blog and they started sending out notices that the request list was up), but this month I found a weird little package in the mail. A free book! The Gnostic Mystery by Randy Davila.

Here's my little review from LibraryThing: "LibraryThing thought I wouldn't like it, and they were right. First off, the theological premise was not one that I agreed with, but second, the writing was clunky and the action was non-existent. The thing about didactic novels is that you have to let the story lead the teaching, and this book had about 80% teaching and 10% story and 10% action."

Here's an expansion though. Just because I don't like a book's theological premise does not mean I'll automatically dislike the book. I'm a huge fan of His Dark Materials series and that has gnostic roots too. I liked The Da Vinci Code--great action, less great writing. What Philip Pullman and Dan Brown do (that Randy Davila only attempts to do) is create a compelling story that slowly brings out the gnostic teaching. I appreciate contrary perspectives when I can see where they are coming from, how they would organically develop. It helps me respect and understand the perspective without agreeing with it. Davila's attempts to provide that background were heavy-handed and clumsy. Also his portrayal of the other side through a Bible-believing, immediately condemning pastor was just flat out insulting (though I believe it was a misguided attempt to be amusing). His characters who promote Gnosticism were dismissive, cynical, and in the case where they interact with that pastor disingenuous.

Okay so what is Gnosticism and why it is a mystery? Well, the traditional (or Literalist if you'd prefer Davila's term) view is that gnosticism is heresy from the early church (2nd-4th century CE) that promotes a special knowledge (gnosis) necessary to Christianity and if you carefully read the gospels (and some of the books that the traditional church cruelly stamped out) you'll get this special knowledge. So okay, there are phrases in Christianity that talk about "knowing Christ as your Lord and Savior" that might play into this, but secrets and hidden messages aren't part of Christianity (or at least they shouldn't be). Anyone is able to read the Bible and understand it. You might understand it better with some instruction, but there's no trick to the Scriptures. But the kicker for me is when Gnosticism goes on to say that Jesus may or may not have a been a real person, may or may not have done the stuff the gospels say he did, but it doesn't matter because the stuff people SAY he said was pretty good and worth following. And that statement says exactly what Judaism or Isalm or Buddhism will say about Jesus. Christianity is worthless without a savior who died and rose again for the sins of the world. Without that historical event, it's meaningless. It's even in Paul's letter to the I Corinthians.

Anyway maybe that's the good part of the book. It helped me crystalize why I don't support Gnosticism. More good: it's really short, less than 200 pages, and I liked the shape...

Other pet peeves: Not calling Chloe by her title though they did it with every other person who possessed a doctorate. Using the word "Jehovah" in an academic context. (It's an amalgamation of the letters of the tetragrammaton (YHWH) and the vowel pointings for adonai because Jewish tradition does not pronounce the tetragrammaton and the vowels remind them to say adonai instead.) Blatent ripping off of the story of the Dead Sea Scrolls. And really the waste of a very nice sacrifice of one for many scene that has no meaning because it can't refer to Jesus because he didn't really die ... or live.

Okay so the free book was a bit of a bust. But hopefully I'll get some more books and become better at this reviewing stuff.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Signs of Summer

Today I saw the thing that keeps me from packing up all our books and moving out of our apartment to one of the cuter or less expensive or less downhill apartments in our neighborhood. The thing that I've been waiting for since October. The thing that makes Midwest summer humidity bearable...

They've started cleaning out the pool.

Hallelujah! In a week or two, I will be out there making vitamin D and then appropriately sunscreening myself.

Just in time too. The trees have leafed out and now "pleasantly" shade our deck. (No, really I love the tree. I just really like sunshine.)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Shoes! (Rainboots part 2)

Today I was singing to my husband about shoes (because he's going on a trip and was thinking about which shoes he would need). It's a song that I listened to endlessly as a child and it goes like this:

Play shoes, day shoes, walking in the hay shoes
On our feet of clay * so fine;
Work shoes, work shoes, working in the dirt...

At which point I exclaim, "I have 'working in the dirt shoes'!"
Have I ever told you that little things make me happy over and over and over again?

Oh another rain-boots story. I was walking home from UC on Tuesday. The rain had mostly stopped, but I need to stop by the library to drop off some books. As I was walking down the street, bopping along to my ipod, I passed a gentleman who promptly said, "Hey Baby! Those are some nice yellow boots!" I said, "Thank you," and continued walking. I don't get called baby often... I'll let you interpret my reaction as you wish.

*It strikes me now that those might not actually be the words. Hmm...