Redeeming Love

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Review: Francine Rivers’s Redeeming Love is not new to the shelves–it was published in 1991–but it is worth reviewing.

The Christian romance novel adapts the story of Hosea and Gomer to the time of the California Gold Rush. (Short version: Godly man told to marry prostitute; prostitute keeps running back to prostitution.)

The most important characteristic of the novel is that it is incredibly moving. The beginning and Angel’s last attempt to run away are particularly affecting. Angel’s slow transformation and God’s hand in her life are both comforting and inspiring. It is also an interesting book in terms of plot and setting and the adaptation is very well-done.

Still, Redeeming Love is not without a few less-than-redemptive qualities. One such quality is the constant repetition of thoughts.

Hosea: If God wants her to be my wife, she’ll be my wife, even if I struggle with it.

Angel: There is no God and I must run away to enjoy my independence.

I understand that these thoughts and movements keep the story similar to the Biblical account, but is it truly necessary to repeat these same thoughts so many times? The novel may have packed even more of a punch for me if it dropped 100 pages of these repetitive concepts.

Also, why shouldn’t Angel want to enjoy her independence? I understand that “independence” as it means “return to prostitution” is not to be desired, but she is essentially forced into marriage and, as a result, into traditional feminine roles she has little taste for. I understand that, at the time, women had little freedom to call their own, but Angel’s idea of freedom–a cottage to herself–is made to feel impossible and almost laughable.

I love that, near the end of the novel, she gains some independence and makes a proper job for herself, but this independence isn’t lasting, either. I can’t say anything more on the matter without spoiling the book. I suppose that, when it comes down to it, I prefer reading a story with more empowering female characters.

I’m also very annoyed with what happens to Paul–but again I can’t say much without giving the story away.

This is yet another novel where all the characters are physically attractive. Which bothers me because how can they all be so attractive when they lack indoor plumbing? Wouldn’t smelliness and oily hair detract from one’s attractiveness?

Also, the epilogue feels incredibly rushed. It reads like the end of a touching “based on a real story” film where the screen lists each of the character’s happily-ever-afters rather than tell it all through a believable, satisfying story.

Still, the faults of Redeeming Love don’t negate the fact that I couldn’t put the darn book down.

Recommendation: Fans of Christian romance and historical fiction would probably enjoy this read most. Victims of abuse might want to be careful with this one.

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Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome: A read I prescribe to those on all walks of faith

A big thank you to Howard Books for sending me an early copy of this book! And hardcover, no less! It comes to shelves today and I’m excited to see what other readers think.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Review: In Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome, Reba Riley recounts her experiences with thirty religions in one year–a quest she felt led to undertake on her 29th birthday.

Riley struggles with “Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome,” which she describes as “A condition of spiritual injury that occurs as a result of religion, faith, and/or the leaving, losing, or breaking thereof.” While I haven’t faced a big break with the church, I know people who have and I’m sure many can relate to the term.

During her 29th year, Riley also struggled with a mysterious illness no doctor seemed able to diagnose. She felt that, if she couldn’t heal her body, she could at least work toward healing her spirit.

In the novel, Riley discusses her experiences among the Amish, Buddhist, Muslim, Scientologist, Hindu, Native American, Wiccan, Jewish, and a whole hodgepodge of Christian churches varying from virtual reality to a drive-in to a movie theater.

What impresses me most about this book is not the fact that the peacock and disco ball on the cover actually relate to the story (though that is impressive); it’s Riley’s voice. She manages not only to keep me laughing, but also to keep me thinking. I’ve never read a memoir with so prominent a voice. At some point near the beginning of the book, I connected with her (I think it was when she fell down the stairs and flashed her birthday party crowd and everyone on the street). By the end, I felt like we were good friends. If I ever run into her on the street, I’ll probably start conversing as though I’ve known her for years and she’ll just stare back at me wondering who the heck this blonde chick is.

I’m also amazed by Riley’s story. I always have a hard time believing miracles in memoirs because the author is typically biased. But Riley clearly didn’t want to go back to church. And I don’t believe she would change her memory of her story to fit the religion she chose because she didn’t chose a religion at the end of her experience; she simply chose faith.

I don’t fully agree with her theology, but I don’t have to in order to appreciate this book. It is clear that God has made an imprint in her life; miracles are woven into each page. More than her story itself, I was interested to hear her thoughts on religions I’m unfamiliar with. Through her experiences, I feel more open to experiences like meditation and fasting, to which I was previously closed. I also feel more tolerant of beliefs like Scientology and Native American religions, at which I previously scoffed.

Though I believe many of Riley’s anecdotes about visits to different sects of Christianity were important to her personal story, I would have liked to hear more about her visits to other religions. I know there’s not a wide variety of religions represented in Ohio, but at one point Riley casually mentions she visited Christian Science, Unitarian Universalism, Sikhism, and Seventh-Day Adventism. She does acknowledge that these visits “barely registered” because her illness drained her of the energy needed to “research or get into the services.” If she did not attend services, how did she visit these religions? What were her interactions with these religions like? I’ve been curious about the beliefs of Christian Science and Sikhism in particular, and I wish she would’ve explored these more later or written more about what experiences she did have.

Though I would’ve liked to hear more of Riley’s experiences, this is only because I found the experiences she did share incredibly interesting. She doesn’t just attend services of other religions; she does what people of those religions do on her visits, cleaning herself before service at a mosque; getting audited by Scientologists; eating peanut butter, marshmallow cream, maple syrup, jelly, meat, cheese, and pickle sandwiches with the Amish. Anytime an individual steps far out of their comfort zone, an interesting story begins.

Throughout the book, people of all religions tell Riley of her destiny as a healer. I think this is a destiny she lives out through her book and her blog. This book will bring healing to many people, regardless of whether they’re searching for faith, running from faith, or already bound to faith. Reading Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome is especially a good remedy for those who identify with the title diagnosis.

Recommendation: Everyone should read this book.

Well, not everyone everyone–I can think of one or two super conservative people who may be disturbed by Riley’s theology to the point of burning or banning it, which I don’t much care for–but people from all walks of faith should read this. (Yes, I’m talking to you.)

Esther–A novel that will be queen of Christian fiction this year

This eBook was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Review: Confession–I’ve never read a book about a character of the Bible. But this book has me interested in reading more.

The story of Esther is one many Christians know by heart. The virgin Jewish girl is captured for King Xerxes to either become his wife or become his concubine. She manages to win his heart and secure her place on the throne while keeping her Jewish heritage a secret. Her cousin, the king’s accountant, reveals to her that Xerxes’ adviser, Haman, has convinced Xerxes to sign an edict to kill and plunder from all Jews–men, women, and children alike. Esther must choose to either speak up for her people at the risk of her own life or remain quiet and allow her people to be slaughtered.

Not only did Rebecca Kanner do the research for this novel; she also managed to bring the characters to life.

To become queen to a man like Xerxes, I believe Esther must have been one of the most intelligent, independent women in the Bible. She had to fight other concubines for the throne, earn the king’s favor enough to also earn his ear, and be wise enough to turn the king against one of the men he favored most–all as a woman who took the place of Queen Vashti, who was dethroned because she “disobeyed” her husband.

Kanner paints Esther not only as the cunning woman I believe she was, but also as someone who could march beside a target without flinching from the arrows. Someone who could keep moving forward in the face of tragedy. Someone who could watch men be tortured. Kanner’s Esther has a ferocity which rivals her beauty–a trait I believe puts this interpretation above all others.

Though I’ve known this tale since early elementary school (thanks, VeggieTales), the plot felt new to me. Kanner added suspense not only through Esther’s fiery personality, but also in her strained relationship with her husband, her attraction to one of the king’s most loyal soldiers, and her conflicts with other girls in the harem.

One of the most interesting traits of this book is that it actually had sex scenes. I expected Kanner to do as most Christian authors do and leave off at the bedroom door, but she went a little further. She wasn’t graphic or obscene; she simply wrote what she thought may have happened between the king and the woman he made his wife. And really, why shouldn’t Christian fiction have simple sex scenes? Too often Christian fiction authors shy away from the subject. I understand if they’re uncomfortable with writing it, but God created sex to be a good thing, under the right circumstances. Heck, Song of Songs is about sex, and it’s in the Bible! But I digress. Don’t worry about the book being too scandalous; if it were a movie, it’d be PG-13.

The reason why I withhold half a star from my rating is because–despite the plot holding my attention–certain sections felt too long. The walk Esther is forced on at the novel’s start drew on a little too long for my liking, as did the part where Esther decides to train in self-defense. Moreover, the ending felt too happy. Perhaps Kanner was just trying to show that God rewards those who serve Him? Or perhaps I am used to novels that end on more of a low note.

Recommendation: I’d recommend this book for those ages 18 and up who are interested in Biblical adaptations or even just interested in historical fiction with a strong female lead.

Unleashing My Opinion on “Capturing Jasmina”

This eBook was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

Rating: 1/5 stars

Review: Capturing Jasmina by Kimberly Rae is a young adult Christian novel about an Indian girl’s struggle to escape human trafficking and rejoin her family. I requested this book in the hope that it would be eye-opening to a world I know little about. I wanted to learn more about India’s culture and get a better understand human trafficking. In short, wanted a book that would make me cry.

That’s not what I got.

Right off the bat the novel rubbed me the wrong way in its speaker. Jasmina consistently crossed out words in favor of other words, as one would in writing a letter with pen, but rather than make her voice more realistic, the technique had the opposite effect.

I also felt like the author didn’t address Indian culture as well as she should’ve. One of the most interesting things for me about Christian literature is hearing how other cultures respond to missionaries. This book over-simplified it by speaking very little about Indian (specifically Hindu) culture in the first place, so it felt like Jasmina was less a young Hindu girl and more a figure conjured my Christian missionaries in their search to convert.

Don’t get me wrong here; I support missionary work. I’ve been on a few mission trips myself. But I know that we Christians tend to imagine other cultures as desperate to hear about our God, and while this is sometimes true, other cultures are not without their own beliefs. We cannot allow ourselves to be deluded into seeing natives as evil and missionaries as good. There are also natives who are good and missionaries who are evil–just look in a world history textbook.

And yet Rae seems to encourage that misguided viewpoint, particularly when Jasmina meets missionary women:

“There were people in the world who wanted to do good instead of evil. There were people who cared about something more than money and power. Who would not use others for their own gain.

Impossible. My mind said not to believe a word. To harden up again and hold tight to hate. But my heart—oh, my heart wanted to think there was hope.”

I know this is Christian literature, but I expect to see more understanding of other people and more understanding of ourselves. Everyone sins, but that is difficult to see in this book, where the natives sin but the missionaries are depicted as faultless. I am sure this was not Rae’s intent, but it feels that way nonetheless.

While the treatment of other cultures was my main quarrel with this book, I’m also thought the overall quality of plot and characterization was poor. I read this with the desire to learn more, but I feel like I knew more about Indian culture and human trafficking than the author. None of the characters felt real to me, so I struggle to sympathize with their struggles.

Jasmina’s main motivation, for example, was to find her family. But her family–with the exception of her mother–didn’t treat her well at all. And she didn’t speak of longing to return to her mother’s comfort, but of wanting to return her brother to safety and learn if her father knew what he had done when he sold her.

There were a lot of loose ends in the story, as well. Like why would Jasmina’s father sell his son, as well? What happened to her family? How could she write letters to her brother if she didn’t know where he was and if he couldn’t even read?

I see that this book is part of a series, but these loose ends don’t interest me enough to prompt further reading.

Since there was little to no graphic material in spite of the dark subject matter, I think it’s appropriate for middle schoolers and up, if you really must read it.

For someone interested in learning more about Indian culture, I recommend Michelle Moran’s Rebel Queen instead.

Focus on the Lyrics Friday: I See Fire

I’m terribly sorry for not posting last weekend. I didn’t skip out for anything fun; in fact, my weekend was spent doing homework. The highlight of last weekend was a tough call between the thesis workshop for the Honors Program and the dumpster fire for which my dorm was evacuated at 3 AM. We’re all okay, though a bit tired.

If nothing else, seeing the fire inspired me to take a closer look at Ed Sheeran’s “I See Fire” for this week’s column.


Lyrics

Oh, misty eye of the mountain below
Keep careful watch of my brother’s souls
And should the sky be filled with fire and smoke
Keep watching over Durin’s sons

If this is to end in fire
Then we should all burn together
Watch the flames climb high into the night
Calling out “father, oh, stand by and we will
Watch the flames burn auburn on
The mountain side high”

And if we should die tonight
We should all die together
Raise a glass of wine for the last time
Calling out “father, oh,
Prepare as we will
Watch the flames burn auburn on
The mountain side”

Desolation comes upon the sky

Now I see fire
Inside the mountain
I see fire
Burning the trees
And I see fire
Hollowing souls
I see fire
Blood in the breeze
And I hope that you’ll remember me

Oh, should my people fall then
Surely I’ll do the same
Confined in mountain halls
We got too close to the flame
Calling out father oh
Hold fast and we will
Watch the flames burn auburn on
The mountain side

Desolation comes upon the sky

Now I see fire
Inside the mountains
I see fire
Burning the trees
And I see fire
Hollowing souls
I see fire
Blood in the breeze
And I hope that you’ll remember me

And if the night is burning
I will cover my eyes
For if the dark returns then
My brothers will die
And as the sky is falling down
It crashed into this lonely town
And with that shadow upon the ground
I hear my people screaming out

And I see fire
Inside the mountains
I see fire
Burning the trees
I see fire
Hollowing souls
I see fire
Blood in the breeze

I see fire (fire)
Oh, you know I saw a city burning out
And I see fire (fire)
Feel the heat upon my skin
And I see fire (fire)
Uhhhhhhhhh
And I see fire
Burn auburn on the mountain side

Analysis

Sheeran’s song is based on Peter Jackson’s film “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” but there’s more to the song than just the description of fire. I may give away one or two spoilers about the book/film, so be aware if you haven’t yet read/seen it but intend to.

1) “Oh, misty eye of the mountain below / Keep careful watch of my brother’s souls / And should the sky be filled with fire and smoke / Keep watching over Durin’s sons”

I actually read this song as a sort of prayer. The “misty eye of the mountain below” is the “god” Sheeran addresses. The mountain has a heart (the Arkenstone), so why shouldn’t it have an eye, as well? Throughout The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, eyes are a fairly important symbol. Both Sauron and Smaug, the primary villains of the two tales, have noteable flame-colored eyes. The Lonely Mountain to which this song refers does not have a fiery eye, but a “misty” one. While the other eyes’ ability (Sauron’s in particular) to see all is a reason for fear, the singer of this song calls for the mountain’s eye to see all and draws hope from it. It’s interesting that Sheeran would have the words “misty” and “mountain” in the same line, since there is a range called Misty Mountains in Middle Earth, but if I recall correctly, that’s the range where Bilbo finds the ring, not where Smaug lives. I don’t really know why he says the eye of the mountain is “below,” so any thoughts on that are welcome.

Also, I believe this part of the song is from the perspective of Bard, the eventual leader of Lake-town. He asks the mountain to “keep careful watch of [his] brother’s souls,” his brothers being the people of Laketown. If Smaug poses a threat to them or the dwarves, Bard also hopes the mountain will “keep watching over Durin’s sons,” or protecting the dwarves. While Bard and Thorin have their disagreements, they’re both willing to do anything for the people they lead. Both Lake-town and the dwarves (plus one hobbit) unite against the fire.

2) “If this is to end in fire / Then we should all burn together / Watch the flames climb high into the night / Calling out ‘father,’ oh, stand by and we will / Watch the flames burn auburn on / The mountain side high”

As I said before, a major theme of this song is how trials prompt unity. If the fire comes for them, they will all “burn together.” The song is a sort of disheartening battle cry. They will “watch the flames,” bravely standing together in the face of certain death. The idea of them calling out “father” also implies that their hope centers around a god of some sort, reinforcing my belief that the song is a prayer, much like a psalm. The “auburn” color of the flames is also important, as it paints them as beautiful, albeit destructive. Auburn is a reddish-brown color. I think the color is normally too brown to associate with flames, but the film was so dark in lighting and mood, it works in this case. Sheeran may also be playing with the word a little bit, since it has the word “burn” in it. Before looking up the lyrics, I actually thought the line was “watch the flames burn on, burn on” rather than “burn auburn on.” In any case, it sounds beautiful, particularly when sung by Sheeran.

3) “And if we should die tonight / We should all die together / Raise a glass of wine for the last time / Calling out ‘father,’ oh, / Prepare as we will / Watch the flames burn auburn on / The mountain side”

Yet again there’s a sense of camaraderie in that they plan to “die together.” In drinking “a glass of wine for the last time,” I associate them with Jesus and his disciples at The Last Supper, where they ate before Jesus parted. This time, though, all of them prepare to die. Again they call out “father” and instruct him to “prepare,” perhaps meaning for him to prepare a place in the afterlife as they “watch the flames.”

4) “Desolation comes upon the sky”

Desolation is defined both as a state of complete destruction and a state of anguish, misery, or loneliness. The word refers to the destruction–both physical and emotional–Smaug can cause. It’s particularly powerful in this context because the film off which Sheeran based the lyrics is the second in the series, titled “The Desolation of Smaug.”

5) “Now I see fire / Inside the mountain / I see fire / Burning the trees / And I see fire / Hollowing souls / I see fire / Blood in the breeze / And I hope that you’ll remember me”

The fire of Smaug is visible “inside the mountain” and “burning the trees,” but the other two images are a little more difficult to decipher. At the end of the film, Smaug declares, “I am fire. I am death.” He isn’t just an instrument for fire; he is fire. The fire the singer sees could very well be Smaug himself. In burning everything and everyone, Smaug is “hollowing souls,” stripping the people of Lake-town of everything they hold dear, leaving them empty and without purpose. Both fire and blood are dark red and associated with death, so the “blood in the breeze” could be fire itself. It could also be actual blood; dragons have teeth, too, after all. Not only do the lyrics teach physical unity in hard times by standing together; they also teach emotional unity by encouraging people to hold onto the memory of those lost. As the speaker claims, “I hope that you’ll remember me.” In the end, you can only hope you’ve done something to save someone before passing.

6) “Oh, should my people fall then / Surely I’ll do the same / Confined in mountain halls / We got too close to the flame”

The responsibility of a leader over his people is particularly clear in these first two lines. Because this mentions being “confined in mountain halls,” I’m beginning to think the song is actually from Thorin’s perspective. That doesn’t make total sense to me, but it has to be true of this part, at least. In the mountain, the group had a couple close run-ins with Smaug, “the flame.” If flame represents hardship or potential destruction, there are other flames, too. The madness of greed to which Thorin succumbed also led them “too close” to destruction.

7) “And if the night is burning / I will cover my eyes / For if the dark returns then / My brothers will die / And as the sky is falling down / It crashed into this lonely town / And with that shadow upon the ground / I hear my people screaming out”

Honestly, I think the first four lines here contradict each other. Basically, he says there are flames all around, so he’ll cover his eyes because when the flames go away his brothers will die. Maybe I’m misreading something? Because it seems like the flames would kill his brothers, not the darkness. Perhaps he means a metaphorical darkness, as in something evil? The image of the “sky…falling down” when Smaug sweeps over Lake-town with his flames is beautifully put for something so horrific. I like how Sheeran calls “this” town “lonely,” since it subtly links it to The Lonely Mountain. The “shadow” to which he refers is the shadow of Smaug raking fire across the town, causing Bard’s people to begin “screaming out.” It’s interesting how something so horrifying can be described so beautifully. I think part of that is due to the fact that the song is based off a film in which the special effects and scenery are stunning, even in scenes of desolation.

I think I’ve made it fairly clear by now that I’m a fan of Ed Sheeran and Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. The final movie of the Hobbit series was released on DVD recently, and while I believe the movies should have been condensed into one or two films rather than spread out over three, I suggest watching them. And if you’ve already seen them, I suggest watching them again!

Focus on the Lyrics Friday: Bleeding Out

Yesterday I donated blood for the first time. It’s a weird sensation, bleeding out for somebody else. Being the Imagine Dragons (remember their hit Radioactive?) fan that I am, I thought their song seemed like a good anthem for me today, while I’m still a little weak from blood loss.

Admittedly, I caved and looked at other interpretations of this song online. A lot of people have the idea that this song is about self-injury and suicide.

A lot of people are wrong.

I think this song is the battle cry of sorts for friends or partners to rise up and protect the ones they love…and I think it uses a Biblical allusion to convey that message.

See if you can figure it out.


Lyrics to Bleeding Out by Imagine Dragons

I’m bleeding out
So if the last thing that I do
Is bring you down
I’ll bleed out for you
So I bare my skin
And I count my sins
And I close my eyes
And I take it in
I’m bleeding out
I’m bleeding out for you, for you.

When the day has come
That I’ve lost my way around
And the seasons stop and hide beneath the ground
When the sky turns gray
And everything is screaming
I will reach inside
Just to find my heart is beating

Oh, you tell me to hold on
Oh, you tell me to hold on
But innocence is gone
And what was right is wrong

‘Cause I’m bleeding out
So if the last thing that I do
Is to bring you down
I’ll bleed out for you
So I bare my skin
And I count my sins
And I close my eyes
And I take it in
And I’m bleeding out
I’m bleeding out for you (for you)

When the hour is nigh
And hopelessness is sinking in
And the wolves all cry
To fill the night with hollering
When your eyes are red
And emptiness is all you know
With the darkness fed
I will be your scarecrow

You tell me to hold on
Oh you tell me to hold on
But innocence is gone
And what was right is wrong

‘Cause I’m bleeding out
So if the last thing that I do
Is to bring you down
I’ll bleed out for you
So I bare my skin
And I count my sins
And I close my eyes
And I take it in
And I’m bleeding out
I’m bleeding out for you, for you.

I’m bleeding out for you (for you)
I’m bleeding out for you (for you)
I’m bleeding out for you (for you)
I’m bleeding out for you

‘Cause I’m bleeding out
So if the last thing that I do
Is to bring you down
I’ll bleed out for you
So I bare my skin
And I count my sins
And I close my eyes
And I take it in
And I’m bleeding out
I’m bleeding out for you, for you.

Analysis

Before I give my interpretations, I have to preface this by saying that this song is ambiguous. It could mean completely different things to different people, and that’s part of what makes it so personal.

I think the song alludes to the Crucifiction to call friends out to sacrifice for one another. In a way, it’s a cry to be more like Jesus in his willingness to sacrifice despite the pain. (A couple of the band members are Mormon, so this meaning is certainly possible.)

It’s not going to make much sense unless we look right at the lyrics, so let’s dive right in.

1) “I’m bleeding out / So if the last thing that I do / Is bring you down / I’ll bleed out for you / So I bare my skin / And I count my sins / And I close my eyes / And I take it in / I’m bleeding out / I’m bleeding out for you, for you.”

This is the cry of Jesus “bleeding out” on the cross as the “last thing” he does (while in the flesh, of course). He “bare[s]” his skin to the lashings and “counts his sins” (which are exactly none).  This could also apply to an individual who’s “bleeding out,” or sacrificing something, “for you,” his friend. He exposes himself when he “bare[s]” his skin and “counts his sins,” ready to “take it in” to save his friend.

2) “When the day has come / That I’ve lost my way around / And the seasons stop and hide beneath the ground / When the sky turns gray / And everything is screaming / I will reach inside / Just to find my heart is beating.”

Yet another Imagine Dragons song with a post-apocalyptic feel. This also feels like how a depressed individual might view the world, so I can see why people may misinterpret the song as one related to depression and self-injury. This could also be how Jesus felt on the cross (with everyone laughing or “screaming” at him and the seasons and sky fading, like they know what it means that his end is near). It’s a little extreme of an interpretation, but it could fit. What would fit better yet is a more human explanation. When the individual feels “lost” and feels like all is coming to an end, he will remember what he holds dear to him, in his “heart,” and keep up the struggle.

3) “Oh, you tell me to hold on / Oh, you tell me to hold on / But innocence is gone / And what was right is wrong.”

This feels like Jesus crying out on the cross, as well, doing what is “right” in saving us by doing what is “wrong” in being crucified despite lacking sin.

4) “When the hour is nigh / And hopelessness is sinking in / And the wolves all cry / To fill the night with hollering / When your eyes are red / And emptiness is all you know / With the darkness fed / I will be your scarecrow”

You’ve found my favorite part! I’m a sucker for the word “nigh.” Anyway, I think this is the strongest part of the song. In continuation with the crucifiction allusion, this seems like the part where Jesus is about to die (“the hour is nigh”) and the “wolves,” or people who condemned him, “fill the night with hollering” and someone in the crowd, possibly Mary, has “red” eyes from crying. Still, Jesus hangs on the cross, similar to a “scarecrow” in both his physical position and in keeping the darkness from the crops, keeping Satan from his followers. Isn’t that a gorgeous comparison? I get really geeked out when unusual metaphors fit so perfectly. The lines would also fit for an individual who sacrifices for his friend, who feels “hopeless” and “empty.” He intends to sacrifice himself to keep the “darkness” from taking hold of his friend.

What should we take away from this, then? I think we should be better friends. I hope you’re never in a desperate situation where you must chose whether to save your friend or yourself, though the song seems to feel clearly about which is more important. The lyrics should be applied to the smaller things. Perhaps if your friend needs to discuss the pains in his/her life, you should sacrifice your time. If your friend needs a hug, you should sacrifice your personal space. If your friend needs a tub of ice cream and a couple distracting flicks to get over a tough breakup, you should sacrifice your money. Most importantly, this song seems adamant that if your friend suffers from depression, you should sacrifice all you can (in good conscience, of course) to help.

Or maybe Imagine Dragons is just encouraging us all to donate blood.

Life is a Coma

Last night, SVSU brought The Asia Project on campus. Unfortunately, a poetry slam happened around the same time, so only 15 people showed up to watch the spoken word poetry event.

I’m glad I was part of the 15, though.

The Asia Project is a duo featuring poet Asia Samson and guitarist Jollan Aurelio. Asia writes the poems himself and performs them with Jollan’s accompaniment.

Many of the poems were deeply personal to Asia, so props to him for sharing them. He shared poems sparked by his battle with cancer, his son’s birth, his marriage, and his sister’s tragic death.

The poem dedicated to his sister, “Awakening,” was definitely my favorite.

I related to this poem, but in an unexpected way. I may be familiar with loss, but I’ve never lost someone as close to me as Asia was to his sister.

No, I did not relate so closely to the feeling of loss. I related better to the hollowness he hinted at in the end of the poem when he said, “Life is a coma we can still choose to wake up from.”

“Life is a coma we can still choose to wake up from.”

I’ve been a college student for a few months now, but I feel further away from home every day.

Part of the problem is that I don’t know where home is. My dorm? My family? My high school? My friends’ colleges? Whenever I’m at one place, I long to be at another. I’m stretched everywhere and I’m comfortable nowhere.

When one feels out-of-place, she ought to discover more about herself. With nothing around to distract her, she should be able to look down at herself and say, “This is what I am.”

When I look down, I see right through myself.

The problem is, I don’t know why. I know my purpose. I know what I want to do with my future. I know what I stand for and against. But I feel like there’s some part of myself I haven’t tapped into. It still sleeps somewhere inside me and every now and again it snores, reminding me that I’m not fully awake.

“Life is a coma we can still choose to wake up from.”

But how do we start?

I think I need to focus on the little things. I think I need to start rejoicing at the many places I call home rather than despair at how far apart they are. I think I need to write more, to feel more in tune with myself. I think I need to read more, to climb closer to my future. I think I need to pour energy into everything I do, to live life to the fullest.

I think I need to stop looking and start watching.