Tag Archives: love

“Around You” by Ingrid

Today was an Ingrid Michaelson day.  I had three of her albums on shuffle/repeat from 6pm and 1 am, at which point I fell asleep on the couch listening to her her smooth vocals.  This was actually why I didn’t want to get in my bed:  If I stayed on the couch, I felt like I could leave the music on.  (I admit that didn’t really make sense, since I easily could have moved my speakers into my bedroom and turned the volume down and put the repeat off.)

While I’ve played Ingrid around my apartment before, this was the first time I was alone and doing relatively nothing (cleaning up a bit and catching up with old friends on the phone/online) with her on, and I think it meant I actually heard her lyrics (while chatting more than on the phone, I suppose).  I haven’t been an Ingrid fan for too long—my friends Lindsay and Kate were all into her in college, and I thought I didn’t like her until Kate pushed her on me again during Thanksgiving break.  (I don’t really remember what specifically happened.  But we listened to her again.)  Suddenly in December, I’d decided I liked her and wanted Kate to burn me her three albums.

One of my favorite songs of the moment (oh, but there are many!  expect some more song posts soon) is “Around You” from her oldest album, Slow the Rain.  I’ll let you read, then offer my thoughts.

“Around You” by Ingrid Michaelson/Slow the Rain

I call you my friend
And thats all that I do
Why do I have to pretend
To find ways to be around you?

You’ve been there all along
Holding my hand like you do.
Why do I feel that its wrong
To love to be around you?

And I think I’m losing my mind
maybe I’ve been hopelessly blind to your beauty
And you have a sweet sinful smile
I’m in trouble
Cause you turn me upside down and around and around

Do you feel what I feel? Well?
Do you feel this way too?
That every wound seems to heal when I am around you

And I must be losing my mind Maybe I have been hopelessly blind to your beauty.
And you have a sweet sinful smile
I’m in trouble
You turn me upside down and around and around and around

And I must be losing my mind maybe you have a sweet sinful smile
I’m in trouble
Cause you turn me upside down and around and around
Turn me upside down and around and around
Turn me upside down and around and around

My feet don’t touch the ground when I’m around you
When I’m around you you you you you

In a way, I can’t relate to this song at all, because it seems to imply that one day the song’s “narrator”  suddenly realized she was in love with one of her best friends.  I don’t actually know any case when that’s happened–in my experience when people fall in love with one of their best friends, it’s something that begins at the beginning.  So I don’t actually buy that this happens all the time in reality.  But it makes a really good song.

I do feel almost everyone relates to the theme of having a friend that they’re actually in love with yet not knowing precisely what to do about it.  There’s a lot here about inner conflict–loosing your mind in not only your intense attraction to the person, but also the complexity of the situation–and I think that’s something many people feel, at least for a season, as they try to sort out their feelings.  There’s this nice intensification in the piano and vocals during the initial part of the refrain, which really adds depth to this painful hope.

While in real life we all want these situations to have some closure (even if it’s “bad”), I like that there’s no closure in the song.  It captures the real emotion people feel in the moment, both the delight of love and the insecurity of indefinition in the relationship.

The piano here is simple and gorgeous.

I would like to dedicate this brief song analysis to Michael Adams, who may not be in love with me but is certainly in love with every other woman on the planet.  ;o)

Sidenote: The next song on the album, “Charlie,” has a couple extremely catchy parts I must mention, including “with the green lunchbox,” “lunch was the happiest 45 minutes of the day,” and “hello, hello, charlie, hello.”  These parts are fantastic precisely because Ingrid sings them so beautifully.

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Loving our older LGBT neighbors

Continuing the conversation about LGBT issues, an article from the Chicago Tribute caught my eye this week, and I’ve found an additional one from Newsweek since.  Both highlight the challenges facing the rising population of elderly LGBT people.

Supposedly there are about 3 million LGBT people over 55 in the U.S., a number expected to grow to 4 million in the next 10 years.  Besides the normal fears that go with aging, LGBT individuals are especially concerned with having someone to care for them (they’re 10 times less likely to have a caretaker if they become ill) and finances (since even legally married, they are not eligible for spousal social security and survivor benefits).  They also fear discrimination and finding care facilities in which they feel comfortable.

I hope the church doesn’t pass up this need and opportunity.  Today I finished the book Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw for one of my classes, and toward the end, the issue of caring for the elderly was mentioned.  If caring for our oldest neighbors is a neglected task demanding a resurgence of compassion, how much more, I think, Jesus’s heart goes out to these people, disdained by so many and lacking financial advantages and (often) children to care for them.

Jesus is already there with them.  As this societal problem grows, will we, the church, join him?

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Unity… or righteousness?

One of the most difficult questions for me in the last five or so years has been what to do with the issue of women in ministry.  On the one hand, I’ve been an enthusiastic participant in the broader evangelical community, and I’ve felt frustrated toward the polarizing exchange of monologues that sometimes seems to occur between the self-identified “egalitarian” and “complementarian” camps.  On the other hand, I have felt frustrated with the silence of my more local Christian communities regarding this issue.  For the sake of interdenominationality or keeping the peace they have kept quiet.  Much good has resulted, but perhaps also some harm.

Last weekend, my seminary sponsored a screening of the film For the Bible Tells Me So, tracking the stories of several families as teenage and adult children came out as LGBT.  The most famous story was that of Gene Robinson, the gay bishop in the Episcopal Church, the first ever in the Anglican Communion.  After coming home, I was doing a little more research on Gene and came across a video with this quote:

“We will stand up and say, this is who we mean to be, because together we have discerned this is who God is calling us to be.  And then the communion will have to deal with us.  But we are not going to sacrifice LGBT people anymore on the altar of unity.”

While I have not figured out what precisely to think of the many issues surrounding homosexuality and the church (though I will say that I’ve finally come to a point that I feel I must support civil unions without significant reservations), I really respect what Gene is saying here, an echo of how I often feel about women’s issues.

Unity is important.  So important.  I don’t want to de-emphasize that at all.  I’m not looking to demonize other Christians or pretend we can get along without each other or without dialogue.

On the other hand, I agree with Gene that when/if we finally come to feel convicted that a certain way is for-certain where God is leading us, why should we hold back?  I think of the evangelical response to slavery in the South.  While I wouldn’t encourage any abolitionist church to cut all ties with apathetic or pro-slavery churches, I would encourage them to take a strong stand for what they believed was right, not to leave it forever nebulous.  Timing and attitude matter so much in such a response, but I do think we can’t always just say, “You believe X, I believe Y, but things are fine between us, let’s focus on unity.”  I think sometimes it’s legitimate to say, “You believe X, I believe Y, and while I still want to be friends, I do think this is a serious issue with only one right answer.  And we obviously disagree about that that is.  But I have to move forward in pursuing what I think God is calling me to pursue.”

When we should move from open discussion and attempts to avoid alientation (say, within a denomination or other community) into the bulk of the leaders/people taking a stand is pretty fuzzy.

But at some point, I do think that those that believe in women in ministry have to just say it.  (Something InterVarsity, for example, is somewhat hesitant to do.)

And at some point, I think those that believe in LGBT ordination also have to take a stand.  To do nothing less, I think, is exactly what Gene says: sacrificing (your perception of) righteousness before a marginalized people and before God to appease others.

And I don’t think compromise was ever what Christian unity was supposed to be about.

(But this tension–between unity and advocacy–is not an easy one to manage with love and humility!)

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Till Death Do Us Part

In college I discovered one of life’s great dichotomies:  Babies vs. Animals.

Kate loves animals.  Anthony loves babies.  Thomas loves animals.  Tiffany loves babies.  Tiffany’s friend loves animals.  I love…  I like both fine?

I’m sure there are plenty of people in the same boat as me, fairly comfortable around either with some interest in both someday.  There are also those few sociopaths that probably hate animals and babies alike.  Never until college, though, did I realize quite how obsessed with animals some were.

Since classes have yet to begin, I’ve been spending a good chunk of my free time reading the news online, and the middle of this week included a surge of animal stories on CNN, several of which I emailed to Kate.  One story was about the tragically brutal death of a cat at the hands of its owner’s jealous boyfriend.  Another recounted the miracle of a feline stuck in a toilet bowl, rescued by firefighters smashing the toilet to pieces.  The most interesting, I thought, was about hurricane victims and their pets.

Apparently, just a few years ago, pets weren’t allowed on buses to shelters, meaning many pet owners had to decide between remaining with their animals and escaping the surge and its subsequent devastation.  For Ike, however, special measures were in place to ensure animals could be kept for their owners at a special shelter, and owners can use a bus to visit them frequently.  These people who have lost everything are so thankful their pets are still alive, and their spirits are lifted by each visit.

The article pointed out a problem I’d never considered: some people love their pets so much that they are willing to put themselves in danger to avoid separation from their animals.  In past hurricanes, people died doing this.  It’s not necessarily smart, but when is love?  I find it fascinating how attached we become to our animal friends.  They become family–and some people would rather die than leave them.  I remember what my mom used to say during high school: the dog was her best friend.  She questioned my dad’s love for her, but the dog was always there for her.

Ironically, I sometimes think animals know much more about being human than we do.  They are sensitive and affectionate, playful and relaxed, teaching us to be the same.  While many of us are scarred by broken human relationships, pets give us a way to attach to someone that will love us back–often quite unconditionally–which I think is a healthy first step to larger scale healing.  Pets need us to take care of them, a position we usually enjoy being in–while sometimes it’s a pain, I think we’re wired to feel good when we take care of something.  Our pets also take care of us, not only emotionally but by eating the food we accidentally drop on the floor, altering us to intruders, and eliminating household pests.  This mutuality was even stronger during the days of traditional farming.  Farmers were completely dependent on their chickens, cows, goats, and other animals for food and/or profit, but at the same time, their tender care was necessary for the animals to thrive.

Nature is screwed up, and human/animal and animal/animal relationships are as broken as human/human ones, many times.  At the same time, our relationships with animals have the potential for such beauty.  Whether speaking of pets or livestock, I really believe it’s true: if we’re willing to let them into our lives, animals are like a natural form of long-term therapy.

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