Friday, August 17, 2007

One True Word

I have a friend who has spent the last couple of months obsessed with beauty. I think the compelling tension is this: beauty seems often to be the opposite of goodness. The superficiality of beauty seems to be at odds with true goodness's to-the-roots-ness. If I may.
Also, I read this article about the Modernists--that for all their disdain for deity their belief in a higher truth is proved by their preoccupation with the "right." Hemingway had his "one true word," Joyce had his epiphanies, and on and on.
I guess what I want to say is this. Today I was putting together a design for the Writing Center's PR campaign. I was tinker-tinkering when suddenly I found the perfect color. I knew it was perfect because deep in my gut something sparked. The perfection of it shocked and delighted me.
I think that beauty is a state of something temporal reflecting a divine perfection. We're drawn to beauty not for the incarnation's sake, but because something in our soul resonates with the eternal balance or the truth that it reflects.

Jesus Camp

I spent my Sunday afternoon with a documentary called Jesus Camp. It was interesting and well made, a little inflammatory (whenever you're targeting kids things get thorny I think. And by thorny I mean potentially emotionally manipulative), and really interesting. The film follows a couple of kids going to a bible camp for a militantly fundamental evangelical group. Yeah, it's as creepy as it sounds. Also interesting, it follows the children's preacher who runs this thing. She is predictably kind of tired, overweight, and lonesome.
There's a lot that I could say about the doc, but what hit me most was this: when they were interviewing these kids, there was this tangible guilt at their imperfections. Also, one night at the camp was dedicated to this flaming jeremiad that pulled these kids, sobbing, to their knees. This was the point where I was able to detatch myself from the religious group, where I was able to say "this is wrong and terrible." But.
Do we do this?
On my way home from my mission I had this great convo with a girl who had a evangelical background. We bantered and bore testimony and shared diagrams, but the thing that lost me the fight I think was my doubt in myself. I was in the beatup stages of late mission depression and I couldn't testify about faith and repentance. (Am I doing it again?)
So this is my conclusion, and something I wish I would've internalized, and am internalizing: our confidence in the Lord and his forgiveness is the best best missionary tool we have. And our understanding of the atonement is what sets the church apart.
I think there's a balance between arrogance and confidence, but I don't think that being a little oversure of our salvation is a bad idea. We have a loving and all-powerful eternal being on our side for heaven's sake.

Friday, August 10, 2007


This is what I love about August: I was cold last night. I came out of my refridgerated call center job and I wasn't instantly rewarmed by the asphalt oven. At 2:30 when I was walking to my car I almost shivered. I didn't turn my fan on when I was sleeping last night. Granted, a boy I know was eating chili out of a can that he'd heated on the back seat of his car, but the signs are clear: fall is coming and I am soo excited.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


So what I've been thinking about lately is this: everyone that I know well has this secret war that they wage. It's a deeply personal war, one fought in the soul and against eternal forces. It's interesting to me that this battle people struggle with leaves signs if you'll watch for it, but it's always surprisingly fierce and sometimes the depth or range of it will take you by surprise. This is all very abstract and vague and so not very interesting, but I think the important part of it is this: the thing we struggle with defines us as surely as our strengths do. Even though we don't show our scars or wounds, even though it's a personal battle and one we have to fight alone, even though we think that no one else battles as intensely as we do, the struggle makes us who we are. For instance, a person seems super chaste, but struggles with bridling passions. And she believes that she's immoral, but to all eyes she's super straight arrow. So our unseen weaknesses inform who we are. They are the other 90% of the iceberg

Friday, December 8, 2006

The Dao of Maxwell Perkins

Tonight I'm sitting late on campus trying to convince myself to write a paper about my editing philosophy.
This issue is this, how do I write philosophically or otherwise about editing?
Things I've come up with so far: I love love love and adore talking people through their ideas. My idea of a perfect relationship revolves around some sweatered someone calling me up at 2:14 in the afternoon and saying "Kjerstin, I noticed a tree that was leaning over the street as I was walking back from lunch and it started me thinking..." and, you know, we'd talk for a fiery fifteen minutes about how the angle of the branches is a symbol of the fall and related to whichever novel is lying dog-eared on the bedside table. I get this quirky fix off ideas. Love them. Editing is fabulous in that sense because you're paid to make sure someone's ideas fit. That means you have to talk through them and explore them and when it works, oh man, you hit this harmony and the overtones go wild and my heart starts singing in time.
Also, I think I have a pretty good idea of where the line between drawing someone out and baiting them is. I hate crossing that line. It feels like eating too much fudge or something and your breath is all musty with chocolate and you feel like ralphing. This is a concern, though, because as much as I love the flow of ideas and other people's ideas, I really like mine too.
Then I want to talk about the whole copyediting situation. I'm not a copyeditor. (Like, is copyeditor an open or closed compound? Should I hyphenate it? I'm not sure. I am fairly certain, however, that I don't care. Also that it's not worth it to look it up. Not a copyeditor.) (Spellcheck says copy editor.) But copyediting is super important: a) someone has to do it, you don't want to look like an idiot, b) having to read hundreds of pages straight out of the Chicago Manual of Style has really polished up my writing style, and c) how much confidence can an editor inspire if her answer to "should this be a semicolon?" is a bewildered shrug?
Other issues play into the writer's block. First, my teacher is an enigma. (He is a copyeditor, and as different from me as night from day.) I don't know how to write for this man and am sure that he'll be disappointed in my results. Second, it's 10:15 on a Friday night and I'm sitting alone on campus. Yeah, I feel nothing like an artistic genius capable of pumping out a couple of thousand words of shining prose. (On editing, for an assignment. My complaining about this paper while writing precisely what I mean to say is either really useful or completely asinine. I haven't decided which.) Third, more than being alone, I was hit about an hour ago by the melancholy that comes from watching the online/offline bubbles on Gmail blink like Christmas lights. "Oh Amanda's on!" and "Looks like Erin went out for the night." Who does this? I feel like a complete voyeur and it's really getting me down. Fourth, and I will complain about this regularly, I'm tired. It's the end of the semester and I've pushed myself really hard and maybe have forgotten (did I ever know?) how to apply myself and I'm tired. I don't want to write a paper. I don't want to make something up or think of a creative and brilliant angle to "Kjerstin's Philosophy of Editing." Tired.
Maybe the juices will flow. Maybe I'll head home and see if I can get my wireless to work there too. ke


Linda Adams is retiring this year. She's the heart of the editing program, and has given me every opportunity I've had. I'm worried how the student journals will survive without her, on-campus publishing is such a net of bureaucracy and rules of thumb. This is the thing that struck me, though. So she was a genius on Quark. Startlingly so. She caught me by surprise not once formatting away on some backroom Mac, this gray-haired, scratchy-voiced old woman. It's not a thing you see every day. But she never learned InDesign. My question is, when do you decide to stop like that? Like, "I'm done learning, the cost of acquiring a new skill can no longer be paid off by using it for the rest of my life"? I had a similar impression when my step-father (not yet 60) declared that he would never read the Russians. How can you just decide? Isn't that kind of like saying, "I've got the plague and only one day to live?"