Monday, March 24, 2008

The Commercialization of Entertainment and the Entertainment Value of Commercials.

I haven't blogged for a few weeks because I've been thinking; sorry.

It's hard to imagine a culture without commercials or an advertising industry. It would be so unlike our own... And our economy would certainly be even weaker than it is currently without the industry. Advertising is technically a form of communication and a source of information regarding products and services, but its effectiveness and viability has (thankfully!) become dependent on the entertainment value of the marketing piece.

I'm watching a commercial with a piece of toast.  Bud Light has created a hilarious commercial utilizing the f word. ( There are serious commercials with a twist (Allstate insurance), annoyingly loud commercials that stick in your head (car dealerships... except the President's Day sale commercial that honored Millard Fillmore... that was funny), and funny commercials that spin out of control (Quizno's spongemonkeys, the Geico cavemen and gecko).

Noticed how commercials' soundtracks can jumpstart an artist's career?  Sara Bareilles is definitely the most recent, but even the Colbie Caillat song and Feist's "1234" were at the same time. Maroon 5 got their start on a commercial. And I know I love any commercial with a Beatles or Simon & Garfunkel song. I really believe that British commercials are WAY funnier than ours.

Anyway, all I'm saying here is that our commercials are effective based on their entertainment value. I have no real opinion about this state of affairs; I'm just commenting on the fact that our ability to succeed in sales is often dependent on our ability to make somebody laugh.

Funny too how commercialized our entertainment is... Not just the Hollywood or Disney machines that crank out blockbusters and pop stars, but also the NBA that saps up our young talent and the WWF and NFL and other professional sports leagues. We have ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic, ESPNU, and others. Now, I'm not knocking those channels and media conglomerations-- I adore SportsCenter. But independent thought is rarely found in today's entertainment, save the occasional low-budget hit or creative cult classic.

I do have an opinion about this -- I think it's sad, but I don't really see any other way.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Only the good die young...

Early Wednesday morning, March 5, 2008, my friend Eve, a UNC senior, was shot to death in a quiet Chapel Hill neighborhood.

On March 23rd, 2007, my ex-boyfriend, Jason Ray, a UNC senior, was hit by a car being driven by a driver with a suspended license, and died three days later.

It's a lot to take in; a lot to digest.  Jason and I were friends since August 2003 and spent three years in a relationship.  Eve and I and 12 other UNC students spent four months living in El Costillar de Rocinante residencia in La Habana, Cuba.  Their lives and deaths had many similarities... Both were larger-than-life, gregarious personalities; both were late a LOT. =) I loved them both, and I know they loved me.  Their deaths captured the nation's attention and was covered by major media networks. Both loved life and milked every last second of joy out of it.

The tragedy is in the loss of life, but it's even more stark because of how much we as humans have lost in those two souls.  Eve would have changed the world; I'm convinced of it. She was amazing.  So friendly, passionate, sympathetic, beautiful, intelligent, and fun. She cared for others and loved the student body.  She was a wonderful UNC Student Body president, even though it was such a hard, tiring job.

Even though I didn't see her as often after we left Cuba, she periodically wrote on my wall that she was thinking of me. She cried with me when Jason died and gave me letters that had been sent to her (as SBP) from strangers. Eve had more friends than anybody I've ever known, because she loved people so incredibly much and made you feel that your problems were her problems and your joys were hers. She knew what it was to "rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep." And she didn't waste a second of the short time she had.

Makes you wonder if people like Jason and Eve, who cram so much life into 21 or 22 years, kind of know that they don't have much time. They definitely acted at times like it was their last day on earth. I'm glad for that, even though I told them both they needed to slow down!

I don't question that God knows what he's doing, but I wish I knew what it was. I miss Jason so much, and now I miss Eve too. I saw her last month; we had a fun dinner with three other Cuba kids... I am so glad we got together as much as possible.

It does put my life in perspective. I might be next. The thought that my friends are going to continue to die at this rate is a fear I don't need to entertain, but it does creep up from time to time. Life is not certain... I may have to see my future husband and kids die. My parents will die, my brothers will die; we'll all die eventually.

I thank God for the life and death of Jesus Christ, through whom we can approach the throne of grace with confidence in the time of need.  I can think of no other need than when I stand, in my moral filthiness (who among us really understands how awful of a person we are?), in front of God when I die! And at that moment, my only plea will be the name and person of Jesus Christ. He died so I can have eternal life.

I know my God made a way for me/Salvation is here!
I see the King of glory/coming on the clouds with fire/the whole earth shakes!
I see His love and mercy/washing over all our sin/the people sing!
Hosanna in the highest!
I see a generation/rising up to take their place/with selfless faith
I see a near revival/stirring as we pray and seek/we're on our knees
Hosanna in the highest!!
may we be a generation that seeks your face, oh God of Jacob.

We are not immortal, however much we feel as such.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


I'm used to being in new situations; I think I'm pretty good at adapting to a new environment. I've even been accused of being addicted to change. Even though I don't love having my world constantly turned upside down, it's true that I am slightly ADD... just to the point of being very easily bored. (My poor mother had to tell me to stop calling her every time I was bored at my last job... that was the final straw-- I quit and found a better fit.)

My first run-in with being the 'new girl' was in 4th grade. I had been homeschooled and my primary playmates were my younger brother, his friends, and Meagan. I began school in November or December, I believe; right about the time Gabe was born. Sixth grade, I was homeschooled; seventh-- Charter school for the fall and home for the spring. Eighth grade was split between Woodlawn and Wayzata Central. Ninth was The Blake School, tenth was Wayzata High, eleventh and twelfth were East Chapel Hill High. Needless to say, by the time I went to UNC, attending one school for four years was beyond my wildest dream! And I loved it.... I met my best friends and my 'college boyfriend' more or less immediately. A few people came and went but the core of my experience was constant for those four challenging, fun years.

After Jason died and graduation, I shipped out... I was the 'new girl' for a few weeks at TPT, but with turnover the way it is there, that didn't last long. But after only seven months, I left again... and I've been at Pulte just over a month, but I'm the 'new girl.' I still don't know everyone's names; I haven't been out on my own; I feel like I have very little to contribute. But I know the expectations for me are high, and I know I can exceed them. I have the work ethic and the skills to succeed here as long as I choose.

I get tired of being the new girl, but it's always stretching, and everything that stretches me prepares me for the challenges that lie ahead. A gymnast stretches for months to be flexible enough to perform their crazy stunts. I may have some crazy ass stunts ahead, and I want to be flexible, experienced, and confident enough to take them on with the boldness of a strong woman of God who has been blessed with a unique and privileged calling.

I'm just noticing it more right now because I'm on a work retreat where many have been working together for several years. But how am I going to become friends with these people unless I attend these kinds of outings? =)

I wish we could have gone bowling though! I've gotten addicted after going Super Bowling and for Chad's birthday.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

True Identity

JD talked about Jesus's trial and death this morning.  He talked about how Christians chose an odd symbol (an object of torture, no less!) to be the rallying point of our faith, and why.  He said many use the cross to induce guilt, or they feel guilt when they think of the cross.  The other side of the coin is that we often think the cross was simply an example of God's love for us. (JD counters: why would you allow yourself to be killed to show somebody you loved them?)

(Aside: last week's talk was amazing. Stop-what-you're-doing-and-listen-now amazing. Never again will I read the Garden of Gethsemene story in the same way.)

In reality, the cross shows the gruesomeness, the true horror of our sin.  That's what we deserved; that's how disgusting our sin is to God. We don't like thinking of that.  But Jesus had to die exactly in that way to work salvation for all people, and his death was totally sufficient! Nothing more is needed from us.

Louie Giglio spoke at Passion 05 about our identity as Saved Ex-Sinners.  He said we often sit in this "woe is me, wretched sinner that I am!" I was astounded when he charged us to think of ourselves as saints already, rather than sinners... "you big bunch of saints!! stop sinning, and believing the lie that anything is better than Jesus."  For crying out loud, the "same power is in us that raised Christ Jesus from the grave." The power of the Creator of All Things!

And then at Passion 07, John Piper spoke about committing sin, repenting, and then denying the evil one's lies that we are useless to God because of our failure. Our failure changes nothing about who God is and who we are and it certainly does not mean that we are useless.

Second aside: I find it fascinating how God chooses to use our starkest failings or shortcomings as the canvas for His most glorious artworks. (Isaiah's unclean lips, Moses's stutter, Jacob's faithlessness & dishonesty, Abraham's age, Mary's virginity, Hannah's barrenness...)

All three of those speakers have given me something.  From JD, I am again convinced that my identity is Redeemed, "not of my own striving" but only of His doing.  From Louie, I can see myself as already considered Holy, thanks to the imputation of Jesus's life and death to my account. God sees me as He sees Jesus. That in and of itself is beyond comprehension. (I like to comprehend things; I don't like this unfamiliar Impossible.) And from Pastor John, I am empowered to serve the God whom I have offended countless times but who has continued to love and bless me.

Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise.
Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.
Because I have sinned against him, I will bear the Lord's wrath,
until He pleads my case and establishes my right.
He will bring me out into the light; I will see His righteousness.
-Micah 7:8-9