Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Ned Kelly and Pretty Boy Floyd

A few of you know that I've been rather consumed with the research of my family tree recently. When I was just starting out, I was definitely standing on the shoulders of giants in terms of what had been researched before me. The whole reason I started doing this was because I saw that the Italian government will allow Italian descendants to become citizens if their emigrating relative never denounced their Italian citizenship. (I believe I have proven this and am very excited, but that is another story altogether.)

One branch of my tree is very English. Ancestry.com has a cool little tool that lets you click on a button that says, "Find famous relatives". I thought I would have none. I was very wrong! Because of the English side, my closest famous relative was Ralph Waldo Emerson, my 4th cousin (six times removed, since he was quite a bit older than me). I thought that was pretty sweet. I fancied this is where my literary bone comes from.

Then, I decided it was time to explore the Southern contingent. My paternal grandmother's family hails from the Southern parts of the United States since even before the states were united. I explored that branch of the family, and decided to click on "Find famous relatives" again, to see if anything had changed. We did have a Confederate Captain who died in the war on our side, after all.

Instead of dignitaries and former presidents, NOW my two closest famous relatives are Pretty Boy Floyd (I think they had his character in O Brother Where Art Thou...a caricature, at least), and Frank James (older brother of Jesse James). Floyd is my 5th cousin, three times removed (since he lived in the 30s) and James is 5th cousin, 4th times removed. I'm even related to the famous Aussie outlaw Ned Kelly (6th cousin, 4 times removed!

I don't know what there is to be said for all this, and I know it all just proves the whole Seven Degrees of Separation thing. What the heck is a 5th cousin anyway? How does that have anything to do with my daily life?

I've been pondering this, and I think there is something to be said about legacy in all of this. To be perfectly honest, I got more excited than anything that my great-great grandfather William C Opie listed himself on his World War I draft card as "Occupation: Minister of the Gospel". I think that is just so awesome. He didn't just write "minister" and try to get out of the service. The wording itself is a legacy to me. I get to read it ninety years later and think, "Yes, that is MY occupation, too." I feel a kinship with William C Opie that has to do with the fact that we are, in fact, related. But I feel a stronger kinship with him because of the shared place we have in the family of God. To me, the Kingdom family is just as important, if not MORESO than the family we were born into.

Although being 9th cousin of James Dean is pretty cool too.

Monday, March 09, 2009

When Your ID is Thieved...

(Is thieved even a word? I'm unsure, but I like it.)

So, this is the second time that I have been the victim of identity theft, or at least of a big old error on my credit record. And let me tell you, it is a severe pain in the *you pick a body part*.

I have spent so many hours on this, and it all seems to be like a giant wheel spinning around, and I am the not-so-giant hamster trying to keep up. Trying to save my precious credit sometimes seems like it is very important, and other times I am tempted to just let them have it! Go ahead, ding away!! I'm innocent!

The other day I actually got to talk to a real live human being in person about this whole thing. It was so nice. Not only was she sympathetic because she had recently gone through the same thing, but she was really nice and actually wrote things down that I told her, as if they were important in some way. This is mostly because she was with the Wheat Ridge Police Department, but still! She wasn't even typing it up while we were talking (she would do that later); she was writing things down with pen and ink on lined paper. So refreshing.

So now I get to put a "fraud alert" on my credit with all three bureaus, which I'm sure looks great to anyone who is checking my credit. Oh well.

All this serves to remind me of a few things.

1.) As cheesy as it sounds, I must remember that my true identity is in Christ, and no one can take that away from me.

2.) There is no worrying allowed for the Christian. God is in control of even such inane things as my credit. I can try and make things right through the best of my God-given ability, but ultimately I will look up and say, "You handle this! I'm done!"

3.) Money is not my god. Credit will not save me. There are more important things in life, so I won't sell my soul to this thing.

Sorry if those sounded trite, but I think they are so true. The only reason they sound silly is because we are juxtaposing the insignificant ways of man and his money with the ultimate power of the God of the universe. And when you put it that way, it doesn't sound half so scary after all.