Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Passing of an Icon

Speaking of celebrity influences on my life, I just found out in the last few minutes that one of my favourite authors, Anne McCaffrey, died on Monday. I'm actually crying a bit...I discovered her books when I was in my early teens, and they were my companions through a lot. She wrote about strong women overcoming dire circumstances before it was cool to write strong genre women. I literally have an entire shelf dedicated to just her books; more than any other author in my collection.


Sad day :(

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


This is going to be a more personal blog then mine usually are - a departure from the updates on the fun and interesting things that have happened over the last few months. Well, I hope it's still interesting, anyway! :) I've got something on my mind that just won't let me focus on my Hamlet essay, so grab a cuppa (offering a hot bevvy is a social convention, you know!) and wander with me.

In late September, I was looking for a tv show to watch online while we ate dinner. We gave up cable a few years ago because I just didn't have a whole lot of self control when it came to prioritizing my time when the Food Network was calling my name. So now we either watch shows on DVD, or online. I was scrolling through the shows available on the CTV website, and the name Sanctuary caught my eye. I remembered right away that Sanctuary was the show that Amanda Tapping was involved with after Stargate ended, so that was enough of a connection for me to tell Trevor that's what we were watching, and fortunately season one was all available.

I haven't gotten that instantly sucked into a tv show since February of 1997 when I watched my first episode of Star Trek: Voyager, part way through season 3. Now, about 6 weeks after finding Sanctuary, we're about half way through season 3, and should get caught up to the current episodes in season 4 by the end of the month. I'm struggling to slow down so I don't run out of new episodes to watch, but on the other hand, nearly every episode ends on a cliff hanger, and it's driving me mental! Trevor is very entertained by my expressions of frustrated fan-girl-ness.

Sanctuary is set basically in a modern parallel universe inhabited by normal humans, as well as 'abnormal' humans and creatures...think along the lines of X-Men. Tapping's character, Helen Magnus, is a 150-ish year old doctor who runs this Sanctuary organization, and she has a highly entertaining team of sidekicks, and a lovely British accent. I'm not sure exactly what it is about Sanctuary that I enjoy so much - it's a combination of the acting, the characters, the one-liners, the noble goal, the historical nods, the teasing cliff hangers - it's just brilliant.

Since I'm on Twitter now (which is a long story we won't go into in public! :P) I decided to 'follow' some of the actors from the show, just out of curiosity. What is this Twitter? Why is everyone so crazy about following celebrities? And so I figured normal, Canadian, celebrities were about my speed, and since I basically have dinner with these people every night, I was curious to know a bit more about their 'real' lives. I say 'real' because on Twitter of course people are still acting, but it's a different perspective on them.

In the middle of my Sanctuary crush, we took a weekend to run a youth retreat at our church. We had 75 youth and leaders from BC and Alberta sleeping on the floor, playing games, singing (yay Trevor!) and soaking up some really great teaching. The central theme of the weekend was Matthew 5:14, which is basically about being salt and light in the world. The speaker, Jenny (who I just love - I'd never even emailed with her before Friday, but I felt like I'd known her forever almost right away! I love it when that happens) used a refrain of 'you are a unique child of God' to punctuate a lot of her messages.

For me, 'you are a unique child of God' applies outwardly. I'm secure in that I'm a unique child of God - I've never doubted that. But it gave me a different perspective loving on the kids around me, and reminded me of why I got into youth ministry in the first place, almost 15 years ago. So many kids go through life in the church not knowing how incredibly precious and unique they are. I also used this phrase as an anti-evolution slogan in youth Bible study on Sunday, which I thought was really cool. :)

But what really got my attention was something that happened yesterday. Ryan Robbins, who's one of the actors on Sanctuary, Tweeted a link to a video in which he sings 'Hallelujah' by Leonard Cohen. Here's a link to the video: http://vimeo.com/15215209

It totally blew me away. I watched a version of Hamlet recently where David Tennant (Dr. Who) played the title character, and his acting was just so raw and emotional I actually had to look away from the intensity, because his pain felt so personal (he's replaced Kenneth Branagh as my favourite Hamlet, by the way). I felt a lot like that watching Robbins sing this song.

Now, this song always breaks my heart a little bit, because I feel like Cohen was SO CLOSE to discovering the amazing grace of God, but he never quite gets there, and it's just so haunting and sad. It's basically about King David's horribly tainted relationship with Bathsheba, but in the Bible, David was forgiven and his relationship with God was restored, which is what the song leaves out. Robbins' version is the most heartbreaking I've ever heard - he said on Twitter that he'd been going through something at the time, and it's totally obvious.

This verse is the saddest, I think, it's just so hopeless and lost:
Maybe there’s a God above
But all I’ve ever learned from love
Was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you
It’s not a cry you can hear at night
It’s not somebody who has seen the light
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah

The strangest thing happened while I was listening to Robbins; even though I knew this video was a year or more old, I had the sudden overwhelming urge to pray that he would know that he's a unique child of God. Blew my socks off - I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. I actually couldn't sleep last night because it was so on my mind, which is crazy, because I can literally sleep through a rock concert if it's past my bedtime. :)

Is it weird to pray for an actor who you'll probably never even meet, because he was going through something that you'll never know about, when you don't even know how he feels about God in the first place? Or how he'd feel about being prayed for, and by a stranger? It feels a bit weird...but I didn't feel like I could do anything else in the face of such obvious pain. Salt and light, right?

Here's another version, called 'Another Hallelujah', by a Christian artist called Lincoln Brewster: http://youtu.be/uN5_PgtLpRc

It takes this melancholy cry for help and turns it into a triumphant anthem of grace and praise, which is totally what God is all about. Cool, hey?

So, that's the saga of how a tv show, a haunting song, and a youth retreat have all come together today to ground me in my faith in Jesus and give me goosebumps.

And how I just spent an hour banging out 1100 plus words about this when all I'm supposed to be doing is writing 500 on Hamlet... :)