July 25 — Downcasting

I put on a mask so you can’t see
What I have
What I am
Who I am.

I’m hiding so well
Just one of the crowd
I smile with my eyes
But my heart is down-

Casting my cares on Him,
Or denying their importance
I can’t tell the difference right now.

Poem from the summer / picture from the semester

John Crist and the Greater Global Sexual Crisis

Earlier this semester, I wrote an article about Christian comedian John Crist. I’ve been a big fan of Crist for basically his whole career, ever since I saw him opening for Tim Hawkins online and creating rather edgy satire of American Church culture on YouTube and Instagram. I probably can’t even count the times my family and I have said “check your heart” with his inflection, sometimes mockingly, sometimes genuinely.

Apparently, though, he knew how to call people out because he needed to be called out. In November, the truth came out about his numerous sexual sins against women, both physically and online, that he and his team have been covering up for years. I would do your own research — Charisma News has a thorough article — before reading my response, but it’s not necessary.

Responding to John Crist’s Responding to John Crist’s Sexual Midconduct — THE BAGPIPE (the link takes you to my school newspaper)

I think that whatever the heck you want to call this decade, the twenty-teens?, it was marked by sexual conduct coming into the public eye. I got into politics because I saw and was interested by the controversy of Obama being first elected (my father is staunch right-wing), so I began to observe and study politics just around the turn of the decade. From what I remember, we had, in partial chronology…

  • The legalization of same-sex marriage on a national scale
  • The subsequent bullying of Christian business owners who didn’t feel comfortable supporting this behavior with their services
  • Chick-Fil-A get bullied repeatedly across the decade for giving to “non-LGBTQ-affirming organizations” but them also quietly opening on Sunday to serve the probably mostly gay Pulse shooting survivors.
  • (Also can we just mention Chick-Fil-A thriving in general, despite losing one day a week, 52 days a year, compared to their competitors. Makes ya think about how God still honors His promises to those who keep his Shabbat….)
  • Slut Walks in DC, as freedom to be however sexually loose you want is crowned the highest goal of the American people
  • The #metoo movement as a whole. Sexual abusers in Hollywood get taken to task, despite being rich and powerful (the Leverage team would approve).
  • The anger against VP Mike Pence for his strict rule against meeting with women to protect his integrity and his wife’s integrity. The juxtaposition of this with the #metoo movement was poetic and stunning and sad.
  • The Catholic church sex scandals that are Still coming out!!
  • The #believeallwomen movement, unless the woman is accusing a Democrat. Obviously. (#sorrynotsorry, still bitter about the blanket apathy towards the women who accused Former President Clinton of rape, who had legitimate proof and many witnesses who could attest, even after the circus of the Kavanaugh hearings and accusations.)
  • Planned Parenthood being proven to be selling baby parts by apathetic and even sociopathic doctors. PP aiding child prostitution. And yet, nobody on the Left has changed their tune. Still not fully defunded, tho Trump has tried and made Some progress.
  • The Pro-Life movement has swelled and is spreading across the country! People are having their eyes opened, and Trump has stood for life very openly and strongly.
  • Gosnell and Unplanned, two anti-abortion movies, had incredible opening weekends and held strong turnouts, but were dropped from many theaters absurdly and unprofitably early.
  • Trump’s explicit “grab any woman” comment from his playboy days shocked the public.
  • …as the sexually explicit Shades of Gray books and movies swept the nation. The hypocrisy should be sickening. But nobody cared. Welcome to our decade.
  • Planned Parenthood released sexually explicit sex-ed videos for schools to show in middle school classes, often without parents having any idea it was happening or what the content was. It encouraged sex, usually safe sex, and a few PP employees have gone on record as saying that they’re doing what any company does: creating customers. This has continued throughout the decade.
  • The prevalence of pedophilia (especially in Hollywood and DC) has been coming more to the public’s attention, culminating in Jeffrey Epstein becoming a household name through the meme quote “Epstein didn’t kill himself.” The Lolita Express’s roster is public domain, and the world’s elite’s secrets are coming to light.
  • Trans female (men taking testosterone blockers, to put it almost too simply) athletes are dominating in women’s sports, and guess who’s mad about it? Women. True feminists. Huzzah!
  • Oh, who can forget the bathroom confusion? Also known as, why you should never use Target bathrooms.
  • Drag Queens (esp children) are being paraded as courageous for their authenticity. It’s sickening and I dare you to watch any video of these young boys in drag, dancing for adults, that our country is applauding. It should make your heart cry.
  • Adult drag queens, including registered sex offenders, are now being paid by the government to read to children in libraries across our nation, often explaining sexuality and what it means to live in drag, or even flashing the children. All for the sake of inclusivity and freedom!
  • Even more confusion and pain in regards to those with gender dysphoria, same-sex attraction, and more, due to the arguments around gay conversion therapy, hormone-blockers, what the legal age should be to transition, what parents’ roles should be, etc. Just look at Canada. They’re even deeper than we are.

I’m missing others, I know, and I might have a a few details wrong. But this should give you a good idea of how crucial this decade was to the world’s sexual identity, especially America’s. Do your own research, check out Disrn.com, run by Adam Ford of Babylon Bee fame, and don’t be afraid to be skeptical of what the media on either side says. We have to be aware of what they’re trying to teach us, so that we can protect ourselves and our kids from the utter depravity. I’ve been trying to get better at going back to the Bible and letting God’s truth about sexuality soak into my heart, so that He can become my lens for how I view all these attacks on His normalcy. The book Love Thy Body by Nancy Pearcy is also I recommended. I’m only in the first couple chapters so far, but it is SO good. She hits the nail on the head as to the why of the sexual depravity we see around us to clearly.

As a Christian, I’m deeply troubled by the blindness of those around me. But it isn’t anything that God didn’t call ahead of time, and I know I can trust Him. As the world around us plunges itself deeper into darkness, we will shine all the brighter by even just little differences we intentionally make. We will be known by our love, Love told us. It’s time to see what that looks like.

Thanks for reading??

Sydney (Squid)

Music. A Scholarship Essay

percussion-ensemble

The following is adapted from a scholarship essay I wrote on the prompt of “What are you average at and how does the Lake Wobegon Effect (a natural tendency to overestimate one’s capabilities and see oneself as better than others. Research psychologists refer to this tendency as self-enhancement bias and have found evidence for its existence in many domains) affect that?”

It was weird to write this, but also enlightening. 🙂


I come from a musical family. 

My dad played french horn and trumpet in marching band, but also plays piano and guitar, and, thanks to Amazon having a deal on them, ukulele. He taught my mom to play the drums a little when she was pregnant with me, and that’s my theory of where I got my passion for proper rhythm.  Mom was never classically trained outside of playing clarinet in high school, but she has a great ear for right and wrong, so she’s helped me train my voice.  My stepdad is a complete music nerd and we own way too many guitars and mandolins and octave mandolins everything inbetween.  I took piano lessons for five years and played percussion in a Christian homeschool concert band for the past two years.  All my sisters and I also sing in the same organization’s choir. 

All of this to say, music is a huge part of my life 

So, understandably, most people tell me that I’m good at music.  But I’m scared to believe them because I don’t want to be wrong.  What if they’re just being nice?  I’m afraid of having this false idea that I’m quite good when I’m really not, because that would be obnoxious to other people who actually are good.  I’m so scared of the Lake Wobegon Effect that I overcompensate by telling myself I’m average, if not slightly below.   

To help keep myself in this “humility,” I hold myself to impossible standards and compare my skills to others’ around me.  The internet gives me an infinite amount of people to compare myself to, but I’m also surrounded by very talented people.  I feel like if I can’t play guitar effortlessly like my stepdad, piano delicately and powerfully like my dad, drums and mallets perfectly and confidently like our band’s first-chair percussionist, or sing accurately and melodiously like the competitors on The Voice, why am I even advertising myself as a musician?  There are so many people better than me! 

I don’t want people to think that I think I’m as good as those incredibly-talented stars. 

But then I run into people who are amazed that I noticed that a song on the radio is in ¾ time.  Since I think I’m average, I’m shocked at their lack of knowledge.  Instead of understanding that not everybody understands what I do, my first mental reaction is that they must be unusually uneducated.  Which. Is. Not. True.  Instead of having a realistic appreciation for how much I actually know, I grade people on a curve, putting myself as something like the 67th percentile.  This makes people seem much less savvy than they are, since I really do know a lot about music theory.   

Every time I do well in an audition, I assume that it was just easy, or that the judges don’t have very high standards.  I’ve chained myself to this idea that I am unable to do hard things, that I am relatively unskilled, and that anyone could do what I do.  That there’s nothing special about me or my abilities. I hear the people complimenting me, but I also hear them complimenting other people who may or may not have done well.  The insecurities rise!  

But this attitude ignores my own hard work and the hours I spent crying at the piano when I was eight years old because I couldn’t figure out Three Blind Mice by ear.  It ignores the afternoons I spent playing the guitar and refining my strumming pattern even though my fingers were turning blue.  It ignores the moments when I’m in a room with a piano and feel my soul being drawn to it inexplicably.  I have a connection with and passion for music that I can’t ignore, lest I go crazy. 

If I ignore the power and beauty of the music I love, I will never be able to take advantage of all I can do with it in God’s service. 

And to tell myself these lies, that what I do isn’t special, isn’t good, or isn’t worthwhile, is to discredit God’s work in my life.  He is the one who gave me my passion for music.  He is the one who inspires me to bless people with my music and singing.  If He’s calling me to devote a bigger part of my time to getting better at some instrument, and I just point at someone else who’s better, then I’m no different than Moses reminding God that Aaron was a better speaker.  I’ve always yelled at Moses to man up and trust God. If He calls you, He knows you can do it! It’s through His power anyway, dummy!  Well, I guess I need to take my own advice.   

There’s always going to be someone better, who is legitimately good (in my estimation) at what they do, but that doesn’t mean I should stop trying to get better.  The idea of minoring in Music isn’t out of the picture just because someone else is way more talented than I am. If I can bless someone with my music (which, praise God, I’ve already been able to do), then it’s all worth it!  Whatever training I can get, God can use.  And I trust Him on that.  


Squid 🙂

 

The Privilege of Prayer

It’s a privilege, Lord
To talk to You in prayer
You bend your ear
And listen there

My filthy soul
You see as clean
All because of
Christ in me


I know this is the third poem in a row, so if you don’t like poetry, sorry, haha.  If you do like poetry, then here’s a little background:

The first stanza was written in March 2016, and the second stanza over a month later. But I wrote them on the same piece of paper, so I read them together, and I quite liked it. So, this is a composite prayer-poem. I hope it touches you as much as it continues to touch me. 🙂

Sydney

Ultimate Satire

A couple weeks ago, I had to write a sports paper.  So I read a chapter of a book on sports writing, but then I also read the next chapter: humor writing.  With both of those influences being tossed around my mind, this paper emerged.  As soon as I told my sister Carrie about it, she brought up Paul.  She was totally write right; as soon as I realized I wanted it to be sarcastically funny, I subconsciously channeled my inner Paul

So, this is for you, Paul


Ultimate Frisbee, commonly shortened to the creative “Ultimate,” is an increasingly popular sport among both millennials and their parents.  Scientists are investigating how this unique phenomenon exists, and advertising agencies are altruistically pouring millions of dollars into the research—for the good of the cause, of course.

I’ve only played Ultimate twice, and that was many months apart, so, in reality, I’ve simply played for the first time twice.  For this reason, you can rest assured that I know everything that there is to know about the game and never get confused during changes of possession.  Ever.

I played most recently with a group of people who ranged in age from twelve to mid-fifties, but the most influential players were surprisingly the young men in their teens to mid-twenties.  The rest of us merely blocked and distracted the other team to the best of our abilities, occasionally catching the frisbee in a complete and honest accident that had a good chance of helping the opposing team.

Understanding Ultimate is really quite simple: it is the monster that emerged when your buddy Jared rolled over the group’s only football in his Mack truck but then tried to pretend you could still play football with the flattened remains.  Of course, with those guys in charge of coming up with the rules, nobody should be surprised that we’re left playing an anarchist football in which you can only run if you don’t have the ball, and where downs have been exiled to the frozen wasteland of the hearts of NFL coaches.  Thus, you still want to get a touchdown, but you have to make approximately 17 ½ passes between the same 4 guys to get it downfield, which can take upwards of 10 minutes or less.

Of course, the defending team enjoys this new and improved football: to claim possession of the frisbee, they don’t need to intercept it with skill and dexterity and suspense, but instead merely need nimbly hit it out of the air with as much brute force as possible, accompanied with macho yells intended to terrify their victim.

According to the UORTDE (Unofficially Official Rulebook That Doesn’t Exist), from the moment the defending player (who now goes on the offensive in the name of disgracing consistency and order and all things holy) touches the frisbee again, it is in play and must be thrown frantically in five seconds by the other team’s count.  For this reason, the possessing player often merely hovers over the downed disc, letting his teammates get in a better position as the opposing team circles him hungrily, waiting for its moment to strike and then probably howl at the moon.

As this explanation has probably inspired you to join your local Ultimate league as fast as humanly possible, I will leave you with the wisest, most universally applicable advice ever screamed at the top of a player’s lungs in pure terror during the game:

“Watch out for Eric!”

-Squid

This Review Has ARRIVED

The following has been adapted from a media review essay I wrote last month on the recent movie Arrival.  After realizing that I spent way more time on it than a normal blog post, I thought I might as well share it. 🙂 — All images are from Google Photos.

I like thought-provoking science fiction movies — the ones that require you to wrestle with the plot lines, premises, and conclusions for hours after the movie ends. Tom Cruise’s Oblivion and Edge of Tomorrow exemplify this genre, as do Ender’s Game, Deja Vu, and Interstellar.

However, Arrival stands out to me as one of the best I’ve ever seen.

arrival-1600x900-amy-adams-jeremy-renner-hd-4k-2649

From the poster, I thought it would be just another alien movie. I happen to like alien movies, so I still wanted to watch it, but I never thought it would be so much more than I imagined.

The movie centers around Amy Adam’s character, Louise Banks, a linguist who is recruited by the United States Army when 12 identical alien ships land in 12 of the most powerful countries in the world.  The arrival of the ships ignites a frantic race of countries to be the first to communicate with the ships.  Banks leads a team of the most innovative scientists and researchers in America as they try to crack the language of the visitors.

Because this all takes place in modern day America, the viewer resonates strongly with the mindsets and motivations of the characters and the tense political relations with Russia and China. These factors intensify the movie much more than most sci-fi movies because the audience can easily picture this happening to themselves tomorrow and they start thinking like the protagonists: How would you respond to non-aggressive invaders who threaten to tear the socio-political landscape of your world apart simply by existing?

How would you respond to non-aggressive invaders who threaten to tear the socio-political landscape of your world apart simply by existing?

amyadams_arrival

Like most science fiction movies, Arrival doesn’t tell you much in the beginning, and you learn things only from Banks’ first person limited perspective. Of course, you start drawing your own conclusions about her life and about the motivations of the aliens, but these keep being shaken and refuted by cut scenes interspersed into Banks’ consciousness. Eventually, you’re forced to re-evaluate everything you thought you knew, and the pieces fit together.

Despite the high-stake pressure the researchers are under, you get to see them react as humans. Banks gets nauseous and overwhelmed on her first visit to the alien ship and struggles with discouragement over the huge task in front of her, yet she continues her research because she’s encouraged by the team’s head scientist, Ian Donnelly. Their emotional development takes precedence over even the world-shattering politics of alien technology, as you see Donnelly actively look out for Banks when no one else cares enough to, and she leans on him reluctantly. Their love story develops naturally, despite the chaos around them, and it brings the far-fetched technology into focus as simply a problem they have to solve together.

arrival-set-design_02

Sometimes science fiction loses the human element of its characters by focusing too much on the cool, mind-bending science, but Arrival avoids this masterfully. The science piques your interest by being both seamlessly complicated but also somehow accessible, but it only seems important because of its effects on the characters’ lives and futures. Arrival raises the bar for the science fiction genre by being a perfect fusion of storytelling and theoretical physics.

Arrival raises the bar for the science fiction genre by being a perfect fusion of storytelling and theoretical physics.

arrival-cried

-Squid

Christmas Tiiiiimmee Is Here!

I’ve been really busy practicing Christmas music for my upcoming band and choir concert.  Even my little brother has started singing “Jubilate Deeeeeoooo” around the house. 🙂  

My internal 10 year old Jewish girl still doesn’t know how I learned all these songs so quickly, but here we are, haha.  

But, she’s placated by the fact that my family is going to be leading worship at our synagogue’s Hanukkah celebration… Which is the day after our Christmas concert (but we’re just going to ignore that). 😄

Since my life’s been so wrapped up in music, I thought I’d go back and find some of my favorite music-related posts to share again. 

Strumming in Vibrato – A poem, the style of which is based loosely on The Bells by Edgar Allen Poe, which is my favorite poem ever. 🙂 

Ivory Keys (also a poem)

Little Drummer Girl – A short, slightly cringy contemplation of the gender gap in percussion… However, in my percussion class now, guys:gals is 4:3, so it actually feels pretty balanced.
I want to thank the people at GCHFA for their incredible mentoring and friendship.  GCHFA is Gulf Coast Homeschool Fine Arts.  It’s pretty much the coolest thing ever invented, cause now I’m playing the xylophone, snare, and bells in a band, while also singing in a choir, all with other Christian homeschoolers!  I appreciate this program and the people who run it immensely.  Thank you!

-Sydney