freedom OF religion or freedom FROM religion? That is the question.

Followers, I’d appreciate your thoughts! This is a small essay I wrote for school!

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. (The First Amendment of the Constitution)

            Many modern Americans desire to paraphrase this amendment and claim that this amendment completely separates the church from the state, in order to support their belief that religion should be completely annihilated from society and government. Unfortunately for them, the first amendment states that Congress cannot establish a religion, but it was not written with the intent of pushing the church out the door. This amendment was written by our Founding Fathers with their forefathers in mind—the people such as Pilgrims who crossed the sea and settled at Plymouth in order to escape the oppression of King James, who established his own church of England to the exclusion of those who practiced their own set of Christian beliefs. His establishment of religion infringed on the personal rights of other believers who did not agree exactly with the king’s theology, thus forcing them to flee their homes in England and settle in the new world.

However, the meaning of this amendment has been warped by those who seek to eradicate the Church altogether.

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“I’ll be the artist . . .”

A recent questionnaire caught my attention, and I decided to just go for it, albeit the fact that I have been scarce, and sometimes I wonder if when I’ll ever get back to writing regularly, with a passion. I think the desire to create stories lies dormant within me, waiting to rouse and spin a shelf of stories. But right now, I think this tag will remind me of why I love to write, who I am as a writer, et cetera. Feel free to join in. I want to read your responses. Comment if you decide to do it! 🙂

  1. How many years have you been writing? When did you officially consider yourself a ‘writer’? I have been writing since I was about four, but my earliest stories were more like visual storyboards–I remember way back then I would scribble on page after page in my sketchbooks, “fan-fiction/art” of my favorite Founding Fathers and Moses and Disney characters. My favorite book characters took a huge part of these early comics. I think I officially began to write when I was about seven, starting with some stories based on the American Girl Kaya, the Nez Perce girl . . . (obviously I’ve always had a strong preference for historical fiction). My best friend Kayla and I wrote about the eponymous Kaya and her own character “Rayla”, both native American girls whose adventures we scrawled on stacks of notebook paper. I kept on writing, and became an avid fan of mystery stories, like Nancy Drew, Detectives and Togas and Mystery of the Roman Ransom (both by Henry Winterfeld), and the Mandie series. It was during this time, from around age 9-11, that I realized that writing meant something to me and it was something I wanted to do forever.
  2. How/why did you start writing? I really wanted to relive all of my favorite books, because the characters became so real to me. I couldn’t just close them up and put them back on the shelf. I went back to them, dwelt on them and their stories, and I tried to keep them alive in my own writings, usually “fan-fiction” of these works. I loved history. George Washington, Paul Revere, Lafayette, the Ancient Romans and Greeks . . . all the books I read began to filter into a creative drive, and I started to write, typing in Word 2000 on my parents’ old computer, until another family member kicked me off if I overstayed my computer time. 🙂
  3. What’s your favorite part of writing? The intimacy of it. I absolutely love to envision the expressions and speech and mannerisms of the people I write about–I feel like I’m really there, seeing all of it, knowing these people. Reading has the same effect, which is probably why I decided to create stories to read. I love the fact that when I write historical fiction, I am sort of time-travelling to a different era, knowing people I would never meet otherwise.
  4. What’s your biggest writing struggle? Ahem, the finishing part is ALWAYS a challenge. I usually lose momentum after the early chapters, but I intend to force myself to finish some older projects soon.
  5. Do you write best at night or day? Definitely at night. Less distractions, less noise and obligations to fulfill when everyone is asleep and I’m supposed to be asleep as well. 😉
  6. What does your writing space look like? (Feel free to show us pictures!) I try to write at my desk as often as possible (or else work on school and art), but most of the time I write in my bed before I go to sleep.10568932_557268047751032_6987686810130708086_n
  7. 1173836_308419322635907_302420527_nHow long does it typically take you to write a complete draft? Six months to a year, sometimes 2. The only two books I’ve completed are a novella, Intertwined Destinies, and a novel, The Wish. I’m pretty sure the first one took about half-a-year and the other one around a year.
  8. How many projects do you work on at once? Umm, three? Sometimes more. It depends. I have been working on the same things the past year.
  9. Do you prefer writing happy endings, sad ones, or somewhere in between? Bittersweet ones are a fair in-between, and definitely the most satisfying for me. I like to be both melancholy and happy . . . how very complicated of me!
  10. List a few authors who’ve influenced your writing journey. L.M. Montgomery-inspired me to change my style and overall story-lines, and her subtlety of writing permeates her tales in impressive ways. C.S. Lewis, David Nevin, Dostoevsky, Harper Lee, and Margaret Mitchell, and lots of history books . . . all of these have played a major part in my development as a writer
  11. Do you let people read your writing? Why or why not? Sometimes. Lately, no, because I have been highly unproductive and the little that I do write is a historical fantasy alternate-universe fiction which I would prefer to keep under wraps. 🙂
  12. What’s your ultimate writing goal or dream? Definitely to become published, and to direct/write/script movies, specifically movies associated with American history (or any other favorite historical people/times) and possibly be a writer and producer for animated films.
  13. If you didn’t write, what would you want to do? Simply be the best artist I can possibly be, explore the animation field, work as a political activist (I mean, get hands-on, not simply write impassioned articles).
  14. Do you have a book you’d like to write one day but don’t feel you’re ready to attempt it yet? Several, actually. :’)
  15. Which story has your heart and won’t let go? Definitely Fortis Corde (Strong Hearts) . . . this one is very dear to me, perhaps since I’ve invested so much emotional energy into it. And besides that, I absolutely love the time period in American history where it is set. It is a very Washington Irving-esque story and something so haunting and rustic about it that i don’t want to give it up. I’m not sure if I’m ready to write it, but I definitely want to finish it someday soon.

Last time i felt brave?

What with a surgery, college prep, finishing senior year, and a multitude of other things going on, it is easy to sink into what Anne calls, “the Depths of Despair”. I tend to get overwhelmed pretty easily, when my emotions ride up and down, waves and waves of confusing feelings and doubts and fears and irritations. The other day while running I started to listen to Owl City, because this music soothes me, as only some music can. One song I played struck an especially deep cord with me. It paralleled my turbulent mindset. It gave voice to the swirling thoughts in my head.

Tidal Wave by Owl City

I wish I could cross my arms, and cross your mind
Cause I believe you’d unfold your paper heart and wear it on your sleeve
All my life I wish I broke mirrors, instead of promises
Cause all I see, is a shattered conscience staring right back at me
I wish I had covered all my tracks completely cause I’m so afraid
Is that the light at the far end of the tunnel or just the train?
Lift your arms only heaven knows, where the danger grows
And it’s safe to say there’s a bright light up ahead and help is on the way
(Help is on the way, Help is on the way, Help is on the way…)

Help is on the way
I forget the last time I felt brave, I just recall insecurity
Cause it came down like a tidal wave, and sorrow swept over me

Depression, please cut to the chase and cut a long story short
Oh please be done. How much longer can this drama afford to run?
Fate looks sharp, severs all my ties and breaks whatever doesn’t bend
But sadly then, all my heavy hopes just pull me back down again
(Back down again, back down again, back down again…)

I forget the last time I felt brave, I just recall insecurity
Cause it came down like a tidal wave, and sorrow swept over me
Then I was given grace and love, I was blind but now I can see
Cause I found a new hope from above, and courage swept over me

It hurts just to wake up, whenever you’re wearing thin
Alone on the outside, so tired of looking in
The end is uncertain and I’ve never been so afraid
But I don’t need a telescope to see that there’s hope
And that makes me feel brave

What of Heaven and Men?

Partially inspired by adventures in the highly illuminating Omnibus series, I find myself drifting back towards writing fiction. Like I said, yes, I am doing The Writing Month thingy this year. Finally. But still, I procrastinate and write about OTHER things BESIDES this imminent project that shall be here in like . . . gosh . . . 12 days. There is a blog thing going around in regards to the endeavors of National Novel Writing Month. One of my favorite blogs called Further up and Further In is hosting Beautiful Books, a project designed to provoke thoughts and questions concerning the novels. My answers to their questions should be here soon. In the meantime, have a short story meant to be expanded on in my WIP, Heaven’s Sight. 

The corners of Father O’Connor’s mouth curled slightly as he peered down at the paper in Anton’s hands. “Well,” he murmured, bending down a bit more. “What a work is this! What a work indeed.”

“My sketch,” Anton said tremulously. He forced himself to look straight up into the priest’s face. His eyes revealed that skittish anxiety which one could notice almost immediately when looking at him.

“Yes, my lad. That is quite a sketch. It is a wonder!”

Anton’s stricken features suddenly relaxed—an infinitesimal bit.

“You needn’t look as if I’m ‘bout to rap you o’er your knuckles, lad,” Father O’Connor sighed, and then laughed. He ruffled the boy’s dark curls, with a full-fledged grin spreading out his mouth. “I was in a good mind to when I called you to stay here, but I don’t believe Michelangelo’s teacher would have done that, if Michelangelo was working those marvelous hands o’ his.”

Anton sat in twitching silence, clasping and unclasping his own damp hands.

Father O’Connor laughed again. “Aye, lad! I will send you on your way now. You’re lookin’ a wee peaked now, and I believe you’ve been punished enough, by your own doing. And I’d be mighty pleased to see if you have a book of these sketches hidden away somewhere.”

“Oh, Father!” Anton burst out at last, terror etched sharply in his features. “I won’t ever draw in class again! I won’t! I won’t!”

“Hush, now. None of this. If you fear that I will seize your sketchbook, you have me quite wrong. Nothing of that sort shall come about, I am only desperately curious to have a look at your pictures.”

Anton, pleadings burning on his tongue, sat in heavy silence. A flicker of worry sent a faint chill through the priest. He laid his hand gently on Anton’s fist. “There, there, my lad,” he said softly, “you mustn’t be afraid of me. Or of anyone else here. What a blessing it is that you should be here now, reading books, learning, safe and warm with everything a lad could need! ‘Tis a fine blessing, Mother Mary’s benediction for you.”

Anton did not stir or speak. So Father O’Connor continued. “And I only asked to see your pictures, for I find you do a splendid job of it, a real dandy hand you have. You must have many a reason to thank heaven—”

His words might have been sparks to a bed of straw. Anton’s eyes took on an uncanny frigid brilliance. “Heaven hasn’t given me anything,” he said simply.

Father O’Connor’s eyebrows leapt up his forehead, and his mouth tightened at once. “Crikey, lad! What do you mean by that?”

“I mean,” said Anton still in that frank, slow tone, “That I haven’t ever heard or seen anything from Heaven good. Nothing will.”

“One does not see or hear a divine thing, my son. It is something beyond that. Beyond the tangible and the reasonable. And indeed, nothing is ever wholly good on this earth—that is only material. What is in it—that is the beautiful substance of life.”

But Anton had stood, his limber young figure akin to a healthy sapling. Father O’Connor let his tongue rest, even as he clasped his hands. He watched Anton silently gather his things, noting the masked expression—not even an expression, but some new hardness.

Ready or Not

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The game has been much afoot since August, I must say. There are many sides to that statement. I regret that I fall behind on the blogging thing, but anyways . . . as to the “game afoot”. ‘Tis more like, there are senior year responsibilites/tasks/to-dos afoot which hover round the head and chirp at me like so many obnoxious bird (whaaat? I’m a bit tired right now. Excuse my stupid similes)

Let’s go through the photos up there. The first one is of a blue and white striped backpack I found at Khols. To be clear, I get most excited about buying accessories like backpacks, purses, bags, aaand shoes, but other than that I get insufficient satisfaction out of a sartorial shopping trip. So I found this beautiful “Benrus” military backpack which is just awesome, with its leather accents and blue and white stripes. You’ll find out why I love blue and white so much now . . . but just to hold that question up in the air, I’ll say that between August and lovable October, life has seemed like this thrilling albeit stressful roller coaster. I have been very much in a state of Writer’s Block. BUT, I am finally resolving to put my foot down and take a shot at National Novel Writing Month this November (NEXT MONTH! :O) I have found the story to write, but now it comes down to planning it out, outlining, compiling an inspo-notebook (plus a Spotify playlist). ANYWAYS BACK TO THE BACKPACK. YES.

It is beautiful. It is perfect. I can see myself wearing it as a uni-student, and I’ll have on a preppy plaid red skirt, a dark scarf, a blue shirt beneath a jean jacket. And BOOTS, yeah. I love, love boots. And now that it’s October I feel it fitting to bring them out.

Next pic is of a cup with Plum tea that I sipped in my favorite local coffee shop. It is such a deliciously rustic, hippie-like place. It reminds me of Austin and long conversations about books, history, random stuff with special people (because we had those conversations at this little place). It reminds me of a chill in the air and then stepping inside and feeling a surge of warmth and my heart begin to race when I glimpse a certain somebody in the corner on a mac computer . . . ♥ but it’s not like coffee shops aren’t for fantasies, sitting alone and wishing something could happen, like a meeting in the coffee shop. Ohh my goodness, wow. Sorry, what a tangent. Excuse my totally chaotic, disorganized mind.

So the picture of the tea is capturing a moment. when I drove myself to the coffee shop to celebrate . . . celebrate becoming an official almost-uni student, as in . . . I was accepted to the university of my dreams and this means that next October I’ll be at My University delving into their beautiful Classical curriculum, reading Plato or Dante probably, walking around the mall with glowing autumn leaves scattering around . . . and I screamed, my family celebrated with me when I opened that letter.  So yeah. I know what I will major in: English. And I have decided to concentrate or minor in Studio art. Thus, the last picture is of my University’s seal.

Veritatem, Justitiam, Diligite.

(Truth, Justice, Diligence), the school motto in Latin. Beautiful.

Blue and white are the colors. I already have a lanyard from the Uni, with their name on it, so I can make it clear where I belong. I am totally, beyond belief, ineffably excited for next year to arrive. And it is only 45 minutes away from home so that takes the edge off of leaving home. Truly, I cannot imagine a better place–their Core Curriculum delves into Theology, Philosophy, Classic Literature, History, all taught with a foundation in classical education. Can I just say that I love all things classical (music, edu., art, literature, languages, architecture, sculpture, cities . . .)? Well, this is obvious of course, given the blog’s name.

More on this in a bit, because I want to discuss the fundamental aspects of the literature, theology, philosophy, and art that will be rigorously taught (BRING IT ON YEAH). OK. I must tone down.

I am definitely set on doing NaNo. I have no idea how it will turn out, but I already have everything I need barring the oh-so-valuable outline that I know would be invaluable. My next post will be a tag, sort of fun, just cause I wanted to. I also have some more writings I hope to post soon, and blog posts of my thoughts lately. Adieu for now,

Soli Deo Gloria,

Reb