Saturday, January 10, 2015

Take Care, Please Take Care

Beautiful, sad, full, empty words and sounds from Big Star. And then covered by Yo La Tengo.

Take care not to hurt yourself

Beware of the need for help

You might need too much  
And people are such  

Take care  
Please, take care  

Some people read idea books  
And some people have pretty looks  
But if your eyes are wide  
And all words aside  

This sounds a bit like goodbye  
In a way it is, I guess  
As I leave your side  
I've taken the air

Monday, October 27, 2014

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Seeing Ourselves on the Big Screen

I cry every time that I watch the end of Fellini's masterpiece 1/2. When I told my students this the last time I showed it in a film class, they look quite puzzled.

At the end of this stunning film, Fellini reminds us that an entire cast of characters has created and acted within the chaotic and joyful screenplay of our lives. So perhaps the older one gets, the more this resonates as she has more faces to remember, more aches and joys, etc.

The film is also deeply beautiful and real as it highlights the internal disarray of all human beings--and the role of the artist to accurately and honestly recreate this confusion. This is one reason why at least some of the films we watch should make us feel deeply unsettled, as the truthful retelling of our messy inner selves is not a comfortable thing to see on the big screen. And only after acknowledging the truth of our own messiness, can we seek redemption.

I have written a bit more in depth on this last scene of the film (and a few of the film's major themes) here at Relief Journal. Please check it out!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

My Punk Rawk Past

I have just thoroughly enjoyed writing a piece about why and how I feel that punk rock has played a large part in my own spiritual formation. You can find it here at the Christ & Pop Culture Website. I would actually love to tell more of my story--and to spend more time both remembering and researching punk rock. I have so many vivid memories of turning points: when my jr. high youth director introduced my to the Violent Femmes. When one of the (cool & hot) youth group leaders introduced me to The Replacements shortly after. And then I remember my freshman year of high school, and how I had tried the first semester to fit in with the "popular" sororities, to play by their rules, to ooh and ah and try to fit in. Things changed when my friend Rachel came back from Christmas break carrying a black spray painted lunchbox as a purse, wearing karate shoes, and sneering at the popular kids. I soon found a sense of confidence and pride (not always healthy) in being an outsider. Last memory: When I was a student at Covenant College, a few friends and I took at road trip to Atlanta to see Fugazi. Although the band's frontman, Ian Mackaye, more often than not refused interviews by the big music magazines, he agreed to give my friends and I an interview for the Covenant College newspaper, The Bagpipe. We then went backstage and ate carrots with Ian. I have no idea where the text of that interview is now--it never got published. But here is Ian, patiently talking to three three Christian college kids after a Fugazi show at the Masquerade.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

You Didn't See Me...

I was solid gold
I was in the fight
I was coming back from what seemed like a ruin
I couldn't see you coming so far
I just turn around and there you are


You didn't see me I was falling apart
I was a white girl in a crowd of white girls in the park
You didn't see me I was falling apart
I was a television version of a person with a broken heart
You didn't see me I was falling apart
I was a white girl in a crowd of white girls in a park
You didn't see me I was falling apart
I was a television version of a person with a broken heart

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Need for a Memorial

I have never seen this photo before: MLK picking a (previously burning) cross out of his front yard will his son stands by. I tire of people saying things like "racism is a thing of the past" and accusing anyone who speaks of the institutional racism that still plagues the country as "playing the race card." Things are much better, yes. But it takes longer for hearts and minds to change than it does for mere laws to change. And I believe that it takes the power of God to change hearts and minds, so I hope we can all faithfully pray that progress continues. I took a course at Newcastle called "Cultural Representations of Slavery and Genocide;' one of the course's central questions was why the US has no national memorial or museum for the many, many victims of slavery? We have a holocaust memorial--and a national holocaust museum (and I think this is a very good thing)--but where are the slavery memorials? Where is the national slavery museum?It seems that the efforts to build one in VA died because of insufficient funds. What does that say about us? Don't we need a space for public grieving and remembrance--rather than an encouragement to sweep it all under the rug and pretend this has always been "land of the free"? For many the American dream was an American nightmare. Of course, fixating on the past and holding on to hate (on either side) does not help either. But I strongly believe that we need a space to memorialize the many who lost their lives (physical, mental, emotional) to the corrupt, dehumanizing institution of slavery.

Toni Morrison's dark, moving, profound, and Real 1987 novel Beloved is a memorial to the "60 million and more" that Morrison alludes to in the novel's dedication. Beloved is a ghost story based on the painful story of escaped slave Margaret Garner, a woman who slit the throat of her own child in an attempt to rescue her from falling prey to the very slaveowners that molested and abused her mother. The haunting of the novel might be the ghost of the mercifully murdered baby, Beloved, (this is implied but never clearly explained)--but it is also a metaphor for the haunting of our bloody past, a past in which dignity, justice, and an acknowledgement of personhood were traded for physical and psychological violence: "Not a house in the country ain't packed to its rafters with some dead Negro's grief." These ghosts have not been exorcised; they continue to wreak havoc and prolong grief. Sethe, the novel's protagonist, claims that even after someone or something is dead, they have left a "rememory" that we can literally bump in when walking down the street. As Faulkner famously wrote in Requiem for a Nun, "The past is not dead; it's not even passed." Only after acknowledging, naming, and memorializing the "60 million and more" can the past begin to move from a painful "re-memory" to a space of healing.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Ontological Angst

Lord David Muir, Scottish bard, storyteller, and evangelist visited the L'Abri manor house this past week. I told him that I taught Descartes in my classes--and the next day he told me he had written me a poem. Here it is:

“Ontological Angst” by Lord David Muir

I think; therefore I am, I think
But sometime I will cease to be
So then what happens to my thought?
A problem of ontology

I think but the content of my thought
It seems to matter not at all
And so I think, and so I live
And while I live, I have a ball

But while I live, Ah, there’s the rub
What thought comes beyond this coil
When others rise beyond this life
And I am left to be despoiled

Ontology then is not a cure
For all of life’s circumstance
I’ve heard there’s cure for all life’s ills
And he is called “Lord of the Dance.”