Why You Need to Visit the TD Saturday Market

 

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~A Fresh Greenville~

Downtown Greenville’s evolving popularity may be uncomfortable for some residents who are unaccustomed to the electric buzz of tourism. Segway tours and the sudden need for reservations on a Friday night may seem shocking to some locals, especially since the area has only been in resurgence for a short while.

Still, residents of Greenville have the luxury of enjoying its special amenities much more regularly than tourists, and one such luxury is the ability to shop at the TD Saturday Market.

Millennials and other health conscious Americans have recently contributed to the rise in a culinary movement dedicated to serving clean, local cuisine. Highly acclaimed restaurants like Dan Barber’s Blue Hill at Stone Barns which has been featured on a Netflix series called Chef’s Table have even shifted their focus to only use fresh, seasonal ingredients in an effort to encourage people to discover nature’s crucial role in the dining experience.

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Luckily for Greenville’s visitors and residents, it’s not necessary to fork over a ton of green to gain a farm to table dining experience. With a little help from Pinterest and a visit to the TD Saturday Market, it’s possible to purchase and prepare locally grown, nutritional foods on a budget.

My husband and I have made morning trips to the market for the last three weeks, so I am going to offer some ideas for first time visitors. If you are used to grocery shopping exclusively at BiLo and Aldi, it may comfort you to know that I was too. You absolutely do not have to be a full-time hippie to fit in or enjoy the market in Greenville; every week from 7:00 to noon, Main Street bustles with a kaleidoscope of diverse characters who happily coexist with each other and bond over a love of tasty fruits, vegetables, cheeses, and much more.

 

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While it does pay to get an early start, my husband and I typically arrive downtown around 10:00. What can I say, I like to sleep. Be aware that some vendors sell out of their best baked goods and produce before then, so if you have your heart set on seeing the market’s full selection, I encourage you sacrifice some sleep in the interest of beating the crowds.

Richardson Street Garage, located beside the Mast General Store, offers free parking on weekends and is extremely close to the market. My husband and I typically leave our car there and take a cooler full of ice with us so we can carry temperature sensitive items like fish or pasta while we shop at other booths. As some final advice, I suggest that first time visitors eat breakfast at the market and remember to bring cash; while many vendors do accept cards, it is courteous to spare them the fees that they may incur for accepting plastic as payment.

~TD Market Favorites~

As I mentioned earlier, my husband and I have recently been experimenting with produce and other goods from the TD Saturday Market. These are some of my favorite vendors, items, and dishes that we have tried so far.

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Bake Room: For breakfast, I have to recommend that you try to beat the crowds to this vendor. They have the most authentically flaky chocolate croissants (pain au chocolat) that I have had since I was an au pair in France in 2014; however, the good stuff goes quickly, so if you find that Bake Room booth is out of pastries, try Soby’s on the Side. They also have delicious breakfast options.

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Sea Eagle Market: I am no stranger to frozen shrimp and prepackaged salmon, but I was amazed at the quality and selection of fresh fish at this stand. Additionally, the vendors here are fast, knowledgeable, and polite. My husband and I have bought shrimp and tuna steaks already. We plan to make Sea Eagle a regular Saturday destination. I strongly recommend that you pick up a tuna steak, and grill it for dinner. If you decide to go with a pound of shrimp, allow me to suggest that you also visit a pasta stand.

Naked Pasta: I should be fair and note that there is another pasta stand at the TD Market, but this one has homemade, frozen pastas that are easy to cook and impressively tantalizing, especially for someone like me who is in no way a pasta snob and generally considers all noodles to be the same. The pastas here are reasonably priced, and this vendor also sells sauces.

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Forx Farm: One of my friends recently told me that cheese is the way to her soul, and I would have to say, “Amen!” There are multiple vendors peddling cheeses on Saturday mornings, so if you look long enough, you’re sure to find something that suits your unique taste. I personally, loved the sharp Gouda we got from this adorably sweet couple at the Forx Farm booth. They have samples available, so you can easily find a cheese you like, buy it, and then stuff some burgers with it for some melted gourmet goodness.

 

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Obviously, the best way for you to learn more about this fun foodie experience is to set your alarm, grab a cooler, and go explore. A plethora of seasonal, fruits, veggies, and artisan goods awaits you. Don’t be afraid to try something new, and always remember that you are what you eat.

Dr. Strange: A Christian Interpretation (SPOILERS!)

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Marvel Studios’ most recent film Dr. Strange will likely have a grave impact on the mindset of modern culture. Hidden beneath the film’s breathtaking cinematography and intense action scenes, an allegorical message subtly undermines the assertions of the Christian worldview; thus, while audiences unguardedly absorb the film’s content they are internalizing a dangerous theme that threatens biblical thinking.

Dr. Strange follows the life of a gifted neurosurgeon who loses his ability to practice after a traumatic accident robs him of the ability to use his hands. After seven operations fail to repair the nerve damage caused by his accident, Strange travels to Nepal, hoping to find healing through eastern mysticism. However, Strange’s destiny leads him to study under the training on a woman called “The Ancient One” and to fight in a battle against a corrupt former student named Kaecilius who desires to unleash the powers of the “dark dimension” and its ruler Dormammu upon the Earth.

Naturally, the film’s plot appears to include the standard super hero’s battle between good and evil, but a closer inspection of the movie’s characters and spiritual allusions reveals a much more important conflict, the conflict between God and Man. A Christian watching Dr. Strange would likely notice similarities between Kaecilius and Satan. Kaecilius studies under “The Ancient One,” questions her goodness and leadership, rebels against her authority, amasses a loyal following of other rebels, and sets out on a quest for power and destruction. His history closely aligns with the history of Satan who, according to The Bible, serves under God, questions God’s authority, amasses a following of rebellious angels, and sets out of a quest to conquer the earth and thwart God’s plans. Since Kaecilius’ character is obviously the film’s villain, however, these similarities between him and Satan are easily accepted or even ignored.

Likewise, a Christian viewer might accept or ignore similarities between “The Ancient One” and Christ, but some minor details related to her character should begin to raise some red-flags. Similarly to Christ, “The Ancient One” seems to be the story’s good and wise teacher. She admonishes Strange to strengthen his spirit above his mind. Her students trust her leadership. Her white apparel and soft speech associate her with peace and stability. She dedicates herself to protecting earth and to restoring its most broken inhabitants, but in the film, “The Ancient One” also disappoints Strange and her other students when they discover her corruption. Unfortunately, “The Ancient One” admits that her power and eternal life stem from “the dark dimension” and the powers of Dormammu; the movie implies that “The Ancient One” maintains power through deception and corruption, and this implication subtly suggests that Christ does the same thing by paralleling the two so closely.

The film not only asserts that Christ is potentially corrupt and deceptive, but it also suggests that God himself is more wicked than Satan. In the movie, Dormammu exists outside of the physical world in a place called the “dark dimension.” In the “dark dimension” space and time are not present, and according to Kaecilius and “The Ancient One,” people drawing power from Dormammu and his realm have the promise of “eternal life.” Thus, it is difficult not to recognize parallels between God’s heaven and Dormammu’s “dark dimension.” Alarmingly, however, Dr. Strange depicts Dormammu as an overwhelmingly evil force whose promise of eternal life is a lie designed to earn more power for him while condemning his adherents to eternal torment, instead of the eternal glory that they seem to believe they are assured. Dormammu greedily seeks to devour the earth, and in order for Strange to defeat him, the doctor must master both intelligence and spiritualism.

As Dr. Strange “surrenders” to his inner spirit (a sparking, firey force that could potentially represent the Holy Spirit of Christianity), and studies the books in the “Ancient One’s” mystical library, he disobeys the rules and reads from a series of forbidden pages. It is not a stretch for Christian viewers to mentally link this forbidden book to the knowledge of good and evil described in Genesis thanks to the movies unabashed fruit allusion. As strange practices the spells found in the forbidden text, he bends time, and the film depicts this ability by allowing Strange to wave his hand above an apple he had been eating. The fruit appears either more or less consumed according to the direction of his hand. Because Strange learns to bend time from the forbidden book, he is able to defeat Dormmamu during the films dramatic resolution. Thus, Dr. Strange extends the Satan’s lie that the knowledge of good and evil makes man equal with God even further to assert that the forbidden knowledge makes man greater than God.

In conclusion, Marvel’s Dr. Strange makes some disturbing attempts to demonize and discredit the Christian worldview. According to the film’s contents, Christ is no less corrupt than Satan, God is wicked and greedy, and it is man’s responsibility to rise above God through spiritual enlightenment and elevated intelligence. However, it is not my intention to discourage Christians from watching this film. While I know many Christians believe Dr. Strange is inappropriate for Christian viewers on the grounds that it contains violence and sorcery, I wholeheartedly disagree. It is no more wise to avoid the movie altogether than it is to absorb its questionable themes without question. Rather, Christians should approach this film in the same way they would approach propaganda. They should be careful and aware of its assertions, but they should also understand that watching a movie like Dr. Strange gives them a springboard for conversation about biblical principles that might be more palatable to new Christians and nonbelievers. It also gives Christians an insight into cultural trends that will help them to make wise decisions about how to live in the modern world that is pressing for the return of eastern mysticism and for the elevation of higher education while it also presses to dilute the importance of Christianity.

Avengers Two: Anti-Christian Subtleties

Society understands the power of visual media; otherwise, businesses would not budget over four million dollars a year to buy thirty-second slots of screen time during the Super Bowl? Additionally, both classic and contemporary literature such as Fahrenheit 451, 1985, and The Hunger Games warn that programs projected from television screens largely impact the worldview’s of their viewers. Interestingly, Suzanne Collins’ novel The Hunger Games even highlights the value of people who act as heroic symbols in society through Katniss Everdeen, a young girl who becomes a symbol of hope during a period of civil unrest and revolution. Katniss’ affiliation with the idea of justice effectively motivates spectators to band together against a common enemy, but Katniss’ viewers are fictional. We are not. I recently went to the movies. I settled into a squeaky seat above a sticky floor with popcorn in hand and prepared to watch a harmlessly entertaining action movie, or so I thought. You see, the longer I watched, the more I realized that Avengers Two: Age of Ultron subtly but effectively attacks the Christian Faith. The film implies that man created the Christian God in error and that the only way for humanity to survive is for its members to rise up and collectively destroy the cruel, evil Jesus along with all of His followers because they clearly intend to damn the world. Perhaps that assertion seems a little far-fetched, but consider this: as Christians understand it, God is composed of a holy trinity. He is God the father, God the son (Jesus Christ), and God the Holy Spirit. These three elements of God exists in unison with each other, similar to Tony Stark, Ultron, and Vision do in Avengers Two: Age of Ultron.  Stark’s character parallels God the father. He is deified by his knowledge and consistently demonstrates evidence of a Messiah complex. Additionally, he creates Ultron and sarcastically refers to the robot as his son. The important thing to notice about this dynamic is that Stark is a man who invented Ultron out of fear as a response to the first film The Avengers, which is marked by a recognition that something exists beyond humanity that man must be saved from; thus, the movie implies that man invented God out of fear. Ultron represents Jesus. His mission is to create “peace in our time,” and this phrase is ironic because Jesus is supposedly the Prince of Peace. Additionally, the whole world is saved through his death just as Jesus’ crucifixion supposedly paved the way for man’s spiritual salvation. Ultron also comes in the form of a man, but he lacks human flesh; this parallels Jesus, who became a man but did not sin. Ultron is also Godlike in that he is all knowing and omnipresent. Most notably, Ultron parallels Jesus through his use of biblical allusions throughout the movie. For example, he says, “I am. I am [and] . . . I’ll build my rock upon the church.” He also asks Stark if he has come to “confess [his] sins” during the final battle scene. While Ultron clearly parallels Jesus, the robot is clearly a villain. He is ruthlessly destructive, though he claims his intentions are to create peace. Ultron’s expressing his frustration with the twins, saying, “Man would be given every opportunity to adapt… You just don’t understand,” is especially alarming because it highlights what society considers a flaw in Christian philosophy. According to the culture, even if Christians have good intentions, they are still cruel and misguided at the core. Vision represents the third pillar of the holy trinity, the Holy Spirit. After Ultron is destroyed, Vision remains among the humans. Moreover, he not only lives among humans, but also, he lives within human flesh. Vision also acts as a vehicle for moral guidance; he is the perfect being, the poster child for diversity who is literally a combination of humanity, science, and foreign religious power. Unlike Ultron, Vision is one of the “good guys.” He fights alongside the Avengers (including a foreign demi-god and occult-like witch) in attempts to rid the world of not only Ultron, but also all of Ultron’s robotic clones that could easily represent Christians. The Avengers must then embrace their differences and coexist as the true saviors of humanity. Obviously, the film ends with the Avengers defeating Ultron and saving the world from total inhalation, and most people would be content to leave the theater without considering the implications of what they have seen. However, I am convinced that Avengers Two: Age of Ultron at least partially promotes antichristian propaganda. Even Captain America, a traditionally Christian superhero, mocks his old-fashioned ideals throughout the movie.  A movie that dangerously reverses the binary opposition between man and God by elevating man above God and suggesting that humanity would benefit from eliminating Him and embracing a plurality of human ideologies. Subtle messages like these creep into the minds of the public and plant seeds of thought which could eventually grow into the sort of aggressive backlash that the people of Panem engage in after The Hunger Games, except Christianity will have a target on its back instead of the Capitol.

The Truth Behind Jim Henson’s “Labyrinth”

Jim Henson’s film “Labyrinth” struck me at an early age. The soundtrack found a home in the back corners of my mind years ago, and I can recite many of the lines from memory; however, it was not until I watched the scenes again with an analytic attitude that I came to a startling conclusion which I believe addresses many of the incongruities that first-time viewers would overlook. My mind has been blown.

My theory is simple. Jareth knew the young, angst-ridden Sarah who wishes away her baby brother in the opening scene before his encounter with her in the beginning of the movie. I, in contrast, think that there were only two women in Jareth’s life, Sarah and her mother. Remember, the film never mentions Sarah’s real mother. The audience only knows that her father has re-married her step-mother, and we can infer from the photographs on the protagonist’s mirror that she bears a very striking resemblance to a woman who is likely her biological mother.

Stay with me. What if Jareth fell in love with the original Sarah, but that woman chose another man (the father featured in Henson’s film.) The song “Magic Dance” is actually about how Jareth’s love left him and how he blamed a his lover’s infant for the vent. She married him and had a child (the Sarah who must track through the labyrinth to rescue Toby.) Tired and upset, this woman had second thoughts about her life and cried out for her Jareth to take her baby away. However, after Jareth stole this baby girl from his unrequited love and hid her away in his castle, the woman regretted her decision. Naturally, Jareth gave his beloved the same terms that e would later give her daughter in “Labyrinth.” Sadly, his plan to be reunited with his love fails as the mother successfully retrieves her daughter and returns to the human world where she writes a book about her experiences and becomes a successful actress.

When this woman dies, her daughter copes with the loss of her mother by reciting her mother’s book from memory and wearing her old clothes. Although her mother probably changed the words used to call upon the Goblin king so no one else would make her same mistake, Sarah manages to beg the same man who abducted her as a baby to steal away her own brother. What does Jareth gain from taking Toby? While Sarah is not her mother and Jareth’s love, she is the next best thing. She looked just like the woman he lost. She was his second chance, or maybe Jareth wished that Sarah had been his own daughter. During the song “Within You,” he addresses his longing for a daughter. He sings, “Now you turn my world, you precious thing. . . I can’t live within you.”

Unfortunately for Jareth, Sarah rejected him just like her mother had done. She wanted a child, not his love. Bitterly, he decides to keep Toby and raise him as a son. At one point, Jareth even says, “I think I’ll call [Toby] Jareth. He’s got my eyes.” When Sarah reaches the goblin city to take back her brother, Jareth cannot cope with hearing the repetition of his lost love’s final words. I would even propose that the final dialogue scene does not transpire between Jareth and Sarah, but between Jareth and her mother. It is a flashback. Jareth’s clothes are not the same as the ones he has been wearing throughout the previous scenes, and Sarah’s tendency to dress up in her mother’s old clothes would ironically explain her static outfit.

(While I believe every supporting character, line, and setting contains significance conducive to the plot, I have not yet addressed all of them.)

A Back-story Epiphany: Crushing Idols

What I’m about to say may spark some conversation and put me in an uncomfortable position, but I think it is too important for me to withhold for fear of controversy. God has been crushing my Idols, aspects of my life which I have elevated to positions of authority above Jesus Christ, the one true God (John 14:6). While I have been a Christian during the following period of time, I have not put my faith entirely in Christ, and this message is about what I have learned (Exodus 20:3).

First, I believed that , as the romantic-comedy culture would imply, if I managed to find “The One,” my life would be complete, and I would be happy. As a female, it is good and natural to desire companionship (Matthew 19:5), but I turned my originally healthy relationship into the center of my life. God (Yes, I believe it was God.) stepped in and took that relationship away from me (Job 1:21). I cried and cried and cried and cried and became bitter and cried and wrestled with God and cried and grew and cried and prayed and ,yes, cried. As a result, I eventually learned to rely on God as my source of love and comfort (Matthew 11:28-30).

***SPOILER ALERT- Psalm 37:4***

Second, I believed that, as the commercial media would imply, if I could weigh next-to-nothing, I would be happy because I would be beautiful. I ate almost nothing for a long-while. I remember weeks when I would hate myself for eating a hand-full of wheat thins and promptly flush them away. I never felt thin enough, but I did start having kidney stones and did enough research to realize that the road I walked on would lead me to heart-failure. This, of course, scared me, and I realized that I had not been treating my body like a temple (1 Corinthians 6:19). As a result, I found my identity, not in the way I looked, but in my God (Galatians 2:20).

Third, (I will not say “lastly” because I am sure I will learn more lessons.) I believed, as academia would imply, if I could have the highest grade in all of my classes, I would be happy because I would be successful; I would be the best. I took 20 credit hours, including Literary Theory, as a sophomore. I had A’s in every single one of them. My professors specifically told me that they thought I had exceptional intelligence, yet the pressure to be better consumed me to the point where I literally felt myself slipping away. I had full blown, totally irrational panic attacks, thinking I was bound for failure (Philippians 2:13). In my strength, I could not accomplish enough. It was never enough, but when I began to pray and trust God with my work I accomplished what I was sure to be impossible ( Ephesians 3:20, Philippians 4:8). As a result, I learned to do my best and trust Him with the rest (Mark 9:17-29).

I have come to the conclusion that the only functional foundation for which I can base my life is seeking the Lord (Psalm 18:2). It is not that He wants me to be alone, insecure, or unsuccessful, but if I place emphasis on those things above His will for my life, they will destroy me (Matthew 7:13-4). God has a plan for my life (Jeremiah 29:11), and I will do my best to trust him and serve fulfill that plan (Proverbs 19:21).

I am going to go do more homework because I took a (not as short as I intended for it to be) break to do my anti-panic prayer time and had this epiphany which I felt obligated to share with those of you who care enough to actually read it. I have learned a lot over the last couple of years, and not all of that learning has been pleasant, but God works out all things for my good (Romans 8:28). By the way, “All who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13). He “is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18)