Thoughts on the Future of the Blog, Quarantine, and Lent

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Dear readers,

I’m not dead! I’m alive and well, and at this point, I do not have COVID-19. I am dreadfully sorry for not writing on the blog for almost two months. The beginning of the year is always a strange time for movies and for me, and this year is particularly strange. 

I am, of course, referring to the coronavirus pandemic. I’ve been home for the past two weeks and will remain here as my university finishes the semester out online. My family is under shelter-in-place and has been social distancing and quarantining as much as possible. 

Then this is the perfect time to write plenty of reviews, right? Well, now the problem is that there are no movies out. In the coming days, I will probably write about a few of the newest theatrical releases that have been sent to streaming. I’ll be debuting madeleinelovesmovies’s first series review with the Tiger King on Netflix (it’s great!). I’m also interested in experimenting with a few non-reviews, in the line of meditations, essays, or think-pieces, if you don’t mind me straying a bit from this blog’s original intention. 

This is also as good a time as any to mention that I’m always up for guest writers. If you want to write a review for something, contact me personally or pitch me your idea in the comments of this post. The comments have to be approved before becoming visible on the blog so I’ll see them and we can talk!

~

Taking a hard transition away from housekeeping… It is currently the season of Lent. Lent is a season of the Christian calendar that makes up the 40 days leading up to Easter Sunday (this year it’s April 12). It is kicked off on what’s called Ash Wednesday, which is usually celebrated with a service where a pastor draws a cross with ashes across congregant’s foreheads, with the words “Remember that you are dust, and to dust, you shall return.”

 It is traditional to fast from something during Lent. Many people will give up things like coffee or chocolate or social media. Instead of fasting, some people try to start a habit, like reading their bible daily. The purpose of Lent, through practices like fasting, is to tune our hearts towards Jesus and his sacrifice. Our small sacrifices remind us of his and of our dependence on his strength. 

Most years I attempt to fast something. This year I didn’t- citing my busy schedule and not preparing for Lent properly beforehand. But it turns out that I am now, unexpectedly, fasting quite a bit. This fasting is coming from quarantine, and I am beginning to believe that this quarantine/self-isolation/social-distancing/whatever you want to call it, may actually be the best thing that could happen during Lent. Of course, this pandemic is horrific. It’s causing every kind of pain at every level. No one is untouched and the long-term ramifications are frightening and unpredictable. Yet it’s where we’re at right now. It’s what we’ve been given. 

Lent is about sacrifice and deprivation, and the coronavirus pandemic has made us all sacrifice and be deprived of so many things. Everyone has had some kind of future event canceled. All sports, all concerts, all conferences and parties and vacations are gone for the foreseeable future. We have had our mobility- our sweet, sweet American freedom of movement- taken away. We have had our closest friendships and even family members taken by distance. We have lost our ability to buy whatever we want, in whatever amount, and get it whenever we want. Some of us have lost our jobs and livelihoods. We’ve lost money in stocks and IRAs and retirement. We’ve lost our health and some of us will lose our loved ones or even our own lives. We have lost all illusion of certainty for the future. 

We are completely dependent. Our knowledge and understanding are limited. The news makes us feel omnipotent but our perspective is truly small. Some of us are having to truly, desperately pray for our daily bread (or toilet paper), because for the first time we can’t take it for granted. It is in this desperation and fraughtness that we are, perhaps, being given the opportunity to learn the real meaning of Lent, and to experience it deeply. 

May we realize our own weakness. May we truly come to terms with it. May we take this uncomfortable freedom of time to truly abide the thought of death. May we trade peace maintained by thoughtlessness for peace found by preparedness and hope. May we realize that nothing we could possibly be asked to sacrifice will ever compare to the sacrifice already made for us. 

Wash your hands. Remain vigilant. Stay safe, and watch good movies. 

“You say that you cannot abide the thought of death. Then you greatly need it. Your shrinking from it proves that you are not in a right state of mind… I would not endure a peace which could only be maintained by thoughtlessness. You have something yet to learn if you are a Christian, and yet are not prepared to die… Should it not be the business of this life to prepare for the next life, and, in that respect, to prepare to die? But how can a man be prepared for that which he never thinks of?” -Charles Spurgeon (from “O Love That Will Not Let Me Go” ed. by Nancy Guthrie)

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