Sunday, February 14, 2016

How to Blow Minds at Book Clubs

We've all driven home from various book clubs (or some such gathering of progressive thinkers) and have said to ourselves, "Symbolism? Imagery? Metaphor? What? And here I thought it was just a cute romance."

Well, stew in your lack of intelligence no longer! Impress your peers by mentioning a book's "chiastic structure" (kahy-as-tik), and you'll have them choking on their quinoa cracker and brie in no time. (Who's going to beat themselves up on the drive home now?)

So let's see here. From what I understand, chiastic structure appears when concepts or words are repeated in reverse order. For example, take John F. Kennedy's famous quote: "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." And, bam! Chiasmus.

Here's one that sums up my weekend: "Don't live to eat, eat to live." And many of us have heard: "It's okay to sweat the petty things as long as you don't pet the sweaty things."

But it's all fun and games until your life takes on a chiastic turn. It happened while subbing 10th grade history last week. I was walking across campus during a prep period when a security guy spotted me from a distance. He started toward me all gruff and tough, but then said, "Oh, I'm sorry. I was about to tell you to hurry up to class, but I see that you're an adult." And then it hit me smack dab in the middle of that line I really should get botoxed between my eyes: "She looks young from far, but she's far from young." Sigh.

But back to books. Sometimes an entire story, not just a single quote, has a chiastic structure - the Bible being a perfect example. Here it is, very loosely put, in a chiastic nutshell:

God created everything, and all was perfect. (Yay!)
Then we caused problems, and made things broken. (Boo!)
So God made it his problem, and took on our brokenness. (Boo!)
God then created us new again, and all will be perfect. (Yay!)

Notice my childish yay-boo-boo-yay pattern. (It helps to think like a kindergartener.) You could also fill in the chiastic a-b-b-a crisscross pattern of the Bible with something else: hopeful-hopeless-hopeless-hopeful or life-death-death-life. The point is, the bookends of history are insanely triumphant. God dwells with his children at the very beginning of the story. Then there are rough patches. Then he dwells with us again for all eternity when he "wipes every tear from our more death or mourning or crying or pain." (Revelation 21:3-4)

It's pretty deep stuff. But not only are you smarter now, hopefully you have gained a new perspective. As for showing off at your next book club by slipping the word "chiasmus" into a conversation, remember this: They're not going to care about how much you know until they know how much you care.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Why Being a Woman Is Awesome

Thank you, clothing industry, for making "boyfriend jeans." What a good call, for they turn the oftentimes distressing jeans-wearing, "can't get 'em up past my knees" experience into something comfy, relaxed, and less terrifying. Like a good boyfriend!

But if I actually wore my boyfriend's - my husband's - jeans, why, you wouldn't be able to find me for days! One of him equals two of me. Which could be good: I'm in the jeans; let me be!

Turns out they also make boyfriend t's. Roomy and soft, they're perfect for hiding your muffin top while eating muffin tops. I'll take two, please - two of your finest muffin-top-making muffin tops baking! 

Yet my fondness toward all-things boyfriend dwindled the day I saw a rack of "ex-boyfriend" t-shirts. What's next, boy of the week t-shirts? Flava' of the month? Such sassy-ness. Such bitterness. And they didn't look one bit different from current boyfriend ts. Does someone at the t-shirt naming company have a yucky BF memory? I mean, who doesn't - but to name a shirt after it? I'm confused.

Oh I know, I'm making something out of nothing here. Maybe nothing was meant by it. But the whole idea just seems to chip away - if only a little - at the loveliness of womanhood. I like a lovely woman. I want to be a lovely woman. A woman who is vibrant and courageous, nurturing and relational, smart and confident, adventurous and bold, spunky and zesty.

To be a woman is to be regal. We are the crown of creation. Before we existed, something wasn't right. Something was missing. What was it? Women. GIRLS. It is not good for man to be alone. (Genesis 2:18) Creation was already good, but not all the way good. God had a plan to make it gooder! And in enters the ladies.

Author Stasi Eldredge wrote this about women: "She is not an afterthought...She is God's final touch, his pièce de résistance. She fills a place in this world no one else can fill. Step to a window, ladies, if you can. Better still, find someplace with a view. Look out across the earth and say to yourselves. The whole vast world is incomplete without me. Creation reached its zenith in me.'"

(Would it be obnoxious to shout out "GIRL POWER" right about now?)

But after being reminded of where I fit into the order of creation, it just doesn't feel right to take the (much easier) sassy and bitter route all the time. (Okay, maybe some of the time.) Besides, what woman doesn't want to work on being a more comfy, relaxed, and less terrifying she? Kind of like, well, a good girlfriend!