Friday, March 14, 2014

Explaining American Culture Through Literature and Film

My heart just about bursts when this scene comes on in It's a Wonderful Life
I have often said that my favorite movie is It's a Wonderful Life. It is one I watch every year and grow to love it more every time Jimmy Stewart yells at Sam Wainwright on the phone and kisses Mary so tenderly. The heart-melting (though surprisingly realistic) romance between George and Mary is of course not the only reason I like it. I could definitely fill up another blog post about how multi-faceted this movie is in all areas of the American life. My husband knows how much I adore this film and sent me an excerpt from Ross Douthat's column (a conservative NY Times columnist) where readers asked him what his favorite movie and book are. Before you read Douthat's response, please know that he's Harvard educated, so he's well-read (i.e. he could have picked from a WIDE range of literature and film) and yet this is what he chose:      
"For movies, the one I always pick is It’s a Wonderful Life, not because I’m sure it’s my absolute favorite, but because I’m sure I love it, and because its status as a holiday chestnut has denied it the full appreciation it deserves. It contains so many multitudes – it’s political and religious and psychological; it’s a celebration of the American dream and an incredibly dark examination of its underside; it’s appreciation of small town life and a Sherwood-Anderson-esque critique; it’s Death of a Salesman with a eucatastrophic ending... 
...If I were giving a foreigner a crash-course in American culture, I’d make them watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” and assign them The Great Gatsby. That’s really all you need — one’s a tragicomedy and the other’s a tragedy, but they both have so much of the American light and dark, together, intermingled."
I tend to agree with his assessment because I'm obsessed with Gatsby, too, but would love to hear what ONE movie and ONE book YOU would give a foreigner to understand American culture.  

Comment below. I'd love to hear some good discussion on this topic!

Monday, March 10, 2014

"I'm Not Dead Yet!"

So it's been awhile... Between tutoring at Classical Conversations, Bible Study Fellowship, occasionally selling insurancea whole lot of pregnancy sleeping (baby #3 will be here in September!), and a road trip to Michigan (more on that in a later post), the education blog has been on the backburner. I've had a post about the 2008 Caldecott winner drafted for about a month now!

However, I did want to post something briefly about a community that holds you accountable and how that's so crucial to family life.

Classical Conversations and BSF have been a recent communities for me while another community that we've been a part of together for 9 years is our church family. Just as way of background, our church is 30 minutes one way from our house and up a mountain. So while I have always immensely enjoyed the teaching and fellowship, it's often hard for me to ask a church friend to "pop over" (because it's 30 minutes or more to my house) or to ask them to watch my kids to make an appointment. However, when I shared with my small group 2 years ago about my teeth woes, one woman (who normally never gets to interact with kids in the nursery) told me her days off where she could come and watch the girls if I needed to get dental work done. I was hesitant to ask her because for convenience I usually try to ask my neighbors down the street, but they were going out of town and I was going to have to wait another 2 weeks if I canceled the appointment. I really felt the Lord prompting me to ask for her help even if it was just for an hour and a half.

When I returned from my appointment she said the girls behaved wonderfully (I about fell over because my unofficial label these days is "referee" with those two!) and she said that spending time with them was a blessing to her because it helped her fulfill her role within the body of Christ and to honor the commitment she made at our girls' baby dedications (not an infant baptism ceremony) to help raise our children in a Christ-filled community.

I was blown away by how she saw both her role in accountability within the church community when all I was worried about was burdening her with two girls who can seem like a handful to me as a stay at home mom. It occurred to me that while I was allowing someone to serve in a way that helped us both as adults, it also helped my girls get that much needed intergenerational time within the Body. Servant leadership is what this woman displayed to me and to my children and I was very convicted about my own attitude sometimes toward wanting to serve others (including my own family) only when it's "convenient".

So... I'm still here living out my imperfect existence while learning many important life lessons about serving others while my blog stays a bit quieter for now.