Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Dancing

I told a friend yesterday that there was one thing in my life that could almost be given the distinction of keeping me sane this semester. It has been a long, complicated few months. The winter was very cold and icey and grey. The work was challenging. There was business and disconnection on all sides. There were more changes and travels than I have yet processed.

Ballroom dancing.

Kines 17 is the last of my needed gym credits. I've been wanting to take it since freshman year but it took being an honors kid to jump ahead of the line and get registered. I've swing danced before. There were those awkward attempts at learning waltz, foxtrot, and tango back in the ninth grade day for "The Waltz" at the Hershey Lodge. I even remembering Dr. Kearns attempting to teach me tango and dragged me across the floor, me stepping on his dress shoes every step of the way, when all we wanted was some swing music. I've finally learned some of those other songs and figured out how to move my feet to the music.

Jessi Morris and I were discussing this class yesterday. It is probably one of the greatest classes I've ever taken. Dancing is grand. It is the only way I've found that can take music which is completely invisible and wordless and give it a visible form. Any still art cannot accomplish it because it does not move and it lasts beyond a few moments. Dancing is just as fleeting as music, just as constrained to time, but embodies it and makes us appreciate it more. Sharing that with another person and the two of you having to give form to something like that is rather inexplicable and joyous.

I get to forget things while in ballroom. My life is far too filled with thinking and sitting activities that I forget how important and fun and necessary it is to move! I've never been able to enjoy this in running. Frisbee a bit more. Kayaking was great. But ballroom has this purpose of participating in music that one if both engaged in the mind and the body. One must listen to the music and then replicate it in the organized way that we've been taught: creative in the freedom of tried and tested structure.

Personalities and quirks and faults come very much to the surface when you have to dance with another person. While life seems to not exist when I focus on getting the steps right, other parts of myself that I don't like very much come out rather quickly and insist on being dealt with. It isn't about making you look good, it is about working together to get around the floor and enjoy it. Demanding that your partner be good so enhance your enjoyment of dancing is cruel.

Oh, and following is a good idea.

In the "Waltz" days of homeschooling, I began to see this and the fact that I am terrible at following has come back to haunt me. I can hide this pretty well when I know the steps. I can make it look great and make the guy look pretty good too but really I'm "back leading" and make us mess up eventually. I look down on someone who I consider to be a "bad lead" even when the truth is that they just aren't quite at the place to realize that I've wrenched the leading out of their hands and they don't have the confidence to wrench it back again. "I'm just a good follow for a good lead". That's ridiculous. Our instructor Jolene called me out on this when she used me for a demonstration. Apparently I both tried to lead Jolene and back lead, which meant I didn't trust her enough to wait for her movements but instead went on with my own. Boo! Tango is the clearest example of this where I did better when I learned the guy's part than in following.

I'm beginning to wonder if there is a direct correlation between how I dance and how I work with God. I'm pretty sure there is.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Poetry Month (Neglected)

It is April. It is Poetry Month. Last year at this time, I declared that I would post a poem every day for the next poetry month. It didn't happen. I didn't forget the month but I certainly forgot the resolution. I offer this poem as an introduction to the Festival of Faith and Writing that I attended last week. I also offer this as an introduction to my reconsideration of prayer: or rather, reconsidering my attitude and practice of it which is nothing like I have begun to realize it should be. Scott Cairns, the poet here, was a keynote speaker at the festival. He also gave a reading of some of his work, of which this was one that I have not gotten out of my head since.

Possible Answers to Prayer
By Scott Cairns

Your petitions—though they continue to bear
just the one signature—have been duly recorded.
Your anxieties—despite their constant,

relatively narrow scope and inadvertent
entertainment value—nonetheless serve
to bring your person vividly to mind.

Your repentance—all but obscured beneath
a burgeoning, yellow fog of frankly more
conspicuous resentment—is sufficient.

Your intermittent concern for the sick,
the suffering, the needy poor is sometimes
recognizable to me, if not to them.

Your angers, your zeal, your lipsmackingly
righteous indignation toward the many
whose habits and sympathies offend you—

these must burn away before you’ll apprehend
how near I am, with what fervor I adore
precisely these, the several who rouse your passions.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Part I: Politics and Penn State

This will be a follow up blog to one I posted about a week and a half ago regarding some Penn State politics and the election for the student government president. I realized as I considered that post that there were really two posts going on and so for now, I'm splitting them up into two parts. This first one will revisit PSU. The second will look at Kingdom Theology and thoughts on Christ and Culture discussions, hopefully asking more questions than making statements.

First, I wish to state that ranting was not the best way to approach the topic. I appreciate David Adewumi's (the receipiant of my criticisms) response to the blog and his willingness to talk about it further. I hope my use of the blog will be more thought through in the future.

That being said, I would be interested in hearing responses to thoughts on Christianity and politics. For those of you who may have missed it, last week was a pretty well publicized election for the Penn State positions. Christians took particular note this year because one candidate (Adewumi) was outspokenly Christian and used it as a way to campaign for votes. Christian football players endorsed him in the collegian. He was at Navigators and was introduced by our club president as a "man of God" and then presented as the candidate to vote for. There was sudden interest from Christians in an election that had held no interest before. A brother was running and so it seemed as if there was a felt need to put him in that position. The contradiction? His opponent, Christian Raggland is also a believer. David noted this in his comment on my blog and it was something I had just learned when I wrote it the first time. However, my objection was not to Christianity playing a part in shaping each candidates ideas and beliefs. But I am sincerely questioning whether using identification with a particular faith group to elicit those votes. It seems to be based then less on qualifications (of which I am not questioning) and more on personal appeal. I also put forth the idea that perhaps this was a poor way to express ourselves to those who (at times) have legitimate criticisms of Christians and their behavior. This question has implications in a larger realm than simply Penn State. Is it permissible for a candidate to ever use personal faith to get votes? (This is a different question from letting faith influence ethics and policies so perhaps that one can be saved for another time).

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Editing

Before revisiting my last post, here is something to consider:


I love editing and revising. It is the hardest part to get to in the writing process but has always been the most exciting and rewarding for me. When I think about "writing", those moments are what the happiest meaning is comprised of.

See this news story to find out what it is about:

http://www.hankstuever.com/blog/?p=1541