what if

by Andrea Elizabeth

My latest epiphany is that we are made for love. Not correctness. Correctness makes us shun ourselves. Love can enter into our lives and change, not break, the connection. For example, instead of shunning food, what if we are not only thankful for it, but we look deeply into it to find Christ. Not in an impulsive way, but in a way that acknowledges our intense craving and believing that Christ can be incarnationally present in it. Maybe in this way, all we need is one bite, figuratively speaking. Any more would break the spell.


detachment and love

by Andrea Elizabeth

there is God and there are his works. The monastic largely forsakes God’s wortks in order to attach himself to God alone. Unless one is in ecstasy, this love can feel like absence. He hopes that God will reward his sacrifice of emptiness with fullness of him. Emily Dickinson just popped into my head, and to look for her description of God’s presence in nature which I heard recently – I don’t remember if it was from the movie or from one of her poems or letters or what – I googled her name with light. Instead I got this poem, which is much…darker?… not exactly:

There’s a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons –
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes –
Heavenly Hurt, it gives us –
We can find no scar,
But internal difference –
Where the Meanings, are –
None may teach it – Any –
‘Tis the seal Despair –
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the Air –
When it comes, the Landscape listens –
Shadows – hold their breath –
When it goes, ’tis like the Distance
On the look of Death –


Here’s a good interpretation.

It speaks of the detachment from God’s works. It’s not done in a divorced way, but with a dreaded preference for God’s metaphored light. However, this one speaks of the beauty of natural light:

A light exists in spring
Not present on the year
At any other period.
When March is scarcely hereA color stands abroad
On solitary hills
That science cannot overtake,
But human naturefeels.

It waits upon the lawn;
It shows the furthest tree
Upon the furthest slope we know;
It almost speaks to me.

Then, as horizons step,
Or noons report away,
Without the formula of sound,
It passes, and we stay:

A quality of loss
Affecting our content,
As trade had suddenly encroached
Upon a sacrament.


Wait, no it doesn’t. The last stanza shows the proper, or rather improper relationship of nature to God.
Here’s what I mean:


Some keep the Sabbath going to Church –
I keep it, staying at Home –
With a Bobolink for a Chorister –
And an Orchard, for a Dome –
Some keep the Sabbath in Surplice –
I, just wear my Wings –
And instead of tolling the Bell, for Church,
Our little Sexton – sings.
God preaches, a noted Clergyman –
And the sermon is never long,
So instead of getting to Heaven, at last –
I’m going, all along.


I’ll not defend her not going to Church except to say that her parish was Calvinist.

To the tune of What Wondrous Love Is This

by Andrea Elizabeth

There’s a’gypsy by the road, come and see, come and see

There’s a’gypsy by the road come and see

There’s a’gypsy by the road, who dropped her heavy load

Who dropped her heavy load by the sea.
You can take her heavy load by the sea by the sea

You can take her heavy load by the sea

You can take her heavy load, before it gets too old

But maybe it got ate by the sea.

If a gypsy has no load by the sea by the sea

If a gypsy has no load by the sea

If a gypsy has no load, walking lowly by the road

What could there be to see by the road 

Ms Todd

by Andrea Elizabeth

After altering them, at least she didn’t destroy the original copies of Emily Dickinson’s poems.

“Dickinson never published during her lifetime. True, around ten of her poems were printed in newspapers and collections, but there is no proof any were printed with her consent, and it is still less likely that she had a hand in how they were published. When books of Dickinson’s poetry first came out in the years following her death in 1886, they were heavily edited—given titles, regularized in rhyme, punctuation, and spelling. Even her portrait was done up to soften her stark appearance with curly hair and a frilly, feminine collar. Since then, much scholarly work on Dickinson has been directed at correcting the inaccuracies and peeling away the layers from “the Myth of Amherst.”

It was not until the 1950s that a complete edition of all known poems was published in quite faithful form. Over the past few years, scholars have increasingly been trying to get back to Dickinson’s manuscripts. It seems that there has been a common acknowledgment that transcription, like translation, is heavily interpretive.

…However, some publishers like Barnes & Noble evade Harvard’s restrictions and willingly disseminate misinformation by republishing the heavily edited editions that are now out of copyright.”  Source.

Looks like the same story goes for Emily Dickinson’s letters. See https://www.emilydickinsonmuseum.org/letters

Open letter to the maker of A Quiet Passion

by Andrea Elizabeth

I wish you had not taken such liberties interpreting the life of Emily Dickinson. You made her a shrew, when all accounts, and they do exist, contradict yours. She was quiet, but her silence was not so mute as to invite your warp. One has only to read Ms. Todd’s introduction to her letters or the letters she wrote to Mr. Higginson (who wisely gave up instructing her and appreciated her somewhat. You can tell he was still afraid of her though) to know that she was not as you describe. You have a nice command of the language stylings of the time, and the performers were able to communicate love for her despite the consuming anger you inserted.

I believe you identified with the rejected suitor and the public she shunned, and thus made her reclusiveness a fault to justify such rejection. I believe however, as do many others, that she most likely had Asperger’s Syndrome. She was too sensitive and original to truck with people in ordinary ways. Her manner of relating was too intimate for people who took it as inappropriate and could not rightly receive it. The only recourse for such a one is to withdraw rather than risk being called worse than one is, as you have done.

Instead of castigating her, you should feel honored that she did not destroy her poems to keep them out of your inhospitable scrutiny. She was too pure for this world and shared her soul with more people, although indirectly, than you will ever do, and to much more blessed effect.

k-e-y… why? because we like you.

by Andrea Elizabeth

I’m a little ways through Joseph Campbell, The Hero’s Journey on Amazon video and he’s reminding me a lot of the bits I’ve listened to from Jordan Peterson. I googled their names together and the hits say that they are similar and very influenced by Jung, but that Peterson doesn’t mention the preceding Campbell. I’ll say probably because he is so influenced by him and is worried people will think he’s not crediting him enough. One person said that Campbell is more of a genius.

What they both emphasize is the importance of mythology. From what I’ve heard though, they have a pretty gnostic view that myths and God are disembodied truths and important psychological states. In other words, they are humanists in that they believe God is them if they can also transcend their bodies.

I don’t know why I can settle for the gist and have such an aversion to reading whole works. I usually keep going back for snacks but when they seem consistent with the gist I’ve already gotten, I think, why should I read more? This lack on my part keeps me from being a credible source myself, but that is not motivation enough for me to pain myself so soul killingly. I will continue to scout the world, literary and physical, for truth nuggets though. I’m a pan handler, not a miner. It’s enough for me to know through my exercises that there’s gold in them there hills, but I’m not going to break them to get it out, as it were. I’m stone age that way.

My first experience with Mount Everest was when I was in early elementary school. I was transfixed by a documentary on Edmund Hillary who at that time had scaled The Mountain only 20ish years before. Now, googling again, I just found out Hillary was a New Zealander, not British, and was not the one who said, “Because it’s there”. “We know that Hillary made it to the top of Everest (FORBES GLOBAL, Jan. 10, 2000) because he survived to tell the tale (his famous words were, “We’ve knocked the bastard off”). But what about Mallory? He and his partner, Andrew Irvine, were last seen alive less than 300 meters from the summit–still pushing upward.” (source) Mallory tried 30 years before Hillary.

I also grew up thinking Hillary was the first person to climb a mountain whose only name was Everest. Not too long ago I found out the Tibetan traditional name “Chomolungma, means “Goddess Mother of the World” or “Goddess of the Valley.” The Sanskrit name Sagarmatha means literally “Peak of Heaven.” Its identity as the highest point on the Earth’s surface was not recognized, however, until 1852, when the governmental Survey of Indiaestablished that fact. In 1865 the mountain—previously referred to as Peak XV—was renamed for Sir George Everest, British surveyor general of India from 1830 to 1843.” (source)

I’ve also heard the Sherpas didn’t climb it because it was considered holy. I’m not saying that I don’t read lengthy diatribes because they are too holy. I too want to climb mountains because I am westernly ambitious. I just don’t want to hurt myself the amount it takes to get to the really challenging ones. I’m also not saying that the longer literary works of these people are too holy or challenging for me. I have read War and Peace, Crime and Punishment, David Copperfield, Gone with the Wind, and the life of Father Seraphim Rose. The difference for me between these and philosophy books (except for the poetic Either/Or Part 1. I’m struggling with Part 2.) is that I want to know what the philosophers don’t admit. How it works in their life. Not that I’m not interested in theory, but for theory I like ee equals emcee squared. Or Lord have mercy. If you’re going to theorize more than that, set it to a tune. Better yet, make it a ballad.

it hurts

by Andrea Elizabeth

Yesterday, before I wrote the last post, I wrote and published then unpublished the following post. The reason I unposted it was because it was a dig. See why I’ve reposted it below.

“Lately I have been in scenery mode instead of verbal mode, proven by my preference against “Of late”. On our trip to the northwest, before the fires got so bad, I did listen to a bit of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. Mostly it reminds me of the pretty faithful, so far, and nicely visual BBC adaptation. So this will address scenery, but not descriptions of it in particular. Except for the following nugget: Before getting into TMI, Stephen King in Bag of Bones, which I caught a few minutes of today, in essence described the sunset as of the type that looks as if someone is pressing their hand down on it like a water balloon, almost to bursting. I thought that was pretty good.

However. As much as I love and miss the mountains, I do not believe they exist for me or me for them. I do not feel entitled to sacrifice my dogs or family or Church to have my fill of them. Maybe someday I’ll feel free to do that, but not now. Besides the expense, the carbon footprint of backed up cars in Yellowstone, for example, must factor in to counting the costs. I don’t believe in being paralyzed or imprisoned by the costs of consuming this earth, but one should be mindful and not reckless about it. Nothing is free, especially not a view. And one should seek to improve where one is rather than just pining after better landscapes. Here’s a good place to start”

My diggeryness is mainly because some people do legitimately or not have the freedom to live their mountain dream, whether it’s living there or visiting and hiking their fill. I never have my fill. I go once a year and take a tiny, couple of hour hike and then have to stop because of obligations to others. I don’t think I’ve worked through all my feelings of resentment. In my last post I talked about people who don’t feel free to be true to themselves. They look with resentment, and Sydney especially is resentful and that is very realistically portrayed in Grantchester, on others who live, not necessarily their own dream, but the resenter’s dream. Maybe the resented doesn’t appreciate what they have or maybe it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Or maybe it is. Regardless, the resenter feels cheated. “That should have been mine.” I’ll designate covetousness to that which should not necessarily have been mine, but something I developed an appetite for after seeing someone else’s happiness with it.

But what if it should have been mine. What if the reason it isn’t is because of the wrong priorities and actions of others? A Calvinist can blithely say it wasn’t God’s will for me to have it. An Orthodox can similarly quote St. Philaret, “Teach me to treat all that comes to me throughout the day with peace of soul, and with the firm conviction that Thy will governs all.” But St. Philaret could have been western influenced.

“The young Basil studied at the Kolomna seminary, where courses were taught in Latin.

…In 1808, while he was a student at the Moscow Theological Academy at Holy Trinity Lavra, Basil received monastic tonsure and was named Philaret after Saint Philaret the Merciful (December 1). Not long after this, he was ordained a deacon.

In 1809, he went to teach at the Theological Academy in Petersburg” oca.org

I do not believe we are totally at the mercy of the biggest and strongest person, but God does allow enough free will in the world that folks will inevitably suffer. His answer is more about saving our souls in the midst of it than preventing suffering. He does directly cause some suffering, like the angel breaking Jacob’s hip, but I wont blame it all on him. I trust instead that we can be saved in our painful prisons whether it’s God’s fault, someone else’s fault, or our own. Everyone has to come to the place of surrender and nonbegrudgment. “Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.” – Princess Bride

deliver us from evil

by Andrea Elizabeth

I caught up to the episode in Grantchester Season 3 where I thought Leonard fell, and was so thankful to discover that he did not, in that episode. But then he got on an honesty kick and went off and *spoiler of course* kissed the guy at the end of the season. That’s not honesty. That is falling into temptation. Honesty would have been admitting to the Bishop that he had SSA. Well, everyone already knew that. To speak of it in the ’50’s probably meant he would lose his job. And Leonard is portrayed as so stifled. But one should be scared to sin. And then his engagement to the girl was made impossible when she brought up looking forward to what it takes to get in the family way, and he called it disgusting. My first thought is that if one thinks that marital relations are disgusting then there is something else wrong with them than just ssa. It is how God made babies to come into the world. If one thinks their own birth process is disgusting then it does make their condition seem like a psychological disorder.

Heterosexual people feel justified in thinking relations between two people of the same sex is disgusting. This could be because it does go against the natural order. And it makes them seem unfaithful to the object of legitimate vows. Btw, I’m glad that I also didn’t care for Sidney falling into temptation with Amanda either. There was a time when I would have been glad about the build up to that catharsis. I wasn’t gratified by it at all this time. Liberals blame the Church for saying that one’s urges are wrong. Perhaps they see all rules as wrong and do tend towards Communism where there should be no property rights. I don’t see how they get around their consensuality rule though. If one person doesn’t consent to give stuff to you, then it’s wrong to take it, right?

I was proud for Leonard’s restraint, and then sad at his “being true to himself.” At least he still seemed stiff. And we’ll see how the conservative African, and thankfully not yet vilified Archdeacon takes it.

get thee to a nunnery!

by Andrea Elizabeth

It tenuously remains today that Leonard’s path towards a homosexual lifestyle is more controversial than Sidney’s emotionally romantic relationship with Amanda who married someone else (end of Grantchester Season 2). What if our notion that romantic relationships that lead to sexual relationships being the necessary glue to sustainable relationships is a Matrix construct?

pro: other cultures don’t operate on the same premise. Example: arranged marriages and marriages of convenience. They seem less spoiled on the idea of only deserving the heights of romantic and sexual bliss.

con: Kierkegaard says people who don’t have erotic monogamous love aren’t really married in Either Or Part 2. That this is the necessary ingredient.

pro: I think he is too dismissive of other arrangements. Perhaps because he legitimately sees that some, probably in the west, are trying to talk themselves into believing they have it or are trying to have it when they don’t.

Con: Leonard seems truly to be a lonely man without a country. Loneliness leads one to compromise their morals. It also seems the Church failed him by not providing a monastic alternative with a community of invested brothers and intimate leadership. Sidney is always very distracted and uncommitted to Leonard’s nurture. He thinks Leonard should be true to himself as well, apparently at the end of season 2. Their bishop is also corrupt and enabling of pedophilic relationships.

pro: The conversation between the pedophilic vicar and Sydney is the crux of the issue. He is devastated by his loss of the 15 year old girl. He felt deep romantic love for her, but Sydney can’t accept that that is enough of a basis for their relationship, though it does make him pause regarding if he should feel “compassion”* for him. The anti-gay marriage people point to pedophilia as the next step if this type love is accepted in “sinful”* arrangements. The gay marriage lobby is pretty quiet about it. But an argument can be made that minors are too vulnerable and immature to handle an adult’s romantic and sexual attention. But aren’t minors too young to handle romantic and sexual attention from each other as well? Again we get to the legitimate basis for marriage. The Bible says that only in the instance of adultery and unequally yoked abandonment is the dissolution of marriage allowed. That implies that faithful commitment is the necessary ingredient, not feelings. Of course it’s easier to be faithfully committed if one is hopelessly in love with the other, but other cultures and examples show us that this is not the only condition. In our culture, it seems to take willpower if we don’t have it, because we believe so firmly in romantic love. In other cultures where there is not that emphasis, flirtations have a less lofty place in their hearts. It would be more like watching the Great Gatsby where wealthy people’s problems are real only to themselves as other people don’t have the luxury to spend their lives that way. Nor are they convinced they deserve to, or that it is healthy. These cultures are also more community minded. They spend their leisure time sitting around the fire, so to speak, in groups. Couples don’t have the freedom to go off so much by themselves in vain persuits.

*compassion literally means to have similar passion. What if romantic love is a passion? Duh, but I mean in the Orthodox since of an illicit attachment. It can be like sugar – something one can have an idolizing attachment to and craving for that leads them to make very unhealthy choices. We are generally though more cautious about eating cake than throwing ourselves into romantic relationships. Women my age start watching detective shows instead of romances because murder is often between people who believed that romantic love provided the only legitimate basis for relationship.

*sinful. I don’t think they use that category except to describe intolerant people. I love that the show gives equal credence to conservative, but non-religious, Geordi’s traditional point of view regarding perpetrators. “[Crime] needs to mean something.”

con: But just like the abortion argument, it can be said that couples sneak off even in those places and the punishments are severe if not to the young girl especially, but also to the resulting child. It’s all so hush hush.

pro: One can accept this reality and still think that just because it happens, we don’t have to legitimize it. Legitimization feeds and sells the Matrix illusion.

con: people have needs for love and touch. Vulnerable people may have actually been done wrong either by nature or nurture. Therefore illegitimate options are the only ones they see.

pro: but isn’t this heightened by the idea that romantic love and sex are a necessary right? Couldn’t it also be said that these people have a narcissistic need to be loved the way they want to be loved? That they don’t want to love legitimately the seemingly unattractive people who are also within their options? Jane Austen likes to make them ridiculous, such as Mr. Collins. SNL likes to call it settling. But even the motivations to settle in this way, say the guy legitimately has serious flaws, could be narcissistic. The settler can be impatient, desperate, and too narrowly focused on outcomes. But I wonder if more often than not, the person who feels like settling has too inflated a view of themself and what they deserve, and are too condescending to those who don’t fit their romantic ideal. They also would be better served by getting a more constructive hobby. Such as praying in a monastery. And if they are counseled that they are better suited to married life, then with prayer God can give them peace about who to take up with. Obedience is a better motivator than passion.

con: Isn’t marriage suppose to mirror Christ’s passionate love for the Church?

pro: his love also required obedience and painful sacrifice.

con: but true lovers are very willing to sacrifice to the object of their affection

pro: the hallmark of Christianity is loving our enemies. In Orthodox Christianity enemies are more humbly regarded as those I might be personally mistaken about or misunderstand in a more global sense or even victims of my selfishness.

What’s interesting about Sidney and Amanda in Grantchester is that Amanda’s husband stops just short of being abusive and neglectful. He showed her affection, just not Sidney’s affection, and she got lost in her dreamworld of the type of affection she, let me say deludedly and selfishly thinks she needs.

The anti-romanticist would say that she should shun and disregard Sidney. I think there is a third option. Compassionately understand that romantic love is a powerful thing and that people don’t understand where it fits in the scheme of things and that they are playing with a most likely destructive and distracting fire by entertaining it. With this mindset they wont so defensively and blindly fall into it’s control.

Stories are much more interesting than treatises

by Andrea Elizabeth

Wow Grantchester 2:5 gets to it! Excellent conversations about boiling issues coming to a head. Capital punishment, PTSD, marriage, and of course Leonard’s process of coming out. Spoiler: It’s probably realistic but I’m so disappointed that temptation and seduction are coming before confession. I expected more from him because he is learn-ed and respectful of the church. Well he hasn’t fallen yet but I caught a glimpse of a later episode so I think I know. Still I think these seducers are of the devil!