alyssacogswell

Rebel. Wife. Millennial. Walker of the Way. News and TV junkie.

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Sestrahood.

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Orphan Black, BBC America

Great stories are those which focus on the pure essence of its characters- not their sexual orientation or past mistakes or race or gender, but the heart of who they are and how they deal with the situation they’ve been placed in. In Orphan Black, we saw all of these different yet genetically-identical, beautiful women come together under one banner for one cause to aim for one result: Freedom. Freedom of their bodies, their lives, their families. I want to digress here to talk about how this is an example and image of the Church. I guess between that and Dunkirk, we’ve seen good images in secular places for reflections of the Christian Ideal. All kind of people putting aside their personal preferences to work together for one goal. This is special, rare, beautiful and the mysterious purpose for human kind. For men, it’s best exemplified by the military. For women, it’s best exemplified in sisterhood.

In the sisterhood of Sarah, Cosima, Allison, Helena, Beth, and even Rachel and Krystal, we see blind trust: We have this one thing in common, so we have to trust one another because it is our highest priority. We only have one chance to do this thing. This kind if trust is so hard to give, to relinquish, but it is essential. This is also something missing from the Church. Many of us are skeptical of each other: Are you sincere? Do you really love God or are you here just to look good? Do you actually care about the least of these? We all have our past scars and doubts. For me, they sound like ‘How can I know your teaching is sound? Do you just want to sell me something? Yes, we are people of Joy, but that doesn’t mean we have to act like sunshine at all times. This facade makes me not trust you, because I can sense your pain just under the surface and your unwillingness to be open about it.’

How do we go forward in blind trust and deal with our doubts about others? Lord knows, the Sestras have their own issues but the best thing they do for each other during these times is to love one another. That looks like giving space to sort through things and then prodding with gentle questions to call Truth out on the carpet. They are good enough friends to be comfortable with conflict, having faith they will still be close at the end of the day. This is how we should behave in the Church: Give people time to work things out with god, but be willing to gently address them in love.

None of the women see another as a threat. They appreciate each other’s strengths, interests, and stories. What if I did this? What if I felt confident enough in my own worth to not feel threatened by others? What if I started loving and appreciating relentlessly? Why do I feel like my importance in the Church hinges on how good I am at creative pursuits, how OMG-friendly I am, how popular I can get with the right friends? God’s house is ever-expanding with room and importance for everyone. We are all on the same level with no room to outshine anyone else. We are the most free to be ourselves here. Let’s make it the same way for everyone else.

I love Orphan Black because of how it has empowered me. I have seen women band together and kick the system’s ass and use that victory to help others like them. I have seen women who were hard or not touchy-feely (like myself) unapologetically love one another, support each other, be vulnerable in a way that I hunger for. I have seen true sacrifice from all of the women on the show and the sacrifice has paid off for the betterment of them all. I feel like now I can dress how my punk soul desires, take no bull, be fearless and still love others and be kind. It’s okay to be hard or cool as long as I am genuine and show my supportive nature and willingness to help others. It is okay to not fit the stereotypical, happy-clappy, “I just LOOOOOVE Jesus and my life is perfect!” image women in the Church are portrayed to have. I can be cerebral like Cosima, introverted like Sarah and still be loved and appreciated. I can be wild like Helena and be infinitely cherished. I can be eccentric like Allison and be valued as much as everyone else. And I can be a driven business woman like Rachel and still be accepted. This is my dream for the Church.

Radical Islam: The Modern Crusades (and Why We Shouldn’t Act Like We’ve Never Been There Before)

One of my Facebook friends posted a kind-of-but-maybe-not-really conspiracy theory about radical Muslims. It said that they get into office by saying they are moderates, but then implement Sharia Law in the country and how if anyone says they are a moderate, peaceful Muslim they haven’t read the Quran and don’t really know their beliefs (that’s the broad strokes of it, folks. Not verbatim.)

Posts like that break my heart. They absolutely do. Not only are those kinds of posts continuing to breed hatred and fear, but they also paint both you and the party you are criticizing in a bad light. If Christ modeled the belief of hanging out with those whom society doesn’t like (Muslims would now be included in that in present-day America), then why aren’t we doing that instead of bashing them? Why aren’t we serving them instead of watching Fox News? Why aren’t we praying for them instead of publicly decrying their beliefs? Yes, there are tactful ways to say why you disagree with one religion or the other, but the times in which you say it must be appropriate. And if you’re a Christian, who told you to dispense verbal hate onto other religions? I don’t remember that command from the OT or example set by Christ or that instruction from Paul or Peter.We are the children of peace, not wrath. We are the peacemakers. We have the spirit of peace inside of us. So why do we feel so up in arms about radical Islam?

I think we feel so up in arms about it because: 1) We see that it’s bad. 2) We know how incensed we would be if people were acting against the Bible (or would we? Let’s look at that at a later date). 3. If people don’t like these radicals in power, then why don’t they stand up for themselves? 4. We are war-weary. 5. We are afraid and hurt.

None of these are reasons to berate Muslims. And by saying that any Muslim who claims to be peaceful does not truly know his or her religion is the exact same thing as saying “If a Christian living in Europe during the Crusades supported a family member who fought in them, then they didn’t know their beliefs.” And you know what? This statement is partially right. At that time, Christianity was taught through the Catholic church and the Catholic church alone. There had been no Martin Luther, no 95 Theses, no Reformation. The Church ruled Europe. The Church, which had been run by some pretty corrupt popes (hello Medici family), was life at that time; they kept records, performed marriages, decided who would rule countries, educated the populace, christened babies, etc. If you denounced something the Church taught, you were literally cut off from society (read- excommunicated). So, people fought in the Crusades. Not all the time, I’m sure, did every man, woman, and child think it right to go to the Holy Land and weed out the people who had been living there for hundreds of years. But they knew if they didn’t, life would be so much tougher for their families. They also believed that they would be damned to Hell. And most people couldn’t even read the Bible for themselves, in their own language, because at that time all Mass and the Bible would’ve been spoken and written in Latin, and since the printing press hadn’t been invented, almost nobody had a personal copy to examine. So they had to go on good faith with what their leaders were telling them. This is similar in that the Quran only recently became available to Middle Eastern people in their own native tongues; before, the only way it would have been sacred to read it would have been if it were in Arabic. Certain prayers still should be said in Arabic and it is encouraged for Muslims to learn Arabic if they can. Again, the Quran itself says that language does not matter “[41:44] If we made it a non-Arabic Quran they would have said, ‘Why did it come down in that language?’ Whether it is Arabic or non-Arabic, say, ‘For those who believe, it is a guide and healing. As for those who disbelieve, they will be deaf and blind to it, as if they are being addressed from faraway.'” But pious leaders had emphasized the importance of the language in which it had been revealed to Mohammed.

These cultures are the same in that they both live in places where religion rules and they must follow those rulers for family’s sake. The powers that be create a narrative which says “being a hero of the faith means killing those who refuse to follow it.” When this is the example of what you’re supposed to want to be when you grow up, you will probably follow it instead of turning away.

The Brexit as Told by Adele’s “25”

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She’s saying good-bye to her former lover, the European Union, as she glances over her shoulder.

This morning I woke up with the song River Lea stuck in my head from Adele’s newest album. I decided to listen to it on my way to work this morning and as I sang along to each song, I found I could relate it to the Brexit, or the UK’s decision to leave the EU. And what better way to react to the Brexit than through the country’s most famous and successful songstress?

Hello:Hello from the outside/At least I can say that I’ve tried/ To tell you I’m sorry for breaking your heart/But it don’t matter. It clearly doesn’t bother you anymore” – From Scotland to the rest of the EU.

“Hello, can you hear me?/I’m in California dreaming about who we used to be/When we were younger and free/I’ve forgotten how it felt before the world fell at our feet. -Everyone’s reaction if this turns out to be a massive mistake.

Send My Love (To Your New Lover): “I was running, you were walking/You couldn’t keep up, you were falling down (down)/Mmm/Mmm there’s only one way down/ I’m giving you up/I’ve forgiven it all/You set me free, oh.-The UK to the EU and all countries defaulting on debt and taking on immigrants.

“Send my love to your new lover/Treat her better/We gotta let go of all our ghosts/ We both know we ain’t kids no more.”- The EU to the UK, basically saying “Bye Felicia. Treat your new friends better than you just treated us. It’s okay, we’re both adults, right?”

I Miss You: “I want every single piece of you/I want your heaven and your oceans too/Treat me soft but touch me cruel…/Let me fall into your gravity/Then kiss me back to life to see/Your body standing over me.” – Scotland to the EU. Oh please, let us remain.

“I miss you when the lights go out/It illuminates all of my doubts/Pull me in, hold me tight/don’t let go/Baby give me light.”- The thoughts of Brits in the night, questioning their decision to leave after a tough day for the stock market.

When We Were Young: “It’s hard to admit that/Everything takes me back/To when you were there/To when you were there/And a part of me keeps holding on/Just in case it hasn’t gone/I guess I still care/Do you still care?”- The rest of the world’s reaction in the disbelief that the UK decided to leave.

Remedy: “When the pain cuts you deep/When the night keeps you from sleeping/Just look and you will see/That I will be your rememdy/When the world seems so cruel/And your heart makes you feel like a fool/I promise you will see/That I will be, I will be your remedy.”– This one can come from multiple camps. It could’ve been the past thoughts of people who were troubled by the state of the EU and saw the Brexit as the remedy. It can be the sentiments of those who think the UK will live to regret this decision and see the EU as the remedy to that coming regret. It could also be trade partners with the UK telling them everything will be all right in the end, they have support.

Water Under the Bridge“And if I’m not the one for you/You’ve gotta stop holding me the way you do/Oh honey if I’m not the one for you/Why have we been through what we have been through?”– The UK to the EU, both the Leave and Remain camps arguing their sides.

“It’s so cold out here in your wilderness/I want you to be my keeper/But not if you are so reckless.”-Scotland to England and Wales.

“If you’re gonna let me down, let me down gently/Don’t pretend that you don’t want me/Our love ain’t water under the bridge.” – “Hey, UK. Don’t pretend like we didn’t have some good times together. Don’t pretend like we weren’t ever friends. Don’t pretend like we don’t have common interests. I’ll keep the friends from this relationship, though.”

River Lea: “But it’s in my roots, in my veins/It’s in my blood and I stain every heart that I use to heal the pain/Oh it’s in my roots, in my veins/It’s in my blood and I stain every heart that I use to heal the pain/So I blame it on the River Lea.” – “We’ve got to go back to our roots. We have to go back to being best, to being solely Britain. We’ve got to be self-sufficient. Will we hurt companies, countries, allies, our own citizens? Unfortunately, yes. But it is in our DNA to be GREAT Britain.” The River Lea symbolizes the tradition of Britain.

Love in the Dark: The whole entire songThe song talks about how she has to leave her lover in the dark because she can’t stand to watch him watching her leave. Kind of like how the votes were counted overnight with the results coming out in the morning. She also tells her ex that she loved the time they had together and she really meant everything she said whilst she was in the relationship, but now they’re already defeated and everything has changed her, so she’s got to leave.

Million Years Ago: “Deep down I must have always known/That this would be inevitbale/To earn my strips I’d have to pay/And bare my soul.” -UKIP

“When I walk around all of the streets/Where I grew up and found my feet/They can’t look me in the eye/It’s like they’re scared of me./I try to think of things to say/Like a joke or a memory/But they don’t recognize me now/In the light of day.”- Probably the UK leaders or businessmen and women when they’re around their other European colleagues.

All I Ask: “So why don’t we just play pretend/Like we’re not scared of what is coming next/Or scared of having nothing left.”- Everyone in regards to the economy.

“If this is my last night with you/Hold me like I’m more than just a friend/Give me a memory I can use/Take me by the hand while we do what lovers do/It matters how this ends/Cause what it I never love again?”– Remain voters.

Sweetest Devotion“I wasn’t ready then/I’m ready now/I’m heading straight for you/You will only be eternally/The one that I belong to.” -Leave voters, other countries who are now asking for their own referendums.

Really, we will all be okay. Don’t worry guys. Humanity survives.

I Love Ohio.

Spring 2006. I’m biting at the bit, thrashing in my head, about my parents’ idea that I continue on with band in high school. Specifically Marching band. ‘None of my friends are doing it,’ I thought, already losing ground with the friends I had made the year before when my family’d moved to this new school. ‘I don’t want to wear the dorky uniforms nor do I want to go to the football games.’ I was so desperate to be cool. All of these thoughts were coming from one thing: Fear.

August 2006. I’m at band camp. All 12 kids from my school had been alternates. The other flute from my middle school and I were lucky enough to have two members get kicked out, thus giving us their spots. The music is insanely hard; I’ve never played sixteenth notes in all my life! I’m only 14! I’ve just been playing for three years! How do I do this? Insert tutor here, a friend from sixth grade, who helped me through the muck and mess of eighth and sixteenth notes. Zoom through the season to October 2006, and I’ve made it. Somehow, with God’s grace, I’ve made it through my first season and  I. Have. Loved It. I start getting ideas about learning a brass instrument and trying out for drum corps. I didn’t even know what that was two months ago. Now, I’m all about all things band and all things New York.

December 2006. We learn that Harrison High School’s marching band is going to Grand Nationals in Indianapolis for the very first time ever in November. Seniors are so upset, but everyone else is thrilled. We’ve made it now! Soon the whole country will know about us!

November 15 & 16, 2007. We travel through states I’ve never been to. We stop at a mall in Kentucky. We stop at a high school in either Ohio or Indiana, I can’t remember now, to do some practice and stretch our legs. We’re only an hour or two away from Indianapolis. Three hours later, we are practicing in bitter cold I’ve never felt before in November in a high school parking lot outside of Indianapolis. I wonder about the families in the houses which back up right to the school, right to the practice field. I wonder if they know what they’re witnessing. Sure, to most it’s just kids practicing for band. But for us, it was writing history. I cherish those moments of one of my band directors (who had grown up in Ohio and gone to college at Indiana) rocking back and forth, freezing, while only in a black hoody. I remember the two snowflakes that fell on us, made us freak out a little bit. I remember thinking how nice it would be to go to a high school with buildings big enough to accommodate all students. I remember the industrial-ness and the dirty black-ness of the quiet nights in Indy. I remember them and they are a part of me.

November 17, 2007. I play my heart out. Not only me, but everyone else in this family of band. We play our hearts out and have the best performance of all of our lives in semi-finals. When we exit through the tunnel, our drum majors are crying. Other bandmates are crying. This is it. We know for sure we’ve made it to finals. And we had. We came in twelfth (due to poor nutritional choices by ourselves and band leaders, and pure exhaustion as well as several freak things). So we came in last. But we made finals. We are in the top 12 bands in the whole entire nation. And it’s the most beautiful show I’ve ever heard.

December 2007. We learn that we will be marching in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2009. The juniors and seniors kind of go ballistic. But the underclassmen are thrilled. How lucky we’ve been!

October 2008. We are in Massillon,Ohio, about to take the title again from a championship we won three years ago, before I got there. We are playing Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony and Imogen Heap’s “The Moment I Said It”. (Video). We drive forever through the bleakness of Ohio. And I relish it. I relish the buzz of excitement on the bus, the buzz of excitement in the high school gym where we all sleep, the awkwardness of everyone showering in a bathing suit. So much hope, so much life found in us in this bizarre environment of left-behind manufacturing towns. Maybe we’re what’s keeping this town alive this weekend.

We get told, two weeks before BOA Atlanta, that Mahler wrote this symphony after his young daughter died, and it’s what he thought she would hear upon reaching Heaven. My eyes still well up at that. The gift of a father to his daughter, long gone, on to better things. How tender. I’m determined to honor God, Mahler, and his daughter with my performance of this show.

Fall 2009. My ankle and legs have started to turn on me. I have to sit out multiple weeks. But I still march at competitions and at BOA Atlanta and in Macy’s. I held my pee for over 12 hours, from Knoxville to New Jersey, not wanting to go in the bathroom on the bus, and no pit stops were made because we were supposed to be sleeping, driving all night up the Eastern Seaboard. I’m in my city that I love: New York. I leave my group to follow behind me, saying “Alyssa!” When i cross a crosswalk on red. “What?” I say. “This is how you do it.”

And I love Ohio (and Indiana) for the gifts they gave me; a hope I’d never felt, a bond with people I had a limited amount in common with. These experiences touched my soul in ways that I doubt anything else will again. And I am so thankful for the blessings. For the friendships, the tutelage, the travel. All of it. I am so, so thankful.

“i thank You God for most this amazing” by e.e. cummings

THE POETRY PLACE

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

e.e. cummings
1894-1962

Commentary: I love this poem.  The last two lines sound somewhat like a paraphrase of Pauline thought … but the whole poem makes me think about how e.e. cummings let all of his senses awaken to the natural world. All of us can be…

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Throw-Away Culture and Celebrating Divorce.

While perusing Buzzfeed today, I found an article or a list or whatever about “divorce cakes”, or the anti-wedding cake. These cakes show an ending marriage in celebration, clearly for one party or the other to say, “I am finally free. I have accomplished this feat in my life.” Today, it seems as though we view divorce as a rite of passage, much like graduating high school, pursuing a college degree, starting a job, getting married, and having children. We now see marriage as something to get through instead of something to enjoy. We see marriage as a temporary state which will have an end or an out somewhere along the way, surely because something will happen because we are content to be discontent with our partner and are looking to blame them for when everything falls apart.

 

We celebrate throwing something away. Something that we made a vow to try at forever, to hold as sacred and in the highest regard. We get joy from finding our way out of marriage. And this, simply, is a result of throw-away culture.

 

In throw-away culture, we have a limited attention span and even more limited patience. We want the newest, shiniest thing as soon as it hits the market; we throw away phones that have been out only a year for the newest version, even though it still works perfectly fine. We want information as quickly and simply as we can get it, hence the rise of Twitter and cable news networks and tabloid channels and publications. We want to be new and shiny, just like the materials we desire, so we constantly try to reinvent ourselves with crossfit, yoga, pilates, P90X, juicing, shakes, weight loss pills, going vegan: trends. And when we discover that we can’t really change ourselves like we want to, much less change the person we married into what we think our ideal partner would be like, we become frustrated. We want something new. We want to find the latest and greatest, improve upon the current model.

 

We forget to treat people like people and instead treat them like commodities, something to toss out and upgrade on a whim. We have enough issues, we don’t want to deal with anyone elses.

 

We’ve lost seeing others’ hearts and values, and instead see them at objects, impersonalizing them and stripping them of all humanity. Stripping them of any right to say that their life is just as messy and unfulfilling. Stripping them of the dignity to bring their issues to a person who truly cares. Stripping them of the right to be loved and genuinely cared about.

 

We need to start taking relationships, especially marriage, seriously. Marriage is not your cell phone contract, your cable contract, or even a car. Marriage is life. It is your life when you choose it. It should be the thing you work for most, cherish deepest, fight for the hardest. If there is something in your marriage you want/need to change, let it be you. Let it be your behavior towards your spouse. Let it be increasing your patience quotient. Let it be humbling yourself to pick up the slack where your partner lets you down. Let it be finding methods to better communicate. Let it be to find little (and big) ways to self-sacrifice. Let it be to figure out how to live life content, thankful. (Note: This is not to say stay in an abusive relationship.)

Let us be mature and realize the gravity of the commitment we have made, or the commitment we are about to or hope to make in the future. Marriage is about becoming one; sure, you’re two individuals with differing passions and tastes and habits, but you become one entity. This entity should not be split up because of frustration or boredom. Let us be more mature to solve these problems instead of declaring them “irreconcilable differences” on divorce papers.

 

I know there have been lots of blogs posts and articles on throw-away culture and lots written about marriage, but take this post to heart. I hope whomever is reading this realizes that our throw-away culture, which began coming into prominence mid-20th century with the inventions of dish washing machines, microwaves, and casseroles, drives us to have a limited attention span, which in turn affects how we view everything, from gadgets to relationships. I hope that this realization turns the reader’s attention to their amount of consumption, to the might-be-present lack of attention span and patience. That the reader begins to think anew about living in the present moment, and only this moment, with gratitude, looking to accommodate others before complaining about others not accommodating them.