Sunday, February 10, 2013

Christian Lessons from Classic Movies, pt I: Girls sleep in the house, Boys sleep in the barn

I do not own the rights

A growing trend in the parenting world is setting a tight limit on the amount of TV their kids can watch every day. As a baby sitter, I am often the enforcer of such rules until mom and dad come home and put on a show so that they can make dinner. They do this so kids don’t rot their brains or get wrong impressions of the world.

When I was growing up, I watched A LOT of TV and movies. I mean a lot; however, my parents and grandparents watched with us, and used each moment as a teaching lesson. For that I am eternally grateful.

One classic movie that my family has viewed umpteen times is the 1954 musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. In case you’ve never seen it, it is the *ahem* very realistic portrayal of seven backwoodsman brothers and their quest for love.

Set in Oregon territory in the 1850s, the oldest brother, Adam, meets Milly when he rides into town to trade grain and pellets for whatever they need on the farm. Upon introduction, he proposes to her. She accepts, the two get married that day and then venture back to his cottage in the woods.

I do not own the rights
However, he neglects to mention that he lives with his six younger brothers (Benjamin, Caleb, Daniel, Ephraim, Frank, & Gideon) and their lifestyle is an unbelievable mess (that she is now responsible for cleaning up after). Spunky and sassy, Milly takes none of this lying down, and she honors her marriage vows while teaching her new brothers manners and etiquette, guiding them through their new social and romantic lives.

And they all sing and dance! Why on earth would any two parents show this to three young girls repeatedly as an example of true love and respect? Because it became a WONDERFUL teaching tool about love, responsibility, and abstinence.

What?! Yes, that’s right. My parents and loved ones started elements of “the talk” before we hit kindergarten. Before we knew that there was “a talk,” they laid the foundation for the values they wanted us to uphold through life.

I do not own the rights
In the film, the boys fumble in love when they “accidentally” beat up all of the eligible men in town at a barn-raising (what can I say? It happens…). Depressed and forlorn, these lonesome polecats think about leaving the farm to just get away. Milly hears this and sends Adam to talk to them about the trials of love.

Adam, who thinks he knows everything and never needed to learn etiquette to woo his wife (let this be a lesson, ladies), takes the story of the “sobbin’ women” from Plutarch’s Lives and applies it to their predicament. He convinces his brothers that the best course of action is simply to ride into Town, collect the women and steal them away to the cabin for seclusion, because that is the true course to earn requited love. So they do it. And they cause an avalanche so that the women can’t be returned and the town can’t come to fetch them. BUT THEY FORGOT TO GET THE PARSON!

When the men return with these petrified, sobbing women, Milly comes out of the house, on fire with rage and disappointment in the men in her life. She lovingly gathers the women around her, and after hearing that the avalanche blocked them all in for the winter, speaks the words that every parent wants his or her daughters to understand as truth.

I do not own the rights
She stood in front of the door and said, “This house is for the girls. As long as they are here, you all will eat and sleep in the barn with the rest of the livestock.”

Men sleep in the barn; women sleep in the house. When were little, my mom would gather us around and say, “Now why did the boys have to go sleep somewhere else?” And we would reply, “Because the boys and the girls weren’t married, and there are only seven beds in the whole house. Boys and girls can’t sleep in the same bed unless they are married.”

Boom. My parents took the time to teach us values as the standard way for living, not a rare incidence of weird. For the rest of our lives, men and women sleeping separately before marriage was not only normal, but necessary. Where else will you find that in popular culture?

There are several other important lessons in this film, which I’m sure I’ll sketch out at another time. If you haven’t seen it, go pick up a copy! I recommend watching it with one or two friends who have seen it a lot and totally love it – you won’t be bored, I promise.

It wasn’t until fourth grade that I realized: 1) it’s not exactly normal to talk about premarital living arrangements with your parents, and 2) the rest of the world didn’t know what I’d always known: sex (and sleeping together) was made for marriage.

What you watch and what you let your kids watch is important, don’t get me wrong. But HOW you watch something makes all the difference. By working with the media, our parents set the Christian standard in our hearts.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Umbrella manners and Sidewalk Etiquette

In college, walking is an incredibly prevalent mode of getting around. It seems great, right? Exercise, time outdoors, and guaranteed social interaction are all built into your day. What bliss!

No copyright infringement intended. Discovered on pinterest.
HOWEVER, at my school there is a chronic problem with pedestrian selfishness1, especially during rainy weather. As a local driver and fellow pedestrian, I have witnessed the many problems and dangerous situations this solipsismcauses.

So here is a preliminary code of conduct that could be used as a reference almost anywhere!

You might wonder, “Katie, how can there be a Christian perspective on walking?” Glad you asked, friend.

Proverbs 20:11 says, “It is by his deeds that a lad distinguishes himself
if his conduct is pure and right.”  And Galations 5:13 says, “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another."

***I do not in any way mean to imply or state that I am the judge for what is pure and right; however, there needs to be a jumping off point for what is and is not acceptable. Perhaps we can learn as global community can serve each other in these ways! Concurrently, Psalm 141:3 says,

Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.”

I will admit that in my time I have, (ahem) not always thought of or spoken loving words in these frustrating interactions (such as “umbrella altercations,” “pedestrian apparitions,” or “Move glitch! Get out’ the way!”). And thus, this is the padlock on my indiscrete internal comments…

The New American Code of Sidewalk Protocol, Vol. I: 
Please observe Mutual Occupational Voyage Etiquette

  1. Acceptable and appropriate communication henceforth is a wave or other gracious gesture (i.e., a smile, mouthing the words “Thank you,” [obvious] head nod with a simultaneous eyebrow raise) shall be used to indicate the following:
    1. Do you see me?
    2. Yes, I see you. Please go ahead.
    3. Thank you very much. Have a lovely day!
    4.  *In the event that an umbrella is in use, the umbrella may be raised or tipped as an extension of gracious communicative gestures.
  2. A pedestrian must never assume that a driver “must be able to see them” or “just needs to stop.” Measures, such as the aforementioned acceptable gestures should be used to confirm visibility
    1.  Indeed, in Virginia, pedestrians in the crosswalk have the right of way; however, sometimes weather conditions or time of day makes it INCREDIBLY DIFFICULT to see a pedestrian in general. Please be mindful that being in the right legally can’t keep you out of the hospital literally. Make them see you.
  3. In the event of umbrella-appropriate precipitation, the umbrella should be held in the hand most to the outside of the path to accommodate umbrellas from the opposite flow of traffic.
    1. Appropriate measures should be employed to prevent the prongs of any umbrella entering the ocular area. In the event that this happens, please help your victim seek appropriate medical attention.
  4. Large umbrellas might be shared in a gesture of friendship with fellow sidewalk commuters enduring the day with a lack of umbrella. In areas of high umbrella occupancy, umbrellas can also be shared to reduce congestion and risk of injury.
  5.  Pedestrians are responsible for minding their speed and location in the sidewalk traffic pattern. Please walk in a straight path and yield to those who hasten to their destination, as they might be time constrained. 
  6. Parties of more than two should distribute themselves appropriately as to not force others into the street, into the mud, puddles or other unpleasant and potentially dangerous (or yucky) vicinities due to disproportional allocation of the public space.
Something missing? Please propose your own additions in the comments!

Concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself: seeking or concentration on one’s own advantage, pleasure or well-being without regard for others
2 A theory holding that the self can know nothing but its own modifications and that the self is the only existent thing; also: extreme egocentrism

Should happens

It is safe to say that I am abnormally close with my mother (and darn grateful to be so), especially at my age.

As a junior in college, there are several things to consider, concerning the future, my vocation as a daughter of God, my education. In the last few weeks, I have spent a lot of time talking to her about what I "should" do, how I "should" feel. And after a while, she finally said, "Katie, I think you 'should' too much." 

What on earth does this mean? God created us to do good, so naturally, there are right and wrong things to do and say. In that sense, you can't "should" too much!

But I don't think that is what my mom was trying to say. See, as I've gotten older, I've come to realize what many have realized before me. Mark Twain said, 

"When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished by how much he had learned in seven years."

I've never thought that my mother and father were ignorant, but I seldom fully appreciated their wisdom. What my great momma was getting at is comparing my internal life to the external lives of the other people in my life. There is a limit to the amount of one's internal self is shown through behavior to the general public, but besides that I am the only me there will ever be

Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."

I was recently at a Catholic Students' conference, and one of speakers said, "When your parents conceived you, God thought to himself, 'What does the world need right now?' And your face entered his mind. He sent you here for a specific purpose and there is no other person who can fill in for you."

After the fall of man, vanity and comparing myself to other people is almost inevitable, but each time I think, "I should look.... like this person," or "I should do .... like this person," or even "I should feel differently.... because of this," I will strive to remember that I am an individual. Should happens every day, but God's plan for me in this world is constant, and I will continue to pray to realize it.