Friday, January 27, 2006

Mom Moment I Wish I Had Back

E, the 7-year-old Beautiful Boy, had a really difficult morning today. It was just one of those days. He had to take a shower in the morning, because he'd put it off last night. And for some reason, it was suddenly the most dreadful idea to him in all the world. And he resisted. And resisted. And resisted.

At the end of the 40-minute ordeal, all three of us at our wits end, E shut the bathroom door resigned (for the moment) that the shower was going to happen whether he wanted it or not. It was not the result he wanted. Not by a long shot.

Then, from behind the door, D & I heard him mutter angerily, "Jesus!"

Now I don't know about you, but this is one thing I've never been able to accept, even after all of my liberalization over the years. When I heard this coming from his mouth, I lost it for a moment.

And this is what I did: I opened the door, started wagging my finger at him with every syllable as I said, "You cannot say that! Do not take the Lord's name in vain!" Then I closed the door, to his startled expression, and staggered back into the hallway. What? WHAT?! I felt like I'd been possessed by some Angry Scottish Presbyterian Preacher!

I sort of stumbled into the kitchen where D had retreated at the sudden, vehement spewing forth of Scripture. He saw my incredulity as I came into the room. "Thou Shalt Not!" He declared. And we both bust out laughing.

My favorite scene from the movie Saved is when the girl throws her Bible at her friend shouting, "I am so full of the love of Jesus!" Yep. That was me this morning.

Winter Reading

Alright! A RevGal Friday Five Meme about Winter Reading. No way I could pass this one up!

1. If you received books as holiday presents, how many and what were they?

The Modigliani Scandal from my son, the Beautiful Boy.

Alterknits and A Crack in the Edge of the World from my sis-in-law

Oh, and my Dad's partner gave me a gift card to Barnes and Noble. I'm still savoring it!

2. Did you buy any for yourself, and if so, what are the titles?


Pillars of the Earth

3. Have you read any of them yet? What's next on your list?

Well, I've read Whiteout, Pillars of the Earth, and The Modigliani Scandal. I've poured over the pages of Alterknit, but haven't made anything from there yet. And I'm in the midst of A Crack in the World.

I'm also reading Treasure Island with E.

Next on my list? Well, I just joined a book club and ordered a bunch of books from there, which I expect to arrive any day now. Talk about your guilty pleasure! (Oh, wait, that was last week's meme.) I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to get The Oxford History of Worship for .40 cents! So here are the books I'm expecting in that package:

Atlas of the Medieval World

Never Have Your Dog Stuffed

The Traveler, Book One

The Oxford History of Christian Worship

Turning Angel

Also, next on E's and my list is 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

4. Do you have a favorite place to read a new book? And does the weather have an impact on that choice?

During daylight hours, my favorite place to read is on the couch with a blanket. At night, I love to curl up in bed with a book. One of my favorite bumper stickers that I saw years ago is: "A Book Lover never sleeps alone!" :) I don't live near snow anymore, but on a snowy day, the bed is the place to be.

5. Does reading in bed make you sleepy?

Good grief, yes! In bed, on the couch, in a chair, standing up, walking around, hanging upside down, in an airplane, in the yard, on the beach, on a bench, in a house with a mouse, in a boat with a goat--you name it! It's a disability I come by naturally, believe me. My grandmother used to fall asleep the moment she lifted the newspaper. And my Mom, too. And now, dear reader, me.

6. BONUS-- Greatest
Winter Reading Experience?
Tess of the D'urbervilles, winter of the sixth grade, while sick in bed for two weeks.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Saying Nothing

I admit that there are some things which unduly amuse me in my daily life. One of those things is coming across quotes in newspaper articles that say, well, nothing: quotes cited by a journalist that fill up space but contribute absolutely nothing to the substance of the article.

I came across just such a quote this morning in a New York Times article by Katie Hafner "After Subpoenas, Internet Searches Give Some Pause." Hafner is addressing concerns about the U.S. government serving subpoenas to Yahoo, MSN, America Online, and Google to submit the records of millions of users search queries in an effort to route out pornography and terrorism.

Hafner includes the following quote from her interview with one of her internet-guys-on-the-street. The quote is so meaningless and vague, it may as well come straight out of The Onion:
Jim Kowats, 34, a television producer who lives in Washington, has been growing increasingly concerned about the government's data collection efforts. "I'm not a conspiracy theorist, I just feel like it's one step away from ... what's the next step?" Mr. Kowats said. "The government's going to start looking into all this other stuff."
Wha?!!! My partner, an editor and likewise amused by nonsensical sentences, said this: "The question is whether the ellipses omits even more vague, nothing sentences, or whether it simply is capturing a drift into confused silence by the speaker." (Now that's a quote.)

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Practice at Being the Non-Anxious Presence

Last night we had the boy, our 7-year-old, sleep on an air mattress in our room, in order to put up our guest in the Sports-themed bed-and-breakfast room. :) 'Round about midnight, just a bit after I'd drifted off into that lovely first stage of sleep, E flopped a bit angerily out of bed and picked his way carefully to the door (for ours was the one room where we could keep the door closed away from our guest), creaking and squeeking the doorknob as he exited. A bit later, we heard him fruitlessly blowing his nose, again and again.

About a half-hour later, the same scene repeated itself. And again nearer to 1. By now, the poor kid was frustrated and exhausted. Ever since he was an infant, he never has gotten the concept of breathing through the mouth when necessary. He just refuses to do it!

I could tell his sinuses were just chock full, and no amount of snorting and blowing was going to budge a thing. I gave him a kid's sized dose of sudafed, just to get him through the rest of the night. Then I spent the next half hour reading him a few chapters of Treasure Island, until finally his eyelids drooped heavily, and he gave up the fight. (This afternoon, we spent a good bit of time looking up many of the words we encountered last might: jib, gaff, bowsprit, forecastle, foremast, spar, tack!)

After he'd fallen asleep I, of course, was wide awake. So I spent the next while reading A Crack in the Edge of the World by Simon Winchester--an odd choice, to say the least, for bedtime reading. But that's me. When I finally drifted off myself, my dreams were peopled by swarthy pirates hanging on for dear life as the earth shook and quaked beneath them, more waves than the sea itself.

This afternoon my poor Ma arrived, frazzled and exhausted herself after her flight across the country. Her originating flight was delayed and she arrived quite late for her connecting flight in Chicago. She's not an experienced flyer. So this was all very anxiety-producing. She ran through the terminals to get to her connecting flight, even as she heard her name being announced in the airport for last call. She arrived at the plane just in the nick of time, but not being able to catch her breath, and feeling as though she may pass out.

When she arrived at her final destination, she called her hotel and discovered that they didn't have a shuttle. This is the Hilton, folks. So she called me and I immediately told her I'd come get her. I didn't want her having to deal with a taxi on top of everything else.

This was good. I was able to get her settled in her room, remind her to eat (!), and just kind of reassure her that although she is in a big, unfamiliar City, for a huge, unfamiliar conference, she isn't all alone. It was as much to comfort myself, I think, as it was for her.

I give thanks for these events. They kept me present to the moment. It is good to be needed. Especially by two of the people you love most in the world.

Monday, January 23, 2006

A Place for Everything. And, well, you know the rest.

Today was all about getting our apartment clean. D & E headed out at 5:45 this morning to go skating. I sat down for a good, long read of some RevGal's. It became sort of a morning devotion for me. Wonderful start to the day.

Around 6:30 or so, I wanted to read some Scripture in my great Oxford Bible from seminary. (I'm trying to make some quick progress on my submission to the Ordinary Time devotionals.) So I went over to the shelf where I keep my Bible. Only, hmmm, not there. So I look in one of the piles of books and papers stashed in the corner. Nope. Okay. Where is it? Keep looking. Yeah. Kept looking for about twenty minutes. Round and round and round the apartment. Slowly, as the sun crept its way over the horizon, it dawned on me that it was time to get this place in order. When my Bible gets buried God knows where, well, it's time. (To my defense, I do most of my Bible reading these days online. Even so. Come Lord Jesus!)

The timing was perfect as we're expecting an overnight guest tonight from back home anyway. And my Mom arrives tomorrow for a conference in The City. She's staying at the Hilton (!) for that. (We all hope to benefit from any guest privileges she may have!) Then she'll come to stay here from Saturday 'til Thursday! Very excited about this.

So, all this to say, started cleaning very early this morning. And kept at it for most of the day. And now it's all so lovely. Order out of chaos. (No! Don't open that door!)

When our friend arrives, we'll head out to dinner together. Figure we'll go for Thai. Great character to the restaurant. And fabulous food.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Great for a Laugh!

I just stopped by Songbird's blog and spent the past several minutes giggling away at one of her recent posts. Check it out!

Well, happy Saturday, all. I think it'll be a pretty quiet day around here. The cat has situated himself on my lap, pushing my computer out to my knees. And he has the nerve to be wagging his tail as I type, as if I couldn't be more troublesome to him. Guess I'll take his hint and keep this entry short.

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Friday, January 20, 2006

Simple Tasks which Make for Peace, Part 2

When I wrote last night that I would try to make another entry here in the morning, I wasn't expecting it to be this early! I think it's official--we're a hockey family.

Last night D was at the new rink where he recently became a member. After asking around a bit, he found out that he is allowed to bring E (our 7-year old) with him to skate without having to pay more for him. The rink is only open for free skating between 5:30 and 4:00, though, Monday--Friday. So this doesn't leave much room for E to get there after school.

Now E was asleep already when D got back last night. And D & I batted around the idea of waking E up super-early this morning and D taking him to the rink as a surprise. But after talking about it for awhile, D decided it would be better to tell E about it and have him anticipate the event, rather than surprise him with it at 5:30 a.m.

At 5:15 this morning, however, we heard a little rap on our bedroom door. E had awakened from a bad dream and wanted someone to tuck him back in. D got out of bed and started into the hallway, when he poked his head back into the room and said, "It's 5:15! Maybe we should go!"

Sure enough, about five minutes later, there was a great bustle of excitement. E was putting on his hockey jersey! Within about a half-an-hour they were heading out the door to go skating!

It was such a delight to see both my 'boys' getting their gear together, conspiring, eyes dancing. Now the sun still hasn't come up here, and they've already been gone for an hour. Beautiful.

So, it's been quite a week for me. I really am getting excited to start up the semester again. And this excitement has translated into a great sense of focus. I've made progress on my comps (a bit), done some good prep work for the Intro to Worship course, and made some excellent progress on the Living the Questions work for church.

Two weeks ago today, I wrote about simple things, from the quotes by Mother Teresa ('Be faithful in the small things, for this is where your strength lies') and Julian of Norwich. I ended my entry with these words: "And turn my life to simple tasks which make for peace. This is the phrase that is staying with me. Not grand things. Not weighty things. Simple tasks. That is what my day ahead shall be.'

This phrase, "turn my life to simple tasks which make for peace," has stayed with me these past two weeks. And, because I've written in the past about feeling life out of balance, I wanted to celebrate that in these days, I have felt life in balance again.

I have often wondered about the simple tasks that make a day and how they relate to the larger things of the world. After September 11th, 2001, I had to speak at my seminary as the student body president. I spoke about the way life is lived on the small scale--and that the events we had faced were so very much larger than where it's possible to live: the scale was grotesque, life cannot be sustained there. After the tsunami, I remember feeling the same way. How to take in the immensity of death? I went out and swept the sidewalk.

It is a razor's edge, I think. Small tasks, small scale can easily become quiescence. Sweeping the sidewalk does nothing. Though it was a way of grieving, of praying with my whole body, of making right my five squares of pavement in front of our apartment. It made no difference, except it made for peace. My peace is not the world's peace. Although, it is. Where is the line drawn between the world and me?

Small scale can be ignorance. Can be denial. Can be isolationist. Small scale can be a way of making for peace. Can be world affirming. Might be the only viable way of being. Small scale may simply be human scale. And when we move into what is larger than that, we take in too much. We make ourselves as gods. It is a form of concupiscence.

Now the sun is up.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Still Here

Holy cow, I have been so productive this week I haven't taken a moment to write here! But it's all good. I've needed a week like this. Big time.

Now I'm exhausted, so won't write any more than this tonight. I'll try and get to writing something more substantial in the morning.

Peace and love.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

A Little bit of Everything

Everything is beginning to ramp up again. It's the academic rhythm of life. I don't know, really, how other people do without it. I love this rhythm.

The university students have streamed back into town after some weeks away. So parking is difficult again. And the sidewalks are busy. My prep work for upcoming classes is increasing. I am near on the other side of it, though. There is more to do to prepare for the course I'll be helping with than for the one class I'll be taking. And the latter is a class on Course Design. I'm very excited about it.

Things are beginning up again at church, too. I'll be leading a 12-week study called Living the Questions. I'd be very curious to hear from any folks out there who may have already done this with their congregation, or are in the midst of it now. There are a lot of Jesus Seminar scholars who are part of the project. I used to love the Jesus Seminar, back in the early nineties, but have not been nearly as smitten by their project since attending seminary. Nonetheless, after previewing several episodes of the dvd segments for this curriculum, Living the Questions seems like it will be an excellent program to lead folks through.

E and I are embarking on a season of reading some classics. First on our list is Treasure Island. You should hear my weathered, sea-farer's voice! We're well into the book, after beginning it on Sunday. What a fun read! From there we'll go to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, then Swiss Family Robinson, and the last on the list so far is Tom Sawyer.

Last night I spent the Amazon gift certificate from my brother. I decided to order the same Starter Tea Set that he wrote about a week or so ago. (I had discovered that you can order Adagio Teas through Amazon.) I went with the black tea set--which includes Earl Grey, one of my all-time favorites. I'll let you know what I think! (Click the tea photo to watch a quick video about how the little tea pot works!)

Hmm. Lots of little things today. Good things.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Visions of the Future

Over the past couple nights at dinner, we have happened to catch a glimpse of how E (our wonderful 7-year old) imagines his future.

"At 18," he told us "I'm gonna go to midnight discos. I'll grow an afro and dye it black with two white streaks."

"At 39," he said the other day, "I'll just lay on my couch and recite my glory days to my kids."

God help us . . .

Friday, January 13, 2006

More than you ever wanted to know

I stopped by to visit Katherine's place today, and got 'tagged' by default (simply by reading her entry for today). Thought it would be great fun to play along, and so offer you the following tidbits 'bout good ol' me . . .

Four jobs I've Had in My Life
I decided to list only a selection of jobs I've held post college degree in English & Secondary Education. Just so you can enjoy, as I did, the marvelous applicability of such a degree.
  1. Church Secretary
  2. Cleaning the first Mennonite Meeting House in the U.S. & the Johnson House
  3. Cleaning out the house of a dead woman I'd never met. She was a packrat.
  4. Video Store clerk
Four Movies I Could Watch Over and Over, and Have
  1. Same Time Next Year
  2. The Little Prince (not the animated version)
  3. Bodies, Rest & Motion
  4. The Philadelphia Story
Four Places I have Lived
  1. Germantown/Mt Airy
  2. Manayunk
  3. Oregon Extension at Lincoln
  4. Seminary Housing
Four TV Shows I Love to Watch
  1. 24
  2. Curb Your Enthusiasm
  3. Rome
  4. Boston Legal
Four Places I have been on Vacation
  1. Ocean City, NJ
  2. My couch with a good book
  3. Cape Cod
  4. Italy
Four Websites I Visit Daily
  1. Thoughts of Cyen
  2. RevGalBlogPals
  3. Stuff on my Cat
  4. Google News
Four Favorite Foods
  1. Blueberries as I pick them
  2. Hot cherry peppers stuffed with prosciutto & provolone
  3. Point Reyes Blue Cheese
  4. peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on white bread
Four Places I would Rather Be Right Now
  1. I'm happy right where I'm sitting
  2. Florence, Italy
  3. Going for a long walk
  4. The cottage
People I tag (to do this next)
  1. My brother, if he'd be willing :)
  2. The beautiful RevGal women
  3. I'm too new to blogging to know anyone else

Thursday, January 12, 2006

"Home Again, Home Again . . .

. . . jiggity jig." My mom used to say that every time our big, 1970's maroon station wagon would come to a stop in the driveway. Now I say it, too.

I returned home from the conference yesterday afternoon. It was a really good experience for me. This is a relief, really. I've had some horrific conference experiences. And always go on guard. I just never know how they'll be. You get a bunch of people whose faith is important enough to spend a few days with people they don't know and terrible things can happen. Anyway, that wasn't the case here. So, joy.

The day's been spent catching up on some church work. Huh? I'm in academia, you say? Can't prove it by me. The chasm still yawns.

Here is a gift I received at the conference. On that last day, during worship, we broke up into little tiny groups in the midst of worship for an experience of lectio divina over Psalm 139. This psalm is a tremendously important part of my call to ministry, gee, seven years ago now. At the time I was rooted in a contemplative practice that sustained me, nourished me. In seminary, as the story goes, I got away from that practice little by little. In graduate school, my land is parched.

So yesterday I heard something different as I listened to the beginning words of Psalm 139:
"O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise.
You know my thoughts from afar."
This time, I heard the past-tense of "you have searched me." It is done. And yet, continuous. "and you know me." It's already done, and yet it goes on.

I once knew the space that is God. I could fall into that space simply on a breath. In seminary, my breathing became a bit more shallow. And even more so here. But yesterday, I heard the possibility of breathing God again with ease. You have searched me and you know me.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Carol-Anne, stay away from the light!

Today has a certain spirit to it. Just what is that spirit? The Clean-the-House Spirit! No, no, wait! I want a lazy Satur . . . . ahhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Friday, January 06, 2006

God is Present in the Very Fabric of Life

Came across a couple excellent reflections in reading Modern Theologies of Prayer by Perry Le Fevre this afternoon. Especially, I appreciated the following in his concluding chapter "A Personal Viewpoint--The Theological Ground." Le Fevre writes:
The reality of God is experienced in human existence in and through the transformation of the self, the self's freedom, and the self's relation to others. Whatever
  • heals the inner conflict of the divided self
  • releases us from bondage to the past
  • overcomes hostility and loneliness
  • heals the brokenness between person and person
this reality alone can be finally trusted. God is what God does.
Later, Le Fevre goes on to say:
Since the reality of God is present in the very fabric of life, we may be unaware at the conscious level of the meaning of what we experience and observe. At times, however the presence of this reality is so intensely experienced that its identity becomes clear. Such experience gives rise to symbols and then to critical reflection in which we attempt to grasp and express the significance of what has been experienced. In its most fundamental sense this grasping of meaning is metaphorical.

Perry Le Fevre, Modern Theologies of Prayer (Chicago: Exploration Press of Chicago Theological Seminary, 1995):320, 321-22.

Simple Tasks which Make for Peace, Part 1

The boy woke up this morning around three with a stomach flu. Rough night for him. Poor little guy. I thought maybe we'd lucked out by getting our sickness over with before Christmas. Didn't anticipate a second round. Alas, Winter. Even where it's balmy, I guess.

Today I will concentrate on academic work. For the second day in a row. Yesterday I was able to make great progress on getting the reader together for next semester's course. In the afternoon I went through a few tutorials to teach myself Powerpoint. So it felt like an adequately productive day. Today, maybe I can get some things organized around the comps. And read a bit, taking notes, etc. Maybe I'll keep the same schedule and switch over to the powerpoint in the afternoon.

I receive quotes of the day from Real Simple magazine by email each morning. This morning's quote was from Mother Teresa:
"Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies."
Today I write about and will be doing the small things. It is a way of living into the balance.

When I read the quote by Mother Teresa, it immediately paired with some words from Julian of Norwich that I've had in my mind all week which I'd used in my sermon this past Sunday. Actually, I'm not sure exactly if they are original to Julian, or attributed to her in a play written from her perspective. (The quote comes from the book Birthing the Sermon in an essay written by Linda Carolyn Loving, who is referring to a one-woman drama, Julian, written by J. Janda.) Whomever's written them, the words have ministered to me all week. I'll share them with you:
And as for me in all this silence I suffered from noise, voices in my head . . . Accusing voices endlessly telling me that I was responsible for all the evil and suffering in England. At times I could not hear my self or anyone else . . . the voices, the accusing condemning voices--they grew louder and louder till I cried out to God that God in God's mercy would give me peace--to live, to stop the voices. God heard my cries, the voices gave way to silence . . . I could now stop my self-hating, my blaming, and turn my life to simple tasks which make for peace--my own--and others--and see, for the first time, the good in all--and see God in all.
And turn my life to simple tasks which make for peace. This is the phrase that is staying with me. Not grand things. Not weighty things. Simple tasks. That is what my day ahead shall be.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Today's Song

The sun came out today after weeks of rain. The day was so achingly beautiful, it made me miss being home. It felt like the sudden burst of Spring. Then I remembered this poem, from Song of Songs.

The sound of my lover
coming from the hills
quickly, like a deer
upon the mountains

Now at my windows,
walking by the walls,
here at the lattices
he calls--

Come with me,
my love,
come away

For the long wet months are past,
the rains have fed the earth
and left it bright with blossoms

Birds wing in the low sky,
dove and songbird singing
in the open air above

Earth nourishing tree and vine,
green fig and tender grape,
green and tender fragrance

Come with me,
my love,
come away

Being 37

We had a nice, low key day yesterday. For a birthday that comes on the heels of the extravagance of Christmas and New Years, low key is a welcome relief. Too much of a good thing is too much of a good thing, as my dear best friend from high school used to declare.

I'm quite excited about my gift from D--the ms office program which includes Powerpoint. I've been eager to learn this program and to think of ways to incorporate it into an occasional lecture. I've seen it done quite poorly, yes. But I've also seen it done with great success. And it's a tool I hadn't had in my box 'til yesterday. Now to learn it!

My Bro also gave me a couple great gifts--a copy of the eastmountainsouth cd and The Weblog Handbook by Rebecca Blood. Not to mention a gc to Amazon, which will put me into severe options-overload shock, of course. :-) Thanks, Cyen! :-)

Well, just a quick, newsy note before the start of my day. Heading out to church this morning for a meeting. Number One priority this week? Establish schedule for studying!!!!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Monday, January 02, 2006

King Kong Review

So we went to see King Kong on New Years Eve. E and I were especially excited to see it, especially after the excellent reviews it has been getting. I had read aloud the Movie Mom review on Yahoo (I trust her reviews quite a bit) and we felt like it would be a great way to spend a few hours on this rainy vacation. I’m a sucker for grandiose, imaginative portrayals of fantastic creatures as it is. A wonderfully indulgent way to celebrate New Years Eve.

But I was disappointed and even troubled by the experience. So troubled, in fact, that it has taken me a couple days to find some of the right words to put around it. And it’s really just words that I have—not even well-formulated sentences yet! So, as a way of beginning, here are some of the words floating in my mind in connection with King Kong (2005): colonialism and a postcolonial critique; sexism and a feminist critique; racism; “othering”; hierarchical portrayal of human-to-human, and human-to-animal relationships; fear of the unknown, the passionate, the ecstatic; militarism; imperialism and U.S. film industry.

I wasn’t expecting to be confronted with these themes when viewing King Kong! I was expecting pure entertainment fluff. But as I’ve thought about it more, I realize I should have known.

King Kong reached mythic status in North America long before this latest remake. It both shapes and is shaped by North American values and perspectives. In the little bit of reading I did before beginning to write this, I found that there have been tons of things already written about the phenomenon that is King Kong. It makes me hesitate to add anything to the mix, because I am aware of how much I do not know about what has already been said! But I embark nonetheless.

I was lucky to catch the last hour of the original King Kong on TV yesterday afternoon. The 1930’s version was tremendously un-self-reflective to the degree that it is almost innocent—in a way that Jackson’s version never could have the luxury of being. Not in the twenty-first century.

For example, Jackson’s portrayal of the relationship between Kong and Ann Darrow reflects a greater appreciation for Ann Darrow’s agency. This was never the case in the 1930’s version in which Ann continues to remain deeply frightened of the Ape-Monster. In contrast, Jackson’s scenes of Kong and Ann’s mutual appreciation for the beautiful are captivating. And Kong’s comprehension and later acquisition of Ann’s sign for “beautiful” is reminiscent of the famous gorilla Koko’s use of sign language. Not only does this reveal a deepening of Ann’s character, but a profound blurring of the line between human and beast that remained more distinct in the earlier version.

However, it was the shocking portrayal of the inhabitants of Skull Island that I found disturbing. Jackson chose to represent the indigenous people as Zombies, an idea that has been perpetuated in reviews of the film. The grotesque and unsympathetic creatures are depicted as being subhuman and soulless apparently so that we will not feel any remorse when the White men invade and ruthlessly slaughter them with machine guns. However, it’s clear that Jackson himself was conflicted about his interpretation by the brief essay included on the movie’s website. (Go to the home page, click on Special Features, and select “Skull Islanders” to read the essay. There is no way to link you directly to it.) In this essay, we learn that the Skull Island inhabitants are organized in a matriarchal society that has learned to survive through ecstatic ritual experiences culminating in the sacrifice of young women to the beast Kong. The matriarchal aspect was not evident to me upon first viewing, but in retrospect I could recognize that the shaman was indeed a woman and the leader of the people. By this we can only conclude that the skull island inhabitants are not subhuman, living-dead creatures, but indigenous human beings organized into social and religious systems.

One of the essays I found online (on the 1930's version) makes the excellent observation that the spectacle of King Kong turns its audience into monsters. He points out that Kong is splayed out in chains for the Broadway theater audience in the same bodily position as Ann Darrow was in when being sacrificed to Kong on the island. In this way, we see that the theater audience is as insatiable in its appetite for consuming the Other as entertainment as Kong was insatiable in his appetite for the young women being sacrificed to him. However, there is yet one more layer to this—which is that the audience in the movie theater is likewise insatiable. We are made into monsters, consuming the Other for our own entertainment. Somewhere in this is the connection between imperialism and the U.S. film industry. And it seems to be implied in the (again) insatiable desire of Karl Denham to capture the unknown, exotic world of Skull Island on film for mass consumption. No matter the cost.

Before seeing the film on Saturday, I never would have thought that I would be forced to face such issues after seeing Jackson’s Kong. In some sense this makes the film rather dangerous—because it is put out there as being mere entertainment, nothing more. But the mythic quality of King Kong for the U.S. makes it much more than entertainment. It is reinforcing dangerous (1930's?) social assumptions and doing so in a medium that suggests it does not require critical reflection.

For this reason, I highly recommend the movie. And I would suggest that you rent the 1930’s version first. For a couple reasons. First, because honestly a great deal of the “charm” of Peter Jackson’s version is how much he remained faithful to his source material, with the same loving reverence as he did with Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. But also because it will serve as a touch point for critical reflection, especially in relation to the inhabitants of Skull Island, the portrayal of the relationship between Ann and Kong, and the agency of Ann’s character.

And now, that’s all for me. Peace and Love.