Even though Mormons don't follow the liturgical calendar, I've been observing Lent the past couple of years. I just love the idea of preparing spiritually for Easter. In 2012 I gave up facebook for Lent, and last year I worked hard on replacing negative thoughts with positive ones. This year I've set a couple of goals.
First, I'm reading the entire New Testament over the 40 days of Lent. A few friends set up a facebook group to help keep each other encouraged and on track, as well as to discuss our thoughts and insights as we read. As much as I love delving deep into detailed study and footnotes and historical context, there's also much to learn from taking a more "forest" than "trees" approach to reading scripture occasionally. I finished the book of Mark yesterday and I'm launching into the first four chapters of Luke today.
Second, I'm "giving up" raising my voice. With three boys in the house, I've noticed that the volume gets rather loud at times, and then I add to it in order to be heard over the din, often with impatience or anger. So I'm taking a new tack and trying to keep my voice calm and at a normal volume. Please notice the word "trying". While I have caught myself before yelling several times in the past week, I've failed spectacularly a time or two, as well. Or three. But who's counting?
As I was thinking about my struggles with Lent, a facebook friend posted this article about what to do if you're having a hard time with whatever you decided to do for Lent. The author, Melissa Keating, is a Catholic missionary and has some great thoughts on the purpose of Lent and how to redirect your efforts to be more successful:
Lent is NOT a time to earn God's love. Nor is it a time to punish yourself for every bad thing you've ever done. Lent should be a time to fall deeper in love with Christ. Your penance should help you do this.
You can do this Lent thing. Just let it be a time of growth, and not spiritual pride. Look at where Christ is asking you to grow, and follow Him. That easy.Seriously, she has really effective and specific suggestions for different difficulties you may be having with Lent. Check it out!
Go stare at these illustrations by Mary GrandPre, the woman who illustrated all the Harry Potter books. You'll see how she envisioned Diagon Alley, what Harry saw in the Mirror of Erised, and what pixies really look like, and lots of other scenes.
I think it's about time for me to re-read that series.
One more Harry Potter related link.
For the most part I thought the films did a fairly faithful job adapting Rowling's stories to the big screen, keeping in mind the limitations of time and medium, but as Emily Asher-Perrin points out in this article, not all of the changes made were particularly true to Ron's character from the book. Talking about the vital role Ron plays in the Harry-Hermione-Ron trio, the author says:
He actually tends to a very clear gap in the ranks—providing a sense of family unity and street smarts. While Ron himself may often feel crushed by the burden of familial expectations, he extends the closeness of the Weasley clan to his friends both figuratively and literally. Harry and Hermione do both eventually become members of his family through marriage, but more importantly, Ron always treats them as blood. It’s there in every holiday Harry spends with the Weasley family, with that first sweater Harry receives on Christmas, and the unconditional love Harry and Hermione are both offered only because Ron’s family know how much these children mean to their son. I mean, he steals the family hover-car with the help of the twins because he’s worried that Harry is being held hostage by his abusive relatives. That knight parallel from their mega chess battle is looking more and more apt.
In addition, because Ron is only one out of the trio who grew up in the wizarding world, he has an immediate frame of reference and level of comfort that they both lack. Even Hermione’s book smarts cannot make up for Ron’s practical know-how, a kind of intelligence that often gets no credit at all. More to the point: you cannot be a whiz at chess and be an idiot.Of course, he has flaws - don't we all? - but the Ron depicted in the films doesn't always live up to the Ron depicted in the books. Asher-Perrin concludes: "Characters don’t have to be perfect to be good—in either a well-written sense, or a personally likable one. And it is precisely Ron Weasley’s imperfections that make him tangible and so easy to love. 'Easy to love' are Rowling’s words concerning Ron, by the way. Not mine."
I really need to re-read these books!