Sinful Cleansing: The Correlation Between Sacrifices and Purification

Every decision we make is an opportunity cost. Meaning that one is always sacrificing what they could have done for what they choose to do instead. Religion is a prime example of this concept because people choose to put their faith in a god, or several gods, and this sometimes involves a sacrifice. Whether it is faith, money or time one must sacrifice what they have to be apart of a religion. The Leviticus 14 reading has the blood of the innocent resemble the final act of cleansing a person who has a defiling skin. This idea led me to question what is the correlation between sacrifice and purification? In Leviticus 14, the theme of sacrifice is present in the majority of the story to demonstrate its importance to the Lord. I believe that the Holy Bible intended to leave the reader with the idea that sacrifice is necessary to be purified in the name of the Lord.

Leviticus 14 is about the cleansing of a skin disease that involves the priest having to sacrifice the blood of several animals as an offerings to please the Lord. Throughout the story, the reader realizes that the Lord demands offerings through the following descriptions of the priests duties, “Then the priest shall order that one of the birds be killed over fresh water in a clay pot” ,and “He is to slaughter the lamb in the sanctuary area where the sin offering and the burnt offering are slaughtered”(Leviticus 14). These quotes demonstrate how the Lord believes that the blood of these animals will fully purify the sinful skin disease. An interpretation of this quote could be that the  of sacrifice and purification contradict each other. These gruesome acts of spilling the blood of animals are being done in these clean and wholesome environments. Dirty unforgivable acts turn into the offering to be redeemed by the Lord. The idea of blood sacrifice led me to believe that one must give up their life to be reborn with life benefits. One can conclude, that performing sacrifices and partaking in offerings acts as a gateway for worshipers to be purified.

Religious Persecution in Public Places

In the short story, My Grandmother Washer Her Feet in the Sink of the Bathroom at Sears, a daughter tells us about her mother washing her feet at Sears. Her grandmother does this because, “she has to pray in the store or miss the mandatory prayer time for Muslims”(Kahe, 1). As one may guess, people do not typically consider cleaning one’s feet in a public bathroom. The daughter states, “Respectable Sears matrons shake their heads and frown as they notice what my grandmother is doing”(Kate, 1).  Should people be allowed to clean their feet in a public place?

Despite some people thinking that this is unsanitary, I believe that people should be able to clean their feet in public places for religious purposes. Religious rituals are part of a person’s culture and a person should not be asked to break the their religious traditions because they want to shop like the rest of society. When the grandmother is receiving rude looks from strangers the look on her face says, “I have washed my feet over Iznik tile in Istanbul with water from the world’s ancient irrigation systems”(Kahe, 1). When reading this quote the reader observes how the grandmother has no problem washing her feet in the problem, even though she has performed this ritual in much more respected places. In conclusion, people should be allowed to clean their feet in public bathrooms to preserve their cultural identities.


How Many Mistakes are Actually Made in “The Mistake”?

The short story “The Mistake” makes several references to mistakes that are made by multiple people that are mentioned throughout the plot.  These mistakes as defined by our main character include those that he makes, those that the woman he loves makes, and the mistakes of other secondary characters that are mentioned in the story. Therefore, I am left with the question of how many mistakes are actually made throughout the course of the story.

Ultimately, in my opinion, for something to be considered a mistake it usually involves the process of someone making a decision or doing something that leads to negative consequences as a direct result. Therefore, as readers we would need to know the outcome of a particular decision or action in order to fully understand if  a mistake has been made. For example, within the very first paragraph, the narrator presents to us his first mistake: I know it’s a mistake to let her leave. And yet I do let her leave” (Caistor, 1). In this instance, the readers simply know that the narrator believes he has made a mistake by allowing the woman he loves to leave, but I believe that as readers we don’t really know if this is a mistake because we have no understanding of the circumstances that are related to her leaving. So, it is hard for us to gage if it is really a mistake for her to go because that is possibly the best decision for all the parties involved.

Regardless of all the mistakes mentioned, there is a reason that the article is called “The Mistake” rather than “Mistakes”, implying that there is only one true mistake made. The one decision that the readers see unfold in detail is the narrator’s choice to try to walk across the river. At this point in the story, even the narrator knows that this is truly his one mistake: “Apparently that was my big mistake” (Caist0r, 2). If not through the narrator’s admittance of this being the biggest mistake thus far, the readers also know that he has truly made a mistake at this point in the story: “I won’t be able to reach it” (Caistor, 2). The readers are able to truly acknowledge his choice to try and cross the river as a mistake as we can clearly see that the negative consequence for this decision is the narrator drowning. While there are many mistakes mentioned throughout the course of the story, the narrator himself truly only makes one BIG mistake.


The Karma of Being Loved

The love between Harold and Laura in AS Byatt’s A Sea Story becomes a classic “love at first sight” cliche— for Harold. He was in love with Laura. Yet, she didn’t reciprocate feelings. I began to question if she was really at fault for not giving in to what the man wants. Harold, the main character of the story, is a hopeless romantic, but why does Laura, whom he loves, receive the blame for the relationship falling apart? Is it really a crime to not love someone back? Sadly, Laura received the unfortunate death of being “caught in the micromeshes of her netting when her boat capsized.” (Byatt, 5). Byatt’s use of language forces the reader to believe that death was coming for her because she never wanted Harold. However, I don’t believe she deserved her demise.

Harold, our protagonist, is a devotee of the sea. He fell in love immediately when he saw Laura as he was fishing.  He follows her to the bar where he knew she was staying, and they talk until she tells him that she is leaving for her dream job in the Caribbean. His reply to this is, “I’ve only just got to know you,” indicating that he would like her to stay. Harold’s fault in this relationship is that he just assumes that if he loves someone, they would automatically reciprocate. Why should we expect Laura to drop everything she has worked for to get this dream job for some guy that followed her to a bar one summer day? She runs off, and this is where everything goes south. At some point, Harold seems to be infatuated— borderline obsessed— with the idea of loving someone. He sends Laura emails that never get answered, writes letters to an address she doesn’t live at, and he still never understands that she doesn’t want to communicate. Why would she want to at this point? Then he decides to send the detrimental message in a bottle that does more harm than good. He hurts marine life, a love of both of the characters. Harold moves on to live a nice life with a wife and children and Laura dies a horrible death. As a reader, it can feel sometimes as if you supposed to root for the protagonist in any way you can and ignore any other character’s views or thoughts. We get caught up in wanting this love for Harold that we become blind to how Laura feels. The only terrible thing she did was lie to a creepy man one summer day. She was loved by a man she did not care for, and in the end, earned a fate she did not deserve.


A Grain of Nature; Something bigger than us

   What is the precise meaning of art? It is an ambiguous question that has no right answer, or does it? Art bears the form of speaking without having to state anything. Its a vital form of communication, prominently in the early 1800s when the sole way for Military and European travelers to display American landscape was through paintings. Pictures were made to persuade and make lasting impressions of the contemporary world. A painting can reveal mood, feelings, aspirations, and much more, but it all depends on the personal interpretation of the observer. Painters can freely capture anything they desire, however it was critical to convey the correct message as art became a distinct symbol that defined countries. As portraits became popular among upper-class wealthy citizens, the theme of man dominating nature became extremely conventional; shown through the ‘Landscaping People’ section, “the landscaped portrait unites man and nature in a setting the human presence dominates and controls.” Especially in a time where America was still finding its identity, did artists really want to be in a country where man was seen as “more substantial” and more “esteemed” than Gods initial creation, the wild? Was the increase in paintings of American landscape just a coincidence or was it to identify America as a country true to its natural values of respect towards Mother Nature as opposed to the Europeans who wilderness had almost vanished? In the online exhibit “The making of the Hudson River School” by the Albany Institution of History and Art, we recognize artists enhancing the view of Americans by revealing the natural beauty around them through art.

  With images of humans being superior to nature, Americas identity becomes frail. For examples in Major Dix‘s self-portrait, the description says he “towers over the landscape.” Its to be seen as a background of his inspiration, but is also viewed as man being bigger than nature, which is not true. It was important for artists to change that persona and identity before it becomes a staple of the culture. The online exhibit continuously presents artists doing all they can to display the worlds natural beauty rather than man being greater than nature.  The “Patrol Scene”, for example, shows a picture of a towering tree with a couple that is drawn small and is obviously not the main focus of the picture. The examples continue with the painting, “Looking towards Troy”, which portrays a beautiful lake with a miniscule image of a man on a horse, “Landscape with a figure on the road carries on the same theme as well as “Camping by Greenwood Lake”. Paintings brought forth the truth of nature. They projected systematic observations of the landscape and displayed the hidden spiritual truths within. The painting “Morning, Looking East over the Hudson Valley from the Catskill Mountains” displays the concept very well as the figure looking over the rigid mountains, “stands mesmerized as if witnessing the creation of the world.” Urban growth continues to separate humans from nature, but through the vivid work of past artistry, its identity will live on forever.