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Friday roundup: Five things worth paying attention to this week

2.9. 2018 Posted By: The Mennonite 207 Times read

Joanne Gallardo is pastor of faith formation at Berkey Avenue Mennonite Church, Goshen, Indiana.

Here are five things worth paying attention to this week. These are designed to expose you to a perspective you may not normally come across in your daily lives.

1. Lent
The Lenten season is fast approaching. In fact, Feb. 14, of all days, is Ash Wednesday. The imposition of ashes is how many traditions choose to mark this occasion. By having the ashes smudged in the sign of the cross on our forehead or hand, we are reminded of our mortality, as we indeed return to dust when all is said and done. I would encourage you to attend an Ash Wednesday service this year. Your church may already have a one planned; if not, an area church is likely participating. As you receive the imposition of ashes, remember not only your mortality, but that you were created from this very dust with a loving Hand.

2. Mardi Gras
In many of these same traditions that observe Ash Wednesday, Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, is also observed. I grew up with fastnachts being served on this day, which are deep fried, sugar coated doughnuts. In the stores of my childhood, pazckis were sold by the dozen around this time of year. Other traditions have their own version of sweet, baked goodness. For a good fasnacht recipe to try this next week, click here.

3. Aziz Ansari
A few weeks ago, news of the actor-comedian broke out, and for many, this shook the very core of the #metoo movement. A woman accused Ansari of sexual assault. The details of what transpired between herself and the actor were made public. This caused a lot of scrutiny, much of it geared toward women who make claims of sexual assault. Many people sought to draw a line in the sand as to what “counts” as assault and what doesn’t. Personally, I was rather conflicted in my feelings, somehow feeling the need to be rid of any “gray area” regarding this issue. As usual, Lindy West wrote an excellent article for the New York Times outlining the timeline of cultural shifts in regards to assault.

4. The Good Place
It’s rare I find a funny show I enjoy watching. I’m usually drawn to the most intense, dramatic tale Hollywood has to offer. I was delighted to be introduced to “The Good Place” staring Kristen Bell and Ted Danson. Bell stars as Eleanor Shellstrop, a woman who has died and landed in “The Good Place.” However, it becomes evident that someone clearly has her mistaken for someone else, someone who actually lived a virtuous, not hedonistic, life. Hilarity ensues when the equilibrium is upset in The Good Place, and the architect of her “neighborhood,” Ted Danson, sets out on a mission to find what has gone wrong and who landed there by mistake. Including the philosophies from the likes of Kant and Aristotle, this show is as brainy as it is funny.

5. Praying
Prayer can take many forms. For me, a lot of times it’s in the form of music. The artist Kesha released an album in August 2017 that I’m just now discovering entitled “Rainbow.” In her song “Praying,” Kesha grapples with the concepts of anger, forgiveness, depression, faith, and hope. The angst that drives the song comes from her personal struggles with an eating disorder and abuse at the hands of her former producer. The hope in this song comes from her wanting her abuser to come to a metanoia experience of having done wrong by another person. Whether or not this happens, Kesha can still be found in the video climbing over obstacles to get to a cross where the words “God is love” are written. To listen to this beautiful piece, see below:

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