Thursday, August 27, 2015

I'm a Fan of a British Drama, Apparently

Not that this is a surprise.  I may have mentioned once or twice that I enjoy Downton Abbey.  (Ever heard of it?)  Two minor circumstances have opened up a richer world for me of late.

One: We moved around our bedroom furniture.  We've had the same arrangement for about seven years and I always remark when we stay in hotels that I enjoy having the TV right in front of the bed for maximum enjoyment and our TV at home is across from the bed and I have to crane my neck 45 degrees to watch and MY LIFE IS SO HARD.  We've been purging and big-kid-bed-mattress-buying so in that spirit, moved our bed to face the television and then mounted the TV to the wall and if I may say: It is a revelation.  My bedroom feels like a quiet oasis of mindless electronic consumption.

We did go without a TV in the bedroom the first year of our marriage, bless our hearts, but we've been together 11 years and ours is a simple love and that includes an endless loop of Everyone Loves Raymond from 9-11 p.m.  Plus, our bed is now right under the air vent, oh happy day.

It's big times in my house.

So, with all the wonder that is the Netflix and its viewer profile, I have crafted my recommended feed to serve up any and all British dramas of the romantic variety.  I have enjoyed two mini-series (best)
Death Comes to Pemberley and North and South (like a Les Miserables lite meets Jane Austen) based on the 19th century novel by Elizabeth Gaskell. I liked North and South so much I read the book and plodded through the obscure quotations and dialect.  To continue with my theme, I rented Far From the Madding Crowd and spent a fun two hours mocking the female lead's inane romantic choices, even if the plot would have resolved in the first 5 minutes if she'd just married that sheep farmer. Anyway, if you like your romance with lots of meaningful gazes, stony silences and crushing rejections to be reversed by sudden enlightenment, I give each my full endorsement.

The gazes!  The whispered asides! Hand holding!  It's all so romantical!

Two: I picked up a great read on the giveaway table at my church library (wild child, am I right?)  I have two more book recommendations. The first is Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay.  The female protagonist lives in a world of literary heroes and uses books as a coping mechanism. Christian fiction is tricky because the plot is typically weak and the spirituality is heavy-handed.  Not so with this book.  It's a good story first, and like real life, the woman's journey toward faith is not immediate or pat.  I devoured it and the many literary references.  In fact, the reference to North and South made me want to seek that novel out.

I also ordered and tore through Jen Hatmaker's latest book of essays For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards.  There's so much chock-ful-o-goodness in this book that I won't try to summarize, but I really appreciated her words about the insanity of our "be better, do better" culture specifically as it relates to women.  We go through our hurried and harried day, attending to the needs of others, and end it thinking "I am doing a terrible job at everything."

And that's just madness.  The author continually exhorts the reader to appreciate her one. ordinary, precious life and look up and just live it, right now, with all its messy details instead of waiting for the day when the stars align and circumstances are easier.  She also notes that the Western church can get caught up in a performance trap (not a shock) and in a trickle-down mentality, Christians become discouraged if their "ministry" does not have a far reaching aim.  Love-- loving the people around us and being transformed by God's love is the message of the book and you know, the whole Bible.  While in no way competing with the Bible (caveat in place), this book does have several hilarious moments including Jimmy-Fallon-style Thank You Notes and perhaps my favorite part about what she (and I) want our kids to take away from childhood:

" 'Mostly good' (childhood) is later remembered as 'loved and safe.' I now label my childhood 'magical' though Mom slapped me across the face when I was in seventh grade and never bought me Guess jeans and accidentally left me at church several times.  Mostly good is enough.  Mostly good produces healthy kids who know they are valued and either forget the other parts or turn them into funny stories."

The book is very funny, practical and poignant, and the author's style of delivery directly to the reader makes her writing approachable instead of authoritative.  As it is a call for love and grace, her tone fits the subject matter.

And now I have approximately 33 minutes left of a toddler's nap to squeeze in some Gilmore Girls.


David and Kate said...

I love your blog!!! Wish you lived closer!!!

Jaybird said...

ME TOO, Kate! We will be in France in October (tagging along on a work trip, can't believe it) and that's just a hop and a jump from you, kinda :) :)