Truth and Beauty and Kissing Strangers

I’m very sure that to many I will sound like an uptight prude, but I find nothing beautiful about strangers making out with each other for a film project.

Perhaps you’ve seen the video floating around Facebook; it’s black and white, a mellow coffee shop song plays mournfully, and very beautiful and hip individuals meet for the first time and kiss.

Apparently it’s beautiful. I found it weird, awkward, and only watched thirty seconds of it. Amanda Hess of Slate wrote a piece that sums up my feelings with just its title, “This video of strangers kissing is ‘beautiful’ because it stars models“.

“The video peddles the fantasy that beauty can spring from an unexpected connection between two random people, but what it’s really showing us is the beauty of models making out. It’s like the hipster Bachelor. I doubt that millions of viewers would be so quick to celebrate a video of randos kissing if they were all less thin, hip, stylish, charming, and well-manicured. “

Casey Chan from Sploid wrote in favor of the film saying:

“Um, wow. I don’t know if it’s the song selection or because it’s in black and white or the fact that everybody in this video is so attractive, but what started out as incredibly awkward—seeing two strangers meet each other and kiss—turned into something pretty damn beautiful.”

To which I replied, it IS because of the song selection and the black and white and the fact that everyone is beautiful that you find the whole thing beautiful.

The film maker, Tatia Pilieva, effectively dressed up the situation enough to make viewers believe it’s beautiful. If you take away, like Hess says, the glamor of the individuals, the moody music and Instagram filter, you have an incredibly awkward situation. And it should make us awkward.  

The effect of the film is to shock us, surprise us, manipulate our emotions into…something, I don’t really even know. Am I supposed to feel like if I kiss strangers that is somehow more beautiful than kissing people I know? Am I supposed to just view it as a piece of art?

Mostly it just makes me want to have a sit down with my generation (Generation-X, or the Millennial or whatever dumb label we get) and politely ask us to stop doing whatever this is. Stop grasping for the cheap imitation of beauty, stop replicating what isn’t true nor good, to remember that we are so much more talented than we think we are. 

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. — Philippians 4:8

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Lenten Sacrifice Ideas {right under the wire!}

If you’re like me, Lent completely snuck up on you this year. 

Yes, we’ve been hinting at it in the readings for the past couple weeks, and I had it circled in my calendar, but still — this Sunday’s announcement of Ash Wednesday Mass times at our local parish completely hit me out of nowhere. Something about the shortness of February and the epic cold weather we’re still suffering in Nebraska made it seem impossible that Lent could already be here.

I immediately panicked: oh shoot, what am I gonna do for Lent? Immediately I started sweating, panicky, and realized: my brain is broken. I can’t come up with ANYTHING. I can’t even think of words that relate to Lent, let alone a good couple things to give up and take up during these 40 days of penance.

I’m here to help you out. (Whew! Breathe a sigh of relief now, and maybe go put on more deodorant. Friendly advice.) I’ve collected a list of the blogosphere’s best resources for Lenten sacrifices for your perusal. Click through, weigh your options, and give some love to these bloggers for having great, foreward-thinking posting. 

1. Outside the Box: 66 Things to Give Up or Take Up for Lent (in Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced)

Kendra at Catholic All Year came up with a fantastic, easy-to-read list of ideas for your Lenten sacrifices. And handily enough, you can decide a level for each sacrifice, or even come up with a sort of schedule to increase your difficulty as the season progresses. (You get level-up points if you do it that way, I’m told.) 

2. FOCUS’s Lentsanity app

FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students, aka Caitlin’s employer) has a great solution to your Lenten worries: an app designed specifically for Lent! Called “Lentsanity,” it’s got daily reflections, meat-free recipe ideas, and you can even set reminders before meals on days of fasting and abstinence so you have no excuse to miss out! Go to your fancy marketplace on your smartphone and download it for free, or click to the link above and navigate to “Lentsanity App.”  

3. What to Give Up for Lent: 20 Weird Ideas

LifeTeen’s got a great list of easy-to-implement but definitely grace-inducing ideas for Lenten sacrifices. Each one on their list is guaranteed to make you step back every day and rethink your daily living, refocusing it on Christ.

4. 100 Things to Do for Lent

I read this post last year right before Lent and it’s just as relevant today. The author’s gathered 100 ideas to pick from for sacrifices during Lent — with 100 things to choose from, how can you not find one that fits your spiritual needs?

5. My Lenten Challenge: 40 Days of Living Sacrifice [and] Planning for Lent: How Sacrificing Time for Exercise Can Become a Lifelong Offering of Love

This one is a double-whammy, and I’ve included both of them because they’re motivating me for my own Lenten sacrifices (more on that later). Steph at Little Bit of Paradise has a great (and challenging!) promise for Lent: to exercise once every day for the entire 40 days. Sounds tiring, doesn’t it? Her reasons are beautiful and good and heartening for those of us maybe joining her. And Susan at Sole Searching Mamma makes the same case for recognizing the care of our bodies as a sacrifice for some — one with infinite benefits. Give them both a read!

If you’re Catholic, or happen to have a lot of Catholic friends on Facebook, perhaps you’ve seen these all before — if not, enjoy the list. As for me, I’ll be reading the Gospel of Luke (thanks to Caitlin’s recommendation), working out every day with my husband as our joint sacrifice (which will be harder to do this year seeing as I’m 28 weeks pregnant!), spending 15 minutes of quiet time a day in prayer with Our Lord, and giving up pop. I usually tack on a couple more sacrifices for Holy Week in order to prepare myself for Easter, so I may be back with a follow-up post for that later…if you’re lucky. 

Happy Fat Tuesday, and a prayerful Lent to all of you!

Hannah