Monday, January 30, 2012

art and the bible

A friend came from Bucuresti a few days ago bearing great joy which in this case looked like books. A few were new ones--one I've been wanting to read since this spring, Snow by Orhan Pamuk. A couple were mine she was returning. One of those was probably the best non-fiction book I've ever read, one of my very favorite, a wonderful and little book called Art and the Bible by Francis Schaeffer.

I've been doing much more listening and reading these days, much less making art. I miss it. But it's been good to step back, too. I reread this book today (you can get through it in an hour and something) and thought I'd share some of the many many good quotes from it. You should read it though.

"They felt because I was interested in intellectual answers I must not be biblical. But this attitude represents a real poverty. It fails to understand that if Christianity is really true, it involves the whole man, including his intellect and creativeness. Christianity is not just 'dogmatically' true or 'doctrinally' true. Rather, it is true to what is there, true in the whole area to the whole man in all of life."

"So therefore the major theme is an optimism in the area of being; everything is not absurd, there is meaning. But most important, this optimism has a sufficient base. It isn't suspended two feet off the ground, but rests on the existence of the infinite-personal God who exists and who has a character and who has created all things, especially man in his own image...Man's dilemma is not just that he is finite and God is infinite, but that he is a sinner guilty before a holy God. But then he recognizes that God has given him a solution to this in the life, death and resurrection of Christ. Man is fallen and flawed, but he is redeemable on the basis of Christ's work. This is beautiful. This is optimism. And this optimism has a sufficient base. Notice that the Christian and his art have a place for the minor theme because man is lost and abnormal and the Christian has his own defeatedness. There is not only victory and song in my life. But the Christian and his art don't end there. He goes on to the major theme because there is an optimistic answer."

"But God's creation--the mountains, the trees, the birds and the birds' song--are also non-religious art. Think about that. If God made the flowers, they also worth writing and painting about. If God made the birds, they are worth painting. If God made the sky, the sky is worth painting. If God made the ocean, indeed it's worth writing poetry about...The whole notion is rooted in the realization that Christianity is not just involved with 'salvation' but with the total man in the total world. The Christian message begins with the existence of God forever and then with creation. It does not begin with salvation. We must be thankful for salvation, but the Christian message is more than that."

(There are so many more but I figure this is enough for now.)

Sunday, January 29, 2012


Just discovered the mattress on the floor I've been sleeping on the last three months is actually a box spring. This explains so much.

Thankfully I have graduated to a pull-out couch (more like what we think of as a futon). All about perspective.

Friday, January 27, 2012


I mentioned something a few days ago about winter maybe having come--it has. Most of the southern part of the country got lots of wind and snow including us, but we were on the northern edge so half the time it was freezing rain and not as much wind. I've learned two new words through all this: viscol and lapovita, blizzard and sleet.

It's wonderful, though. I can hear the Colombian teasing me, saying the Southern in me has converted. Never ever! Just a handful of other cultures (and climates?) mixed in these days. An observation about a place that's used to snow: first, regarding life going on as usual, nothing closes. Back home, if it flurried even, all the schools closed and there were about two gallons of milk left in the whole grocery store. Here, if you ask whether X activity will still be taking place due to the weather, they laugh. In our defense, in my beautiful Wilmington we have hurricanes and other epic weather, and our campus floods pretty often. So what do we do? We paddle to class on surfboards, in kayaks/canoes and otherwise wade and swim our way about.

This snow-as-something-commonplace is still new enough to me to wonder in it, however. I like the smell of it, can remember it from the few times it's snowed back home. Something metallic. Like the way a penny tastes. Part of me wants to use the word tangy, but it's all wrong--but think the sharpness of citrus without all the tropical imagery.

And it's still there, still outside, hardly any of it melted away. I don't expect it will in the next few days, either, as the forecast says the high sometime next week will be -14C (that's -6.8F, friends--that is polar). But I've found when you finally learn how to dress for the cold (and the wind's not blowing) it's much more enjoyable. And speaking of, two more weeks and I will be on the mountain!

It's been a good month, a good start to the year. I am thankful for this, and so going to Rasnov is no longer appealing primarily because it's not Pitesti. There are lots of reasons I love being in Rasnov and I'm looking forward to going with those reasons in mind. Speaking of, I've got a lot more responsibility this go around and it's going to put me in front a lot more than I usually like (in Romanian, of course). So if you think about it, pray for me?

Now, off to attend to other things related to the snow... like figuring out what to do with my clothes hanging in the (sort-of enclosed) balcony which are currently frozen.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

color, the protests and mostly miscellany

I'm grasping onto color these days. Winter may have finally decided to come--I woke up yesterday morning to light snow, walked outside in it this morning, slipping on the ice and thoroughly delighted. But for its indecision in temperature and snow, the light has been winter light from the start. White-washed and muted. There are no straight lines in this kind of light. Its edges aren't clear and hard and exacting, they're undefined, unsure. But its full of a glare that permeates everything--no clear distinction between light and shadow, either.

The other night I was washing dishes by the window in the kitchen and was surprised to find myself still standing there thirty minutes later, leaning against the radiator, watching the sky over the hill behind our bloc. Dark except for the burned line of yellow outlining houses and towers. And the other night, I started watching Slumdog Millionaire with my younger roommate. A quick aside: I had the book in Romanian, she read it, loved it, and sitting there in the dark with her I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the fact that God put us together. From my first morning here, I have been convinced that sharing a room with her (didn't move in with the other roommate, after all) specifically is why I ended up living in this apartment instead of anywhere else in Pitesti--there's so much I wish I could share on the blog. But that movie--a different sort of yellow altogether, but it's the strongest impression it left on me, the color of it. A hazy yellow, a heavy yellow. That warm language.

And then a few weeks ago I got a package from a friend for Christmas. In it was a red scarf and I remember being so surprised at how red it was, this shock of color. I wore it for a week hardly taking it off.

Minimized this and went about reading other things for a while. Not sure where to pick this up, where it was going. If we're talking about sudden shocks of color, I think about the footage I saw on the news the other night of the protests in Bucuresti. I can't remember what, but they'd turned something over and lit it on fire (correct me if I'm wrong). Here's a rather a dramatic videoclip from all of it. They've been mostly peaceful from what I'm reading, and not just in the capital but all over the country, including here in Pitesti (article in English). It's strange to watch the news and see it all happening in such a familiar place. I went to church every week pretty close--they rented out the Scala Sunday mornings. Used to sit on the benches or the steps in front of the National Theatre, reading after going to Carturesti or listening for other languages as tourists passed by.

But it's familiar in such different ways for other people. If you read about the Revolution, if you talk to people, so much happened in that square. What's the monument there? I can't remember if it has anything to do with the Revolution or no, but there's something somewhere around there I'd see.

And I'll tell you what: I miss Bucuresti, and I know most of you Romanians will think I'm crazy, but there it is.

Not sure how to end this one, except to say that I've missed writing on here. Hoping to be back for real soon.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


"Let this be written for a future generation,
that a people not yet created may praise
the LORD:
'The LORD looked down from his sanctuary
on high,
from heaven he viewed the earth,
to hear the groans of the prisoners
and released those condemned to death.'
So the name of the LORD will be declared in
and his praise in Jerusalem
when the peoples and the kingdoms
assemble to worship the LORD."
Psalm 102:18-22

Thursday, January 12, 2012


“The grandest efforts of poetry are where the imagination is called forth, not to produce a distinct image but a strong working of the mind, again offering what is again repelled, and again creating what is again rejected, the result being what the poet wishes to impress, namely, the substitution of a sublime feeling of the imaginable for a mere image."
--Samuel Taylor Coleridge in his criticism of Paradise Lost

This is an old one I found when I was about fifteen. I only managed a few pages into Paradise Lost but I remember the introduction was amazing--this has always been a favorite quote. It's how I want to write, what he's described.

Friday, January 6, 2012

in the ongoing reports on horace

My poor three-legged dinosaur Horace (whose recent dismemberment I wrote about here) has been in the hospital for about five weeks now waiting for my friend to sew his leg back on. And I logged on to facebook tonight and saw that he has been kidnapped by the boys in our small group and is being held for a ransom of 250,000 Euros.

However I am obliged to agree with this comment:

"This dragon needs to learn how to breathe fire so all the bad guys won't be after him."

Hope he makes it out of these shenanigans alive! :)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

2011: not really a summary

So. Another year. Such a big year, so many changes. It was good and hard and also lonelier.

I've been thinking about a post like this in the back of my mind the last week or so and I'm still not sure what to write. It ended nicely, this year. I went to Bucuresti for Christmas after much debate about staying here in Pitesti or not and I'm so glad I did. I stayed with some friends/a family and visited my old roommate, generally relaxed and got to be among other families, got to celebrate with them. Really it's the best Christmas present, and I know that sounds cheesy, but seeing other families love one another and love God--it's not something I've seen much of and it's such a wonderful thing. He's been teaching me so much about family and his love this year.

And then back to Pitesti for a few days before leaving for Timisoara for a very Romanian New Years. Revelion is their word for it. When I first learned the word two years ago I associated it with reveling and completely missed where its meaning really comes from. From the French verb to wake up, and so now, as a noun, I always think New Years and awakening in the same breath. There's room for that, I think.

We stayed up till almost seven in the morning in the ''day between years'' (as I read it described). Probably the most epic part was the rubber band battle which I am proud to say my roommate and I started. My poor thumb is still skinned but there were plenty of boys with welts to make up for it. And Timisoara is a really nice city. I think my favorite as Romanian cities go, although we didn't get to see much. It's not Ebbe's cabin in Rasnov, but nice. More Western than any city I've been in here, but still very Romanian.

What else is there? There really aren't any summaries, any overarching thing. That's something in itself. This year has been fully unlike any other. Not the best year by any means but, somehow, I don't mean that in a bad way. It's been hard, but it feels intentionally so, and I see God in it. Pure and simple. So I'm thankful for that.

Here's to another one. A full one, lots of new things.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


"Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out."
--Vaclav Havel