Monday, October 22, 2007

All you need is love.

So I watched Across the Universe last Friday. First of all, let me say that if you are a) a fan of musicals, b) a fan of hippie-artsy movies, or c) a fan of the Beatles, you will LOVE this movie. (Especially if you're all three, like me.) The final scene is absolutely perfect... attractive British man, standing on the roof of a New York building, singing "All You Need is Love" with that gorgeous voice that makes me swoon. Which in turn reminded me of my favorite scene in Love Actually, where everyone stands up and starts playing that same song in Keira Knightley's wedding. What is it about that song that makes us positively giddy inside?

For years I just wrote the song off as another guilty pleasure, thinking to myself that "all you need is love" was just a pretty delusion, perhaps brought on by the consumption of a few too many hallucinogenic drugs by the Fab Four. But the more I've thought about it the past few days, the more I've been realizing that this mantra may not be as idealistic and ridiculous as it initially seems.

How do you define the word love? I could go through the sermon standard, three Greek words, different types of love, English language doesn't do it justice, etc. But no matter whether you're talking about romantic, friendly, or parental love, the root of the definition is this: Love is not simply a feeling. It's a lifestyle.

Think about it. When you enter into a friendship, or a romantic relationship, or you give birth to a child, or you make marriage vows, you make a commitment to love the other person. In the case of marriage, it's "till death do us part." Is it humanly possible to promise to feel a certain way until we DIE? Of course not; that's ridiculous. Humans are not capable of controlling our feelings any more than we are our health, our wealth, or our life circumstances. Nobody feels love 100% of the time, whether it's toward family, friends, a spouse, or a significant other.

So what, then, do we promise when we agree to love someone? It's a commitment. We promise to give our time, our energy, and our priorities so we place that person's needs above our own. Even when we feel like we want to kill them. That's real love.

"All you need is love." If that's talking about romantic feelings, or sex, or butterflies in the stomach, then it's just a silly song. But if everyone in the world made it their number one priority to LOVE each other in the true sense of the word, would anything else really matter? At any rate, the world would be a much better place. In that case, sing it from the rooftops, kids. Or at the next wedding you go to. Because maybe, just maybe, love IS all we need.

Here are some sweet songs about the real kind of love. Listen to them, because they're amazing, if I do say so myself.

1. The Beatles - All You Need Is Love
The inspiration for this entry. Obviously.

2. Chris Rice - Love Like Crazy
I'm so obsessed with Chris Rice. His lyrics always hit home, and this one is no exception. Plus this one always puts me in a good mood. If you like it, check out the album it's from, Amusing.

3. Amy Grant - Love Can Do
A really good portrait of what love should be.
"everybody hurts when the feelings fade
if you want 'em back, you know you've gotta stay
no running -- love's coming back, like only love can do"

4. Amy Grant - That's What Love Is For
This might be one of my top five songs of all time. It's been known to make me cry.

5. Hairspray - Without Love
Feel like dancing? If not, you will by the time you finish this one.

Have a great week and go love somebody. And please leave me a comment if you liked any of these songs. :)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Literary Conquests

Sadly, fall break is over. It's been a great four days, during which I've read three books. In the spirit of the third book on my list, I'm going to post a short review of each one.

1. Secrets of the Tomb by Alexandra Robbins
I bought this book a couple months ago and just now got around to it. I'd read some other books by this author that were really interesting (Overachievers especially), and decided to give this one, an expose on the Skull and Bones secret society at Yale, a try. I knew virtually nothing about this subject before I read this, and it was really fascinating. A few of the parts got a little long, especially the chapter called "The Network"... there are only so many lists of governmental appointments and names you've never heard of that you can read before it starts to feel repetitive. It's good, though. Kind of made me wish I went to Yale. Ha.

2. Copenhagen by Michael Frayn
Wow. I don't think I've ever read anything like this before. Samford's doing the play next semester, and the one thing I know for sure after reading it is that I REALLY want to be in it. Problem? Only three parts... and only one of them's female. Anyways, I think I'm going to do some research about the stuff in it and then try to tackle it again. It's about the scientists Heisenberg (a German) and Bohr (a Dane) and their work and friendship during the first half of the twentieth century. The script explores the mysterious visit that Heisenberg paid to Bohr in Copenhagen in 1941 when Denmark was occupied by Germany. It's great, especially because I always love the rare occasion when theatre intersects with science. Read it, but only if you have time to read it again, because if you're anything like me you will probably be confused the first time.

3. The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby
I. Love. Nick Hornby. I think he is my alter-ego. Or perhaps my long-lost soulmate. Either way, whenever I read something of his, I can't help wondering if he stole those thoughts from my own brain. He's witty, fresh, and real, something that you don't find too often in literature. This book is actually a collection of essays, from his monthly column in the literary magazine The Believer. In each one, he lists the books he bought that month, the books he actually read that month (sometimes the lists have no correlation), and gives a review of the completed books, as well as any number of excuses for why the lists don't match up. If you need something quick and funny to read and you don't feel like digging into a novel, I definitely recommend this one.

Monday, October 15, 2007

because sometimes you just need to chill.

I feel like I've gotten so much new music lately. It just seems to be falling into my lap. And that's the way I like it to be, kids. For today: five songs guaranteed to complement your mellow mood.

1. Red Hot Chili Peppers - Tear

I've had the album By the Way since this summer, but I never got a chance to listen to the whole thing because I bought it at Unclaimed Baggage at the same time as about 3 other CDs so this one ended up on the back burner. This song came up the other day when I was shuffling my iPod, and it's like a bad habit. I can't stop listening to it. It's not typical RHCP, but it's so beautiful and something about the melody just grabs you. The lyrics are great too; I think they complement the tune perfectly.

2. Jars of Clay - Even Angels Cry

Good Monsters of theirs might be my favorite album right now. I can't pick a favorite song from it, but this is just that kind of song that you picture a guy singing to you and it melts your troubles away.
EDIT: I'm having technical difficulties uploading this one. I'll have it up tomorrow. :)

3. Brandi Carlile - My Song

It's angry but mellow at the same time. If you don't know how that's possible, you've never listened to Brandi before. Her album The Story is positively AMAZING and this is me begging you to check it out.

4. Counting Crows - Holiday in Spain

How did I not love the Crows before like, three months ago? Because they're amazing. This one's gorgeous.

5. Kelly Clarkson - Irvine

The only word I can use to describe this melody is haunting. I love her new album so much. It's really different than the older stuff, but I think that she's matured a lot and her music definitely reflects that. This is probably my favorite track, and there's a good hidden track-- very Kelly-- at the end too if you can stick it out. :)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Vandalism and... the Bible?

"DON'T CHEAT" proclaim the words that are staring at me from the back panel of the cubicle in which I am sitting. Thank you, Mr. (or Ms.) Library Graffiti Artist. I'm glad you're such an upstanding moral citizen. As I diligently procrastinate studying for the midterm I have tomorrow, I can't help thinking to myself that while there is probably graffiti in every college campus's library, there is one type that is probably unique to Samford. What is it, you ask?

It's not the Greek letters. Although, I have to admit, those do kind of puzzle me. I mean, what exactly is the point? Is it a recruitment thing? ("Well, although Chi O's are highly represented on the first floor, the second floor round tables show a clear lead for ADPi. I definitely know who I'm going to rush for.") Or is it some secret sorority/fraternity contest that we independents are in the dark about? I can just imagine the announcements at chapter meetings: "In a disturbing twist to this week's race, there are now more than THIRTY Sigma Chi logos carved on those cubicles. We've got to step it up, boys."

It's not the "ANNIE LOVES JOE"s, either. I'm sure library tables on every campus have these. Why, though? Is it a poor college student's version of a matchmaking service? ("Maybe if Joe sits at this same table sometime during the next four years, he'll know I have feelings for him!" Or maybe by that time, you'll have found a different boyfriend and you'll have to make sure neither of them ever comes near the table where that freshman-year Connections group crush is now on permanent display for the next thirty years. Either way.)

No, while pretty much all forms of graffiti are a mystery to me, that Samford specialty of the Bible verses are perhaps the most intriguing. Because I brought some BP homework with me to the library, I conveniently have my New Interpreter's Study Bible handy, so I look some of them up.

(To save you the trouble, I've reproduced them, along with my own interpretation of what the graffiti-ist might have meant, here.)

On a second-floor round table: 1 Peter 1:8-9
"Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls."
I guess I haven't felt the type of "indescribable and glorious joy" that makes you really want to dig into something with a pencil.

In a third-floor cubicle: Jeremiah 33:3
"Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known."
Sounds great. Could you leave your phone number next time? And are these "great and hidden things" in any way related to that midterm I have tomorrow?

In the same cubicle: 1 Peter 5:7
"Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you."
I'm glad you have no anxiety. Really, I am. But the Library Police could be just around the corner. Aren't you just the tiniest bit afraid they might catch you with that Sharpie?

I know that Deuteronomy 6:9 says to write the Scriptures "on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." But Proverbs 3:3 says to "bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart." Don't you think that's just a little more practical (and respectful of school property) than carving them into that table at the library?