Critique of New Anne of Green Gables

As the advertisements for the new Anne of Green Gables series poured into my Facebook feed, I became intrigued. I knew I would probably not enjoy it as much as the original CBC version from 1985 with Megan Follows, Coleen Dewhurst, and Richard Farnsworth, but I was happy that the story line was popular enough to warrant another production of Lucy Maude Montgomery’s classic tale. Just because an almost-perfect adaption of a literature classic is available, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t give other adaptations a chance. However, while some elements of the adaptation are noteworthy, I found myself rolling my eyes in the first five minutes of the movie.

Overall, the biggest disappointment to me in this adaption was the development of the story, especially in the beginning. I understand it can be difficult to squeeze all elements of the story together in an hour and a half, but in order to fully understand the true pain, confusion, and excitement in the story, you MUST flesh out the history and background of Anne’s life, in which she bounces in between different orphanages and abuse family environments. The 1985 version changes the timeline of the story from the book in order to accommodate the viewer. Once she enters the town of Avonlea with Matthew Cuthbert, we share in Anne’s excitement when she gets to enter into world of the “Lake of Shining Waters.” While this development is different than the book, it helps the viewer understand how painful it was to hear Marilla say she wanted a boy instead of a girl. In the new version, all we immediately see is Matthew picking up this cute little girl and taking her back to Green Gables. She thinks it’s pretty, and suddenly is saddened when Marilla says there’s been a mistake. While it would be a sad disappointment in general, the audience does not truly understand the extent to which she is saddened. The whole situation is stunted.

The character’s personalities are unique too in the new adaptation. In the book and 1985 adaptation, Matthew Cuthbert is quiet, timid, shy, and very loving. He is the quiet, loving man who counters Marilla’s harsh, stoic personality. While I appreciate Martin Sheen’s loving interpretation of Matthew, he is way too talkative and energetic. Matthew sits on the sidelines. He’s not a go-getter or a conversation starter.

Colleen Dewhurst was a genius in her interpretation of Marilla Cuthbert. You could read every thought she had in her body language. Her eyes could speak what was speechless. She created a multi-layered character that allows viewers to see slow growth and development in her exposure to Anne’s influence. She was stoic, strict, and at many times impatient, but you knew there was something warm, compassionate, and loving deep inside of her that needed to be exposed. It would only be a matter of time when she confessed to Matthew that God knew they needed Anne. Sadly, we did not see this development of Marilla in the new adaptation. Even without the detailed development of the character, I’m a little dumbfounded at the lack of stoicism. The Marilla portrayed in this adaptation is way too relaxed and patient. We do not really see that much tension between Marilla and Anne. You can see her try to teach and discipline Anne, especially in the episode with Rachel Lynde, but there’s no real sense of tension, anxiety, and anger as there should be. One story that really showcased the tension between the Anne and Marilla in the 1985 version occurs in the story of the missing broach, in which Marilla accuses her of stealing this prized piece of jewelry. When Marilla confronts Anne, you can truly feel the sense of dread. You could feel her stomach sink. In the new adaptation, the story almost gets forced into the movie. Marilla loses the broach, accuses Anne, and minutes later finds it. No sense of dread, fear, or anger.

Last, but not least, Megan Follows, of course, will still show the best version of Anne Shirley. That is not to say Ella Ballentine doesn’t do a good job. She presents Anne in a bit of a fiesty, bitter way that showcases how she deals with her abusive past. I think the writers could have done a better job fleshing out her story and attitude so the audience can really see her struggle. Only seeing emotional outbursts doesn’t do the story justice. She also does not show Anne’s over-talkative nature, though in a short timeframe I can see how that would be difficult to project.

The new adaptation, however, does have some redeeming qualities. The music and scenery are beautiful and really showcase the landscape and culture of Prince Edward Island in the early 1900s. For someone living in the south, it is nice to enter into the culture. While Matthew Cuthbert and Anne Shirley are different from the book and 1985 movie, they are lovable characters.

Overall, the biggest issue is for those who have never read Anne of Green Gables or seen the original 1985 movies. For those who know the backstory, we can fill in the blanks and understand the context in a greater way. For those who only watch the new adaptation, though, they will not truly see the storyline and character development that made us fall in love with everyone on Prince Edward Island. But if this movie sparks an interest in the original story and a greater appreciation of good literature, then I can’t complain.

The Holy Spirit and Rhetoric

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” – Proverbs 18:21

I’ve felt led recently to examine the role of the Holy Spirit and how He works in our lives. How do we attempt to discover how this bizarre third person of the Holy Trinity works own our daily lives? For some, focusing on the Holy Spirit means finding that deep, inner voice in themselves that is easy to stifle and ignore, but when listened to can be a very powerful force. While the Holy Spirit can, in fact, lead you to new experiences and insights that you’ve never felt or known about before, it is always a force that leads you to God in logical and fruitful ways. And one of the strongest ways that God reveals Himself  is through words and phrases in scripture and the promptings of the Holy Spirit.  I want to examine how the Holy Spirit speaks to us through the rhetorical foundations we consciously and subconsciously frame our understanding by in our everyday lives.

I also want to examine how the words we speak over ourselves and others greatly influence our entire being. Words are not external sources separate from our bodies that hold no power, but a reflection of where we’ve come from, where we are now, and where we will be in the future. A recent study showed that our words literally change the chemical makeup in our brains. This concept is not something to take lightly. As a believer in Christ, your words, because they are integral to your being, greatly influence who you are in Christ on a physical and mental level, not just on a spiritual level.

The best way to examine words, thoughts, speeches, and phrases is through the foundational concepts of rhetoric, especially through the teachings of Aristotle. He defined rhetoric as, “the art of persuasion.” But don’t think that “persuasion” is just an act performed in a courtroom. Everything we say out loud is a form of persuasion. If you tell someone, “I’m hungry,” you’re trying to persuade them that you want to eat. If they question your hunger, you might dig deeper by saying, “but I haven’t eaten since 8:00 am.” That is a simple form of persuasion. Everything we say has meaning and purpose. Examining the meaning and purpose of our words is examining the role of rhetoric.

Based on this principle, if we truly allow the Holy Spirit to infiltrate our being, then how does it affect our ability to see the world? If Catholics believe that they are literally partaking of the true Body and Blood of Jesus, are we aligning our very being, including our words, to His? How do our words affect ourselves and others? Are they leading people to Christ, or are they leading people to sinful behaviors? James 1:26 states, “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.”

Adventures with the Bass Guitar

I’ve always had an inferiority complex with music. I love listening to music from all genres and spectrums, but put an instrument in my hand and I get a little cold. Since completing grad school however, I’ve entered a new phase of life where I push myself through those moments of inferiority.

I’m an extremely visual learner, and I’ve always proudly gravitated toward the visual arts through photography and graphic design. I love taking abstract concepts and communicating to others through a visual medium, whether that’s through drawings, writing, or images. Music, however, seems to be the opposite to my mode of understanding. Instead of taking the abstract and putting it on paper, I take what’s on paper and put it through some abstract, invisible audio fairyland that makes me rely on my ears.

Anyway, since I’m done with grad school, I decided it’s a great time to kick one of the last vestiges of self-pity that’s in my life right now and start learning music. Since I’ve been hanging out with friends who are amazing musicians, my interest in music has grown. One night while attempting to strum a few guitar chords, I remembered how much I’ve always gravitated toward the bass guitar. I love the sound of the guitar, but I’ve always loved good bass and percussion harmonies. I guess that’s why I’ve always loved funk and soul music. A friend was gracious enough to give me her tambourine, and I’ve loved using it during jam sessions.


Suddenly after my night of attempted jamming by remembering where to put my hands on the guitar, I had a dream that I was playing a bass guitar. “That’s it!” I told myself. I knew I needed to pursue this new-fangled audio fairyland.

After Mass on Sunday I went to Guitar Center and looked around their collection of bass guitars. It’s a bit intimidating to go into a store where people are proudly jamming out intricate (and not so intricate) melodies on loud electric guitars, but I made myself go in and pluck around. Fortunately, the bass guitars are at the corner of the store, so I was able to go off into my little n00b corner and look around. I became excited the more I looked around the array of colorful bass guitars. When the other customer in the corner left, I sat down, plugged the guitar into the amp, and plucked away.

bass guitars

A few days later, I went back to take another look at the guitars. I didn’t want to spend too much money, but I wanted a good practice model. As I looked up at the second row of guitars, I saw a used black and white Squire Standard. I took it down, hooked it up, and plucked away. The next day (Yes, I went to Guitar Center for about 3 days in a row), I decided that’s the model I wanted. Thankfully, the guys who worked there were respectful and patient to my n00b questions:

“I have a question. Why is this string buzzing?”
“Well, your finger is on the fret instead of next to it.”

bass guitar

They also gave me honest feedback about the guitar. Instead of letting me pay for the newer, more expensive version I was looking at, they told me the used guitar was actually a better model, so in the end I would be getting a new guitar for less. After some thought, I decided to buy it. So far, I love it. My dad has been gracious enough to teach me the basics, and I’m excited to learn as much as I can. We’ll see what the future holds! Time to get funky.

Ridding Myself of Compulsion: The Smart Watch

Pope Francis recently told us we should stop staring at our phones and start talking to our friends and family. While I completely agree that we need to find a way to clear our minds from the clutter of technology, it’s no secret that technology impacts our lives in very positive ways. When people go into tirades about that “evil computer stuff” I get the urge to roll my eyes. The problem in our lives is not technology. It’s the way we use technology. Computers, tablets, and phones are things, not demonic forces. It is our responsibility to place boundaries on ourselves and use it in a way that helps society, not be controlled.

I am the first person to admit that I have overused technology multiple times and neglected society to be in my own little world. It’s easy to zone in, get distracted, and spiral into a world of information. But there’s a catch-22. My phone and computer allow me to do a lot of good things! How do I balance a life of getting the information I need without becoming distracted and spending unnecessary time browsing new information that I’ll probably forget 5 minutes later? Wasn’t this new digital world supposed to make us more efficient? Isn’t that what they told us in the 60s?

Earlier this week, I took the plunge to sell my iPad and buy a Pebble Smart watch. I’ve always been a little hesitant about smart watches. First, because they’re so new to the market. What were they for? Second, it just seemed like another thing to distract me. After some research, though, and the glaring “Open Box” discount at Best Buy, I decided to buy one.

After a couple of days, I have to say I really like this thing! From a user experience standpoint, it is completely changing my habits. Using a smart watch is similar to using a nicotine patch. I no longer have to compulsively check my phone to see if I have missed a call or gotten a text, because they show up on my watch. If I have no need to compulsively check my phone, then I can move on to other things in life that are more important. If I choose, notifications and texts can come to me; I don’t have to go to them.

I also really like the simple, clean interface.It’s a bit DOS-y, but that’s the fun part about it. I am the first to support nice, pretty graphics in apps and websites, but when it comes to finding straightforward information, the process becomes cumbersome. When I need to check the current temperature in a weather app, I don’t really need a large amount of graphics. There are no bells and whistles to the watch, and that’s what I like about it.

pebble menu

pebble weather app

I know some of you are probably thinking, “why can’t you just put it all away?” I would not argue against that point, as there will be times that I do put it all away when it’s unnecessary. But think about all the times you pull out your phone to check the time, check for messages, check for calls, and those little red notification icons. Next, think about how much time you waste catching up to see what you missed. In my opinion, cell phones have too much power and information. That concentrated area of information needs to be spread out to other devices.

pebble gps

Tested out the GPS app to get to the Cathedral on Sunday. Worked very well.

The coolest part about it, however, is that I can create my own watch faces! I definitely love the personalization aspect.

I know this isn’t for everyone, but if you’ve been on the fence for a simple smart watch I highly recommend it. I’m still a bit skeptical about the shiny new Apple Watch coming in, not only because of its big pricetag, but the interface looks like I would spend even more time staring into the abyss. Overall, I think Pebble is a good alternative.

Stay funky, my friends.

funky watch face

Visual Lectio Divina: Day 11: Skeumorphic Theology

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.

Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom. -Matthew 26

I’ve had a certain image in my design-heavy brain for a while that I’ve been trying to flesh out. I find it fascinating that the presence of God, the all encompassing being that surrounds us in a supernatural way, would attempt to interact with us using objects and metaphors that are familiar to us. Familiarity keeps running in my mind. It reminds me of the concept in graphic design called “skeumorphism.” This concept pertains to designs that emulate real-world objects. Skeumorphic designs are meant to act as a frame of reference. The most common example is the computer interface. Many icons on a computer mimic the physical objects we are used to, such as folder icons that hold files. We don’t really need the folder icons to achieve the tasks we need to do in a directory structure, but they give us a frame of reference of folders physically holding paper files.

I find this concept fascinating when viewing it with the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Very intricate theological explanations surround this Sacrament and the belief of it being Jesus’s true body and blood, and I could not extensively explain each and every one through this lens, but I want to focus specifically on the passage in Matthew 26. Jesus, who is God through the Trinity, declared that all of the abstract, mysterious, supernatural aspects of Himself could be held in the simple objects of bread and wine. Why is that? He could have found some kind of supernatural way to cause our heads to explode, but he didn’t. He found objects that we all relate to.

Even the very essence of Himself is fascinating. God could have arrived on earth as some space alien with five eyeballs. But he came to us in a way that’s relatable and understandable.

matthew 26

Anyway…I’m still trying to flesh all of this out. It may not make any sense to anyone at the moment, but it’s interesting to write out.

Visual Lectio Divina: Day 9

Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the Lord, your God. -Joel 2:12

It’s easy to get caught up in the surface-level activities of serving God. I get perfectionistic and obsess about how I can make God happy with me today. But that is not how He wants this relationship to work. He doesn’t want me to show Him my surface-level actions. He wants my heart open to Him. The deep, intimate level of our hearts is what He wants, not our minute actions. It’s hard for us to allow this level of discovery, because of the ugly, painful elements that are entrenched inside of us. But it’s through this discovery that we move forward.

joel 2

Visual Lectio Divina: Day 8

My heart overflows with noble words.
To the king I must speak the song I have made,
my tongue as nimble as the pen of a scribe.
-Psalm 45

The closer we get to God, the harder it becomes to keep Him inside of us. We desire to celebrate, dance, and sing to Him. We desire to praise Him. Do I do enough to have this innate desire? Do I train myself to have the confidence to speak about Him? Or do I leave Him behind in the box I try to place Him in? Am I willing to devote enough time to Him that I desire to speak of nothing else than His truth and goodness? Or do I allow my selfishness to control my words and actions? Do I allow my influences to keep my heart and mind entangled?

psalm 45

Visual Lectio Divina: Day 7

I know…I’m running a little behind on the posts :p. To keep myself going, I’ve been listening to the daily podcasts of the divine office recitation via the Divine Office app, which I HIGHLY recommend.

Today I chose a line from Psalm 41.

As for me, I said: “Lord, have mercy on me,
heal my soul for I have sinned against you.

The image I drew is pretty simple and rough. My sin creates cracks in the soul. If I don’t reach out for healing, the cracks spread to cause new ones. If I look for the mercy of God (which I need to do continually), the cracks are healed. The Sacraments refresh and revive the soul. I need to continually seek them.

Psalm 41

Visual Lectio Divina: Day 6

Deliver us, O Lord, from our bondage as streams in dry land. –Psalm 126

I decided to post a drawing I did a couple of years ago, as I felt it was a good representation of this verse. This verse really gets to heart of our Lenten journey–we are in desperate need of freedom. The only way I can be released from this bondage is to actually surrender. I think sometimes it’s easy to get used to our chains. We know how and where they’re connected. We can control the chains. As Jacob Marley from A Christmas Carol says, “I made it, link by link and yard by yard, while on Earth…”

True freedom, however, lies in our ability to surrender to the unknown. We must let go of our habit to control the present and future. He will not take off the chains unless we want them off. So we must constantly pray, even if we’re apprehensive, to be delivered of our chains of our own sins, skewed perceptions, and opinions that blind and distract us. Because in the end, we will succumb to the weight of these chains.

breaking the bars

Breaking the Bars

Visual Lectio Divina: Day 5

Adore the Lord in his holy court –Psalm 29

First off, I’m not completely satisfied with how this drawing turned out, but hey…this lenten practice isn’t about perfect drawings…it’s about reflection…so anyway…

This selection reminded me of what I discussed earlier on The Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Avila. In this interpretation, God’s holy court is at the very center of our being. Navigating through the intricate layers of ourselves will eventually lead us to the very concentrated core of Jesus. This doesn’t mean that we drift inside of our ourselves through selfish ambition; it means we let go of the selfish ambitions to enter fully into our true selves. “He must increase. I must decrease.” It sounds like a hard way to live, and it really is for the most part. But the more we surrender, the more the we become our true selves and find peace. To adore to Lord in his holy court, we must fully enter the core of our being. Baptism allows us to understand this. It is the foundation of our understanding. After this foundational action, we have the ability to move further down the path.

psalm 29