Friday, December 29, 2006

Tolerant but not too melodramatic

Today is one of those days in Saskatoon when you wish you had worn a toque just for the walk from the car to the house. You also wish there were some way of preventing your nose hair from freezing, but alas, this remains to be discovered. One feature of wintry Saskatoon that I had forgotten was the ruts in the un-grated roads – they’re so deep and frozen over that you don’t really need to steer, unless you want to turn, at which point you have to try to get out of the ruts. Last night on a wonderful date with Christine, she described S’toon as a place where you spend half the year tolerating or trying to survive the weather, quickly moving from one indoor place to another. Which is why she’d like to get out of here eventually. Sometimes I agree. And sometimes I like the tolerating part. It makes me feel robust and vigorous and alive and… tolerant.

Christmas this year was beautiful, with all of the elements I have come to expect and desire… attending three Christmas Eve services at church, making music in two of them with Rachel, Daniel and Chris, the peaceful feeling of looking out at a sanctuary full of people holding lit candles, a great homemade present from Don, plenty of fudge and cookies and peanut butter balls, a sleepover “under the tree” with my siblings, a lazy Christmas morning, matching sibling pajama pants, not getting dressed until very late in the day, a visit from Chris and Dan, turkey with Dad’s family, hilarious games with my younger cousins, and banana slush (my favorite Christmas food). The only thing missing was Sarah – we have to share her with her husband’s family now. So there was continuity and change this year.

I received some great gifts this year, including earrings, a Wendell Berry poetry book, an Annie Dillard book, a bag you can heat up and put around your neck, a beautiful wooden box, a banana case, some shirts, and not one, but two Damien Rice CDs. I have been thinking about Damien Rice. There is a lot I like about him. His poetry surprises me. He’s passionate. His CDs somehow make it sound like you’re sitting ten inches in front of him, like you’re intruding or invading his personal space, and I like that. It feels vulnerable. But I’ve decided that I need to be in a particularly introspective mood to fully appreciate his melodramatic, brokenhearted singing. Sometimes it seems over the top. And his new CD is slightly more… explicit. Which has got me thinking about swearing. I’ve grown more tolerant of swearing, ironically, at Bible school. I still wonder if it’s a moral issue or a societal issue. In other words, is swearing sinful, or just in poor taste? What did Jesus say when he stubbed his toe? I’m starting to think it doesn’t matter what you say, from a moral perspective, whether it’s “sick dog”, “sick monkey”, or something our society calls an expletive. I’m not talking about throwing swears into every sentence, which I consider evidence of a poor vocabulary, or swearing AT people, which is mean. I’m talking about those situations that seem to cry out for swearing. Anyway, if you have any opinions, please leave a comment.

I have one New Year’s resolution so far, and it doesn’t have to do with swearing, it has to do with cooking. Yes, roommates, listen up – I have copied down a bunch of recipes from my mom. I plan to make a master list of all possible meals we can make without the use of an oven, so we will not be stuck standing around at 7:00 PM wondering what to eat. And maybe we could eat at the table sometimes. I forgot how much I like tables. I think we need to make more homemade soup and stew. And we need to invent more recipes using Frank’s Hot Sauce.

One more week here. Every day is about appreciating home, and the people here, without becoming overly sentimental and nostalgic. And possibly starting to write that paper that’s due on the 15th… gross.


Anonymous said...

Beth, it is lovely lovely lovely seeing pictures of your family. And even though I know that Roslyn and Daniel are the same age and Roslyn is indeed looking very grown up, it is still somewhat strange to see Daniel looking the same. How is it that we always forget that our friends siblings get older too? crazy.

Anyhoo, say hello and happy new year to your family.

I've been missing Emmanuel a lot lately, and your family is a large part of the missing.

Love kate

Anonymous said...


I'd be interested in knowing what you would include in "those situations that seem to cry out for swearing."

Hitting your thumb with a hammer?
Seeing a man hit a woman? Or vice versa?

Where does self-control or, more appropriately, tongue-control fit in the picture?

I envy you your book of Berry poetry. I've been meaning to get one for some time.



Beth said...

Kate - I will pass on your message to my family. It's nice to be missed! I miss you too. I had a similar experience seeing your wedding pictures with your sisters in them - very grown up. I hope we find ourselves in the same city sometime, Kate. I'd love to meet your husband!

Brendon - thanks for your challenging reply! I have been thinking about the verses in James about taming the tongue, thanks in large part to a conversation with Sophia last night. I do believe that self-control is necessary, and perhaps "situations that cry out for swearing" is an overstatement. I think what I'm reacting to is the "fluffiness" and lack of passion in so much of the music I hear. I'm coming to think that boycotting media just because of swearing is worse than sticking with "clean", passion-less and substance-less media.

My example of stubbing your toe or hitting your thumb is more about the words we choose - the nuances between a word like "darn" and a more "serious" swear. Obviously the words are connected to the meaning our society gives them - in French, saying "tabernacle" is a swear, but in English it has no such meaning. It just seems weird that controlling the tongue, which is an issue of sin and morality, would have so much to do with what culture considers to be "appropriate" or "offensive". It would be interesting to study these biblical passages and see what kind of tongue-control would have been necessary in biblical times - if there's an equivalent to swearing.

But definitely seeing a man hit a women would "cry out" for swearing - or some other more "appropriate" yet still guttural, deeply-felt reaction to evil - more than hitting your thumb.

Thanks again for challenging me to think more about this!

Anonymous said...

swear'g is a true art form. know'g the when, where, how and what to few have mastered it...
those who have use it less often.
uncle thomas

Anonymous said...

hi i miss you already. :(

Beth said...

Rachel - I was sitting on my couch last night and I smelled your perfume on my shirt - I used it once when I was wearing it - and I missed you, too.