26 February 2008

some hopeful thoughts

Klimt: Sunflower (courtesy of Olga's gallery)
"Eucatastrophe is a term coined by J. R. R. Tolkien which refers to the sudden turn of events at the end of a story which result in the protagonist's well-being. He formed the word by affixing the Greek prefix eu, meaning good, to catastrophe, the word traditionally used in classically-inspired literary criticism to refer to the "unraveling" or conclusion of a drama's plot.

...Though Tolkien's interest is in myth, it is also connected to the gospels; Tolkien calls the Incarnation the eucatastrophe of "human history" and the Resurrection the eucatastrophe of the Incarnation."

Pretty cool, eh? The word becoming flesh is the sudden turn of events that changes everything, and the Resurrection is God's crazy answer that ties up all the seemingly loose ends...so that rather than everything coming undone, the solution for salvation for sinners, the satisfaction of God's justice and complete restoration of all things comes together in one event. Weee-hooo. Eucatastrophic.

Also, one of my professors was talking today about how at the core of each person there are deep longings—which come out at times in the literature, art, music, legends—that are echoes of Eden. It is the intrinsic sense of deep beauty, loveliness in creation and in human life. Sense of what we were made to be originally & what we still see glimpses of in that beauty. There is also sense of mourning, grief, loss--that we have lost our way—that we are exiles, that we have wandered away from the garden. The human heart has longings for redemption—for things to be set straight--and this is where we engage a broken and hurting world: by acknowledging the longing; by entering into the great pain and exile with hope of knowing how the story ends. By telling stories of it. By making music that aches with the beauty of it. By painting and drawing and creating things that remind us of it.

I felt this strongly this Christmas while reading all of the chronicles of Narnia. The Last Battle is raging and the noble but beaten down warriors are brought into the renewed Narnia...they see all their friends they thought they'd lost. It is a great reunion and everyone is running faster than they've ever run--together--and with so much joy. Man, what a great eucatastrophe!!

In another class we've been talking about how sin "vandalizes shalom"--the God intended wholeness, integrity, peace, faithfulness, justice, beauty, goodness, righteousness, holiness, health, etc. As we are in Christ we are made new, and as communities of people who once were enemies and vandalizers, we are now brought near by God's great mercy. That deep longing for integrity and shalom are what lead us into God's heart for healing. The Gospel buys back the hearts of vandals so that they are shalom seekers--by loving God (& obeying his laws--thus not vandalizing shalom) and loving our neighbors--this integrity, peace, healing and joy are brought to bear in the lives of others.

23 February 2008

My friend April shared this moving post with me a few days ago and I'm still thinking about it. I began following this blog during the ebola outbreak, and my friend Heidi is working with these folks now. I like this worship because it remembers and grieves and hopes all at the same time:

Pain, by Aaron Strumpel
My life so far has been touched by your grace,
but there’s still things that shake me
I grow nearly faint when I see all the pain,
there’s times I wish I wasn’t so tender.

There’s AIDS in the world and cancer in my friends,
and I’m sick now, cause I’m scared
There’s people on the street too cold to feel their feet,
and I’m shaking inside cause they hurt.

Our kids just don’t know to live in your love
is all we need to be saved
It’s simple enough, is it just like they say?
Can we call on your name to get help?

When I hear your voice, I won’t harden my heart,
and I don’t want to turn away from you.
And it’s just round the corner
when every knee will bow,
and freedom will come

And it’s just round the corner
when you come in the clouds
and pain will be no more.

19 February 2008

lovely song

Rothko: greenblue

This is a great song. You'll like it, trust me:

Radical Face--Wrapped in Piano Strings.

18 February 2008

Where did the bodies come from?

I saw a disturbing 20/20 report investigating these bodyworld shows.
"Authorities in China and New York have opened investigations into allegations that a black market in Chinese bodies, which may include executed prisoners, is sending corpses to the United States for public display." (from the ABC news website)

St. Louis has been hosting what the Science Center is calling "the most successful exhibition in St. Louis history." There are two rival companies showing these plasticized human bodies in various athletic and everyday life poses in museums and galleries over the U.S. Supposedly the one here in St. Louis displays only bodies that have been expressly donated by the individuals for plasticizing. But the other company was very sketchy and suspect (the dude interviewed kept looking left and hesitating as he spoke, and seemed almost gleeful in the beginning of the interview talking about how the investors were making a lot of money on this venture (a killing, you might say...). When pressed, he couldn't really verify where the bodies came from. It seemed pretty obvious that he lied about visiting the scary meat-packing-like factory at the end of a slummy road in China where 20/20 taped people hunched over the bodies plasticizing them. The black market orders came to the states on freighters from China, and the cargo contents were labeled something like "plastic models for teaching"....um, well, no....they're (were) actually human bodies.

The 20/20 interviewer asked some hard questions about how they came to be making millions of dollars in profits using bodies of people whose families may not even know how, when or where they died. They had a rabbi on the show as well, who spoke about how disturbing it was that what we like to call curiosity about human anatomy and science is instead just morbid fascination that shows how little we honor human life.

Totally creepy or what?

15 February 2008

people get riled up sometimes

Interesting. One of my professors wrote this and the 190something comments on it have devolved into a rather incoherent catfight. At times in the name of God, and Jesus, and the Bible. Talking about interracial marriage slides into debates about Jesus' support of slavery. Read a few of the comments and you'll start to get an ulcer, and a headache, and start to be very surprised that we haven't already torn ourselves apart as a country--divided over things that Martin Luther King talked about fifty-ish years ago and that we try to pretend do not simmer right under the surface.


His blog is interesting from the bits I've read...From experiences in other cultures, I get the feeling that we Americans have a tenacious love of personal rightness. So it's interesting to read because he stirs the pot about what you wouldn't think would be very controversial things, and everybody and their moms (well, it's directed toward "fellas", but that's another topic) comes outta the woodwork to give their opinion, or their opinion about what the Bible says, or their opinion of why his blog is a stupid waste of time and cyberspace. I don't really enjoy arguments because I find them somewhat pointless and exhausting, but I like to observe the interactions between people on there. It's not always right or always wrong or always pertinent, but it's interesting. And he admits all the time in class that he has a spelling issue, so don't let that bother you.

And sadly, or not so sadly, someone commented on his post about yesterday's response to the interracial marriage article with this. And it is kind of funny.

And now, I'm skype chatting with Jess, which is far more awesome than this! I'm outie!!

06 February 2008

I'm opening the library. Once the pain of rising early has worn off, I really love quiet mornings at the library and at Kaldis. Making scones, greeting the early morning studiers. The other day--our fake spring day--the birds were loudly welcoming the dawn as I drove to work in the darkness. It was such a nice way to start the day.

I was reading my friend Laura's blog and found this post about Craigslist interesting. I had no idea this was going on. I appreciate Laura's getting the word out there about the issue.

My professor has the flu (bummer), so class was canceled last night. It has been weird weather--muggy-ish and then rainy and cold and stormy. The ride home was traffic-filled, but Tanya and I had a nice long conversation about grace, and about wrestling (not the WWF kind), and I wasn't particularly sad to come home and study (a bit!) & watch Biggest Loser with Court.

Court sent me a link to this new music by Winterpills, which is reminiscent of the innocence mission. Their myspace playlist is my soundtrack this morning.

I solicited help from some friends because next week our school has a day of prayer, and our International Justice Mission group is helping to plan part of the liturgy. One of the professors is sharing about learning to lament, and my soul was fed as I read the lament below, written by Kristin sometime back. As an aside, her most recent post is quite funny and unexpected--about the slow work of building relationships, and pigeons. Anyways, this piece reminded me that intimacy with Jesus is the beginning of allowing God to break our hearts for injustice and oppression, and that as we come to the Savior with our mourning and lament, he hears and is present. Powerful stuff.

My friends, thanks for showing me what it means to follow Jesus--those of you who are willing to wrestle and weep and lament for the broken relationships and people God brings into your life. This is where radical transformation takes place. This is where God shows up. This is where it gets real. As Nacho would say, "Let's get down to the nitty gritty."

"Come and see Lord”

"Come and see and weep with me Lord. See their faces painted with cheap make-up. See the tenderness in their worn out eyes. Weep with me over innocence lost. Weep with me over torn flesh and broken hearts. Weep with me Jesus over girls trapped by fear. Weep with me for the mothers who have lost their daughters. Weep with me over your princesses that are treated like whores. Weep with me so that I know you are with them. Weep with me so that I know their suffering isn’t forgotten. Weep with me because when you weep with me it gives me hope. Your tears bring the safe place for the suffering of the world to reside. Your tears give me and the girls a place to put our doubt, our rage, our isolation, our fears. Come and see Jesus. Come and weep with me.

When I first walked down the street I fell in love with them. I saw the faces of the girls of Sonagacchie and I knew this is where God had me. Know five days I week I have the honor of hanging out with these girls work in the Red light district of Sonagachie. I get to know them and hear their stories and see their suffering. In some ways their suffering is so foreign to me. Many of them were tricked into the trade. An older woman would come into the village and say that they had work as a maid in the city. The parents would agree and send their daughters away. Then their daughter are beaten and raped into submission and made a sex slave. I see hundreds of girls when I walk down the street, each with their own story. They are looked at by society as whore and lower class citizens when most of them are just teenage girls robbed of their childhood.

How many times have I been the Martha? How many times have I come before Jesus and said, “ I am working so hard Jesus. Do you see me? I am working so hard to save these girls. I am working so hard to serve the poor. I am working so hard to be the hero for people! Do you see this?"

My reaction to the poverty and suffering I saw before me was to work harder, to do more, to not let my heart to break to much...to keep moving. And somewhere along the line I lost Jesus. I was so busy trying to prove my goodness and fix the suffering that I missed Jesus.

Then I read of Martha and Mary again in the story of Lazarus. Mary once again falls at the feet of Jesus. She weeps before him and cries out to Him. Then her friends who were mourning with Mary invited Jesus to “Come and see, Lord”. They invited Jesus into their suffering, into the death of their friend, into their hopelessness, into their pain, into their fear. They said, “Come and see.” And in His humility Jesus entered in. The Bible says, “Jesus wept”. The humility of our Savior to enter in. Jesus, the Son of God, the Savior of the world, the giver of life and breath, the maker of time...wept with his people."