Monday, July 19, 2010

Belly dancing with props, and The Tudors turns on my water works...

Two totally divergent topics today, but I'm certain that my dear readers are very used to this :) We'll start with the uplifting first. I had dance class on Friday, and it was super fun and jam packed with exciting new choreography and costuming news. Now that the opening party has passed, I figured that Claire would begin introducing us to some new choreographies in preparation for the fall hafla. I wasn't disappointed.

A drum was mentioned, which always sets my heart aflutter. I love drum pieces, they are my absolute favorite. AND. A prop was brought out. We all practiced swinging one around. Yes, that's right. A belly dance cane! Thank God Claire has liability insurance.

Canes are a traditional belly dance prop (along with veils, swords, and wings. See why I love it so much?) and I've never used one before. I managed to swing one around without breaking a window or anybody's jaw, so that's a good first attempt, I'd say. We're going to be doing a group cane number! I took one home to practice and I'm all excited.

We're also going to be getting new group costumes. This time, we're each going to pick whatever costume we want from the designer Claire works with, just all in the same color. We can each pick whatever style we want. If someone prefers a gown, she can go that route, while another person may choose a traditional bra and belt set or a bra and skirt set. To say that I'm excited about this is a serious understatement. I've already ferreted out the designer, friended him on Facebook, and looked through every one of his photo albums. I can barely get any work done I'm so excited. They are SO PRETTY. Stay tuned on this one. Much beading talk will follow.

Ok, so that was the exciting start to my weekend. It was jam packed with outdoor activities and a birthday party for a little girl in Hank's class at a bounce house facility. Lots of fun. Last night, after putting an exhausted and bounced out Hank to bed, Mike and I settled in for our nightly installment of Showtime's The Tudors. Anybody else watch this?

We're about midway through Season 2. It's very well done. I will say that we do see more people naked than I believe is necessary, and as one would expect, it's quite violent. Overall though, it's extremely compelling.

As the show has moved along, from the plotted extraction of Katherine of Aragon, to the rise and precipitous fall of Anne Boleyn, I've followed along avidly, not able to look away from the intense drama. I think the show does an excellent job of showing how Henry becomes the monster that we all know and hate.

At first he was simply spoiled and used to getting his way. Then, he fell in obsessive lust with Anne Boleyn. And once again, he wanted to get his way, so he tried to seduce her and get her to do what he wanted. She wouldn't. So, what to do next? Try to manipulate the Church thus that Anne would marry him and then do what he wanted. They wouldn't. So he created his own power above the Church. This way, he'd get what he wanted. Suddenly...he has what he wants and its not all fun and rowdy good times like he'd hoped. Now he decides that he wants something different, and will you look at that? Since he's the ultimate authority over everything, *he* can just make it happen! Someone protests? To the Tower. More people protest. Executions abound. He starts to get nervous that his now coveted authoritarian power will be overthrown so he tries to control even the thoughts of his subjects. He makes them all swear to an oath that he is the supreme head of the Church in England, and that's where things get dicey...

Throughout the series, I fell in love with Bishop (ultimately Cardinal) John Fisher and Sir Thomas More. Adorable, the lot of them. I loved how Thomas More was portrayed as the family man that he was. I found it heartening to get a glimpse into the life of a future saint that was a husband and father, rather than a religious. Certainly, I admire our saints who were priests or religious brothers or sisters. It's just that there are so many less of them who had a vocation to married life that it was a fascinating inside look into a person called to the same vocation as me who became a saint. Good stuff.

And that John Fisher! I just smiled through every scene that he was in. He was portrayed as simply so kind, so eager and genuine in his faith, I couldn't help but adore him. Even Mike agreed that he was his favorite character. His arguments were always clear and well articulated, and he did the best job of showing the reasoning behind his beliefs and positions, which appealed to my husband the philosopher.

I knew it was coming. And it came last night. The little introduction screen with the episode synopsis on it had a screen shot of a roughed-up looking Thomas More standing on what appeared to be a scaffold. I sighed.

I tried to steel myself, but it was no use. When Cardinal Fisher is brought to the scaffold, and says his final speech, beseeching everyone to pray for the king, and to pray for him, as he fears death just as anyone would, I started crying. As the enormous crowd cries out "God Bless you, Cardinal Fisher!!! We love you!!" I started bawling. REALLY HARD. After that excruciating interlude, I just went and got the tissue box, because the episode was only half over.

Lots of horrible Tower scenes followed, with Thomas More's family crying and telling him to just take the oath so that he could live. And we all know how this one ends. With another painful scaffold scene, and me crying, again.

"Let it be known that I was the king's good servant. But I am God's first."

This got me to thinking. Cardinal Fisher's situation was different in that he was a celibate priest without a family depending on his care and income. In a sense, that makes it "easier" (if you will) to choose martyrdom. Thomas More had a wife and children. I did understand his wife's plea. He and everyone else would know that should he take the oath, he wouldn't mean it. He could go on believing in his heart that the king was a (fill in the blank; jerk-face? heretic? meglomaniac? The possibilities are endless). But she believed that he should take the oath anyway so that his family wouldn't suffer. They needed his emotional, financial and spiritual support. They wanted his love in physical form, not just from heaven. And should he be executed for treason (as he ultimately was) all of his income and properties would cede to the king, and his family would be homeless and penniless. But I also understood Thomas's position. He felt that it went against his conscience to swear to any such thing, and he couldn't live with himself if he did. What kind of example would he be to his children if he compromised on something so crucial?

So, contemplation time. What would you do? Stand up for your faith regardless of the consequences to your family? Or tell a white lie so that they are spared? It's interesting, is not? I believe we'd all like to think that we'd die for our faith. But this put it in a perspective I hadn't considered before. Thoughts?

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