Tuesday, September 22, 2015

New Blog

Just in case any of you old, faithful ones still visit this beast, I have officially moved here:

Liberty Bound

Here's something else I worked on last year:

Your Home and Mine

Goodbye, Erratic Muse. You were a comfort and challenge in your day. :-)

Friday, March 29, 2013

Indefinite Break (if you couldn't tell)

I thought I should tell you that The Erratic Muse has officially gone to rest. Thank you all for your many encouraging words and thought-provoking discussions. Although I think I would be mildly horrified to go back and read all the things I've posted (and probably disagree with myself at least a quarter of the time), you have all been very grand. :-)

The Erratic Muse definitely helped me flex my writing muscles for the last several years. Now there are too many other writing opportunities crowding for attention. I am so thankful! As things go along and I reach different stages, perhaps there will be an opportunity to revisit, but for now I'm going off the charts. Email me so we can stay in touch! :-)

Thank you, awesome people!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Life - Word Love

My love story with words has been a long, gradual one. Sometimes it's frozen me and I haven't been able to write anything, sometimes it's freed me to try bizarre ideas, some which flopped infamously, others that failed a little less. :-) It has been a gift to become more conscious of the art and beauty in lines, sentences, and paragraphs. Somehow, I want to keep reading poetry, underlining amazing things, studying Latin, reading aloud, pirating the dictionary, and memorizing and studying all those crazy things which come wrapped in language. I don't know how to wield something so big as a word, but I want to try.

Most of all, I am speechlessly grateful and amazed for the Bible. I am so clumsy and ignorant with such a gift. What a blessing each of us have—the full portrait of Christ in Living Words. We can pick it up anywhere and at anytime and we have hundreds of wise, encouraging, exciting books from dedicated saints who gave their lives to study and live now and in the past. All of this—and still, I fail to enjoy, be fed by, and depend on the Word of God in my daily life. How can I be one of God's little words, incarnate in the world, if I do not know the model I am fashioned after or the character of my Creator?
Unbelievably, my God is a God of mercy, who still changes and satisfies me when I finally go to His Word and see He has been driving me there this whole time. May our lives be truly dedicated to the best gift of all—the true Word. Life. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Best - Word Love

I do not think anything can make us more in love with words than the Bible. Dig into the living Word and suddenly language becomes so beautiful and powerful, we realize we need more than the rest of our lives to begin to understand it. 

Something that I've heard a lot of different ways suddenly came to a head in a remark I heard in a sermon from Tullian Tchividjian. What the Bible says, and how it says it, reflect and build off one another. He was talking about Colossians. The first section is about what God has done for us and the second on what that means about how we should live. We can see this in all of the Apostle Paul's epistles. The physical definitions of the words say that God initiated and changed us first--but so does the actual structure. We can see this all over the place in other structures and chiasms. Sometimes words are flat on paper, but with study we can seem them in 3D. I wonder what they'll look like when we can really see them.

The Bible is packed. God didn't give us a book we can read, put under our belt, and move on from. He also didn't give us something to crack our heads on. He wants us to read, but not just because we need to prove our commitment and daily acknowledge our need for Him. Instead, He gave us something that takes time, research, and study because He loves us so much that He wanted to give us the greatest gift of all—a lifelong, growing relationship with The Word. An endless gift of beauty, knowledge, and life. The gift that continually gives.

By The Word and through The Word, all things are being held together. When God speaks, physical things come into an existence. We are words He spoke, and His speaking is continually creating us and writing our lives. But this Author is also outrageously involved and generous to His characters. He turns around and hands us this powerful thing we call language and says, now you try.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Current trends suggest that every year is both harder and more amazingly wonderful than the last. Such was true of dear 2012.

For time and sanity I'm going to be brief. Also, I'm going to try not to be sentimental, because this year was so packed and wonderful I could easily torment you with my feelings. ;-) And I feel like I already did that raving about various New York adventures. Then there was Aisha's wedding and Family Camp and Rachel's visit and a thousand other things that were so very close to perfect, they may be dangerous to talk about.

Here are twelve brief thoughts from last year in no order of importance. They are also thoughts I want to remember and remind myself of for shiny, new 2013.

1. Feed your brain always. When I feel dead, beat down, foggy-headed, what I probably need is a good dose of something thick and chewy like Ecclesiastes or John Donne.

2. History is one of the most exciting things in the world. The end.

Postscript- In history we see don't just what people believed but how they believed it, not just with their heads but with their hands, their feet, their blood, their souls.

3. I used to think that things needed to be saved, especially creativity or special moments, but now I know God is enough and way bigger than any plans or ideas I can possibly have in mind. God lavishes ridiculously and does not let us get over thrills, but only gives us deeper, crazier ones.

4. God cares about the fatherless, the widow, the orphan...the lonely, the hungry, the hurting. I know this because I have felt it, and I must be reminded because I need to care about these people too. Sometimes they are not who I thought.

5. God is about filling up. We should be about pouring out.

6. People are not trustworthy, but the Holy Spirit working in them is. The only important thing is the work of Jesus in someone. Not where they have been or what they have done. This is the only way to have a relationship of trust.

This was head knowledge for me. I say, in God we trust...but now I'm trying to live like it is true.

7. Don't tear it down. I need to care enough about it to build it up if I think something is wrong. Don't run over the people who are trying, instead dig in with them and get my hands dirty.

8. Jesus is the Mediator...of everything. He is the quickest way, and often the only way, between two people.

9. Our hearts should become bigger and more squishy with each sorrow and joy, not harder. Jesus has given us the answer to suffering and shown us the wildness of joy.

10. We're supposed to love in a way that means getting hurt. And we can afford it because we have all we need. Love like Jesus. Bleed.

11. The Church, the Body of Christ, my dear brothers and sisters, is a more massive blessing than I can ever fathom. God has taught me so much through you all, particularly you in my own physical church. Your impact on my life and the love you lavish on my often thick and ungrateful skull is quite beyond my comprehension. The conversations, encouragement, and exhortation I have been given this year has been a huge part of the complete, devastating blessing of 2012. God is so good. And He so often works through imperfect but loving, gracious hands.

12. The Gospel is freedom. Live and fight and dance in that.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Other Things

So, I hope you all had an amazing and blessed New Years and Christmas! The Erratic Muse has been quiet on such subjects, but not because they haven't been magnificent.

Here are a few things-

-Thank you for your comments and emails on my Les Miserables reviews. It was encouraging and interesting to hear different opinions. I've been able to see it three times now, and I am quite sure it is quite good. ;-)

-Here is a good review on Les Miserables. Excellent thoughts about Javert and Russell Crowe.

 -My sister finally posted about our October New York Trip.  (See my post.)

-Last Year/New Year post in the works.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Les Miserables (2012)

Les Miserables is a beautiful story and has withstood many interpretations and productions. Somehow, even with the disturbing zeal to bury the story of redemption in the 1998 previous feature film, by Billie August and Rafael Yglesias, it retained portions of the thrilling hope of Victor Hugo's 1,500 page novel.

It is the musical, however, that took the story and shamelessly dug out the themes and belted out the epic of grace and forgiveness across 42 countries in 21 languages. Last year marked the 25th anniversary. A new live performance traveled through Cinemas and a breathing cast appeared in concert halls throughout England and the US. Tom Hooper was working on his mountainous task--turning the well-beloved musical into movie. Something that would explain and present the story to thousands who'd never heard it, as well as die-hard, jealous fans. He is pretty crazy.

The finished product exploded on Christmas Day. Tom Hooper and our grand knight, Sir Cameron Macintosh, once again proved themselves (above and beyond Peter Jackson and other ambitious individuals who seize a powerful story in new love and best intentions and flail to present it to the public, missing and mutating the very elements that probably attracted them...ahem. We still love them anyway).

This new musical movie of Les Miserables presents the story in all of its gritty, offensive love, grace, and hope. With melody, words, and screen, the movie is able to highlight and draw out the beautiful symbolism and themes, something many of us haven't trained ourselves to do on our own. You forget you're in a musical and only find yourself in a grand epic which is, at the same time, the  personal story of each of us. This rendition was done in an adventurous way, all of the singing recorded during filming and on set, much of it straight at the audience. The factory women accuse us. Fantine begs us. There is no sparing our emotions or allowing us to hold it at arm's length--all the grit and the grace are right there, sometimes yelling, sometimes drawing us into the screen.

With all it's realism, it goes a little far, making the movie harder to enthusiastically recommend. As you could expect, the scenes with dissolutes and prostitutes lead to unnecessary content when performed as a complete screenplay. There is at least sixty seconds that none of us needed, even if it jolts us out of our comfortable, clean ignorance or indifference to things occurring today in our own cities...

Anne Hathaway gives everything she has to her performance of Fantine and left me absolutely speechless. Even if you are a Hathaway hater (which I have been) you have to admire how much of herself she pours into this character. Yeah...still pretty speechless on this.

Hugh Jackman also dug into his role. If you cringe at his voice at the beginning, it is because he starved himself to look and feel more like a laboring convict for the first shot. He improves over time and while there have been better voices, I whole-heartedly adore his Jean Valjean (even if you dread "Bring Him Home"). His soliloquy and last scene sacrifice things that can very well be sacrificed to bleed all the soul and life and struggle and longing. Outstanding.

But even with all his superb acting, Hugh Jackman is not Colm Wilkinson, so for dedicated Les Miserables fans, Wilkinson's appearance as the Priest is both exciting and satisfying. It also gloriously draws out how, through the Priest's kindness, Jean Valjean turns and becomes like the Priest. How Christ sacrifices and cares for us--recreates us into little Christs becoming more like Himself, and sends us out to show His Character and grace to the world.

Also this should comfort Les Miserables zealots and please Colm Wilkinson fans.

Aside from the live performance, Aaron Tveit was the best Enjolras I've seen. He probably didn't have the best voice, but all his vibes were spot on. I fell in love with the whole revolution preparation scene in a completely new way. His life and complete character--how it was contrasted and shown against others and how he inspired and loved his brothers, may have been my favorite and freshest part of the movie. Some may say his end was a little over the top, but if you dig into many historical biographies, you can find that many endings are similarly over the top and ridiculously epic.

Marius was a great rich kid. Cosette, despite deep-rooted loathing for Amanda Seyfried, may have been my favorite interpretation yet. Both seemed appropriately unlikable and newbish at the beginning but hopeful characters by the end. They were presented as I saw them in the story.

Although Eddie Redmayne's voice does not reach godlike status (who can compare with Micheal Ball?), his "Empty Chairs and Empty Tables" is acted and sung in a way to wring your heart.

I'd seen Samantha Barks as Eponine before, but this screen version made me sympathize and fall in love with the character for the first time. And, unlike much of the cast, I have no hesitations about her voice.

The true test came with Javert. My first introduction to the Les Miserables musical came from Philip Quast version of Javert's soliloquy. It instantly rocked my world and has continued to do so ever after. The character of Javert created my original love and devotion to the story many years before and has probably influenced me above and beyond just my writing.

All my backstory with the Inspector made Russell Crowe's performance imperative to any joy or horror I would get out of the movie. His first singing attempt actually was a little distressing. He improves over time and does interesting interpretations of his two solos. His acting is phenomenal and I feel like he really entered into the character and understood him. His performance is almost as opposite to Norm Lewis as anyone with the same lines can present. Russell Crowe paints a more passive character with considerably less gleeking and more unspoken conflict. He is a little soft, in all respects, but I actually loved his embodiment of so complex a character. Of course, he is not the only right and perfect portrait and his voice, even with everything else he adds to the character, is nothing exceptional and still cannot be compared to Philip Quast.

The scene right before Javert starts his soliloquy was disappointing. They switch it up so Jean Valjean leaves basically in defiance (also, covered in a little too intense of sewerness). I understand how this might have made the scene switches and all easier, but it was almost an unforgivable sin.

The only other dissatisfying scene for me was the end. Although when you learn the history, the last scene makes more sense, even a successful revolution hardly gives Fantine, Gavroche, or Valjean the hope and deliverance they need and long for. This finale piece is much bigger and seemed trivialized and disconnected from the thirst we all have and the song of victorious hope in the souls of all who have been driven to the light. A disappointing scene to finish a glorious story. But perhaps if they'd wrapped it up in all it's heart-throbbing glory no one would have been able to walk out of the theater alive.

Of course there are portions left out and others jumbled. There is a new song and theme added written by the original creators who were all involved with the movie. The new content highlights Jean Valjean and Cosette's father/daughter relationship. It feels almost Disneyish in a few moments, but gives a break from the intensity of the rest of the movie. I already had mountainous respect for Tom Hooper and now it will last forever. What a massive task to turn a successful musical into a cohesive, powerful screenplay. The hard work and dedication by the entire cast and crew is unbelievable.

There will be more Les Miserables, some which will perhaps dig deeper and soar higher, but this movie captures the spirit, raw soul, and devastating grace. The best stories can and should be told in many ways, shapes, and forms. If you can deal with the grit or know when to go get a popcorn refill, go see it.

Come back and tell me what you think. :-)

There is so much more that can be said. Hopefully Lauren will say some of it soon. If you go see it, look for crosses (obvious and camouflaged), new creation/covenant and old world/covenant themes, reoccurring musical melodies, and contrasting reactions and characters.

Also see this post - Comfort and Confrontation for us Les Miserables Snobs

Artists be encouraged. Work done this well and with such a proclamation of truth will last, spread, and send tremors throughout the world. We are changed by just such things as these.