Saturday, October 15, 2005

a moment of clarity in the midst of obfuscation

"in my head and my body there's this race between life and death going on. but then isn't that the case for everybody who's ever lived, forever and always? isn't that the nature of being alive?" -douglas coupland in eleanor rigby, pg. 247.

two and a half years ago, i took a seminary exegesis class that focused on matthew. although the lectures were a little bit stiff and the professor was suffering from the power-point plague, it was good stuff.

at least i think it was good stuff. instead of reading the commentaries, interacting in exegetical conversations ("it's a subjective genitive? that's fascinating!") and honoring the prof with my attention ,i re-read the novels of douglas coupland. i found myself wrapped up in the apocalyptic visions of girlfriend in a coma, i participated in virtual picnics in the palm springs desert and i wondered why the european girls i met during my travels never showed up on my front porch sporting hot pink cowboy hats and unholstered cap guns. i read the coupland corpus in dr. ciampa's class and i felt guilty.

but i shouldn't have. i think that christians would be a lot better off and the church a bit more healthy if we were as attentive to the everyday revelations that we stumble across in novels, music, conversations and coincidences as we are to the scriptures. i fear that we will never be able to fully hear the poetic proclamations of the ancient prophets or respond to their summons until we are willing to listen to and live among the prophets in our midst.

that is all. krista, thanks for the long-term loan.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

always out of context

"i've got reservations.
about so many things, but not about you." -wilco, reservations

"who would you rather bone? harriet miers or condoleezza rice?" -jamie simkins

"when we speak of our virtues we are competitors, when we confess our sins we become brothers." -karl barth

"i write down good reasons to freeze to death
in my spiral notebook,
but in the long tresses of your hair
i am a babbling brook." -the mountain goats, broom people

"held under these smothering waves
by your strong and thick veined hands,
but one of these days i'm gonna wriggle up on dry land." -the mountain goats, has thou considered the tetrapod

"george bush is the smartest man i've ever met." -harriet miers, current supreme court nominee and two-time runner up for miss washington

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

musings from the media center

last week i read mark winegardner's crooked river burning. this novel sets the love story of david zielinsky, the son of a connected union organizer and a small town starlet, and anne o'connor, who's family is to cleveland what the daley's are to chicago, against the social, political and athletic history of cleveland. throughout the novel david and anne attend the ill-fated coronation ball of allen freed, the self-proclaimed progenitor of rock and roll, participate in the golden era of indians baseball and browns football, the scenes that featured satchel page were at the center of my emotional experience of the novel, and find themselves in the midst the race riots, racketering, economic shifts that comprise rust-belt era politics. the story of anne and david's on and off again, at turns naive and adulterous, relationship provides a strong enough plot. however, it is the detailed descriptions of their individual attempts to form and maintain their identity within the city limits of cleveland that i found most compelling. i was especially drawn to david, who throughout his journey from a bright-eyed and ambitious politician to a middle-aged man whose ideals were broken by city hall and busted by the electorate, always retained a vestige of his initial hope. through david, winegardner is reminding us that we will all be exposed to the subtleties of evil and will, at some point, find ourselves playing life from both sides. however, although he has deep sympathy for the situations and circumstances we will ultimately find ourselves in, winegardner still believes that a conversion to corruption or an embrace of a thoroughgoing hermeneutic of suspicion is still the result of a choice. in essence, even in the midst of the most despairing realities, winegardner believes that we can choose hope.

in the end, as other readers far wiser than i have noted, winegardner reminds us that by telling one story well, even a story that is set among the unexpected twists and turns of the cuyahoga, a writer can tell the story of us all.

Monday, October 10, 2005

he spoke…and it was good

just a moment ago i had my feet propped on my plastic trashcan, cheez-its in my mouth and an excerpt of brother campbell in my hands. as i savored the saltiness of both the crackers and the clipping, a hesitant, high-pitched voice said “how are you doing?”

at that moment, tears unexpectedly sprung. the voice faded as quickly as it came, but in that moment i remembered.

i remembered God’s pronouncement of the imago and recalled why i chose to follow jesus in the first place. i had the ears to hear the image and a desperate longing to see it fulfilled in myself as well as in the pock-marked, beyond plump, half-hearted goth of a boy who finally dared to offer a greeting.

i tell you this not to be overly sentimental or spiritual, but because i need you to remind me. remind me to pay attention to these rare moments when tears unexpectedly spring and a lump arises. remind me to listen and long for the voice who spoke of the image initially and the high-pitched voice which betrayed it today.

as i continue upon this road i am beginning to suspect that it is these unexpected encounters and remedial revelations, rather than our systematic theologies and well-constructed liturgies, which will enable us to persevere. and to persevere, from my perspective, seems to be the point.