Religion

Book review: In Full Color

In Full Color: Finding My Place in a Black and White WorldIn Full Color: Finding My Place in a Black and White World by Rachel Dolezal

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Full disclosure: I don’t like Rachel Dolezal.

Despite my personal misgivings, I am a knowledge-seeker so when the opportunity to read Ms. Dolezal’s book presented itself, I took it. I even went into the venture with an open mind, ready to hear her side of things before passing judgment. Unfortunately, reading the book only solidified my feelings that Ms. Dolezal lives in a world of her own creation and feels persecuted by those outside of it (which is nearly everyone).

I will say that Dolezal had a horrific childhood and endured more than any child should. However, some of the claims in her book leave me dumbfounded. She highlights growing up in rural Montana where there were no black children. She didn’t even know such a person existed until she was given a National Geographic magazine as a young teen. Yet at the same time she knew she was inherently black. She compares doing manual labor on her family farm to being a chattel slave which is preposterous. This goes on and on throughout the book and rather than presenting a well-rounded view of society, it comes off as whiney and at times delusional.

Regardless of whether Dolezal is delusional is beside the point here. What the book does present is a well-rounded view of her experience. I was able to see exactly how she came to believe what she does and it is clear that her identity crisis started from a very young age. Her story is a very interesting psychological study in that sense this is a very good read.

Storms Reback is the only saving grace in this whole thing as the book is actually very well written. I’ve argued before that good writing can make a terrible book readable and it holds true for this one as well. I wouldn’t have finished it otherwise. Rather than paying for the book, just read some news stories on Dolezal and you’ll have all you need to understand her.

Godspeed, America.

It might surprise some people to learn that I spent many years planning to join the army.  I would work out in my room every night before bed doing 1000 sit-ups, 1000 push-ups, 1000 jumping-jacks, and running in place for 30 minutes.  Even my plans for veterinary school tied in with my dream of becoming an officer with the Army Corps of Veterinarians.  Unfortunately, celiac disease crushed those dreams.

Now, I spend my time researching the best ways to protect the cultural heritage of the Middle East, particularly in Iraq and Syria.  I’m working towards a graduate degree in Museum Studies and Non-Profit Management.  My entire future is looking towards preventing war and working with our allies, and even our enemies, to protect our human heritage.

I consider myself to be extremely patriotic though I’m sure many Republicans would argue with me on that.  On the eve of an inauguration that threatens everything I have worked for and everything I believe in, I am afraid for my country.  I am hoping beyond hope that Trump will succeed, certainly not in fulfilling his campaign promises, but in leading America through a storm of his own creation.

At this time, I implore everyone to reach across the aisle and work together in every way.  We need each other desperately right now.  We cannot be men, women, conservatives, liberals, Christian, Jewish, or Muslim any longer.  We must go forward as humans and do what is best for humanity.

 

Book Review: Revival

Warning: Contains language

Revival: A NovelRevival: A Novel by Stephen King

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had to take some time to process this book before I could actually write a review because my only thought upon finishing Stephen King’s Revival was: WHAT THE FUCK?!

A couple of weeks later I’m able to put together several semi-coherent thoughts on what I think is King’s best novel in recent years. I’m an “old school” King fan. I tend to set the bar kind of high for new King novels since Carrie, Pet Sematary, and The Shining are some of my favorites. Needless to say, I’ve been a bit disenchanted with King’s new novels…until now.

Revival takes the reader on a journey through 50+ years of Jamie Morton’s life. It begins innocently enough, as young Jamie plays in the dirt with his toy soldiers. Yet, from the moment the shadow of Charlie Jacobs passes over Jamie’s Mountain, it is clear that no good will come of this meeting. Reverend Charles Daniel Jacobs comes to town with a passion for the Lord and electricity. He uses both for good, breathing life into the small church and healing Jamie’s brother with electric medicine after an accident. When Charlie Jacobs suffers his own trauma, however, everything starts to go south for the young pastor.

I was torn through much of the beginning, Jacobs seemed like a man lost after tragedy, but I could not shake the feeling of unease that fell over me whenever he reappeared. That is the feeling that makes this book so compelling.

Revival is just what the title implies: a revival of good ol’ Stephen King horror. It’s not in your face horror, it’s in your mind. One of the scenes that will always be stuck in my head involves a dream Jamie Morton has after being “cured” by Reverend Jacobs. I don’t want to spoil anything, but suffice it to say that the worse part are the sounds and tactile feelings described rather than the sights.

There are a couple of issues that I have with the book. First, it had a tendency to be a bit slow. I got bogged down in the monotony and the details, some of which I felt were unnecessary. The thing that kept me going was the knowledge that something WAS going to happen and it was going to be BIG. This brings me to my next issue: the ending. I’m not going to give anything away but everything leading up to that pivotal moment was electrifying (pun intended). The climax happened pretty much the way I thought it would but somehow managed to still catch me 100% off guard. Seriously. What. The. Fuck.

That moment alone made the book worth reading.

Not going to lie, this book might be a little upsetting for the religious folks. It takes a hard, uncomfortable stance on miracles, the church, God, and the afterlife. Then again, it would be a Stephen King novel if it wasn’t upsetting and uncomfortable.

Revival is a tale of obsession. Whether one is obsessed with a hobby, an addiction, religion, or finding a cure for what ails them, this novel seems to serve as a warning. Humans don’t need to know everything about the universe and what lies beyond. Sometimes, questions are better left unanswered.

Hating the Hate

B0017Today I was literally knocked over by all of the hate in the world.

There were two separate “religious” organizations on campus today preaching “God’s word” through hate. Hate the gays, hate the Muslims, hate those who hate our words, etc. I did not even engaged the men who were preaching yet as I walked past one shouted my way.

“You should be ashamed, foul temptress!  God hates your sinful ways!  Repent!”

All this evil because I decided to wear a low-cut shirt today.  He doesn’t know anything about me yet he judges me with one breath and in the next he professes only God can judge.

I have always believed that you can’t teach a pig to sing.  No amount of discourse will ever change my way of thinking and likewise, I will never be able to change this man’s beliefs.  Since these groups always appear on campus I’ve developed a thick skin and continue to ignore the razors they profess to be the teachings of God.

Then I walked past another group, a non-religious political action group, that wants to help the people in Ferguson.  While I admire their desire to better the community I was overcome with grief because their efforts will be in vain.  I’m a Saint Louis native.  For twenty-one year I lived and breathed the stagnant air that surrounds the politics of race in Saint Louis.  To help the people in Ferguson will take so much more than these young activists realize.

These kids have never even set foot in Ferguson, let alone the state of Missouri, so they have no concept of the racial discrimination that is so deeply rooted in that area.  It is embedded in generations and is passed down like a family heirloom to children and grandchildren.  In order to help Ferguson, they must help the surrounding area shed the segregation that has caused a divide that runs wide and deep.

I am usually fairly unflappable but today the hate spewing from so many directions, near and far, was too much.  I was suddenly so overcome with grief that I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me.  I had to take a step back and think about all the good there is in the world right now.

I doubt the world will ever “make love, not war” but that doesn’t mean I have to let the negativity being me down with it.  Hate is everywhere these days and I hate it.  From now on I will make a conscious effort to dispel the hate from my own life and I will work harder at making the existence of others a more positive experience as well.

I hope you will join me.

Book Review: Bad Habits: Confessions of a Recovering Catholic

Bad Habits: Confessions of a Recovering CatholicBad Habits: Confessions of a Recovering Catholic by Jenny McCarthy

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

You’d think I’d have little in common with a woman who wanted to be a nun and then became a playboy bunny. You’d be wrong. Jenny McCarthy is a “Recovering Catholic” with just the right amount of sarcasm and far too many questions for the Catholic church.

I also wanted to be a nun when I was younger. I did not aspire to be a playboy bunny but that’s besides the point. I grew up Catholic and left the faith as an adult. Teachers didn’t like the fact that I was so…questiony. I speak two languages: English and Sarcasm. This book is my spirit animal.

I giggled like a fool when I was reading about how Jenny went from a fun loving little girl who loved the Lord to being absolutely terrified to do anything wrong…Finally she comes to the realization that Catholicism has a huge number of, shall we say, loopholes? Then the questions started and never stopped.

When I began kindergarten I was a bright-eyed, God-loving little girl. It took about two weeks to fully convince me God was spying on my every move and He was just looking for the right minute to smote me. Needless to say, my already anxious little self instantly became neurotic about not sinning.

I relived every moment of my thirteen years of Catholic education with this book. Even the time after high school when I was out on my own and making terrible choices–God saw them but did I (should I) care? Hell no!

This book pretty much covered my entire life: from the innocent nun I wanted to be to the questioning hormone-driven teenager all the way to the wayward adult I am now. I loved almost every minute of it (I could have done without the random autism chapters at the end but that is McCarthy’s M.O.) and I highly recommend this book to anyone who lists their religion as “Recovering Catholic.”