Friday, September 4, 2009

The Pardoner's Tale and England in the Middle Ages

Here's a paper I wrote for midterms in my British Author's class this past summer:

The Pardoner’s Tale and England in the Middle Ages

Geoffrey Chaucer, author of The Canterbury Tales, lived in England between 1300 and 1400. As a servant to the Court, he had to be careful how he expressed his political, religious and social views. I believe Chaucer used the Tales to illustrate the social unrest, specifically the religious unrest, of his day; allowing his views to be made public, but through the voice of a fictional character.
The Great Famine of 1315-1317 and the Black Death ushered in a time of social instability and war between social classes. The people of the European lands, which had been prospering for so long, now found themselves involved in peasant revolts such as The Hundred Years' War, (www.vlib.us).
For hundreds of years, the Pope was deemed to have full authority over the State. The Church was the highest power in Western Europe and there were continuous struggles for power between secular and Church leaders. Pope Boniface VIII stated, around the beginning of the 14th century, that it "is necessary for salvation that every living creature be under submission to the Roman pontiff," (Unam Sanctam).
Chaucer began writing The Canterbury Tales in 1386 or 87, (Chaucer, 16). This is a time when the Catholic Church was falling apart as it attempted to deal with the split known as The Great Schism. These conflicts damaged the Church's honorable place of universal authority and eventually led to historical benchmarks like the Reformation, (Oxford Dictionary). The disunity of this seemingly solid foundation of society became a target for satirical writings like The Pardoner's Tale.
Some would argue that the Pardoner uses his turn at storytelling to clean his conscience. He describes himself as a liar, a drunk, and one given to greed and avarice; a definite hypocrisy for someone committed to the church. I think the Pardoner was carried away in drunken boasting and was too caught up in the attention he was receiving to realize that these confessions may come back to haunt him one day.
In my opinion, Chaucer uses the character of the Pardoner to portray the "most confused and disordered society" (Ackroyd, 158) in which he was living. Even though the Reformation was still about 150 years in the future, citizens were beginning to recognize a need for change regarding absolute church authority. However, since to boldly speak out against the Church would mean forfeiture of his employment for sure, and very likely his life, it seems that he, instead, chose to subtly visit the controversial themes in his writing.
With all the faults of which we could accuse our Pardoner, we can make one generalization: he is a hypocrite. He gives the impression that he believes it doesn't matter what his personal sins might be--this does not affect his power and "rights" as a leader of the Church. This attribute could stem from an ironic truth of the Catholic Church called the Apostolic Authority of the priesthood. Among other things, the doctrine states that a priest is still in authority even when he is involved in sin and that a priest has the power to forgive sin, (therealpresence.org). The Pardoner seems to embody this idea when he states, “It is an honour to you to have found a pardoner with his credentials sound”, (Chaucer, 275). Just as we see him as ridiculous and lacking in integrity, it's possible that the people of Chaucer's day felt the same about their real-life "Christian" examples.
As I stated earlier, the Pardoner's actions are a definite hypocrisy for someone committed to the Church. Perhaps that's where the real issue lies. There is a big difference between being committed to the Church and being committed to God. The Church can have stringent rules for each member to obey, protocol by which all things are done, and can make judgments of others in comparison to themselves. When one commits himself to the Church, he must concern himself with following its laws. When one commits himself to God, he can take each day as it comes to him and allow God to direct his path according to God's plan for each individual on the earth. He can allow God to work on the things that need to be changed in the order that God sees fit and not that the Church sees fit.

When one is committed to the Church, it is often because he feels like he has to be. When one is committed to a relationship with God, it is only because he wants to be. It's all a heart issue. From what I see with this Pardoner, the issue to him was making sure he displayed just enough “God” so that others would trust, or at least respect, him as a man of God and thus, leave themselves open to be taken advantage by him. This Pardoner had to be committed to a relationship with the church in order to better his own cause: himself.

Ackroyd, Peter. Chaucer. New York: Doubleday, 2005

Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Canterbury Tales: translated by Nevill Coghill. New York: Penguin, 1980.

Cross, F.L. & Livingstone, E.A. eds. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Oxford University Press, 2005.



Pope Boniface VIII. Unam Sanctam. 1302.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Here is what I wrote regarding this book last week for an English class:

“Madness” and Spiritual Significance in Wuthering Heights

The novelist and poet, Emily Bronte, was born in Thornton, Yorkshire on July 30, 1818. The middle sister of the three famous Bronte girls, she was actually one of six Bronte children. After the death of her mother and two older sisters, Emily, Charlotte and Anne were taken from the school they were attending and were largely homeschooled. After a series of moves, Emily ended up home in Haworth tending to her father and focusing, like her sisters, on writing.

In 1845, Charlotte discovered manuscripts of poems that Emily had hidden away and was adamant that she have them published along with her and Anne’s. The girls collected their works into a volume called, Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell. Published in 1846 at the expense of the sisters, the volume sold only two copies. In 1847, Emily’s only novel, Wuthering Heights, is published just shortly before her death in December 1848, (Kuntz).

It has been said that Bronte was, what the British call, “mad”. In the introduction to the Barnes and Noble Classics version of Wuthering Heights, author and commenter, Daphne Merkin, alludes to the fact that Emily Bronte seemed to invite death to come to her; somewhat like her characters Catherine, and later Heathcliff, do in the story. She says, “the cause of her death was officially given as consumption, but it is clear to any reader of Emily’s biography that it was a form of passive suicide—that she had helped her end along by willing herself into the next world she so devoutly believed in”, (Intro, xv).

It is possible that Wuthering Heights could have been intended to be biographical; surely it is prophetically so. More than one critic has drawn a comparison between the terrible Heathcliff and the almost-mad woman who created him. Romer Wilson, author of All Alone: The Life and Private History of Emily Bronte, when describing her as an author says, “Here appears, very early in her life, the creature who is destined to become, in time, the unregenerate, pagan, superstitious Heathcliff”, (46).

One critic, Edward Chitham, likens Emily, who is well-read and who takes care of the household chores, to Nelly, the housekeeper and co-narrator in the story. He points out the similarities in the two names: “Nelly”, a shortened version of “Ellen”, is close to Bronte’s pseudonym, “Ellis”, (academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu).

A third biographical suggestion is, in my opinion, a bit of a stretch. Katherine Frank, in her book, A Chainless Soul: A Life of Emily Bronte, argues that what critics have often seen as a strange mysticism surrounding the author’s personality, was really a hidden or misdiagnosed case of anorexia nervosa. Frank defines an anorexic as being, “overwhelmingly hungry, preoccupied with food, obsessed with power and control, and terrified of disorder”, (4). She claims Emily was not free of these obsessions and asks, “How did it feel to be perpetually hungry and deny that hunger? Even more importantly, how was this physical hunger related to a more pervasive hunger in her life—hunger for power and experience, for love and happiness, fame and fortune and fulfillment? (4).

I have a hard time concluding that these attributes that Frank ascribes to Bronte are definite evidence for only one ailment: anorexia. Granted, there are signs in the story that Catherine and Heathcliff may have both died of starvation, I believe their reasons for starvation were not related to their body image, as anorexia often is, but instead to their utter desperateness for one another.

While Frank does offer some sound evidence, writers are often known for their high-strung emotions and obsessive behaviors. It’s possible that she was just manifesting the eccentric behaviors and emotions that artist’s tend to exhibit. I also take issue with her claims of the “more pervasive hunger(s)”. If Bronte wanted experience, fame and fortune then why did she welcome death so readily? She’d just had her only two submitted works published and was on the road to experience, fame and fortune. If she longed for these things, wouldn’t she have made more of an effort to overcome whatever sickness was ailing her so she could move forward?

There are many themes that thread in and out of this relatively short gothic work. Bronte weaves in ideas about child abuse, patriarch-led families, social classes and the downfall of a woman who marries for money and not for love, among several other important and timeless matters. A central theme that I see as very important to understanding both the story and it’s author is what Bronte calls “madness”. The “ailment” of madness can be found in many, many places throughout Wuthering Heights and is especially obvious as it helps to accentuate the spiritual bond between Catherine and Heathcliff.

Shortly into the story, Catherine makes a seemingly harmless statement that a reader unfamiliar to the entire tale would dismiss as an epithet of love. She is in the middle of chastising Nelly for suggesting that she and Heathcliff would be parted once she married Linton, when she utters probably the most famous line of the work, “Nelly, I am Heathcliff!” (82). However, the deeper one gets into the story, the more one wonders if Catherine truly is “mad” and believes that they are one and the same soul—and if Heathcliff believes it as well. In Merkin’s introduction she points out, “you choose whom you love, and, in the absence of genuine psychosis, you understand that for all your feelings of having stumbled onto your other half, you and your love object are not one and the same”, (Intro, xxiii).

Nevertheless, over and over throughout the story, we see this theme of the two having the same restless soul. On what is to be the last night that Heathcliff and Catherine are together, Heathcliff is heartbroken over her imminent death and says, “Do I want to live? What kind of living will it be when you—oh, God! Would you like to live with your soul in the grave?” (159). After Catherine dies, Heathcliff remarks to Nelly in anguish: “I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!” (165). It’s obvious that both Catherine and Heathcliff literally believe that they share the same soul—a belief that eventually kills them both from anguish.

Almost every character in the story displays “mad” behavior at one time or another. Hindley, in a drunken fit, demonstrates despicable behavior toward his son, Hareton, which can only be described as lunatic. Hareton utters such horrible things about his son such as, “he deserves flaying alive”, and “As sure as I’m living, I’ll break the brat’s neck”, before dropping him over a railing to what could have been his death had Heathcliff not been in the right place at the right time, (73-74). Hareton displays “madness” at a young age as he “hang(s) a litter of puppies from a chair-back”, (179). Even young Linton acts “mad” for attention, (like his aunt Catherine did on her death bed), when he throws himself to the ground in fits of convulsions in order to get his way, (258).

With all of this “mad” behavior going on, one cannot help but compare the characters in an attempt to discover the “maddest” of them all. Although I think that Heathcliff takes the cake over the long haul, beginning with his detestable behavior toward Isabella, his wife and “proxy in suffering” (144), Catherine’s behavior is what really surprises me as I believe her “fake madness”, as alluded to in the previous paragraph, is what led to her early death. I think that Catherine’s “mad” behavior began as playacting to keep from having to answer Linton when he asks, “Will you give up Heathcliff hereafter, or will you give up me? It is impossible for you to be my friend and his at the same time; and I absolutely require to know which you choose”, (117). It is at this time that Catherine begins exhibiting physical ailments, going from “stamping her foot” just a paragraph before, to “dashing her head against the arm of the sofa, and grinding her teeth”, (118) in the next. Even Nelly, the one who probably knows and understands Catherine the best, says that there was “nothing in the world the matter” (118) and that Catherine had “resolved, previously to his coming, on exhibiting a fit of frenzy”, (118).

I think that Catherine is going to great lengths to keep from having to admit that she’d choose Heathcliff if it came right down to it. More than that, I think that her keeping to her bed and starving herself could be to keep herself from having to make the choice at all. The point eventually becomes moot when Heathcliff is no longer available to Catherine or a threat to Linton after he runs off with Isabella.

When Nelly tells her that Linton has “no idea of your being deranged; and of course he does not fear that you will let yourself die of hunger,” (120) Catherine is adamant that Nelly forward the “news” to him. “Persuade him!” She shouts. “Speak of your own mind: say that you are certain I will”, (120). To her, this is a game as observed in the instance on page 126. Catherine is animated and talking about things that Nelly calls “insane”. I would disagree that Catherine is not actually in possession of her faculties here, but either way, she’s making sense and speaking coherently. When Linton comes into the room, Catherine begins to act as if she doesn’t know him. “At first she gave him no glance of recognition: he was invisible to her abstracted gaze. The delirium was not fixed, however; having weaned her eyes from contemplating the outer darkness, by degrees she centered her attention on him, and discovered who it was that held her”.

Catherine’s antics are best displayed in her last scene with Heathcliff. For several minutes, the two had been expressing their love and regret to one another, frantically trying to make up for lost time before Linton came home and before Catherine drew her last breath. Although the dialogue between the two is feverish and overly-emotional, it is still sane and understandable to anyone who may be eavesdropping. However, once Linton is heard coming toward the room, Catherine resolves herself to her biggest show of madness yet. She let her body go limp and seemed unresponsive as Edgar entered the room. Heathcliff played along by placing her in Linton’s arms and left the room. Catherine was “all bewildered,” and “sighed, moaned, and knew nobody”, (161). It seems obvious to me that, like Bronte herself, Catherine took advantage of an ailment and let it consume her to past the point of returning. This, as I said before, could be seen as a prophetic destiny that Bronte may have not realized she was writing.

Not only do Catherine and Heathcliff exhibit signs of the same sort of madness, they also present a clear picture of a true spiritual bond. Catherine, while on her death bed, calls to Heathcliff in her imagination and says, “I’ll not lie there by myself: they may bury me twelve feet deep, and throw the church down over me, but I won’t rest till you are with me. I never will!” (125). The idea of death does not seem to bother her in the least: it’s the thought of death without Heathcliff that she can’t seem to bear.

Years after Catherine’s death, Heathcliff describes a scene (which only affirms his “madness”) in which he goes to Catherine’s grave to exhume her body. As he’s attempting to pry the lid off her coffin, he hears sighing and could feel a “substantial body in the dark”, though he knew there was no one there. Where a perfectly sane person might find this whole situation odd and a little spooky, Heathcliff claims he was consoled because, “her presence was with me: it remained while I refilled the grave, and led me home”, (278-279).

Just before Heathcliff’s own death, the reader gets the impression that he has received some sort of message from Catherine that he is soon to die. He comes home on a couple of occasions with a strange smile on his face and a more peaceful countenance. He claims that everything connects them. The clouds, the trees, the night air, even the material that the flooring is made up of remind him of Catherine. He attempts to explain to Nelly that he senses a change coming but “shall not know that till it comes,” and says he is “only half conscious of it now,” (313).

When it finally does come time for Heathcliff to die, it is hard to tell if he is in a state of “madness” or just one of extreme “spiritualism”. It seems that he, too, is suffering from a lack of food—just like Catherine did. Though there is no doubt in my mind that Catherine starved herself willingly and willfully, I can’t help but wonder if Heathcliff believes he is receiving the instructions to abstain from food from Catherine from beyond the grave. Nelly reports, “I vainly reminded him of his protracted abstinence from food: if he stirred to touch anything in compliance with my entreaties, if he stretched his hand out to get a piece of bread, his fingers clenched before they reached it, and remained on the table, forgetful of their aim”, (320). In my opinion, this is a good sign that Heathcliff was fighting against his subconscious and willing himself to follow whatever instructions stopped him from grabbing the bread. Nelly affirms this a few pages later when she says, “I concealed the fact of his having swallowed nothing for four days, fearing it might lead to trouble, and then, I am persuaded, he did not abstain on purpose: it was the consequence of his strange illness, not the cause”, (324). Interesting that Heathcliff would experience the same sort of death as Catherine—and the madness that preceded it.

The spiritual element to Wuthering Heights is concluded as Heathcliff joins Catherine to eternally haunt the moors and countryside after his death. The locals claim to have seen him and say that “he walks” and that he had been near the church, on the moor, and inside a home. Even old, crotchety Joseph says he’s seen Heathcliff and Catherine together since their deaths. Nelly goes on to describe an instance where she comes across a little shepherd boy who is frightened of the apparitions he saw of Heathcliff and Catherine.

The last line of the book leaves the reader with something to think on. Nelly is describing a peaceful time visiting the graves of Catherine, Heathcliff and Edgar. She describes the “benign sky”, the “fluttering moths” and the “soft wind” and wonders: “how anyone could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth”, (326). Although I do not believe in the ability of a soul to “haunt” those left on earth after it’s body dies, for the purposes of fiction, I say, who could blame them? They’ve got a lot of time to make up for and a lot of unfinished business to take care of.

Works Cited

Bronte, Emily. Wuthering Heights (Barnes and Noble Classics). New York: Barnes and Noble Books, 2004.

Frank, Katherine. A Chainless Soul: A Life of Emily Bronte. New York: Ballantine, 1990.


Kuntz, Stanley J. ed. British Authors of the Nineteenth Century. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1936.

Wilson, Romer. All Alone: The Life and Private History of Emily Bronte. Whitefish: Kessinger Publishing, 2003.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

I'm pretty sure that before last month, I was the only person on the planet who had not only not yet read this controversial story, but was absolutely in the dark as to the reason for the uproar. Ever since it first came out, I have been curious as to why it caused such a stir. Since I didn't think I would be interested enough to read it in paper form, I found it on audiobook and put it on my MP3 player to listen to during my walks.

I'm not going to take the time to go into every single detail of the book as I'm sure my readers are aware of the basics. However, I do want to comment on a couple of things. I understand now the uproar, but I think way too much focus has been put on this book. What people don't seem to realize is that it is a work of FICTION. Do we Christians like the message it is sending out? No, of course not. But it is FICTION. Millions of fictional stories have been written over the ages...most people are very much able to decipher the difference between fiction and reality.

The truth is that there really is a faction of people out there who do believe and practice the "religion" in The DaVinci Code. There really are people who believe Christ was married and fathered children and that there are descendants alive and well today. I sort of think Brown did us a favor by exposing them. It's hard to debunk a falsehood when you don't know the falsehood exists.

The book is based on mythology. Mythology is another word for FICTION. The mythology centers around a painting, created by a man, who may or may not have intentionally added to his painting the elements mentioned in The DaVinci Code. Either way, DaVinci was just a man with his own imagination and beliefs. I think God is big enough to reveal truth and let the truth live---in spite of the imaginations of men.

That said, let me admit to a terrible truth: I adore Dan Brown. Well, adore might not be the right word...but how about, I really like him a lot :) I am currently reading, Angels and Demons and it is so hard to put it down. I never expected myself to be in to this kind of genre...I think it's the conspiracy theorist in me!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Old Wives' Tales part 2

Here are the answers to yesterday's "tales":

Tale #1
: "Lightning never strikes the same place twice."
False. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, a Virginia man named Roy Sullivan holds the record for the person who has been hit by lightning the most times. Sullivan was hit seven times between 1942 and 1977.

Tale #2: "Thumb-sucking causes buck teeth"
True. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, a person who sucks their thumb long term can actually push their upper front teeth outward and reposition the teeth.

Tale #3: "Wait an hour after eating before swimming."
False. Way back in 1956, B.W. Gabrielsen, a swimming coach at U of Georgia, published Facts on Drowning Accidents. In this book, he debunked the myth, showing how less than 1% of drowning deaths took place right after a meal. In 1961, physiologist A. Steinhaus concurred in a published article in the Journal of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation, dismissing any link between the two activities.

Tale #4: "Craving spicy food means you're having a boy."
Maybe. There might be some truth to this one. There has been a study done that shows that women's cravings may be linked to the sex of the child. A professor at Harvard followed the pregnancies of 250 women and found that those who were carrying boys ate 8% more protein, 9% more carbohydrates, and 15% more vegetable fats than those who were carrying girls. The thought is that the testosterone secreted from the infant boys' testicles signal the mother to eat more.

In case you've no idea what I'm talking about, here's a snippet from yesterday's post...and the new "tales" for today.

"So, I thought it would be fun to play a little Tales game. I'll list a few here and then you come on and tell me which ones are true and which are false. (You can even elaborate on your answers with your own stories or thoughts...yes, I'm trying to get you people to write :) !!!) Tomorrow I'll post the answers and some more tales. Now, I know you've got Google right there handy and you can just look up the answers...but that would be CHEATING!!!...and you have more integrity than that, right? :) Have fun!"

Tale #4: Toads give you warts.
Tale #5: Reading in dim light ruins your eyes.
Tale #6: Curvy women were built for child-bearing.
Tale #7: A full moon causes strange behavior.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Old Wives' Tales

I just finished this great book by Thomas Craughwell, Old Wives' Tales: Fact or Folklore? I must say that I wasn't super surprised by most of the myths and truths he discusses. It's not that I already knew the answers to each of them...it's more that common sense usually has a way of trumping myths and legends.

However, I was surprised to find that behind every one of the "tales" Craughwell elaborates on, there is an interesting story of how this myth or truth came to be.

So, I thought it would be fun to play a little Tales game. I'll list a few here and then you come on and tell me which ones are true and which are false. (You can even elaborate on your answers with your own stories or thoughts...yes, I'm trying to get you people to write :) !!!) Tomorrow I'll post the answers and some more tales. Now, I know you've got Google right there handy and you can just look up the answers...but that would be CHEATING!!!...and you have more integrity than that, right? :) Have fun!

Tale #1: "Lightning never strikes the same place twice."
Tale #2: "Thumb-sucking causes buck teeth"
Tale #3: "Wait an hour after eating before swimming."
Tale #4: "Craving spicy food means you're having a boy."

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Song of the Daffodil Fairy

The Song of the Daffodil Fairy

I'm everyone's darling: the blackbird and starling
Are shouting about me from blossoming boughs;
For I, the Lent Lily, the Daffy-down-dilly,
Have heard through the country the call to arouse.
The orchids are ringing with voices
The praise of my petticoat, praise of my gown;
The children are playing, and hark! they are saying
That Daffy-down-dilly is come up to town!

~~ By Cicely Mary Barker

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Song of the Dandelion Fairy

I thought this poem was fitting for spring! We can all relate, can't we? :)

The Song of the Dandelion Fairy

Here's the Dandelion's rhyme:
See my leaves with tooth-like edges
Blow my clocks to tell the time;
See me flaunting by the hedges,
In the meadow, in the lane,
Gay and naughty in the garden;
Pull me up---I grow again,
Asking neither leave nor pardon.
Sillies, what are you about
With your spades and hoes of iron?
You can never drive me out---
Me, the dauntless Dandelion!

by Cicely Mary Barker
creator of Flower Fairies

Gossip: Part Four

For the past four days I've been blogging about the topic of gossip.

I've referenced Sheri Rose Shepherd's book, Fit for Excellence, and her the three forms of gossip she discusses: "general gossip", "silent gossip" and "godly gossip".

In this final post on gossip, I'd like to list the five questions Shepherd poses to herself before speaking about others (pg. 137):

1. Why am I sharing this information?
2. Will it hurt someone's reputation?
3. Will it benefit the person listening?
4. Am I willing to let others use my name as a reference?
5. If God were visibly present here with us, would we continue?

If we keep these five questions in mind, we'll most likely never say something negative about someone else. Instead, we'll make an effort to say positive things!

Shepherd leaves us with an important thought to remember: if someone will gossip to you, they'll most likely gossip about you (137)! Let's all make a special effort to lift each other up with kind and encouraging words and leave the judging to the only One who is qualified to judge us: the Lord Jesus.

Friday, March 27, 2009

How I Cleaned My Washing Machine

Let me begin this post by saying that I am under no obligation to endorse the Tide name or brand...I just have a really great experience to share! (And, I want to have the following information put in writing somewhere for future reference!)
Believe it or not, even the appliances we use to cleanse things need their own cleansing now and then. I would have thought that idea was a given but I was laughed at recently by a friend who insisted she'd never heard of actually cleaning a washing machine. Go figure.

So, for quite some time now my washing machine has been super stinky. I always had to make sure and get the clean clothes out of it right away before they began to take on that stinky sock smell.

I've scoured the internet looking for ideas. Several websites mentioned different concoctions of vinegar, lemon juice, bleach and more---a
nd I tried all of them that I found---but none seemed to work. I checked with Heloise but her information wasn't much different from what I found online.

The above-mentioned conversation took place in th
e presence of a third friend who, at the time, informed me that there was an actual product out there called "washing machine cleaner". She encouraged me to look for it at Walmart.

I had been meaning to look for said product for the last several months but kept forgetting. The other day, I decided to check for it online. That's when I discovered Tide Washing Machine Cleaner.

According to the Tide website, our washers get stinked up with all kinds of nasty things like oils from our skin, body and environmental odors, and filthy film from the dirt and grime on our clothes. These things rub along the inside of the washer and then rub onto each load of clothes we wash. The washing machine cleaner is designed to pull up all that nasty stuff, leaving your washer smelling great and free of the smellies.

I finally did go to Walmart and buy a box. It cost me almost $7 and came with three monthly treatments. According to the directions, if one hasn't used the product before then it should be used once a week for three weeks and then every month thereafter. After running a treatment through, I thoroughly scrubbed all surfaces outside the drum with Formula 409 cleaner.

My washer is now sparkling clean and smells so fresh and nice! I think the product was well worth the price and am happy I bought it. The only problem now is the fact that my washer now smells so nice that I don't want to wash anything in it and risk getting it dirty again!

Gossip: Part Three

"But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison" ~ James 3:8

For the past couple of days I've been discussing the topic of gossip. In Sheri Rose Shepherd's book, Fit for Excellence, she names three types of gossip: "general gossip", "silent gossip" and "godly gossip". In this post, I will discuss the form of gossip known as "godly gossip".

In my opinion, this is the most detrimental, as well as disgusting, form of gossip. It is with this type of gossip that we can effectively discourage a fellow Christian, help destroy a ministry, or even aid in the eventual turning from the faith by not only the one we are gossiping about, but also the ones we are gossiping to.

"Godly gossip" is when we preface our story with something like, "I'm not really a gossiper but I wanted to tell you this so you can pray" or "we really need to pray for sister so-and-so", and then we proceed to run her reputation into the ground all in the name of "prayer".

I believe this form of gossip disgusts the Lord. In 1 Thessalonians 5:11, we are encouraged to "exhort one another and build each other up." In my opinion, the best thing to do when faced with a "godly gossiper" is to politely remind him or her of this truth and then just walk away.

Book Review: Chew On This by Eric Schlosser and Charles Wilson

My newest weight-loss strategy: read through one of Eric Schlosser's books once every few months.

A few years ago, I happened across a well-traveled copy of Schlosser's Fast Food Nation and was disgusted by his vivid descriptions of the filthy conditions of meat-packing plants, as well as what actually goes in to the food we eat.

In Chew On This, Schlosser manages to not just inform, as well as disgust, the reader of the dangers and filthiness of the meat-packing and fast food industries, but the dangers of soda consumption, and the soda industry's plot to boost their sales to children as well.

While the book was written for the 9-12 age bracket, I think that it is a much more clearly written book as opposed to Fast Food Nation. There are just enough facts to inform the reader, but not so many that it turns a reader off from boredom.

The book is filled with many interesting and surprising facts. For instance, did you know that a Chicken McNugget has more fat per ounce than a burger? How about that fast food places, for years, disguised the fact that their fries were fried in beef fat? How do you think those vegetarians out there took to that revelation?

I guarantee that anyone who reads this book will think twice about stopping off to pick up a quick bite at a fast food restaurant. The time one saves by eating at a joint like that is minuscule compared to the extra years one would live by avoiding it all together!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Gossip: Part Two

As 1 Corinthians 15:33 states, "bad company corrupts good character".

In Sheri Rose Shepherd's book, Fit for Excellence, she discusses three different forms of gossip: "general gossip", "silent gossip" and "godly gossip". In this post, I'd like to address the second form, "silent gossip".

This is probably the form of gossip that I have most often and most recently participated in. "Silent gossip" is the type of gossip that we participate in simply by being in the presence of a gossiper. We don't have to say a word; but our refusal to defend the gossipee or walk away from the conversation confirms that our heart is turned toward the gossip and not toward the Lord.

I will admit, I usually feel terribly uncomfortable in this sort of situation but don't want to "hurt anyone's feelings" by walking away in the middle of the conversation. Instead, I find myself giving the gossiper some sort of pat response like, "well, that's too bad" or "hmm...I don't know...". I need to work on being bold and either speak up in defense of the one being talked about or walk away when the conversation begins to turn to gossip.

Like Shepherd points out, if someone will gossip around you, surely they will gossip about you. Be careful little ears what you hear---and, just as importantly, be very careful regarding with whom you choose to spend your time!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Gossip: Part One

In Proverbs 18:21 we learn that the power of life and death is in the tongue. With our words we can either build someone up or tear them down.

I thought about this verse last week as I was reading Sheri Rose Shepherd's book of random thoughts, Fit for Excellence. Shepherd describes three types of gossip: "general gossip", "silent gossip" and "godly gossip". Surely, we've all been guilty of at least one of these. I know I've participated in all three forms at one time or another.

In this post, I'll address the first form of gossip: "general gossip". "General gossip", says Shepherd, is the kind of gossip that takes place when we gossip about people, groups or churches that we don't personally know. A perfect example of this kind of gossip is the publicity surrounding "Octo-Mom". Even before this poor woman's entire life history was made international news, many people were forming opinions and stances regarding her situation. My question during this entire spectacle has been, "why is it any of our business?"

No matter how anyone feels about the issues of public assistance, reproductive assistance or single motherhood, the truth is that no one really knows all the details and truths surrounding this woman except for her. Furthermore, why has no one focused on the positive and miraculous in this story? According to all known records, this group of babies has survived the longest of all octuplets ever born! That is something to celebrate!

This kind of "general gossip" has no place in the hearts or the speech of Christians. Forming opinions about people with whom we have neither a personal relationship nor a full knowledge of their situation is judgemental and immature.

As Shepherd states, "Unless we are part of the problem or the solution, our concern should always be to build up the body of Christ, whether we know them personally or not!" (Shepherd, 137).

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