Thursday, July 31, 2014

Life Lessons from Romantic Literature and from Church Camp

Yesterday, the idea of Romanticism wound through my day.  I started out writing one blog post, but then I decided to save it for later and write about this blog post Emily Bronte, whose birthday was yesterday.  I spent some time in the morning looking back through Wuthering Heights.  I had forgotten how violent that book is.

Those of you who know me might wonder about that statement.  After all, I wrote my dissertation on domestic violence in the British Gothic, and Wuthering Heights was one of the cornerstones.  I still found it surprising, much as I did when I first read it in grad school.

And then, in the afternoon, I read Luisa Igloria's Facebook post which was actually Dean Young's "Romanticism 101," which you can find here.  I thought about my morning's blog post and wondered if it could be constructed as a kind of poem.

As I cut and pasted, then I thought of a series of Life Lesson poems from Romantic literature.  I thought of a call for submissions for works that revolve around Frankenstein, and I was off and running, and a poem came to me fairly easily.  I titled it "Frankenstein Finishing School."

I pulled Frankenstein off the shelf, just to double check my memory.  I had forgotten that the book is so full of such lonely people, people who are isolated even when they're with others.

I thought about Mary Shelley's life of abandonment:  mother dead in giving birth to her, father preoccupied with new family, husband who will always be fascinated with others before an early death, dead babies, life on the run from creditors, . . . oh, Mary Shelley!

I may have missed the deadline for the call for submissions, but I submitted anyway, as one part of the website said the editors were still looking, but the online submitting mechanism had moved on to future submissions.  Who knows?  Maybe the editors will need a last minute possibility.

And if not, I now have a blog post for Mary Shelley's birthday, which is at the end of August. 

The end of August.  That sounds so far away.  I'm having trouble believing that August starts tomorrow.

My working of blog posts into other types of writing makes me wonder about my blog post that today appears on the Living Lutheran site.  It asks, "Why can't we make church more like camp?"  Does church camp have lessons for other institutions?

When I'm at church camp, I feel like I'm living a more integrated life.  Of course, at church camp, there's less to integrate; I'm not going to work for 40-60 hours a week.  And at church camp, some of the work of integrating has been done for me: there's a schedule and leaders.  And I just show up to the dining hall where food is ready for me.

Still, it's good to remember that church camp consists of many moving parts, and for a time period (a week-end, a week, a summer) those parts stay fairly integrated.  If we can do it at camp, why can't we do it at home?

I suspect that will be my lifelong goal.  I've pondered whether or not the answer has to do with the careers we choose.  Do some careers integrate more easily to the rest of our values and the way we want to spend our time?

I don't have easy answers, but it is a comfort that my questions are not new.  Mary Shelley and the Bronte sisters wrestled with the same questions.  I suspect that we'll still be wrestling with them 200 years from now too.

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