Thursday, March 29
Expectations can play a nasty game. In an old article on jealousy I quoted Joseph Addison about how it is the fear of not being reciprocated by the ones we love that makes us insecure. Insecure about ourselves, what we wear, how long is our hair, how firm our butt, how full our lips are and so on..Advertising campaigns do not help either as they make a living out of our insecurities..
But without me rambling on for much longer, what do you think defines beauty? and is there a universally accepted 'ideal beauty'?
"Why are we called the blues when our flag has got no blue in it?!"
My dad loves football and Napoli, even more than the national team, are a love of his. I was there when Napoli, captained by Maradona, won the scudetto in 1987, I am even named after Ruud Kroll's wife (yeah, named after a wag?!) ..
Those happy times taught me (and still do,every time I go back) a lot. For all my anti-Italian attitude with regards to ethos, mentality and manners, when it comes to patriotism,blue is the colour, red is the car and green,white and red stripes is the flag. Last night I watched most of the Italy-Scotland game and listening and singing the national anthem brought a tear to my eye.. Gli azzurri won again 2-0 and made me proud. Blue is the colour indeed, but why the heck are we called "gli azzurri", the blues, when there is no blue in our flag. My personal, ever so poetical interpretation is that blue is the colour of a sunny sky, of the mediterranean sea..but you may have a better explaination! So, what do you think?
Tuesday, March 27
John Newton's familiar lyrics are piercing my mind and heart this morning.
That saved a wretch like me
The author obviously knew that beyond physical slavery, we all are or we have been slaves to our own consciences, selfishness, vices, sins, fears. I am often astounded by the many radical and life changing paradoxes about Christianity. The poor who end up be
ing the richest; the humble who shall be lifted up; the paradox of being blind when you have perfect sight and to be able to really see even if you are blind.. The more I think about wanting to change the world, the more I realise that Jesus oughts to be my icon and inspiration. He acted out what some would call, "an invisible revolution" where people's lives, cultures and societies were radically transformed by a touch on the hand, a communal meal with wrong-doers and a washing of the feet of a bunch of dirty, illiterate and quick tempered fishermen. "Go, and conquer the world with a towel" is a brilliant command which masterly encompasses the essence of Christian 'revolution'. Unfortunately, it ain't my creation. John Glass, the top man in Elim in the Uk, preached this on my first day at Bible College.. five years later, I am beginning to understand the power of the paradoxal truth of Christianity more and more. Beyond philosophy, religion, politics, science,theories, I believe, the essence of Christianity is still the key to world change. Go and change the world not with a war, a cruisade,a big slogan, but with humility, kindness, compassion, grace, Love. (Of course, shout if you must!)
Sunday, March 25
"Throughout history great change has only been made by those hungriest for truth and those not content to simply follow the beliefs of others, but who instead demand the genuine revelation of coming to know God personally. Those who will accept no less that that are the ones who become world changers."No, this is ain't some dodgy line out of out of "Pinky and the Brain" for world domination... 'I want to change the world' is the cry of my heart. It starts with a deep realization that the world is pretty much shit at the best of times, that human selfishness and strive for greed have turned a perfectly formed universe into a lousy junk yard of polluted air and unsafe streets where, as the ancients used to say, the rich get fatter whilst the poorer starve to death. I look around myself and I see desolation, despair, hopelessness. Then I look at God and I see skies of blue, craftly constructed spiderwebs, and Hope. Tonight, in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the abolition of slavery, I went to watch "Amazing Grace",in my opinion, an outstanding movie about William Wilberforce's endeavours and struggles to obtain the approval of the slave trade abolitionist bill in 1807. Can't believe I ever lacked interest in my Church History lectures at university - I am now embarrassed and ashamed of ignoring the remarkable efforts of a man who single-handedly, and as part of a conscientious Christian Faith and Community, had a dream and invested his whole life in the achievement of the acquisition of rights for the poorer, the defenceless, for a sense of Justice in a corrupt and gluttonous for egoistical cravings society. He indeed acknowledged, like many of us, that the world is wrong. But he did not, unlike most of us, sit back on his sofa and ate popcorn, watching the world go by... He wholeheartedly committed himself to desiring to change the world. Whatever the cost. I want to change the world and I believe that you and I can do it.
Thursday, March 22
Love, from an attempting to be lady-like poorly little lady and feminist in disguise!(",)
Tuesday, March 20
About 200 years ago a wave of Irish emigrants touched the Mancunian shores and made their permanent residency there, merging with the locals and giving the city a whole new identity. If you speak to any of the kids in our youth club, they all claim Irish ancestors of some sort or have Irish family names - despite wearing hoodies and sounding remarkably Manc! Saturday, as you all know, it was Paddy's Day (St Patrick's) - the biggest celebration in Manchester after Christmas - go figure! It was also my friend's birthday, which kinda got overshadowed by this sea of drunken, leprechaun-like, green-wearing Mancs, ghastly resembling the damned spirits out of Dante Alighieri's Hell. * (By the way, 'HAPPY BIRTHDAY,MY LOVE,I SHALL MISS YOU LOADS WHEN YOU ARE GONE!') So I find myself having to deal with all these drunken idiots, police everywhere and not the sign of a free taxi for over an hour in the freezing cold at past 2 o'clock in the morning...no wander I have such a nasty cold today!More than a merry parade for an Irish saint, it reminded me of reading in my high-school geography book about the Belfast riots in the 70's! However, Manchester's inclusive attitude to cultural diversity does not stop at geographical multeity, but it extends as far as religious beliefs, culinary preferences and sexual inclinations. The prominent gay village is one of the most flourishing areas of town, blossoming with restaurants, pubs and clubs able to cater for all preferences. I left Italy as a traditionalist lefty, stiff-upper-lip perfectionist and opinionated religious young girl. I then moved to England to study theology and left Bible college with more passion and enthusiasm for God, yet more questions and an increased sense of grace than I ever had. Having analysed the Scriptures, philosophy and human kind inside out, I was left with a sense of wonder, disappointment, love, beauty, hope and back. I then moved to Manchester and encountered a variety of cultures which paradoxically surpassed any from my extensive travels. From 'judgmental little prat' to working and living in an environment surrounded by members of the gay community where, suddenly, being 'heterosexual and Christian' was abnormal...what a journey! Now 'judging' has all of a sudden become harder. It is much easier to make assumptions and judgements about people you don't know or don't care about. However, Manchester has actually taught me a lot more about Christianity than it meets the eye: this city, like what is at the essence of my faith,it's a place where strangers become brothers and enemies are embraced into a friendly hug. Where you can, if you want, become 'one of the crowd' but where, even staying at the fringes, you can still experience the ripples of God's love.
Friday, March 16
"Coffee and Cigarettes, 2003"
In last night's movie, a Jewish American young lady marries a top Irish gang member of the mob (Ray Liotta). She often repeated over the course of the film that even things which should have appalled her, or at least raised her suspicion over her husband's whereabouts, suddenly became 'normal'. Likewise, most Italians stopped raising questions a long time ago and comfortably cohabit with this entangled concoction of legal systems, illegality and chaos..little nothing ever happened. We are just like 'the three wise monkeys': Don't hear, don't speak, don't see! I, on the contrary, could tell you a million and one stories about it. Like when they stole my dad's motorbike and,instead of calling the cops, we called my uncle who called a friend of his who has a friend who knows somebody...long story short: we got the bike back in less than an hour for the modest price of £100. Convenient,ah? Or do you need a ticket for a sold out concert? There is always a friend. Really don't fancy wearing that seatbelt that creases your freshly ironed fake Valentino's? Wear a t-shirt with a seatbelt drawn over it (available in most shops)...and the list could go on and on and on. Mysteriously, it all becomes 'normal' like sipping coffee sitting at the table outside a family run cafe in the piazza, or shopping at the market. I don't condone any of this, but I can see why people find it funny... Here is to the Italians' inventiveness, humor and 'gift of the gab'!
Tuesday, March 13
Not to worry guys,I haven't fallen over and cracked my head open or fallen in love stupid with some random fella! In an attempt to get fit again and run the London Marathon next year - yes, you heard me right, my madness is never ending - I have started seeing Matt,a personal trainer,who I pay to, indeed, tell me 'what to do' to get back in shape. He is lovely and very sweet. He totally gets me which, in hindsight, makes me think that maybe I should have started paying boys to be with me a lot sooner...(obviously I am only messing). A joke apart though, if you would like to support me and a bunch of other folks going out to South Africa in July 2008 with Habitat for Humanity to work on a building project affiliated to the renown Desmond Tutu's community project, please do not hesitate to contact me. I'd be delighted to suggest various ways for you to get involved. (It is NOT all about money!!!) Right, better get down to the gym - still a long,long way to go!(",)
"The Man in My Life I Let Him Tell Me What To Do!"...
With no need for ditching the past!
Yesterday something quite extraordinary happened. For those of you who know me, you will be aware of my utmost respect for the ancients and fascination with the cyclical view of history. Tucidide, the Athenian, wrote that history is a heritage, "a legacy for the forthcoming generations" and that,somehow, it always repeats itself. Hérodote optimistically wished that we would learn something from the past, but was ultimately convinced of the opposite: we make mistakes and,even though we may learn from them,we are gonna make them again. I was erroneously brought up with the unrealistic ideal that once you become a 'born again' Christian, your life is transformed radically to a point of near perfection.. Indeed, being 'born again' encompasses the awakening of the human spiritual dimension and the automatic rejection of the sinful nature; nevertheless, I later discovered, there are issues, struggles,weaknesses which will remain your fight until the day you die. The popular worship song which reads "the weakness that I see in me,will be stripped away by the power of Your Love" may actually be theologically wrong. God ain't gonna come and plunder you off of all of your imperfections and make you into an angel-like superhero over night! In the same hand, this is no condonation for sloppy religiosity. At times I can identify with the "Captives" series by Michelangelo Buonarroti. Beside the Sistine Chapel, la Pieta' and the David, there are a number of less spoken about works which i Prigioni, the Captives, are part of. Michelangelo believed that art was not to be created, but to be brought out of something already existing. He thrived in the dormant vitality of raw materials, masculine, rugged, dynamic personas awaiting to be woken up by the sapient hand of the artist..this credo was the cause of fierce confrontations with fellow art master, Leonardo Da Vinci, who, by contrast, believed that the artist is a creator, an inventor of life. Anyway, history of art apart, the Captives are a crude, passionate expression of wild exuberance screaming to come out. Likewise, I often feel frustration over the weaknesses of old which, for all of my endeavours, I don't seem to be able to shake off me - history repeating itself... I have recently shared about how my latest heartbreaks have been caused not only by the actual facts, but more so by bad experiences, baggage, I have been carrying around for way too long. That's when the really good stuff about Christianity comes out. Forgiveness; Grace. Forgiveness, which is not the equivalent of forgetting all about it, putting a plaster over it, let mommy kiss it better and happily pretend that nothing ever happened. No, forgiveness goes much deeper than that. It allows you to confront your own demons, turn ditches into wells whilst Grace, that wonderful gift of God who loved,loves and will always love us unconditionally, enables you to break free of the chains from the past and start afresh. Last night we broke the chains, send 'that old devil back to hell'. Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound indeed. So out with the old crappy, tiresome bondage; in with a new future enlightened by many happy memories and meaningful friendships.
PS: Thanks Dave, you were right.
Sunday, March 11
'A Woman Especially, If She Have the Misfortune of Knowing Anything, Should Conceal It As Well As She Can'
Identification seems to be a recurrent theme in my life at the moment. Due to a newly found sensitivity, I appear to have developed a greater sense of empathy not only with given circumstances and people I know, but also with historical characters, movie protagonists and intellectual personalities.I am a girl, right? And, as every educated Western young lady, I have been brought up to love Jane Austen's writings,to be besotted with the perfectionist ideal of a prospective Mr Darcy and to be contineously inspired by the fictional characters and groundbreaking life of miss Austen. All this gives me the irresistable impulse to read up about her, watch movies about her, identify with Jane Austin. Last night I went to see "Becoming Jane" which, as an allegedly stereotypical female rom-com, substancially exceded all of my expectations. Casting the incredibly talented James McAvoy. The 28 year old Scotsman is winning me over time and again: after playing the quarkie faun in "The Chronicles of Narnia" and the idealistic doctor in "The Last King of Scotland", his performance as Tom Lefroy, the Irish bohemian city bachellor who is willing to forsake it all for love's sake, was an intense exploit of passion,pathos and raw talent. On the other hand, Anne Hathaway was beautiful and adequately impressive in the clothes of a witty and intelligent young Jane Austin. Cherry on the cake was a rather "quiet" hunky brother Henry, Joe Anderson. The film is based on the early life of author Jane Austen and her possible flirtations with Thomas Langlois Lefroy.I wouldn't want to spoil the story line for you, but the alleged romance between this two is portrayed to go way beyond mere youthful infatuation, but is a real exchange of passionate besottment and livid desire which widens the spectrum of the author's scriptorial inspiration and shapes her views and characterization of her fictionary entourage (all,remarkably,with no explecit sex scenes!!!). My sister often teases me to be a lesser-postmodern version of miss Austin. Who knows, maybe if Jane was born in 1983, she would have been a blogger!!! I can only dream of being like her; however, I can yet again identify with another young woman's struggles. 200 years later I still often fear that a well educated woman is surreptitiously regarded as a threat to masculine pride and male dominance. I am convinced that even confident,erudite,enterprising knights in shiny armour fear, deep within, to be confronted by a woman who 'knows what she's talking about'..(I am dying to hear your views on this one!)Jane Austin eventually ended up never to marry - regardless of her pleasant apparence,wit,sensitivity and potential persuiters. I am not saying that her singleness was exclusively motivated by male perceived inadequacy; Jane fought the self-distructive battle between her undying romanticism and idealism contrasting with unclement rules and regualtions of a money-driven society.
And there was me thinking I had something new to say....
Lying on the sofa on a cold Sunday afternoon reading "Pride and Prejudice" for the fourth time over and waiting that one day unyelding love may be able to look beyond fear of inadequacy, tollerate virtual insanity and be willing to do anything for love's sake. Sweet, ah?!
Friday, March 9
Caleb&Merle,big bro Joshua in the background..
"Smile Like You Mean It", The Killers
Tuesday, March 6
Friday, March 2
This brief post is in support and response to Gorilla Bananas who recently suggested cross-cultural issues are defeated by dance, a universal language. **I am the little jumping curley haired lady in the middle!!!**(",)