Mom says: You haven't published anything on your blog since February. You should think about writing something there! True, Mom. Just a few half-baked things for you today, but here they are.
Trying to Be Less Awkward
Do you, like me, struggle with self-consciousness and a fear of feeling or looking awkward? A recent article in New York Times explains Why Trying to Be Less Awkward Never Works. The author says that while how-to tips are appropriate for someone going into brand-new situations, those of us who have been around a little longer don't need them and may actually be handicapped by all the do's and don'ts. Explicitly monitoring your own behavior only makes you more awkward.
Fun, Fun, Fun
A few years ago I wrote a critique of my first (and so far only) experience on a cruiseship, and the aspect that struck me the most: the persistent pressure to be happy, to be pleased by all things at all times. See We're All Having Fun Now and a followup piece, Smiles in the Aisles. A colleague pointed me to a longer piece from the late David Foster Wallace, Shipping Out, published in Harper's Magazine (though alas, no longer free online).
Now: What happens when the happiest place on earth sponsors the cruise of a lifetime? I'm happy (in a sense) to add to the curated list this recent travel article from the New York Times: On a Disney Cruise, It's a Stressful World (After All). The follow-up piece, 'If You Can't Have Fun on a Disney Cruise...' is just as interesting. (I tend to appreciate articles that, even if the are making the case for a single emotion, opinion, or conclusion, acknowledge other views on a topic.)
Also, if you like travel stories, especially those that deal with food and culture, see the blog Roads and Kingdoms.
Empathy and Pain
Hubs' career as a chaplain has pulled questions about what to say to the stressed, traumatized, or bereaved into regular conversation. I wrote about this in God Must Have Needed Another Angel. You might appreciate The Power of Empathy (and One Surefire Way to Know if You're Missing It), which explains the human tendency to flee pain by denying or distracting from the pain of others. Today we also listened to a podcast, Everything Happens. The logo for it is actually phrased like this: Everything Happens
Helpful Ways to Talk about God
On a short flight last week I sat next to a very enthusiastic and chatty Christian who seemed determined to talk about God from the moment she boarded until we parted. Of course, she gave me her card and invited me to come stay with her any time I'm in New Jersey. Among the maxims she introduced early and repeated often was the claim, "Everything happens for a reason!" I'm still trying to put my finger on why that statement seems untrue, problematic, or at the very least, unhelpful... how might be used appropriately? When it would better be ommitted? Maybe the first episode of the podcast listed above addresses that question head on. Haven't listened to it yet.
Anyway... What can or should one say, instead of "everything happens for a reason," to acknowledge God's loving kindness and now-and-not-yet kingdom on earth, as it is in heaven? I know some of my readers don't believe in that at all, of course. Just wondering what kinds of statements (if any) from those of us who do believe in God's redemptive power are actually orthodox and helpful in this regard.