Thursday, April 06, 2006

Christian Men and Beards

I promised this post on Susan's blog in one of my comments on her long hair post.

I have a beard, and I am not Jewish nor Muslim. I am a Christian. To explain this anomaly will require a bit of work.

There are several reasons why I have a beard. Probably the most important reason is the gender confusion so prevalent around us. Beards are helpful in this regard. Whatever the Bible says about cross-dressing (and it says something! It's quite negative.) leads me to believe that no one should ever have any difficulty, in looking at someone, in determining the sex of that person. It always makes me feel rather weird if I'm looking at someone, and I can't tell whether that person is a boy or girl.

I will artfully dodge (was that a musical?) the question of the gender of God (I don't think it makes a huge difference in my argument), and simply point out that God created man, male and female created He them. He did not create a sort-of-man, and a kinda-woman. They were male and female, and no question. There are passages in Leviticus which prohibit a man putting on women's clothing, and I believe vice versa, but I'd need to look it up. Evidently, God views the distinction between men and women to be important.

I have never in all my born days been accused of being effeminate, even before I wore a beard. So you might object saying that I didn't have a need. Ah, but other men might not have such an easy time of it. Wearing a beard might encourage others to do the same, who might benefit by the added distinction. In addition, the beard provides insta-recognition. No one has any question about me. I liken it to driving a car: don't drive so that other people can figure out what you're going to do next, make it obvious. I'm making it obvious.

The next reason I wear a beard is because it's so amazingly easy to care for a beard compared with shaving. At least, it is for me. I realize many men out there don't grow their facial hair fast enough to warrant shaving every day (and that is the way God made you; don't you dare be ashamed of it!). For them the rewards are not so great, and in addition, the growing of a beard would be so time-comsuming, and the beard would look so terrible in the meantime, that I can fully understand your reluctance. There is no Christian requirement here!

It takes me ten minutes to shave properly, and that has to happen every single day or I get 5:00 shadow that is as rough as sandpaper. Beards are soft, but stubble is extremely unpleasant. I do shampoo and condition my beard right along with the hair on top. I also comb it. But that really takes very little time; on the order of a couple minutes for everything. I have to trim my beard once a week or so. That takes about ten minutes. So overall, I save a goodly bit of time from my beard, which I can then apply to blogging about it.

Probably 99% of the men in the Bible had beards, especially those men of Israel before the time of David. David, we believe, imported iron technology from the Philistines (plundering the Egyptians). Before that, it would have been prohibitively expensive to have iron tools such as razors for shaving. In addition, "tearing the beard out" was a sign of mourning, and shaving your beard was also. We know Jesus had a beard, because of the prophecy of "plucking out the hair," which probably refers to a beard.

Another reason for wearing a beard, which I could wish was otherwise (at least, in terms of the general distaste), is the apparent distaste for beards amongst the gentler sex. For me, this has the distinct advantage of scaring women away. Since many women dislike beards, I am safe from women who think that appearance is everything, and are only interested in "cute guys." My beard, I am nearly convinced, saves me from some embarrassments in this regard. Not that I think I'm extraordinarily handsome without it; I don't think I'm ugly, but that's as far as I'll go.

I think beards, well-kempt ones (the only ones I'm considering in this post), look distinguished. I think my beard gives me an air of authority; I think this helps me with my bus driving. I hear all these horror stories about things that happen to some bus drivers (fights on the bus, water balloons through windows, various other things). None of them ever seem to happen to me.

Now what are the objections? Principally, I hear that the ladies don't think beards look nice. Well, that's certainly something to consider. I've heard several ladies claim that beards cover facial features they would rather see. But really, ladies, is the appearance of a guy really so very important? You are not so visually oriented as we men are. I understand that because men are visually oriented, and always will be, the appearance of a lady is always important to her. The opposite situation is simply not true. My appearance is not all that important to me. I try to look presentable, simply out of politeness, but I do not spend enormous amounts of time with my appearance.

People might think that beards are warm in the summertime. Not really. In fact, I almost think beards make you cooler. The reason? Beards increase the surface area-to-volume ratio, making it easier to exchange heat with the environment. Thus, unless the summer-time temperature is above 99 degrees Fahrenheit or so, a beard is not going to make a man much warmer to any measurable amount. Interestingly, beards also do not significantly insulate a man in the winter, either. I have found my beard to be insignificant when it comes to my temperature.

I suppose one other objection might be dinnertime, and the "flavor-saver", as a fellow beard-wearer fondly calls it. This is simply a matter of keeping the hair around the mouth well-trimmed, and using napkins, and being a bit self-aware. Nothing all that difficult, really.

All-in-all, I find the advantages (mostly time) outweigh the disadvantages greatly.

Now, I know what you're thinking. Suppose I get married, and my wife wants me to get rid of it, right? Guess what? I get rid of it! After marriage, my body belongs to my wife. However, I might very well try to cajole her into liking it and letting me keep it. If the end result is dislike, then the beard goes. There are many things more important than beards. Including time I could be spending doing things other than writing about beards.

In Christ.

Visit Math Help Boards for friendly, free and expert math help.


At 4/06/2006 05:32:00 PM , Blogger zan said...

Thankyou for that. It gave me a good chuckle.
I, especially liked the part about scaring ladies off who are only interested in "looks."

My husband would've scared me off if he had his beard when we met. He looked like a serial killer. Good thing he shaved.

At 4/07/2006 08:55:00 AM , Blogger Susan said...

Interesting post. Have you been mistaken for a Jew or Muslim before? My primary method of gender distinction (skirts) gets me mistaken for various religious sects - hence my curiosity. She must be part of a cult. I'm not joking. . . It also works well at scaring off men, though my primary method for that is "casually" mentioning the number of children I want. I'm not joking there, either. . . :) Your post on scaring women away ("on courtship") is so hilarious. We were rereading it yesterday and just cracking up!

There really are so many parallels to this post and the issue of women wearing skirts: gender distinction, unfortunate affiliation to cults, scaring off unsuitables, myths about heat or cold, reputed disadvantages or inconveniences and extra care needed, air of authority, etc. I am not infrequently mistaken for much older than I am, and Mother Dear thinks my attire is responsible. I liked your conclusion: "There is no Christian requirement here!"

Your observations regarding being a bus driver and not being mistaken for a woman seem like anecdotal evidence, but then I think you weren't trying to argue directly that beards will have that effect. Just adding to speculation, perhaps?

Also you mention that 99% of the men in the Bible (including David and Jesus) probably had beards, which I agree. Your next paragraph begins with "another reason," which leads one to believe that the fact that men in the Bible wore beards is a reason in itself to wear a beard, which is simplistic and I think not exactly what you meant to say. That sort of reasoning could be taken to strange levels, as it often is in cults.

In my own observation men seem to be mistaken for women much less frequently than women are for men, so I don't think a beard is extremely useful in that sense in our society, though it certainly helps leave no doubt, especially for less-masculine men.

Oh, and I found a typo :-D: All-in-all, I find the advantages (mostly time) outweigh the disadvantages greatly. Turn-about is fair play. . .

It was an interesting post, all in all, though. Beards aren't something on which I often reflect. . .

Zan, you are cracking me up with your descriptions of your husband with a beard! Satan. . . a serial killer. . . what next? Sadaam Hussein (sp?)? *chuckles*

I agree that some men just do not look right in a beard, or at least a particular style of beard. Some men would look odd without them, though. *shrugs*

At 4/07/2006 09:32:00 AM , Blogger Susan said...

*sheepish look*

Okay, okay, Mother Dear just explained to me what you meant with "mostly time," so I guess it isn't a typo. . .

At 4/07/2006 09:57:00 AM , Blogger Adrian C. Keister said...

Reply to Zan.

My mind is made up. You're simply going to have to send me a picture of your husband with a beard. After seeing Dvorak with a beard, I'm convinced no one could have as fierce a beard. So prove me wrong. ;-) Maybe he has the Gimli/Gandalf look?

Reply to Susan.

I think I have been mistaken once or twice for being Muslim. Interestingly, my only Muslim friend does not have a beard, though he probably could grow one.

I am glad you liked my Courtship post. I know you're not joking when you mention the number of children. And I wasn't completely joking on my post, either. Just somewhat. I'm sure we understand each other. :-)

Well, I don't think the fact that 99% of biblical men wearing beards is any sort of logical requirement for wearing beards. However, I do believe that such evidence supports the idea that beards do no harm, and might be a good idea. I think at the very least, it should be evidence to support the idea that women should not dislike beards.

You are forgiven for your attempt at correction. Indeed, I wouldn't claim any offense in the first place. It is quite true that I have typi (plural??) in my posts. Sometimes I catch them, sometimes not. It's much more important to me to have the correct word than to be believed super-competant, which I am certainly not.

I am glad you found the post interesting.

In Christ.

At 4/07/2006 11:04:00 AM , Blogger zan said...

I think I threw all the pictures of my bearded husband out. He had a beard on his previous driver's license but he just got it renewed last month and got a new picture.

He isn't blessed with a full face of hair. I guess Benedict from 'Much Ado About Nothing,' would be justified calling him 'lack beard' as he did to Claudio.

My brother-in-law wears a beard very well. Some people just do the 'bear' look really well. : )

One thing about my husband is that he has a really thick full head of hair. Baldness does not run in his family. He is very proud of this fact. His dad is 81 and has more hair than my father did at 30.

Susan, it is funny that people might mistake you for being part of a cult. That is the reason I don't wear skirts 24/7. I don't like to draw attention to myself. I was raised in VT (which is a great breeding ground for cults) and used to wear a lot of dresses. I decided that I could dress modestly and in style so as not to draw attention or appear 'holier than thou.'I never felt comfortable when I would get the double take by strangers in public when I wore dresses. Dress is such a huge issue lately. Growing up, I was exposed to Christian girls who acted better than me because of the way they dressed. It really put a bad taste in my mouth.

Now, I am all for the feminine look (even though I have been wearing my husbands shirts recently at home. I just feel more comfortable in them until this post partum body goes away :). I think you can look feminine in pants. I do love dresses and wear them when I can but it is rare. I also wear long hair and make-up so I don't look haggard.

I don't condemn anyone for wearing dresses only now, but I stay away from it. You wearing dress 24/7 does not make me think bad of you.

At 4/07/2006 10:03:00 PM , Blogger Susan said...

Well, I don't think the fact that 99% of biblical men wearing beards is any sort of logical requirement for wearing beards. However, I do believe that such evidence supports the idea that beards do no harm, and might be a good idea. I think at the very least, it should be evidence to support the idea that women should not dislike beards.

Ah, that helps to clear up what you meant, Adrian :). I guess you were more arguing to the people who object to beards. Gotcha.

I am aware that I am not super-competent either :). I have Mother Dear as my Chief Editor, and she finds a typo in nearly every post I write. Out of curiousity, did you purposely misspell "competent" to see if I would notice?


Speaking of pictures, did you see my reply to you on my hair post? I gave you my e-mail address so you could send me a picture of Harry as you offered :). Here it is again in case you didn't see it: susan dot garrison at gmail dot com. Just whenever you get the chance we'd love to see a photo; I realize you're rather busy ;).

Yes, the "cult look" is an issue, and I've worked on overcoming that over the years by wearing a variety of skirts that aren't all straight jean skirts, khaki skirts, etc. I like print dresses or flowered skirts and tailored blouses best now, and those seem to be less cultish. One semester in college I wore only jean skirts and wore my hair in a bun everyday, and I realized that was not a good idea! Hehe.

I am essentially an all-skirts girl - for all practical purposes - but I do wear shorts (closer to culottes, actually) for swimming or other rare activities. I consider loose, feminine skirts to be well within the bounds of appropriate apparel for Christian women, but I don't think they are necessarily the boundary. That's not for me to decide. So I don't condemn you either ;), and thanks for sharing your thoughts on wearing skirts! It's always interesting to hear other's views on that.

At 4/12/2006 01:16:00 PM , Blogger Adrian C. Keister said...

Reply to Susan.

Thank you for providing a possible "out" in purposely mis-spelling "competent." However, I must decline and admit that you have found a bona fide typo. Thank you. :-)

In Christ.

At 4/12/2006 08:22:00 PM , Blogger Susan said...

Well, I actually did think you may have misspelled it to see if I would catch it. I daren't not note your mistakes after you lambasted me on my blog after I didn't catch on of your spelling mistakes on one of your comments. . . ;)

At 4/13/2006 03:11:00 PM , Blogger zan said...

Wow. You guys probably could publish a book with all the typos I have. I am a terrible speller. If it wasn't for the medical abreviations I would have been laughed out of nursing school because of my bad spelling.

At 4/13/2006 03:38:00 PM , Blogger Adrian C. Keister said...

Reply to Susan.

And did you intentionally mis-spell "one" in your last comment? *chuckles*

This could be what in computer science is labelled an "infinite loop."

I propose a different stategy: let's just correct each other if the meaning is unclear. How's that?

In Christ.

At 4/13/2006 07:13:00 PM , Blogger Susan said...

Haha. That misspelling was unintentional. Very timely, eh?

Fine, fine, fine. Correction for unclear meanings :). I have my own personal Chief Editor at home for my posts anyways :-D.

At 4/13/2006 07:18:00 PM , Blogger Susan said...

Mother Dear and I think that my mistake "catch on of your spelling" sounds like a Southern phrase, so I retract my admission of error and claim over-exposure to Southern drawls ;).

Oh, and to clarify, I have a Chief Editor for posts, but my comments usually go unchecked, so when I make typos in my comments it's not because of slack on the part of my Chief Editor :).

At 4/17/2006 04:52:00 PM , Blogger sarah said...

Good grief! I have no idea about the answer to this question, but were either of you two (Susan and Adrian) homeschooled? I cannot imagine most people having a lengthy discussion about typos.

I noticed Adrian's comment on Lanier's "Femininity" post on YLCF, and decided to see who the rare male commenter was. I found your beard post highly amusing, Adrian. I still remember the time when a group of kids at the community swimming pool asked me if my dad was Amish, because of his beard. At least you haven't gotten that one yet!

Nobody proofreads my writing for me. I hope I haven't made any typos. I don't think I have.

At 4/17/2006 05:54:00 PM , Blogger Adrian C. Keister said...

Reply to Sarah.

Welcome to my blog. As a matter of fact, your guesses about homeschooling were quite astute. Both Susan and I were homeschooled. I believe Susan was homeschooled all the way; I was 4th through 12th.

And I didn't find any typos in your comment. Well done. :-)] (Smiles with beard.)

In Christ.

At 4/17/2006 08:11:00 PM , Blogger Susan said...

I recognize you as a frequent commenter on YLCF, Sarah. I always enjoy your input on there :). I don't comment on there much, but do occasionally.

Yes, Adrian's hunch was correct that I was homeschooled all the way - until college, that is. Actually, I even took homeschooling to a new level, as my dad taught my two college calculus classes at the local community college :-D.

I didn't see any typos either, Sarah. Don't worry. I'm only critical of people who seem to enjoy it, and I think Adrian started this whole thing a while ago anyway, if I'm not mistaken. . . It's all in fun, even if we are calling a truce now.

I am so slow, Adrian. I just realized that your "wink with beard" on my hair post had that extra bracket as a beard. Sometimes things take me a while, but I eventually get them. . . *smooths back natural blond hairs* ;)

At 4/19/2006 04:57:00 PM , Blogger Adrian C. Keister said...

It wasn't a hunch! I think you told me at one point. Anyway, it's an easy guess even if you didn't tell me. You just have that... look. ;-)]

Ah, yes, my beard smiley. Susan, you've had another blond moment? (This is supposed to remind you of that fantastic line in The Hunt for Red October, where the American ambassador asks the Russian one, "Andre, you've lost another submarine?")

The smoothing of the hair was a cool move. (Now, don't have a heart attack that I used the word "cool." Generally, I try, sometimes unsuccessfully, to reject teen language as being rebellious. They're only trying to make it so their elders can't understand them, and what would the use of that be except to then be able to turn around and claim their elders "don't understand them?" A nice setup, to be sure.) It reminds me of some superwoman in a modern spy movie doing it. Hehe. You aren't, by any chance, going to star in a spy movie soon?

Ah, I can see it now: Agent 00144, practically indistinguishable from Agent 000144, with her concealed calculater in a shoulder holster (a la Square One TV and MathNet). "O, sorry. I got my hair caught in the paper shredder." As the villain kindly attempts to extricate you from the shredder, you whip your head around so fast that by the time he realizes your hair isn't actually caught in the shredder, your hair has achieved escape velocity, or, at least, enough to knock him out. "Base Dear, I've neutralized Public Math Enemy Number One. Over." "Roger that, Agent 00144. You can return to TutorStation (sic) and continue normal operations. Out."

Hmm. Maybe I've a little too much time on my hands. Time to get to work.

In Christ.

At 4/20/2006 01:20:00 PM , Blogger Susan said...

*wipes away tears from laughing too hard* Just be glad that I read this one earlier in the evening so I didn't have to stifle laughter - and so we could all enjoy it together firsthand ;). . .

Regarding the "hunch", I knew you knew I was homeschooled. That is obvious, and I'll take You just have that... look. ;-)] as a compliment, thank you very much. . . I didn't know if you knew for sure that I was homeschooled all the way, especially since you expressed uncertainty to Sarah in this regard. My comment was to Sarah for clarification. I wasn't even talking to you. *rolls eyes*

I hear you about slang. . .

Hmmm, I haven't seen The Hunt for Red October, so the submarine line was lost on me. But I have seen Square One! That was the greatest educational show ever produced. *sigh* I wish they would release those onto DVD to save for posterity. . .

My favorite skit was the Roman Numeral song. There's just nothing quite like seeing that one guy dressed in a toga with leaves in his hair singing "I" night. Hehe. The best Mathnet series was the one on Fibonacci, with the Blind Justice a close second. *happy sigh*

Yes, yes, the calculators in the holsters! Kate (later Pat) and George pulled them out and punched buttons at the beginning of every episode - to prime them for use, perhaps? Hehe, that was a great show. Indidentally, I already had two Mathnet references in my blog draft folder, though they haven't made it to press yet. . .

Ben, Hannah, and I used to play Mathnet with my friend Ashley. Ben was always George Friday and Ashley and I were Kate Monday and/or Pat Tuesday. Sometimes one of us would play Jessie the secretary. Or we'd let Hannah have that part - she was only 4 or 5 at the time, so was happy just to tag along :).

Hmmm, since I have so much experience playing Kate Monday, maybe I should star in a math spy movie! Hmmmmm, I like the paper shredder distraction idea, though I think Sister Dear's hair would be a better weapon, since it's thicker. . . Maybe she and I can work as a team! Escape velocity, huh? It makes it sound like I'm trying to work up enough speed for my hair to go flying off my scalp, and I definitely don't want that. . . ;)

Base Dear, hmmm? Once again, I had a slow moment, and didn't even get that at first. . . Hehe. That is hilarious. You know, Hannah started the whole "Dear" thing. A few years ago she started calling me Dearie and I reciprocated. Eventually Mother Dear, Father Dear, and Sister Dear emerged :).

Speaking of the TutorStation, Agent 00144 needs to rendez-vous there in less than 45 minutes, and she still hasn't eaten lunch. . .

At 4/20/2006 02:01:00 PM , Blogger Adrian C. Keister said...

Reply to Susan...

Have you ever noticed those people who always end their paragraphs with ellipses?...

I see you have correctly interpreted my little foray into the art of humor. In my family, we call that a successful attempt at humor...

You having the homeschooled look is certainly a compliment. Coming from me, there would obviously be no reason to doubt it. And, you might have been talking to Sarah *waves to Sarah*, but you were doing it on my blog. So there :-)]...

You should immediately have Hannah whip you mercilessly with her hair for not having seen The Hunt for Red October, easily one of the best thrillers ever made. In fact, I would say that movie is the only movie made from a book in which I would say the movie is better than the book. It has some of the best music I've ever heard on any movie. Ahhhh. Sean Connery. Men's choir...

I remember very little about Mathnet, actually; it's been too long, and there's no DVD for posterity like... me...

You hair would be just fine as a weapon; you'd just need to braid it or clump it fairly tightly in some way. The combined mass would be plenty. You could use that thing to tame horses...

I thought the Base Dear rather clever, if I do say so myself. Though I admit it's not difficult to do this, I was laughing at my own construction. But, I'm not so sure it was wise to reveal the origin of "Dear" in the Garrison family. It removes the mystique! I can no longer say to myself, "I wonder what verse they got that from; Hezekiah 3:8?" It's kind of like a magician revealing his secrets...

Did you get the indistinguishable bit?...

You know, it's awfully fun to crack jokes with someone who gets them, and laughs at them. Too often these days, people like to think they're "above all that," and don't laugh at anyone's jokes, good or bad. I'm beginning to think that's a sin, perhaps the sin of pride. Jesus said to weep with those who weep and mourn with those who mourn. I think it no stretch that we should laugh with those who laugh, as well. Why not? Anyway, it's quite refreshing, so thank you...

In Christ.

At 4/20/2006 03:04:00 PM , Blogger zan said...

Why do all men love that movie? I've seen it many times, and yes, the music is good. But, that poor guy never does get to go to Montana. I will be forever bummed about that. (Ooops. Hope I am not giving to much of the plot away and will spoil it for Susan. I have a real problem with that.)

You were very funny, Adrian. I 'got' the joke.

One more thing, did you know that there are two spellings for blonde? I was going to go all snooty and inform you that you were spelling,'blond' wrong but I looked it up and they're two right ways.

At 4/20/2006 08:55:00 PM , Blogger Susan said...

I think I'm being mocked. . .

It's not that I have any objections to The Hunt for Red October. . . I've just never seen it. . . Another movie that is better than the book (and you are right that they are rare. . . ) is The Sound of Music. . . I read The Trapp Family Singers by Maria Trapp and it just wasn't nearly as good a story as the movie - and there was no music!. . .

That's sad that you don't remember much about Mathnet!. . . You should do a google search for some clips. . . we've found a few online in the past. . .

You called my hair a "thing"!. . . *offended look*. . . It's called "hair" - H-A-I-R. . . (this is supposed to remind you of that great line in an Andy Griffith episode. . . when Andy refers to Helen as a "third party" and she replies, The name is Helen Crump: C-R-U-M-P!). . .

*rolls eyes*. . . Hezekiah 3:8. . . I think you meant Hezekiah 1:44. . . Oops, now I revealed our secret! . . .

Nope. . . I didn't quite get the indistinguishable bit. . . I'm guessing it has something to do with higher math. . . and proving cases. . . but I could be wrong. . .

Well. . . we all think it's fun to crack jokes with you too. . . it's mutual, I'm sure!. . . (That's supposed to remind you of that great line in White Christmas. . . after Bing Crosby is introduced to a dancer, and he says, It's nice to meet you. . . and she replies, Mutual, I'm sure! in this awful voice. . . ) . . .

At 4/21/2006 11:03:00 AM , Blogger Susan said...

More on cracking jokes:

You know, I think often people react negatively to joking in fun because unfortunately in our society a lot of joking is either coarse or really, really shallow. For example, the math teachers at the school I student-taught were really fun-loving people, but I did not enjoy their jokes, shall we say.

Joking is fun if there is also substance there. If all we ever did was crack light-hearted jokes (or crude jokes), that would be shallow. What I like, though, is that we can discuss things on a deep level and still have fun while and after doing it. Balance, as always, is the key :).

Did you notice? No ellipses!

At 4/22/2006 09:41:00 AM , Blogger Adrian C. Keister said...

Reply to Zan.

Actually, I did not know there were two spellings for "blond." Now I do. I think "blond" might be the slightly more mainstream spelling. Perhaps "blond" is to "blonde" as "service" is to "servisse." There's a humorous part in Les Miserables where Hugo pokes a little fun at the second kind of spelling. It's the scene where Valjean is staying at the inn of the Thenardiers', and M. Thenardier is totalling up the bill. It's in Book 2 Cosette, Chapter III Fulfilment of the Promise to the Departed, Section VIII Inconvenience of Entertaining a Poor Man who is Perhaps Rich:

Finally, Thenardier took off his cap, approached softly, and ventured to say:-

"Is monsieur not going to repose?"

Not going to bed would have seemed to him too much and too familiar. To repose implied luxury, and there was respect in it. Such words have the mysterious and wonderful property of swelling the bill in the morning. A room in which you go to bed costs twenty sous; a room in which you repose costs twenty francs.

Also, one section later, IX Thenardier Manoevring (sic), when Thenardier presents the bill to Valjean, it has the word "service" written "servisse." That's what prompted this whole amusing quote.

Reply to Susan.

So you've never seen The Hunt for Red October? I must confess that I've seen very little if any of the Andy Griffith Show. So I was not able fully to appreciate your quote, more's the pity.

The indistinguishable bit is poking fun at the fact that James Bond is always Agent 007. Well, mathematically, there is no difference between 007 and 7, right? We ignore leading zeros in determining what a number is. So this was my little jab at spy movies, Bond movies in particular.

And I haven't seen White Christmas, either. Since I'm sure that has also shocked you (how many megawatts?), it might be kind of fun to construct a set of movies SoM you've seen such that:

for all movies m in SoM such that NotSeen(Adrian, m) implies ShockedAt(Susan, Adrian).

I completely agree about jokes. Paul says quite clearly that there is to be no rude or coarse jesting among you. However, verses like, "As a door turns on its hinges, so a sluggard turns in his bed," indicates to me that the Bible is far from frowning on humor. I also like the bit in Exodus where God says to Moses, "...these people whom you brought out of Egypt...", and Moses says, "...these people whom you brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand and outstretched arm..." Notice the ellipses. Apparently, nobody wants the Israelites! And they were rather a pain in the neck, weren't they? Ah, but that's precisely the same as we are today.

In Christ.

At 4/22/2006 06:29:00 PM , Blogger Susan said...

I remember that part of Les Mis! I thought it was very amusing, and of course Thenardier is such a rogue - a very devious rogue at that.

The two spellings are interchangeable, but my understanding is that "blonde" is used more often in describing a person, especially a female, and especially in the "dumb blonde" sense. But there is no hard-and-fast rule. [I got your pictures, btw, Zan :). Thanks so much!]

Ah, ok, got the indistinguishable bit. I think I would have understood it more if you had used 00144 and 144. I was trying to draw something between the zeroes.

Well, White Christmas, while enjoyable, isn't the best ever, so my shock is not even measureable in megawatts. Now, your little exposure to Andy Griffith - which was the greatest TV show ever produced! - is quite shocking - we're going to have to move up to gigawatts to properly express my shock. In fact, is there an even higher prefix?

Hmmmm, how about a subset n of m? An exhaustive listing of m would take waaaaayyyy too long. Your notation is not quite familiar to me (perhaps traces of CS?), but I get the gist. I'm trying to type up my own notation, but my nice symbols and such aren't compatible with blogger :(. Ah well. Included in m would have to be The Sound of Music, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, My Fair Lady - great story and music with rotten ending, The Music Man - also great story and music with rotten ending, Fiddler on the Roof, Ben-Hur, Wives and Daughters, Daniel Deronda, A Charlie Brown Christmas, The Princess Bride, The Scarlet Pimpernel (with Jane Seymour), many and various Jane Austen versions, etc., etc. :-D I could go on. . .

Do I get to see a subset k of l such that NotSeen(Susan, l) implies ShockedAt(Adrian,Susan)?

BTW, not sure if you saw my reply to you on my In Christ Alone post, but I'm interested in recommendations you have for specific versions of the Handel and Bach pieces you suggested. I would like to get some more really good sacred/classical CD's, but don't know which renditions are blah and which are worth the money.

Your bit about the Israelites reminds me of R.C. Sproul Jr.'s principle of hermeneutics: When you see people in the Bible doing something stupid, don't ask, "How could they be that stupid?" Instead ask, "How am I that stupid?"

At 4/22/2006 09:53:00 PM , Blogger Adrian C. Keister said...

Reply to Susan.

I took a gander over at your In Christ Alone post, and I'll put some good stuff up there. *rubs hands gleefully* You don't know what you're asking. You might just get a tome in reply.

Uh, the next step up from "giga" is "tera". After that comes "peta, exa, zetta, yotta". For each one, the power of 10 goes up by +3. I don't know any ones beyond those, and I had to look those up anyway. They're Greek, whereas the fractional ones like "deci, centi, milli, micro, nano, pico, femto, atto, zepto, yocto" are Latin. Yes, those are in order from bigger to smaller, and after and including "micro", the power of 10 goes down by 3. So "yotta" expresses it, eh? I can imagine you saying, "Yotta go see Andy Griffith!" Hehe. Very punny.

As regards the subset of movies you listed, the only ones I haven't seen are Wives and Daughters and Daniel Deronda. What are those about? I saw The Scarlet Pimpernel, but I preferred the book (what else is new?). There's one scene in the book, in particular, that I wished had made it into the movie. It's the snuff/pepper scene, in Chapter XXV The Eagle and the Fox. Fantastic scene, and one I would have thought would be good in a movie. But they did not include it. Also, if I recall, that's the version where Blakeney has that awful poem he repeats twenty times in the course of the movie. However, to its credit, it is well acted, and they certainly could do no better than with Sir Ian McKellan as Chauvelin.

My list? In order of favorite:
1. Sense and Sensibility (Emma Thompson version);
2. Lord of the Rings, extended versions;
3. Chariots of Fire;
4. The Princess Bride;
5. A Few Good Men;

The rest are not in any particular order of favorite; I just like them all very well.

6. The Matrix trilogy (I like the first and third the best);
7. Anne of Green Gables and its sequel;
8. The Hunt for Red October;
9. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe;
10. Babette's Feast;
11. Henry V, Kenneth Branaugh version;
12. My Fair Lady;
13. The Sound of Music;
14. The Man in the Iron Mask;
15. Hero (Jet Li);
16. Various Grisham books like Runaway Jury and Pelican Brief;
17. Maverick;
18. Patton;
19. The first two Harry Potter movies;
20. Star Wars series;
21. The Emporer's Club;
22. Finding Forrester;
23. Sabrina;
24. While You Were Sleeping;
25. Fantasia;
26. Shawshank Redemption;
27. Various Austen makes, especially Pride and Prejudice (you know my thoughts as to version), and Mansfield Park;
28. Spiderman I and II;
29. Master and Commander;
30. Movies about teaching, such as Lean on Me, Stand and Deliver, The Miracle Worker (I prefer the Disney version);
31. The Village and Signs.

That's quite a list, I'm sure. I'd be shocked if you hadn't seen the top five, plus numbers 7, 9, 27, 30, and 31. The others I would recommend (use discretion, as always), but wouldn't necessarily be shocked if you hadn't seen them.

Yes, we are stupid, aren't we? It would probably be funny to God if it weren't so damned serious (sic). Maybe it's funny anyway. "See, they're just like sheep." Have you ever investigated what sheep are like? They are truly idiotic. They may be cute, but they're not very intelligent. Being compared with them is a deep insult... to the sheep.

In Christ.

At 4/24/2006 10:11:00 AM , Blogger Susan said...

The Andy Griffith Show has a long and glorious history in our family. We can turn just about anything into a quote from the show. Picking my favorite TAGS episode would be like choosing my favorite star in the sky; there are just so many good ones: The Pickle Story, Citizen's Arrest, Andy Discovers America, Convicts at Large, yotta, yotta, yotta ;). I used to be a whiz at TAGS trivia, but I've devoted my time to other obsessions in recent years.

You haven't seen Wives and Daughters and Daniel Deronda?!?!?! I really am shocked. Those are excellent period films! Esther introduced the former to us, and my aunt, the latter. Both of the films have many actors you would recognize from Austen films.

W&D is done by BBC (2002) and is based on the book by Elizabeth Gaskell. Are you familiar with her? She is a contemporary of Jane Austen, though her books take place more in the transitional Romantic Period between the Regency Era and the Victorian Era. She is more famous for North and South than she is for W&D. Her books are subtle social commentaries (aren't all classic works of literature, though?).

DD (also BBC, 2000ish?) is based on the book by George Elliot (perhaps you've read Silas Marner?). It is a fascinating story, and one I think you'd enjoy, though no promises. The book is quite extensive, though the movie does a good job of adapting the story to film without dragging it out forever - okay, it's still 3.5 hours :).

Oh, and undoubtedly the book The Scarlet Pimpernel is better than the movie. That seems to nearly always be the case. For one, I liked reading the book and not knowing who the SP was at first. I did like that film adaptation (and McKellan was excellent). Yes, the poem was horrendous. I don't remember the snuff/pepper scene, because it's been a few years since I read the book (note to self to re-read soon). Did you know there is a whole series (18?)of SP books (most out-of-print)? I've only read the one.

Okay, no fair. Your list wasn't k or even l. Only 10 or so of them really fit the parameters for l. Ahem.

Of your top 5 listed, I've only not seen A Few Good Men. Not really even heard of it much. What's it about? I've actually not seen most of the films you listed: 6, 8, 10, 11, 14-18, 21, 22, 26, 28, 29 31. Several of those I've heard are good, but haven't watched myself. I really like films, but watching them is rarely a priority for me, so there oodles of films out there that I'd like to watch, but just haven't yet. *shrugs*

Most of the ones that I've seen that you listed I liked. Not an HP fan, and I waffle back and forth on SW, though. Sabrina (Harrison Ford version) was one of those movies that I really enjoyed, but I felt like I shouldn't have. Hannah felt the same way. It was just so twisted in some ways. Which Mansfield Park version do you like? I've heard the recent one (1998ish?) is dreadful. I have the BBC one, but haven't gotten around to watching it.

I agree that S&S with Emma Thompson is excellent (and your other top ones are goodies too). She did an amazing job taking such a lengthy story and condensing it into a normal-length film. Oh, except Hugh Grant. *shudder* The BBC Edward Ferrars is much better.

I noticed you listed "Anne of Green Gables and its sequel." Those are excellent :). Not a fan of "The Continuing Story", eh? That was dreadful!

At 4/24/2006 03:52:00 PM , Blogger Susan said...

Oh, when I quoted the "R.C. Sproul Jr. Principle of Hermeneutics" before, I forgot to include the application part, which was inferred, but not stated: After you figure out how you are being stupid, repent. A very good follow-up, for recognition of sin is not the same as repentance, no? :)

At 4/26/2006 08:23:00 AM , Blogger une_fille_d'Ève said...

And how did a post about beards turn into a discussion about movies?!

At 4/27/2006 01:20:00 PM , Blogger Susan said...

Ask Adrian, Hannah. He is the one who started that tangent. I never start tangents.

Not meaning to endlessly perpetuate this thread, Adrian, but I was looking more closely at your list of movies (hadn't really taken the time until now), and you sure have an assortment there. How does The Matrix and Anne of Green Gables end up on the same list of movies? ;)

I've been reading some reviews of some of the movies you listed (not that I anticipate an opportunity to see these movies in the near future - just curious), and I was rather surprised by the level of profanity in a number of the films. I realize you qualified your recommendations with "use discretion" and I'm curious as to what you meant by that. I am not one to throw out a movie because of a few cuss words, but the review I read for A Few Good Men, for example, cited "25 to 50 uses of the "f*" word plus various curses and blasphemies." That seems like a lot of profane content, especially for such hard core profanity.

First off, please realize I'm not trying to accuse you of indiscretion in movie choices (in fact, I like most of your list very much). I'm not nearly informed enough about your choices to do that anyway. And for all I know, you may watch edited versions or you may have TV Guardian (which silences cussing semi-successfully) or the reviewer may be exaggerating. One of the reader comments cited only 5-10 f* words in A Few Good Men. For me personally watching the film, it would also very-much depend on whether it was a constant spread of vulgarity throughout, or if it was something to be endured (or fast-forwarded through) in one or two scenes.

I've waffled back and forth over the years on my own standards for movies (you know, those extremes again. . . ). I think many conservatives take it to an insane level. Have you ever been on They detail every movie with anything that could possibly be considered offensive, be it a scratch on a cheek (That's violence!) or a passing sight of an alcohol ad (I guess we'll have to edit out the story of the Wedding at Cana from the NT as well. . . ). I think that's ridiculous! We should be way more concerned about the message of a movie then a few small details. This is one reason I'm not a huge fan of edited movies, because most of the movies that are so carefully edited for content really aren't worth redeeming to begin with. If we take out the cussing, the nudity, the violence and still leave a shallow or immoral message that "doesn't show anything," really, have we improved anything? I think not.

Any good story is going to be about human nature - the good the bad, and the ugly. Look at the Bible or look at real life - it's not pretty! I don't like "Elsie Dinsmore"-type stories much myself - people aren't perfect like that! But there is also a sense of not setting "vile things before our eyes", especially depending on the purposes. There is definitely some sort of discretion required for any type of entertainment (Philippians 4:8). So now you've made me curious as to what sorts of standards you place on movies :).

At 4/27/2006 11:31:00 PM , Blogger Adrian C. Keister said...

Oi, it's late and I'm tired. But I thought I'd reply to at least one tonight.

You're not the first person to remark at the variety of my movie lists (or collection, for that matter). To say that The Matrix and Anne of Green Gables are somewhat different is akin to saying, "It is not difficult to tell the difference between a Scotsman with a grievance and a ray of sunshine." - P.G. Wodehouse.

A Few Good Men has an enormous amount of profanity spread throughout the whole movie. I hide nothing here. It's a military courtroom drama, so throw in all the cuss words you want (or in your case, don't want); they're there. On the other hand, there is very little violence compared to many movies, and no visually suggestive material (there are a couple of innuendos, easily muted once you know where they are). So why do I like that movie so much? There are several reasons.

1. The script is by Aaron Sorkin, the creator of West Wing. This man must be bordering on genius. I've rarely seen or heard any scripts more intricately woven than this one. No doubt Sorkin wanted to reflect the character of the military, so he did the obvious.

2. The point of the movie is several-fold: one is that honor doesn't always look the way you think it does. Another is that ethical situations can be horrendously complex, and finding the truth, while important, can be extremely difficult. A third is that sometimes, genius types who have never managed to grow up can, by the experience of some crisis, learn to be a man.

3. The acting is superb; there is no part, and I mean none, that is not well-acted. Perhaps the finest performance is by Jack Nicholson. The director is Rob Reiner, the same guy who directed Princess Bride. He gets excellent results from the people with whom he works, and this movie is no exception. The cinematography is excellent, the music fits the story. It's a crisp movie in every way.

4. Everything happens in two's. There'll be a setup, and then conclusion. There are at least ten such things, and they're such fun to discover.

5. This is a very deep movie; I've probably seen it 20 times (My repertoire of movies is rather limited, but well-watched. I don't happen to think there are very many good movies out there, so when I see a good one, I buy it and rewatch it many times. All my family does this.), and I get something new out of it every single time. It wears better than about any movie I've ever seen.

So what about the language? I sort of let it run off me. I hear that much language on campus all the time. Naturally, I would never show this movie to a youngster. But there is so much of interest otherwise, that I think it's worthwhile. I remind myself that it is not what goes into a man that defiles him, but what comes out of him. Of course, we shouldn't take that to an extreme, but it is still true.

Incidentally, cuss words are not all equally bad. The f word and the s word and the c word are merely vulgar, I would say. The d word and taking God's name in vain is far worse and bothers me a good deal more. Also any sort of "Holy _____" violates the 3rd Commandment, I think. Indeed, I am pretty well convinced that "Goodness gracious me" violates it as well. In case you didn't think I was being picky enough, let me throw in the superstitious "bless you" after a sneeze.

You don't like Elsie Dinsmore? I didn't either, at first. My main complaint was the excessive crying in the first two books. *saccherine Victorian schmultz* But from the third book on, they get much more interesting. Elsie's not actually perfect; she gets deceived, and her behavior is not completely good. My Mom likes them because after you have read them all, you have seen just about every situation that can ever arise in life, and have seen a godly way of dealing with it.

My complete standards on movies will have to wait until I'm less tired. You've seen something of them already, though.

In Christ.

At 4/28/2006 09:28:00 PM , Blogger Susan said...

Okay, now I feel bad for keeping you up so late at night :(. But then, it was your choice to reply at 12:31 AM (!), when you should have been in bed. . . Is your research keeping you really busy?

Regarding your take on profanity, I agree with pretty much everything you said, but just draw my lines (or preferences) in different places.

Five years ago I would not have understood your comment at all regarding "letting it run off you" and "hearing that much on campus all the time." Four years at a public college has given me a slightly different outlook, though. Unfortunately, I heard more profanity on a typical day of classes at UGA than I did in all my pre-college existence - and I'm not exaggerating. Profanity is one of those things that really bothers me, and gets in my head and stays there, so needless to say I was rather aghast (though forewarned) from the amount I was exposed to at college. And I didn't even live on campus! In all honesty, when I happened to see movies with profanity (assuming not a heavy amount) during the college school year, it didn't bother me as it did during the summer or before college. My thought was sort of, "what are a few more cuss words lumped in with the other 60 I overheard today?" So I see what you're saying, to an extent.

Obviously, though, there is a difference between knowingly exposing myself to something, and being a passive bystander in life situations. When I have control over exposure to profanity, I try to avoid it since it does effect me negatively. I just really hate vulgarity. I can't think of a movie that would be worth a heavy dose of profanity to me. Your description of AFGM sounds intriguing, and it seems it would have a lot of good lessons to be gleaned, so perhaps it is worth it - at least to you it is. *shrugs*

I liked your point about different levels of profanity. I am in complete agreement with you regarding violation of the third commandment, and it pains me when Christian speak of "only taking the Lord's name in vain" - and usually euphemize that statement. I admit that in the past I was guilty of thinking that, though I realized how horribly backward that was a few years ago. Truly, the defamation of our Lord should pain us more than any other profanity. I have also been convicted over the past few years with regards to many variations on that blasphemy, similar to what you mentioned. I must admit, though, that while I see where you're coming from with "bless you," I admit it doesn't bother me. *shrugs*

I think profanity (and other content in movies or books) all comes down to the overarching attitude towards it. It is one thing to watch an absolutely sleazy movie solely for entertainment purposes, laughing at all the crude jokes, condoning or excusing or mimicking the sinful behavior displayed, etc., and quite another thing to watch a movie with some vulgar content, and even another thing to watch such a movie to glean knowledge or insight, while recognizing sin for sin. Motives are key.

I am reminded of Kenneth Myers conclusion regarding popular culture (I finally finished that book - it was excellent!) :

You can enjoy popular culture without compromising Biblical principles as long as you are not dominated by the sensibility of popular culture, as long as you are not captivated by its idols.

Obviously the issue of popular culture (which is not in itself always wrong) and the issue of profanity (which obviously is wrong) are very different, but I was still reminded of his quote when thinking over this issue. Hmmm, my analogy isn't making as much sense on paper (er, monitor), but it made sense in my brain! I guess what I mean is, uttering profanities is one thing, and exposing myself to them is another, and whether or not that is permissive (or beneficial) depends on my overarching purposes, my reasons, and my fixations. Is it an idol? Is it approached with care?

Another issue to consider (besides overarching purpose) is avoiding vulgarity (be it words or visual images) to not cause oneself to sin. I don't have much temptation to verbally mimic profanity after being exposed to a great deal, but I do find it running through my thoughts - and that rightly bothers me! Violence, while in general disturbing to me, isn't a stumbling block for me in this regard, so it is not as major an issue. Perhaps that is because I am a woman? Nudity, etc. bothers me the most, as I really would prefer to remain naive in that regard, and since it is the sort of thing that is hard to shrug off, at least for me.

I don't think there is a hard-and-fast rule to be reached with regards to film content, but I do think it is something that needs to be considered by every Christian individually. Making blanket statements like "all R-rated movies are wrong" is missing the point entirely. Claiming that movie content does not matter at all is also missing the point entirely. We're back to that balance beam, it seems :).

I admit that my dislike of Elsie Dinsmore is based solely on the first book, so I can't speak with much authority on that point. I did feel, though, that she was so unrealistic, pitifully weepy, and selective regarding her convictions. So you've read the series? You have an amazing repertoire of literature :).

At 5/01/2006 09:47:00 AM , Blogger Adrian C. Keister said...

Reply to Susan.

You shouldn't feel bad about keeping me up late. I felt like it, so I did it. And research isn't keeping me nearly as busy as it should be.

Ok, I must be very serious here. If your conscience does not allow you to watch A Few Good Men, then you must not watch it, and I beg of you not to construe any of my comments as saying you should see it, against your conscience. Your conscience is much more important than any concepts of artistic excellence. This is what Paul talked about in regards to food offered to idols. You're like the one whose conscience forbids him to eat, and I'm like the one who doesn't care. I must not cause you to stumble, and you, as you have already done, should not judge me, as I do regard this issue as one of Christian freedom. Do we understand each other? If so, I rejoice, and I think I will say nothing more about it.

I'm glad you liked All God's Children and Blue Suede Shoes. It's a tremendous book, isn't it? It certainly served to gel many of my thoughts, especially on music. There's a whole bunch of books that are saying more or less the same thing, from different viewpoints. All of them good.

Ah, violence doesn't disturb you? That is also the least offensive thing for me, and nudity is the most offensive thing. Alas, I am not very naive (I have as much trouble as the next guy), but there's no sense in making it worse. It is very hard to shrug off.

If all R-rate movies were automatically bad, then The Passion would be bad. In my opinion, that is a fantastic movie. Also, The Matrix, which, incidentally, has quite a bit less language than AFGM, would be bad. I think that also is a good movie.

I've only read the first four books of the Elsie Dinsmore series. I started the fifth book, but ran out of time at Mom and Dad's. So for the rest I'm relying on Mom's comments, which, considering their accuracy regarding the first four books, I accepted as a matter of course. The reason I read them is because many of my female friends (At that time, young mothers) were talking about them, and raving about them. I wanted to know what all the fuss was about.

I thank you for the compliment on my reading. I have been very blessed of God, indeed.

In Christ.

At 5/02/2006 08:50:00 AM , Blogger Susan said...

Yay! 2^5 *throws confetti*

I must not cause you to stumble, and you, as you have already done, should not judge me, as I do regard this issue as one of Christian freedom.

Very beautifully expressed :).

Yes, All God's Children and Blue Suede Shoes is a tremendous book. Much of what he said I had heard or thought, but reading it all presented in a researched, organized format was quite a treat.

I also liked very much what he had to say about music. On a semi-related note, I ordered Beethoven's Symphonies last week :).

The primary point I took away from Myers' book was the idea of focusing on things that encourage "setting our minds on things above":

Which cultural ethos and set of experiences provide the most encouragement for reflection on the transcendent? Popular culture is extremely deficient in this regard. It emphasizes the self and the present. Its perspective is that of here and now, and you and your experiences are the arbiter of all things. Such a starting point would seem to be an obstacle to the duty to develop a sense of the transcendent realities of Christ at the right hand of God. If the aesthetic of popular culture has difficulty transcending th eself and the immediate moment, how can it hope to inculcuate a sense of an even greater transcendence? (Chapter 6)

Kenneth Myers' spirit of graciousness was what made me respect him more than other authors that have written on similar subjects. I've read similar, shorter treati (plural of treatise? ;-D), but unfortunately they often feel the need to make definite conclusions, rather than leave room for Christian liberty:

You can enjoy popular culture without compromising Biblical principles as long as you are not dominated by the sensibility of popular culture, as long as you are not captivated by its idols. (Chapter 11)

I like his qualification elsewhere (which I can't find at the moment) that if we truly are not captivated by the idols of popular culture, then we will find ourselves quite willingly choosing not to engage in much of popular culture.

The Matrix is one of those movies that I'm sure I will at some point end up seeing, though I haven't yet. I've heard it is a fascinating plot, and Brother Dear very much liked it.

I must admit that I didn't like The Passion. My memory on "why" is a little bit foggy, and unfortunately I was using a different e-mail server at the time :(, or I could pull up some past e-mail conversations on the subject to refresh my memory. I am not against the movie, mind you, and in fact I think it was a fabulous testimony to our culture. Mel Gibson's choice to have his hand hammer the nails was to me an amazing gesture.

I personally went into the movie anticipating the violence, and I brought tissues intending to be moved to tears, but I wasn't. In fact none of my family really liked it. And I don't mean liked in the sense of "enjoyed" - that sort of movie isn't meant to be enjoyed. It just hit me wrong on a number of points. I guess, one thing I remember is that the 39 lashes were more along the lines of 139 (I lost count after about 100), which to me took away from the accuracy of the story. Depicting Jesus' suffering is one thing, but exaggerating it is another.

To me, the main sacrifice of Jesus was not the physical suffering - though that was very great! His innner turmoil and the moment He was abandoned by the Father - see my Good Friday post - cannot be expressed visually (Myers touches on the visual v. written word some in Chapter 10), so it almost distracted from His inner suffering to focus on the visual aspect.

And the portrayal of Satan creeped me out (perhaps it should have, though. . . ). Jesus walking out of the tomb naked was weird too. I don't know, it's hard to put my finger on it, but I just remember that I intended to appreciate the movie, and I didn't. But then, I'm not sure feeling uncomfortable on leaving that type of movie is necessarily a bad thing. As a matter of fact, I hate admitting to people that I didn't like it, because then I feel like they're thinking, "Oh, so she was unmoved by Jesus' sacrifice." No, quite the contrary. It's hard to explain. *confused look*

Perhaps you've seen the written description by a medical doctor of a crucifixion? That affected me considerably more than The Passion. I think it has something to do with my heavily-literary background. I have never cried over a movie, but I have wept pathetically over books.

Perhaps I should have given Elsie some more time. . . I guess she did need some time to grow ;). Have you (or your mom) read Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss (author of the hymn More Love to Thee? Your mom's assessment of Elsie Dinsmore reminded me of that book, which is among my favorites. What you said here: After you have read them all, you have seen just about every situation that can ever arise in life, and have seen a godly way of dealing with it.

Stepping Heavenward is only one book (instead of a series), and details the life of one girl from her 16th birthday until her death. She starts off extremely self-centered and willfull, but she develops into a selfless, Christlike example by the end, and endures some tragic trials in a very godly way. Every time I read that book I think, "There's hope for me too."

At 5/07/2006 04:09:00 PM , Blogger Adrian C. Keister said...

What was the "yay" for? I'm quite prepared to be joyful with the joyful, but sometimes it does help to know what that joy is all about... ;-)]

I hear you when you talk about the inner suffering of Christ. Certainly that was the greater. However, we are not Gnostics. The physical torture was very great as well. I doubt if many people have died a more horrible death. It might well have been Gibson's main point that in our day, we sort of romanticize the cross, and hang crosses about our necks and on our cars and in our churches, and forget what kind of death it was. I am strongly reminded of the stone knife in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, where Ramandu's daughter speaks of the reverence in which they hold that knife. Perhaps our viewing of the cross as some sort of talisman isn't such a great thing. In addition, there can be no remission of sin without the shedding of blood. Therefore Jesus' physical death was absolutely necessary for our salvation. So Gibson could very well have been trying to correct an error: minimizing the physical aspect of Jesus' death. I think after seeing that movie, no one could have any doubt about the horrific nature of His physical death.

I don't remember the portrayal of Satan very well. I do understand your not liking it, though. You may agree with the whole point of the movie, and yet not prefer the way in which it's presented. Perhaps various artistic aspects are not the sort that would move you.

I have cried over movies. Life is Beautiful is one such, along with The Miracle Worker and Matrix Revolutions. The theme that moves me more than anything else is that of sacrifice. I do cry over some books as well, Les Miserables and A Tale of Two Cities in particular. Chick flicks and the like are not likely to make me cry. It reminds me of that hilarious scene in Sleepless in Seattle (yeah, I know), where the two guys make fun of chick flicks by crying uncontrollably over a war movie. It's the only redeeming feature of that movie, and unfortunately isn't worth the price of admission. It's still funny, though.

Can't say I have read Stepping Heavenward. I looked it up on Project Gutenberg, and it's there. I suspected it might have been, since the author wrote a somewhat older hymn. Thanks for that recommendation, and I might very well read it.

In Christ.

At 5/08/2006 07:33:00 PM , Blogger Susan said...

My last comment was #32, which is 2^5. I have a fixation with powers of 2, so that is what the "yay" was for. Now you know what the joy was all about :).

I'm definitely not trying to downplay the physical sufferings of Christ. Those were worse than anything I could even imagine. Even when I was younger and did not really grasp the inner sufferings, I viewed the crucifixion as a very horrific event. Just as before I really understood that the horror of hell is primarily separation from God, I still viewed it as horrible because of the suffering. So I agree that physical suffering is not to be downplayed. Oh, and yes, absolutely the physical suffering and death was necessary to pay our penalty. Proper recognition of both aspects is necessary.

It bothers me a great deal the flippant way the cross is viewed and spoken of in our culture, and I'm really not partial to the cute little t-shirts and bumper stickers that make Christ's suffering into a clever, catchy phrase *shudder*. I do think that wearing a cross as jewelry can be different, depending. I have a few cross necklaces and a cross lapel pin that I like to wear, as a symbol of my faith. It's also a reminder for me of Christ's sacrifice as I go through my day. I definitely don't wear it as a talisman. I can see why others would choose not to wear crosses, though.

Like I said, though I didn't personally care for The Passion, (a) Maybe I need to rethink my attitude as I watched it, (b) I still admire Gibson for making it, and (c) I'm very thankful that it made such an impact on others. I have heard so many testimonies from people I know who found it to be a very moving, thought-provoking experience. I don't know why a quiet, reflective Good Friday service with scripture reading and some hymns affected me more, but it did.

The theme of sacrifice in stories moves me the most also. It's a small picture of Christ's sacrifice. As I said, I've been teary-eyed with a few movies, but no actual teardrops. I think part of that is, on reflection, that I am much more guarded in my emotions with others present. Any number of books have made me cry. L.M. Montgomery's books especially have that effect on me. And The Hiding Place, no matter how many times I read it. I cry more with happy parts that follow sorrow than I do during the actual sorrowful parts.

Ah yes, A Tale of Two Cities. That's next up on my classic literature list. I've been meaning to read that for years. I only know the Wishbone version ;).

I first read Stepping Heavenward on Project Gutenberg, actually, then bought a copy. I got it for $2.49 on Ebay, including shipping :). I wouldn't recommend it to most men, but you seem to be more open to various types of books, and I think you would appreciate it, though no promises. If you can read Anne of Green Gables and Elsie Dinsmore without shame - which to me shows greater strength on your part, not less - than I think you will appreciate Stepping Heavenward, if you do choose to read it. Elisabeth Elliot recommended it for me, in fact.

At 5/09/2006 12:10:00 PM , Blogger Adrian C. Keister said...

Well, that certainly explains the "yay." I am fully answered. And amused.

Ah, well. No two people are alike. Vive le Difference! I do not interpret your indifference to The Passion as indifference to Christ. That would be silly, indeed!

You've actually read some dumbed-down version of A Tale of Two Cities? *moves to hit you with a slide rule* I thoroughly disapprove of dumbed-down versions of anything. There's so much really great children's literature out there (Winnie-the-Pooh, the Francis books, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No-good Very Bad Day, Narnia, My Bookhouse, fairy tales of Anderson and Grimm, etc.) that there is absolutely no reason to read a dumbed-down version of anything. You'll only spoil the real thing. And to spoil A Tale of Two Cities! I do hope you feel properly chastised, and are going to show your face to Mother Dear with the proper humiliation. ;-)] Hmm. I'm partly serious here, partly tongue-in-cheek.

Just finished Stepping Heavenward today (started yesterday). Quite interesting, and definitely better than Elsie Dinsmore, though Dinsmore has its own value. It's in the same tradition, along with Little Women. I like the theology of Stepping Heavenward much better than Little Women. Elsie Dinsmore has quite decent theology as well. One thing I really liked was how imperfect Katy was, and how willing to admit it she was. She is an extremely believable character. Ernest was also believable. I couldn't help cringing at some of his early mistakes in being a husband. Ignoring his wife like that! Actually forgetting not just their first but actually all their anniversaries?

Although there is much good in it, there were three things that struck me wrong. 1. The assumption that all infants go to heaven if they die. I cannot find any warrant for this in Scripture. It sounds all nice and sentimental, but the fact is that we don't know. Children are conceived in iniquity and born in sin. They are sinful from their first moments onward. Since they are infants, we don't know whether they have ever accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior, and so we don't know whether they are saved or not. I am willing to say thus much: all elect infants are saved, and all non-elect infants are damned. I am not willing to go out on a limb and claim that all infants are elect; to me that seems presumptuous on God's sovereignty. 2. There was still quite a bit of crying, though not so bad as the first Dinsmore book. 3. There was a bit of the Victorian prudery in that babies just sort of appeared. I mean, I think it's possible to relate something of all that without being tittilating (sp?). Elizabeth Elliot, in her book Passion and Purity, does not sweep such things under the rug, nor is she distasteful. Speaking of Elizabeth Elliot, it's nice that she recommended it for you, but what do you think of that book?

Thank you for the compliment on my "strength." It is true that I have no doubts as to my masculinity; it is equally true that I have a great deal of curiosity as to femininity. So there you have it.

In Christ.

At 5/10/2006 02:02:00 PM , Blogger Susan said...

One little letter can make a big difference. I meant to write "Elisabeth Elliot recommended it [Stepping Heavenward] for men, not for me. How funny.

*shocked look* And I took you for a gentleman! How dare you hit a lady with a slide rule! - specially without all the facts on the matter.

You obviously don't know what Wishbone is, I guess. It was an educational show on PBS. Granted it was a dumbed-down TV version of A Tale of Two Cities, but it wasn't a book version. I suppose it's just as shameful. I tried to show a chastised expression to Mother Dear, but we were both laughing too hard, so it really didn't have the proper effect.

Wishbone was kid's educational show with a dog - Wishbone - as the main character. In every episode he would fall into a dream where he was the main character in a story from classic literature. He was Darcy, Silas Marner, Rip van Winkle, Percy, etc. It was dumbed-down - and lame - but it was a good taste of classic literature :). I was about eight, okay? Give me a break. I would never do that now. In fact, I spent quite some time at Barnes & Noble to find an unabridged copy of The Count - not an easy search, mind you. And I read Les Mis unabridged as well.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No-good Very Bad Day???? That sounds like an um, very deep book.

Yes, Little Women has some occasionally interesting theology. I think Alcott was a transcendentalist, if I'm not mistaken. I do dearly love Alcott's literature, though, as evidenced by my blog title :).

I'm glad you read Stepping Heavenward and liked it :). I've read it about 5 times, and glean things from it every time. I also liked how human and believable and imperfect Katy was; it helped me identify with her more, and it made her gradual sanctification so much more meaningful. Yes, Ernest was not the most thoughtful husband near the beginning, but he also improved. I liked that their marriage didn't start fairytale, and that the story portrayed problems and miscommunications that real couples face.

I agree with you regarding infants going to heaven. I'm not an advocate of the "infants are innocent" theology, and I don't believe in an age of accountability. Really, it does not align at all with total depravity.

Yes, perhaps the crying was a bit much, though Katy was a rather impulsive, emotional person, so it fit. A little less would have been good, though.

Okay, going to have to cut this off now. I have to run and meet someone to pick up my student's tests. I will finish replying tonight, hopefully.

At 5/10/2006 08:32:00 PM , Blogger Susan said...

I really shouldn't write comments in a hurry. *note to self to wait until adequate time in the future* Just with a cursory glance at my past comment, I've noticed two missing articles, a misplaced apostrophe, and a dangling participle. Ah well.

Where was I?

Oh, yes, Stepping Heavenward. I wasn't quite done with my commentary on infant theology. I do think the idea that the infants of Christian parents are saved has some merit, based on covenantal blessing, etc. But ultimately you are right; those that are elect will be save, those not elect will not be saved.

That belief that all infants will be saved is usually coupled with the "age of accountability" and the notion that "all the heathen will not be eternally lost," to quote an indignant Mrs. Lynde. The first time I heard of the heathen notion, it comforted me until I thought about it more. I carried that idea a step further and realized that if that were the case, it would almost be a disservice to send missionaries to unreached people groups. "Let them die in ignorance but without eternal damnation" would be the logical conclusion. Of course, that is quite antithetical to the Great Commission. A similar conclusion could be made that we should murder our infants to ensure their eternal salvation. I am speaking in extremes, of course.

The notion of infants all going to heaven is comforting, but then, that is to our finite, sinful minds that like to think happy thoughts. The idea that infants and young children are innocent is really laughable, in my opinion. I was musing along those lines recently after my latest stint in the 3-year-old Sunday School class at my church. I really think 3-year-olds are about the most selfish beings on earth. They are so ego-centric (meant in a phsychological sense). I love them to death, but they're not innocent!

Yes, the Victorian prudery is a bit amusing, but then, this was written during the Victorian Era. Elizabeth Prentiss was just following the customs and manners of her times, no doubt.

I actually haven't read Passion and Purity. I know, go ahead and be shocked 8^). It's been on my reading list for quite some time. What is your opinion of it? I have read two of Elisabeth Elliot's other books: Let Me Be a Woman and The Mark of a Man. Have you read either? She deals with such matters some in those books without being prudish or provocative. Those two books are excellent. I actually liked The Mark of a Man better than the other, though the book on womanhood was excellent.

Just as you are curious about womanhood, while being secure in your manhood, I am curious about manhood, while being quite happy as a woman. Consequently, I really liked her book on manhood. It was wonderfully refreshing and different from the anti-male sentiments of our society. Sadly the American church at large has even has bought into the notion of poking fun at men :(, rather than recognizing their separate and distinct roles and needs. I also liked the book on manhood better, because it really encompassed womanhood as well. It was really a book on complementarianism (with an emphasis on the male's role), rather than strictly a book on manhood. It covered much of the message of Let Me Be a Woman, while also covering manhood. Both books are excellent, though.

At 5/16/2006 01:10:00 PM , Blogger Adrian C. Keister said...

Oi. Two long comments to which I must reply. *sigh* It's so much work keeping up with you! Maybe I should hire a secretary, my "Susan" secretary. I can see the advertisement now: "Wanted: extremely fast typist and mind-reader for blogging secretarial work. Must be ridiculously arch-Conservative, both politically, theologically, and in all other imaginable ways. Must understand something of math, and must be able to dictate communications unsupervised and pass them off as original." Yes, I fancy that would quite do the trick. Don't you? ;-)]

O, well since you say it should have been "men" instead of "me", I guess I see your point: it does make a difference. Quite. Well, I'd recommend it, too.

O, you couldn't manage to show a chastised face to Mother Dear? We shall have to do better than that. Penance! That's it! I wonder what penance I could dream up for you. I know! The Towers of Hanoi! 64 disks! That ought to do ya'. In the meantime, reading unabridged _____'s is quite good. I'm glad. :-)]

Yes, Alexander and the... is quite deep. It's about Australia. If you read it, you'll understand why I say that. Hehe.

I ddn't notise anny mspellings in you post. Wer their lots? *Just kidding*

I'm not sure what I think about your take on the children of Christian parents. With the whole Federal Vision, anti-Westminster Standards stuff going on these days, trying to objectify the covenant like that might not be the best way to think about it. We know that that method of salvation (i.e., merely being the child of Christian parents) doesn't work with older people. So what's the age when it changes? You're practically back to an age of accountability. I think I'm sticking by my elect-nonelect criterion, which has the wonderful (!?!) virtue of making it impossible to tell a bereaved mother she'll see her child in heaven. To that I say, "Grief may endure for the night, but joy cometh in the morning." Shen she gets to heaven, she will praise God for all His ways, even this.

Really, the one point which makes all this doctrine make sense is the idea that we all deserve hell-fire. The wonder of God's plan of salvation is NEVER that He sends some people to hell! The wonder is that He saves anyone. To save one sinner required more suffering and effort on the part of God than it did to create the entire universe. Like John Gerstner once said when accosted by a student complaining of the unfairness and demeaning nature of Gerstner's comparison between men and rats, "O, you're quite right. I'm very sorry. To compare men to rats is very unfair... to the rats."

Yes, you're quite right about the Great Commission. We don't get a choice, even if we don't always see the point.

About prudery: if we can avoid both Victorian prudery and worldly sensuality, we shall do very well, indeed. It's kind of funny in a way: any Christian couple who have been happily married 20 years ought almost to be able to laugh themselves silly at the world's claim to "know something about sex." They don't know anything about it. They've proven that to be abundantly true! They can barely stay married five minutes (as in *makes a cough that sounds remarkably like "Britney Spears"*). What does that say?

Passion and Purity is quite good, though it has an enormous amount of "Jim and Elizabeth" in it. I suppose such things are interesting for examples' sake. I've read The Mark of a Man, and liked it, but it wan't superbly remarkable. I know Wilson's stuff better. Speaking of which, and I hesitate to bring it up, but Wilson's book Fidelity is fantastic for understanding men and their desires. If you ask me, I would highly recommend you read this book only if your covenant head encourages it. Indeed, Wilson himself says so on the back cover. But it's sooo good!

Well, time to visit other blogs such as... yours.

In Christ.

At 5/17/2006 08:26:00 PM , Blogger Susan said...

You gave me a good laugh with the "Susan secretary" advertisment. Your job description was priceless :). How did you ever find Tertius so fast? I didn't know it was possible to fill such a particular job so quickly.

You really are such a whiner, though. Two long comments in what, a week? Poor baby. My other blogging friends seem to enjoy conversing with me.

*shudder* A 64-disk puzzle of the Towers of Hanoi? That would be real penance. I am horrible at those types of puzzles. I always score "just plain dumb" or "ignoramous" on that Cracker Barrel triangle pegboard. It's sad :(.

Okay, about the eternal destiny of infants. First of all, I was not claiming to subscribe to the notion that all infants of Christian parents go to heaven. I was saying that I thought the idea had some merit. Finally, you brought up excellent objections to that notion, and I must agree with you. It really is just another form of the "age of accountability." I could have used my objections to the "age of accountability" to support objections to the infants-of-Christian-parents-go-to-heaven notion as well. Why didn't I think of that? Ah well. Excellent points, though.

As a clarification, I'm not trying to objectify the covenant. Federal Vision is extremely erroneous in so many ways, including their notion that God always saves the children of faithful Christian parents. That sounds like a new breed of works-oriented salvation, where the parents work for the kid's salvation. I do however believe that God is in the business of saving families. Not that He guarantees the salvation of the children of Christian parents, but that He very often grants it. He delights in showing love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments. Really, that's a cornerstone of covenant theology. We baptize infants in the trust that God will draw them to Him in faith if He so wills. It's not a guarantee (as some Federal Vision or NPP folk would say), but a sign of the promise.

Really, the one point which makes all this doctrine make sense is the idea that we all deserve hell-fire.

You hit the nail on the head there. Really, that is the key that makes all the difference on this issue and on the issue of election as well. Of course it's not fair! You want fair? We'd all spend eternity in Hell. That would be fair. It reminds me of something I heard in the past several months - from a pastor, maybe? Everyone in Hell will deserve to be there, and no one in Heaven will deserve to there.

Passion and Purity is quite good, though it has an enormous amount of "Jim and Elizabeth" in it.

Okay, that really underscores the difference between men and women :). Women would rather hear the details of individual stories, and men just want the theory. Hehe. I'd rather hear personal testimonies of courtship or Biblical manhood/womanhood than listen to long treaties on theory. I think a mix is best, but I love reading "real-life" examples. For example, I feel more contemplative and uplifted after reading a selection of courtship stories from YLCF (and some of the bizarre ones really amuse me), for example, than after reading a theoretical book on the matter. Once again, a mix is best, though.

I appreciate the recommendation of Wilson's book, but I think I'll hold off on that until a later time. Perhaps until marriage is a more immediate possibility. Thanks for the disclaimer :).

At 5/19/2006 10:41:00 PM , Blogger Adrian C. Keister said...

How did you know I found Tertius fast? Did you actually *gasps* compare time stamps on the comments?

Hmm. Obviously your feminine, nurturing side is not coming to the fore. You're supposed to coddle me, right?

Have you actually investigated the Towers of Hanoi? An n-disk Towers of Hanoi takes 2^n moves to solve. Doing one move per second, it'd take you longer than the most ridiculous estimate of the age of the universe by the silly evolutionists to solve it. I don't do very well on the Cracker Barrel puzzle, either. And I used to work for them!

Okey-dokey on the theology. I think we're on the same page, as usual. I agree that God likes to save in families, though there are obvious exceptions. God has chosen to use the secondary cause of godly parents as a powerful tool of evangelism.

*laughs* Did I say I didn't enjoy the Jim and Elizabeth portions? When did I ever say that? Oh, I see. You're making the very sound inference from the wording "though it has an enormous amount of 'Jim and Elizabeth' in it." Silly girl. When are you ever going to learn that logic is only supposed to be used on a whim, when you want it to work? Very sad. Otherwise, you see, you'd be forced to believe tons of little details like truth. What a drag that would be. ;-)]

Well, well. I can hardly be angry with you for heeding my warnings. *grins* I would recommend for you to keep it in mind, and read it at the right time.

In Christ.

At 5/20/2006 04:41:00 PM , Blogger Susan said...

Comparing time stamps? Nope, I didn't think of that, though I wish I had :) - thanks for the heads-up. Sixteen minutes between contemplating putting out an ad for a secretary and hiring and utilizing a secretary? That is pretty quick. No, all I meant was that given such a specific job description, I would think it would take you at least a few weeks to fill the position. I'm still not all that convinced of the authenticity of Tertius' identity. *dubious look*

I don't believe in coddling :). I believe in nurturing, yes, but with proper balance. Clearly you are just whining, so I'm not going to encourage such behavior, young man!

No, I haven't investigated the Towers of Hanoi. I've only played around with three towers a bit, if I remember correctly. I had even forgotten the name of the puzzle, and had to google it. 2^n moves? Yikes! But see? - powers of 2! They pop up everywhere, so my fixation with them is justified, right? I'm guessing the number of moves for the towers has to do with the fact that the sum of the nth row in Pascal's triangle is 2^n (which I did know)??? Just a guess.

Ah. Selective use of logic? Shocking! Abominable! I thought you loved logic because it communicates truth! Maybe you only like it when it communicates the truth you want to hear. *raises right eyebrow suspiciously* ;8-)


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