July 11th, 2005

tell me a story [lizzieb]

Sharon Shinn - Samaria books

I read these books on the recommendation of diadeloro.

My biggest love for the books was THEOLOGY.

They all deal with issues of belief in a God -- how you know god exists, how you discern the god’s will, etc. -- but they also take up other issues as major themes as well.

The first, Archangel, is Kate’s favorite.

It definitely is a good book. It feels formulaic at times, but it was sort of something i noticed in passing, and simultaneously i thought, "But it's executed so well," and obviously everything's formulaic when you boil it down. I was reminded of Laura Kinsale’s Shadowheart -- the dynamic between the two romantic leads, the political intrigue. No hot BDSM, though. It’s definitely the most intense of all the books, though, in terms of the conflicts they face and also the characters themselves.

Its secondary focus is issues of free will, both in terms of predestination and duty.

The next book, Jovah’s Angel, has as its secondary focus, issues of technology. I wasn’t impressed at the beginning, but the big theology revelation won me over hardcore.

[spoiler: Collapse )]

The third book, The Alleluia Files, felt like it was going to be a retread of Jovah’s Angel, and it does deal with issues of technology. It was also heavily about fanaticism, though. Had more love stories than the previous ones, which made a certain sense given the themes. It was also, primarily at the beginning, about living on the run and then about learning to trust people, which it occurs to me later maps nicely onto the ideas that run throughout the books about discerning whether there is a god and about faith and decisions and so on.

[spoiler: Collapse )]

Angelica is the fourth book and while the previous books have jumped ahead centuries through the history of Samaria, this one brings us back to the early days, to give us the novel-length version of a tale whose nutshell we have been given in the other Samaria books. It also gives away secrets we have learned in the trilogy, so read the trilogy first.

It’s about love and community and belonging.

Angel-Seeker is the fifth book, the last Samaria book Shinn has written. It takes place a couple years after Archangel and is the most conventional of any of the books. About relationships and sex and love. It’s also more about the lives and problems of individual mortals as opposed to focusing on the concerns of the angels as the other books do.

While i was reading Jovah’s Angel i found myself really wishing i knew more about the Peoples of the God of Abraham. You can enjoy the books knowing nothing about them, but i recognized just enough to know that the author was doing more than just taking the modern concept of angels and using Biblical names. Though certainly it is far from an exact parallel allegory.

"I am no mermaid, and I am no fisherman's slave"

Every time i go in to the city, i spend about $10 on transport alone. [Edit for clarity: Despite this being an entry about my trip to NYC, Botson will always be "the city" to my mind.] I get so much solid reading time in, though, that i begin to think it’s almost worth it. Too much reading on a bus apparently makes me sick, though. Or at least it did on Saturday. Blessedly we were only about twenty minutes from Port Authority.

I didn’t read the whole time, though. The movie they showed was Message in a Bottle which actually turned out to be a good movie -- a rarity for Peter Pan bus rides. The readings of the letters at the beginning made me cry. As did various sections of the movie, actually. Been a theme recently. A musesfool fic made me cry that morning -- second time in about a week i’d had that reaction to one of her fics. Plus the Samaria books kept making me cry. Yup, am big sap. [I really like the Sinead Lohan song “I Am No Mermaid,” also. Anyone happen to have it on mp3?]

I got to antheiaKate’s parents’ loft no problem, and the heavens opened up just as i arrived (clearing up hours later in time for me to go out to dinner).

I had changed out of what i was wearing and into my “Everybody loves a cunning linguist” t-shirt and was grateful to be able to use the washer/dryer at the loft.

queenmother49Kate's sister [QM] and other people i hadn’t previously met came over later, and we watched a couple episodes of Coupling (“Unflushed” -- 1.01 -- and “The Girl With Two Breasts” -- 1.05). I was a fan.

offbalanceSharon and i went to dinner at Klong, this little Asian place on St. Mark’s (between 2nd and 3rd). I brought my leftovers back to the loft to put ‘em in the fridge and changed back into what i had been wearing previously and then we headed out to the bar. I’d considered leaving my t-shirt on (And QM, who had previously commented positively on my shirt, was indeed sad that i had changed out of it.), but i felt more comfortable wearing something that people wouldn’t be constantly reading. Though it would have been a conversation piece, which probably would have lessened the amount of time i spent hanging around silently.

I was dismayed to discover that we only got discounts on draft beers (odd seeing everyone drinking beer on the heels of my conversation with Allie about how few people our age, women especially, really like beer) and 2 kinds of shots. But because it was actually my birthday, QM bought a round of Tutti Fruti shots for her, me, and Kate. The best part was that she then told me i could put whatever i ordered on her tab. I had a melon ball and ordered an orgasm but they didn’t have any fresh cream, so i got a white russian instead and learned that while the faux white russians i had with Nao&Liz were palatable, real white russians taste far too much like coffee for my taste. That was in the space of about two hours, and i was beginning to feel dizzy. QM had said something earlier about a goal of the night being to get me drunk, so i asked if dizzy was drunk enough, and she said yes.

leopard_ladyJill remembered me from the last time i’d visited NYC, which impressed me, and otherwise i’d previously met nobody else at the party, though a good few i had at least heard of.

Everyone seemed nice, and i remembered a good number of people’s names since i met them in stages and actually had conversation with a lot of them (or watched them having conversation with other people) so their differentiated identities stuck better. There were a few times i considered leaving, but i’m glad i stayed the whole time ‘cause smaller groups of people are so much more my style.

Loud bar music bugs me ‘cause it’s like, Conversation, what? Though lots of people turn into less than scintillating conversationalists when they’re drunk. Some of the songs that got played i’d heard a ton of times at bartender training, so i had this serious Pavlovian reaction to wanna get up and start mixing drinks behind the bar.

All the people going outside to smoke reminded me of being in high school and going out to Perks at night.

Boris [who is of the sort of people i have no tolerance for] quickly decided i was “one of those people” (i was being minimally responsive to him) which amused me.

Near the end of the evening, i mentioned to ginpalaceMiranda that i was surprised we hadn’t killed each other. Though admittedly there had hardly been any political conversations all evening. When she walked me home she said we had to friend each other on LJ, and i’m not sure how much of that was the drunkenness talking, but since i’d spent much of the night thinking, “I could totally like you, except dude, politics” it was nice to hear.

Kate’s parents have this terrific flat couch that’s long enough for me to comfortably lie down on. I was thrilled. (I am so easy to please when it comes to sleeping arrangements.)

QM and her boy came over the next morning and we ordered breakfast from a Polish diner and watched “Serenity” (the Firefly pilot). We talked about the two different pilots and i said something and QM said she felt like she needed to leave the room (i think she felt outgeeked or something). “Elizabeth’s a Whedonverse geek. Why do you think we’re friends?” Kate said. So true.

In the interest of not getting sick, i slept for most of the bus ride home. Though i did finish the Samaria books (see entry below). Now i get to start rereading the HP books. It goes without saying that even though i’m not deeply interested/invested in the ‘verse, if you spoil me for anything in Book6 i’ll kill you, right? I mean, who posts plot spoilers for anything outside cut-tags, right?

I came home to 3 happy birthday wishes via facebook, and my mom had made me a birthday cake.

Really need to go to the glasses place tomorrow and pick out new frames.
i fight fire with words

on evolution and public debate

Miranda posted a link to this:
Wording for the first disclaimer (top left) is taken verbatim from the sticker designed by the Cobb County School District ("A community with a passion for learning") in Georgia. Really, I'm not making it up! The other 14 are mildly educational spoofs that demonstrate the real meaning of "theory" and the true motivations of School Board members. Ideally, these stickers will deter people in other districts from using "disclaimers" as a way to undermine the teaching of evolution. Please forward them to anyone who is considering it, or to friends in school districts where disclaimers are likely to be discussed.
The Cobb disclaimer reads as follows:
This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered.
My reaction: What's wrong with saying that? Lots of science is theory. Theory with a lot of compelling evidence/argument behind it but theory nonetheless. And shouldn’t everything "be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered"?

I can understand the frustration people have at a movement that seeks to undermine something they think of as scientifically sound, especially since said people don't view the proposed replacement as being scientifically sound at all, but i'm a fan of anything that encourages thoughtful engagement with material, and taken out of context, that's what the Cobb disclaimer appears to do.

A few weeks ago, my father pointed out this article, commenting:
I have always thought it was a good teaching idea to "teach the controversy": what do evolutionary theories explain? what don't they? what do creationist and ID theories explain? what don't they? What does it matter?

It is not unscientific to seriously consider theories you dislike.
Collapse )
you think you know...

brief religion interlude

A correspondent to The Anchoress writes:
Fr Nouwen reminds us of how the Eucharist defines our life.
First Christ takes us as we are.
He blesses us.
Then He breaks us.
And gives us to the world to bless.

I took the What Religion Suits You Best? quiz, and the result was Collapse )

I really enjoyed some of the question/answer options:

3.) I believe that Satan...
*Was Gods most favorite angel, but lost his way due to pride. However, God has a plan for Satan too. Praise the Lord!

5.) Choose which of the following shouts of acknowledgement suits you best.
*I need a special phrase to acknowledge Jesus? I love him, isn't that enough?

Have been discussing creed etc. with elwe. We got to talking about biblical interpretation, authority of Church hierarchy, etc., and i mentioned 1 Timothy 2:11-12. He linked me to a conference paper N. T. Wright presented: “Women’s Service in the Church: The Biblical Basis.”

I am not entirely convinced by his arguments about 1 Corinthians 14 or 1 Timothy 2, though he does offer interesting food for thought. The following is my favorite bit:
Most of us grew up with the line that Martha was the active type and Mary the passive or contemplative type, and that Jesus is simply affirming the importance of both and even the priority of devotion to him. That devotion is undoubtedly part of the importance of the story, but far more obvious to any first-century reader, and to many readers in Turkey, the Middle East and many other parts of the world to this day would be the fact that Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet within the male part of the house rather than being kept in the back rooms with the other women. This, I am pretty sure, is what really bothered Martha; no doubt she was cross at being left to do all the work, but the real problem behind that was that Mary had cut clean across one of the most basic social conventions. It is as though, in today’s world, you were to invite me to stay in your house and, when it came to bedtime, I were to put up a camp bed in your bedroom. We have our own clear but unstated rules about whose space is which; so did they. And Mary has just flouted them. And Jesus declares that she is right to do so. She is ‘sitting at his feet’; a phrase which doesn’t mean what it would mean today, the adoring student gazing up in admiration and love at the wonderful teacher. As is clear from the use of the phrase elsewhere in the NT (for instance, Paul with Gamaliel), to sit at the teacher’s feet is a way of saying you are being a student, picking up the teacher’s wisdom and learning; and in that very practical world you wouldn’t do this just for the sake of informing your own mind and heart, but in order to be a teacher, a rabbi, yourself. Like much in the gospels, this story is left cryptic as far as we at least are concerned, but I doubt if any first-century reader would have missed the point. That, no doubt, is part at least of the reason why we find so many women in positions of leadership, initiative and responsibility in the early church; I used to think Romans 16 was the most boring chapter in the letter, and now, as I study the names and think about them, I am struck by how powerfully they indicate the way in which the teaching both of Jesus and of Paul was being worked out in practice.

One other point, about Acts, something among many others that I gleaned from Ken Bailey on the basis of his long experience of working in the Middle East. It’s interesting that at the crucifixion the women were able to come and go and see what was happening without fear from the authorities. They were not regarded as a threat, and did not expect to be so regarded. Bailey points out that this pattern is repeated to this day in the Middle East; at the height of the troubles in Lebanon, when men on all sides in the factional fighting were either hiding or going about with great caution, the women were free to come and go, to do the shopping, to take children out, and so on. (I think this tells us something as well about the age of the Beloved Disciple, but that’s another story.) But it’s then fascinating, by contrast, that when we turn to Acts, and the persecution that arose against the church not least at the time of Stephen, we find that women are being targetted equally alongside the men. Saul of Tarsus was going to Damascus to catch women and men alike and haul them off into prison. Bailey points out on the basis of his cultural parallels that this only makes sense if the women, too, are seen as leaders, influential figures within the community.


Given that i had never heard of Sharon Shinn or her Samaria books until i heard diadeloro rave about Archangel last year, i was surprised at how many responses i got to my post on the books.

sigrun wrote:
I've been saving up links for the past week, so it's time for yet another 'these people are so much more interesting than me' post.


hermionesviolin talks about Firefly (spoilers for the entire series). She's one of the smartest people in the sandbox so, if you're a Firefly fan, it's definitely worth a look. (Full disclosure: I actually haven't read the entire post as I'm still not done with the series, but hermionesviolin is consistently at the top of her game so I thought this warranted a rec anyways.)
I am terribly flattered, especially since we so frequently disagree (though really, who isn’t that true with?)

astrogirl2 has a great analogy on the fanfic vs. pro-fic debate:
Honestly, I do think being told, "You're a good writer, why on Earth are you wasting your time writing fan fiction when you could go pro?" misses the point just about exactly as much as "Honey, with your looks, why are you wasting your time fucking your boyfriend when you could get paid?"

And caras_galadhon’s metaphor for this cyclic debate makes me giggle:
It quickly wanders off into the usual "OMG, Fanfic is Teh Ev0lest!!111!" and we've all been down that well-worn, now-paved, two-lane-expanding-to-four footpath-cum-highway before

londonkds talks about how Star Trek: Voyager could have been a much darker, and a much more realistic, show.

And limyaael talks about how to keep your story coherent with limitations on magic. [Applies only to stories that actually use magic, obviously.]

Pretty pictures of Michelle Trachtenberg.

I keep watching Monty Python’s Flying Circus, and it keeps not being funny. This makes me sad.

Why do so many Oz(/Giles) stories include smoking pot? I mean, i guess taciturn guitarist could feel like stoner, but.... I’m not a fan of mind-altering drugs, so this makes me sad, as it does when a character smokes cigarettes. [I know cigarettes don’t come under mind-altering drugs, but i do think they’re foul.]
diablo robotico [saava]

look at me not saying anything

So, i was wandering LJ, and came across an excerpt from the Newsweek Perspectives section a couple weeks back:
"I always told my dad that D stood for distinction." Sen. John Kerry, whose military and medical records were released last week, revealing that his grades at Yale were slightly worse than President Bush's. Kerry earned five D's and a cumulative average of 76; Bush earned one D and a 77 average.