Thursday, October 18, 2007

Milarepa

Just a quick post on a movie the four of us saw this past weekend. Milarepa is a story that combines, for us, a very familiar story with some exotic landscape and ideas.

Let's start with the exotic. Milarepa is a major historical figure in Tibetan Buddhism, a yogi who produced many songs, poems, and disciples that are remembered and revered to this day. But before he ascended to this exalted status, he was a young man who practiced sorcery and murder. You see, after his wealthy father's death, Milarepa's uncle and aunt stole all of his family's wealth. For years, Milarepa, his mother, and his sister lived in absolute poverty. Eventually, as the story goes, Milarepa's mother, motivated by revenge, sent him away to learn black magic. And learn he did. Before long, Milarepa was able to run at incredible, superhuman speeds and to summon natural forces on his behalf. These powers were used toward ill ends when Milarepa brought death and destruction down upon his village, in the form of wind, rain, and mountain slides.

So where's the familiarity? Well, there is the moral of the story. Power and gifts should not be used for evil purposes, but to do good in society. This can be found in tales as simple as the origin of Spider Man (go back and read the first issue). It is also found in many religious traditions, including Christianity. I, for one, was struck by the similarities between Milarepa and Paul. Paul, of course, made the transition from being a notorious persecutor of early Christians to being one of the most important missionaries and theologians in church history. Likewise, Milarepa ultimately recognized the mistakes he had made and became a great teacher in Tibetan Buddhism.

Thankfully, we all can be redeemed!

~Steve

Monday, October 15, 2007

juliegoestohighschool.com

Surprise, surprise! We spent part of this past weekend attending the open houses of two local Catholic high schools. Yes, now that Julie is in seventh grade, it's time to check out the local education scene for the next level (about which we, as transplants, know essentially nothing about), so she is ready to apply this time next year.

"You gotta be kiddin' me," was what I was thinking. I mean, how hard can all of this be? IT'S HIGH SCHOOL!!!

Well, am I glad we went, for a number of reasons.

First of all, Julie was really gung-ho about seeing one of the high schools--Georgetown Visitation--that had an open house this weekend. I guess there was a lot of chatter about this particular school among some of her friends. Sure, Julie has spent a lot of time at Blair with Desi, but she was very curious as to how a Catholic high school environment would be similar and different to what she has seen in the public school setting. Plus, there is the fact that Visitation is an all-girls campus. Julie wanted to see how single-sex education would come across to her.

The second reason these visits were really neat is that both Visitation and Holy Child, the other school we checked out, are very, very impressive and beautiful. Visitation, as the name suggests, is adjacent to Georgetown University's campus. It is therefore in a historic DC neighborhood with lots of tall trees and old buildings. (The school itself dates to 1799.) For its part, Holy Child is out in Maryland horse country, with white pickets fences surrounding the pristine and modern-looking campus.

If there was a downside to all of this, it is the combination of how much Julie (and we) liked both schools and their respective price tags. As we told Julie, it's up to her to have fun and choose a school she will feel comfortable in. And it's up to Desi and me to figure out how to pay the bills! On this latter score, we have set up a website, juliegoestohighschool.com, to help us raise funds for this worthwhile educational cause. We accept all major credit cards and can easily set up a monthly automatic debit from your bank account if that makes things easier. We thank you in advance for your generosity!

~Steve