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October 2007

A Great Milosz Poem

The final stanza of this poem is stunning. I suggest reading the poem through twice, since the second time you will know how it ends. The images throughout the poem are quite strong and evocative. The opening stanza makes a meta-ethical claim that I find to be convincing.

One More Day

Comprehension of good and evil is given in the running of the blood.
In a child's nestling close to its mother, she is security and warmth,
In night fears when we are small, in dread of the beast's fangs and in the terror of dark rooms,
In youthful infatuations where childhood delight finds completion.

And should we discredit the idea for its modest origins?
Or should we say plainly that good is on the side of the living
And evil on the side of a doom that lurks to devour us?
Yes, good is an ally of beign and the mirror of evil is nothing,
Good is brightness, evil darkness, good high, evil low,
According to the nature of our bodies, of our language.

The same can be said of beauty. It should not exist.
There is not only no reason for it, but an argument against.
Yet undoubtedly it is, and is different from ugliness.

The voices of birds outside the window when they greet the morning
And iridescent stripes of light blazing on the floor,
Or the horizon with a wavy line where the peach-colored sky and the dark-blue mountains meet.
Or the architecture of a tree, the slimness of a column crowned with green.

All that, hasn't it been invoked for centuries
As a mystery which, in one instant, will be suddenly revealed?
And the old artist thinks that all his life he has only trained his hand.
One more day and he will enter the core as one enters a flower.

And though the good is weak, beauty is very strong.
Nonbeing sprawls, everywhere it turns into ash whole expanses of being,
It masquerades in shapes and colors that imitate existence
And no one would know it, if they did not know that it was ugly.

And when people cease to believe that there is good and evil
Only beauty will call to them and save them
So that they still know how to say: this is true and that is false.

Wow! I'm particularly drawn to the line, "Nonbeing sprawls, everywhere it turns into ash whole expanses of being."

I am so captivated by language like this. I'm humbled and ennobled by the poets genius.

The Prophet’s Suffering

The Prophet's Suffering

Jer. 20:7-18

by the Rev. Dr. E. Scott Jones

Cathedral of Hope – Oklahoma City

21 October 2007



    I preached my first sermon on August 21, 1988 at the age of fourteen.

    In June I had been asked to preach for our upcoming youth Sunday. Pretty quickly I figured out which passage I was going to use. I can't really remember why I settled on it so quickly and easily. I don't even think it was my favourite passage at the time. Maybe I had just read it recently in my normal bible reading and it had stuck with me?

    The passage was Isaiah 54:11-17. Here are some excerpts:


O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires . . . In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee. Behold, they shall surely gather together, but not by me: whosoever shall gather together against thee shall fall for thy sake . . . No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.


    Of course, I look at it now and realize that this passage is perfect for a teenager who feels like something of an outsider from the rest of his world. At the time I thought my difference was explained by my Christian piety, so, of course, I would preach a sermon about Christians being different from the rest of the world.

    The title of the sermon was "A Christian's Heritage as a Servant of the Lord." There were three main sections: Christians are set apart, Christians' growth in God, and trial and temptations. The basic point was that we suffered trials and temptations because of our difference, but if we were "established in righteousness" and obeyed God, then God would protect us.

    I rehearsed that sermon for months. Seriously. I would run through it over and over again at home. And Mom would take me up to the church to run through it there when no one else was around. I've never since rehearsed a sermon quite like that.

    With all that content and all that rehearsal the sermon only took sixteen minutes! Nowadays that seems like a good length of sermon to me. But in the churches of my upbringing, sermons were often a full thirty minutes, so sixteen minutes was considered quite short.

    The week after I preached that first sermon Kelly Phillips died. Kelly had been a member of our youth group and had recently graduated and was in college. She was a very active and important leader in our church youth group in my early teen years. Kelly was someone we had all looked up to.

    As a teenager she was diagnosed with some form of cancer; I forget the details. She battled her illness with great courage, and we prayed for her earnestly. After everything I'd been taught about God and the power of prayer, I firmly believed that if we prayed hard enough and had enough faith that Kelly would be healed and that this miracle would be a great sign that would lead to revival in our community.

    But it was not to be. She died on August 25, 1988 and her funeral was on Sunday afternoon, August 28. The church was packed. As you can imagine, it was a very emotional service. To this day I can't hear Michael W. Smith's "Friends," which was played at her funeral, without thinking of Kelly and getting a little sad. I remember how I came out of the church bawling and grabbed my youth minister, Jeff Payne, and cried and cried in his arms.

    Kelly's death struck a great and lasting blow to my faith as received up until that time. I came to realize that much which I had been taught was simply not true. If it had been true, then Kelly wouldn't have died. I think I was scared of the full implications of this realization.

    Over the years that followed I was in spiritual crisis, though hardly anyone knew it. I doubted seriously whether I was really a Christian, whether I was saved. I wondered if I had faith or not. I wondered if I was going to hell or not. The root of those years of spiritual crisis was the confusing sexuality that was awakening within me, something I didn't understand or know how to deal with. During those years of spiritual crisis I wondered over and over again whether the crisis itself was my fault, whether the doubts that arose after the deaths of Kelly, my grandparents, my father, and other early crises in my life were really the result of my own lack of faith and my deeply hidden sin.

From the moment of Kelly Phillips' death, prayer, as I had understood it, was not quite the same. For years I had prayed earnestly for long periods each day. But after the prayers I and many others had prayed for Kelly didn't come true, I found it almost impossible to keep praying.

A few years later after other, more significant deaths had occurred in my life, someone at church during a fellowship time in the Fellowship Hall said something to me about my faith in spite of the deaths. I told them that Kelly's death had struck a more difficult blow to my faith than those of my grandparents and my father. I remember that the person didn't know how to respond.

But what I know now is that those years of spiritual crisis were really a blessing to me. The suffering in my life meant that I wrestled with doubt. Death and my own awakening sexuality cast everything I had been raised to believe into doubt. The wrestling with doubt, the suffering that it entailed, the nights of darkness, fear, and despair, all were part of a shaping of my life. I was opening up. Opening up to a process that would last many years. There were many years of education ahead in order to learn how to refashion Christian theology around my doubts. And it would be many years before I personally mustered the courage and integrity to resolve the questions of my sexuality.

Those journeys of claiming a new identity were not easy, but they were wonderful, sublime even. I never would have taken those journeys had I not walked through the valley of the shadow of death, had I not encountered a dark night of the soul.


The Book of Jeremiah reminds us that an essential element of our spiritual journey is the moments in which we wrestle with the darkness, with the shadow side. When we feel that we are in the depths crying out to God or anyone for help.

Just a couple of months ago, as I was preparing for this sermon series, the private letters of Mother Theresa came to light. They have caused quite a stir. In these letters that Theresa wrote to her spiritual advisors, it is revealed that throughout her fifty years of ministry, when she was helping the poorest of the poor that she felt abandoned by God. This woman who received the Nobel Peace Prize, who is viewed as one of the most faithful witnesses to Christianity in our history, spent most of her life doubting God.

    In the early days of the Missionaries of Charity, when they were first achieving success in ministry, fulfilling the visions that God had given to Theresa, she entered into what she called a "terrible darkness" and a "deep loneliness." As her ministry grew and grew, her own darkness become more severe. She wrote, "What contradiction there is in my soul. The pain within is so great." Her private turmoil was unknown to most, though she reached out for help again and again to her superiors and spiritual directors. It took them some time to realize how deep her despair really was.

    Ten years into this spiritual crisis, in July 1959 she wrote,


In the darkness . . . Lord, my God, who am I that You should forsake me? The child of your love – and now become as the most hated one – the one You have thrown away as unwanted – unloved. I call, I cling, I want – and there is no One to answer – no One on Whom I can cling – no, No One. – Alone. The darkness is so dark – and I am alone. – Unwanted, forsaken. – The loneliness of the heart that wants love is unbearable. – Where is my faith? – even deep down, right in, there is nothing but emptiness & darkness. – My God – how painful is this unknown pain. It pains without ceasing. – I have no faith. . . . If there be God, -- please forgive me. . . . I am told God loves me – and yet the reality of darkness & coldness & emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul.


    Her pain grew deeper. In September 1959 she wrote,


They say people in hell suffer eternal pain because of the loss of God . . . In my soul I feel just that terrible pain of loss – of God not wanting me – of God not being God – of God not really existing (Jesus, please forgive my blasphemies – I have been told to write everything). . . words pass through my lips – and I long with a deep longing to believe in them. – What do I labour for? If there be no God . . . then Jesus – You also are not true . . . there is no hope.


    As you read through this book of letters, entitled Come Be My Light, you encounter the paradox of the Christian struggle with faith and with doubt. On one hand she says that she cannot pray any longer, while confessing that she actually still prays for hours and hours. She is searching earnestly to encounter God, but also she feels God's absence. The doubt doesn't make her abandon her search, instead she searches more diligently. She wonders whether her suffering is a necessary part of her ministry, whether God is leading her into the depths so that she can better minister to those who are suffering in the world.

    One of her confessors, Father Neusner, felt that Mother Theresa's darkness was itself the testimony of how great God was with her. He wrote,


    The sure sign of God's hidden presence in this darkness is the thirst for God, the craving

for at least a ray of His light. No one can long for God unless God is present in her heart.


Father Neusner told Theresa that she was experiencing the "dark night of the soul," that all mystics had encountered. Though he testified that her experience was deeper and longer than any he knew of. He assured her that it did not come upon her because of her own fault, but was actually her experience of the pain and suffering of God. That she was being allowed to experience the same sort of pain that Jesus had felt. That God was allowing her to share in God's own pain.

Ultimately, through her work with Father Neusner, Mother Theresa came to embrace the darkness within. She wrote in 1961,


For the first time in this 11 years – I have come to love the darkness. For I believe now that it is a part, a very, very small part of Jesus' darkness & pain on earth. You have taught me to accept it as a "spiritual side of 'your work'" . . . Today really I felt a deep joy.


    Though she may have learned how to cope with her darkness and the absence of God in her life, her letters reveal that the darkness never went away. Until the end of her life in 1997 she was still writing about her "excruciating night" and her "spiritual dryness."

    The Time magazine article written by David Van Biema about these letters is filled with astonishment and respect. Van Biema writes,


However formidable her efforts on Christ's behalf, it is even more astounding to realize that she achieved them when he was not available to her – a bit like a person who believes she can't walk winning the Olympic 100 meters.


And he draws an implication for what her suffering could mean to other people


if she could carry on for a half-century without God in her head or heart, then perhaps people not quite as saintly can cope with less extreme versions of the same problem.



    Ministry entails suffering. Why is that? Because ministry is ultimately about compassion. It is about caring for other people. And you can't care for other people without taking on the burden of suffering with them.

    As a pastor I can testify to the fact that I "share your pain." Sometimes quite literally. Sometimes the troubles you are going through keep me up at night too. You can ask Michael. There have been times I have asked him to hold me as I cried. And I wasn't crying about some pain of my own. I was crying because of some pain that one of you shared.

    We teach that all of us in the church are ministers. Part of being a minister is that you will internalize the suffering of others. And sometimes that means you are lonely and anxious and uncertain.

    Mother Theresa's letters reveal that doubt and despair are part of the spiritual life. In fact, they might be essential parts of the spiritual life. When we feel the painful absence of God, maybe it is actually God leading us to new depths of spiritual insight. Maybe it is God shaping us for our ministry to the world.

    I know that many of you have experienced or are experiencing deep pain in your life. Sometimes you feel lonely and abandoned by God, the church, or other people. These are legitimate and significant parts of your life. They are not to be justified or moralized away. But they can be opportunities for great spiritual growth. I'm not saying that God purposely sends them your way to teach you some lesson. Hear me, I'm not saying that.

    But they can be opportunities for us to learn new things about ourselves. To learn new things about relationships with other people. To go deeper in our spiritual journey.

And some of you have.

Michael Newman didn't let his diagnosis as HIV positive lead to despair. He has pursued a deeper spirituality and wholeness, and now he shares his wisdom with others.

Paula Sophia has encountered some very dark nights of the soul. Her story is filled with lots of pain and anger, some of it directed at God. And Paula finds herself back there every now and then, wrestling with God again. But I find that Paula's wrestling with her faith has given her powerful insights. I have grown because I've learned from Paula's journey.

Many of you are just getting to know Neill Spurgin and don't know all of his story. He was a minister in the Assemblies of God and other Pentecostal denominations. He founded a church and it quickly grew to many hundreds of people. Neill was also a very successful businessman. But he had a dark secret, his sexuality, and he spent eight years in Exodus. When he came out he lost his career and went through an incredibly difficult divorce.

It hasn't been easy for Neill, but he has turned that pain into passion. A passion that cares for other people. A passion that fights for justice and equality for all. A passion to not waste time in sharing God's good news with others who are hurting. And a passion for Dean, that was abundantly apparent at their wedding last week.

In the midst of a lamentation in which Jeremiah cries out because his closest friends are seeking to bring revenge upon him, when he cries out cursing the day he was born, when he denounces God for making him a laughingstock, Jeremiah still finds time to say,


Sing to the Lord; praise the Lord!


    It is a mighty testimony.


Read this Tulsa World article:

More lawmakers reject copy of Quran

by: MICK HINTON and BILL SHERMAN World Staff Writers

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Sixteen state lawmakers have joined Rep. Rex Duncan, R-Sand Springs, in refusing a gift copy of the Quran.

The holy book of the Muslim religion was offered as a centennial gift by the Governor's Ethnic American Advisory Council, made up of American Muslims from Middle East countries.

Duncan refused, saying, "Most Oklahomans do not endorse the idea of killing innocent women and children in the name of ideology."

Allison Moore of Tulsa, who converted to the Muslim faith more than a decade ago, said Duncan can count members of her faith among those who don't endorse those things.

"We do not condone suicide bombers any more than the Christians," she said.

Duncan reiterated Tuesday that the council's spokeswoman had stated in an e-mail to elected officials that "the Holy Quran is the record of the exact words revealed by God through the Angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad."

Referring to a point he said was emphasized in the Quran, Duncan said it talks about seizing and killing those who turn their back on Islam.

Moore said this portion of the Quran was stating that Muslims should not rely on the Christian and Jewish people to solve their own problems.

Rep. Mike Shelton said Tuesday that he was embarrassed by Duncan's comments. "I had an opportunity to visit Turkey, and Muslims come in all colors and shades," he said. "Al-Qaida is nothing but gang members."

Jim Mishler, Tulsa Metropolitan Ministry executive director, said he was disappointed with Duncan's remarks. He said the lawmaker's refusal to accept the Quran reveals "an appalling lack of awareness of religious history."

"Most religious communities have had zealots who have acted violently out of their take on their scriptures, including our own Christian community," he said.

"We need to recognize that, and to affirm that we're never going there again, and to invite Muslims of good will to continue the clarity of their comments that (terrorists) do not represent them," he said.

Mishler said the TMM executive committee will meet as early as Thursday to develop a formal response.

The Rev. Anthony Jordan, executive director-treasurer of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, did not fault the legislators for their action.

"America's laws find their roots in the Holy Bible," he said in a prepared statement. "The freedom to openly practice faith, without discrimination, is one of the beautiful tenets of the American way. Likewise, true freedom provides the right to refuse the generosity of others."

The Rev. Darryl DeBorde, pastor of Braden Park Baptist Church and a board member of the Tulsa Interfaith Alliance, criticized the legislators.

"The Tulsa Interfaith Alli ance expects all of our elected officials to treat all of their constituents with dignity and respect," he said.

"To purposefully condemn and denounce all Oklahomans who are members of one religious body is just wrong, whether they be Muslim, Baptist or anything else."

In Oklahoma City, Duncan questioned the composition of the council on Tuesday, saying the group's name sounded like it should include all other groups, such as "Italian-Americans, Portuguese- Americans and German-Americans.In Oklaho

Marjan Seirafi-Pour, chairwoman of the council, said members represent different parts of the Muslim world, like representatives from Pakistan, Iran and other countries. They went to the governor in 2004 seeking formation of an advisory group.

Paul Sund, spokesman for Gov. Brad Henry, said the council was formed at the request of some leaders in the Muslim community. He said Asian and Hispanic councils were formed in earlier administrations.

Reflections on Reinhold Neibuhr and the Christian Tradition's Views on the "War on Terror" and American Power

An excellent article in this month's Atlantic Monthly entitled "A Man for All Reasons" by Paul Elie recounts how the work of Reinhold Niebuhr, the great 20th century American theologian, has been used by all sides in debating the intellectual and moral issues of the American use of force post 9/11. It is a fascinating article that I highly recommend. Here's the conclusion, reading of which will not detract from reading the entire article (which can be found on-line here):

Where, in such a situation, is the wisdom Niebuhr called for to be found? All the recent ritual invocation of his thought suggests that the place to look is not in his aphorisms and pronouncements, not in the particular petitions he signed or the committees he founded, but in his sense of history and our role in it.
Niebuhr was what Flannery O’Connor called a “realist of distances,” and the distance that gave his realism its clarity and explanatory power was gained through a grasp of what was known in his time as sacred history. In his view, the youth and optimism of the American experience was offset by the Founders’ conviction that we are a biblical people, enacting in the New World an older history. For Niebuhr, the aspirations that shaped our common life predated the republic: They were the visions of the promised land held by the patriarchs and the apostles, described in the history of Israel’s origins and destiny, which, in our early settlers’ account, became the story of our origins and destiny as well. This history tells of a people confident of its special role yet thwarted again and again on account of its pride, and growing in wisdom through a sense of the frailty of human nature and the limits of earthly powers. This history records that nations rage and peoples rise up together—that war sets brother against brother, despoils the land, and rends the social fabric; it counsels that you go to war with a heavy heart, for the truly good war has never been fought. This history acts as a restraint on national pride, not a stimulant to it, for it is not merely history, but in some sense our history, a story that cannot but be a cautionary tale, for it tells us who we are and what we are prone to do.
The war in Iraq, and the debates about the war, suggest that this history is now lost to us. On the surface, our society is thick with religion, but it is religion whose history is merely decorative, like the fiberglass pillars and aluminum gaslights of a McMansion in the suburbs. The Christianity that has a voice in official Washington has as its patriarchs Reagan and Falwell, not Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and yet it has managed to make the nation’s longer biblical history repulsive to the liberals who once acknowledged it as a basic fact of our heritage. Lacking this history, liberals have a mainly ahistorical, secular political culture—one that assumes liberalism began with the New Deal or in 1948 and that would stand apart from religion altogether at a time when an understanding of the religious outlook is crucial to our grasp of the challenges of a globalized world.
In such circumstances, it’s no surprise that we fail to hear the voices of prophets like those who, during all the U.S. wars of the past century, called the ruling powers to account. To an astonishing degree, churches have underwritten the war in Iraq, recasting the biblical tradition in accord with the policies of the White House. They’ve replaced two millennia of thinking about war and peace with grade-school tutorials on Islam and facile comparisons between Iraq and Vietnam, attempting to make a usable past out of events that are hardly even past.
Niebuhr would say that a biblical perspective, once lost, is not easily recovered—cultural regeneration being an abstract enterprise doomed to failure, like most human projects. Yet it’s worth recalling his conviction that history isn’t a true measure of things, that posterity is only a proximate judgment. “There is no way of transmuting the Christian gospel into a system of historical optimism,” he observed. “The final victory over man’s disorder is God’s and not ours.”
Even so, Niebuhr insisted, “we do have a responsibility for proximate victories”—“for the health of our communities, our nations, and our cultures.” What might this mean for the war in Iraq? It would mean frankly acknowledging, first of all, that the war as fought—in the misbegotten hope that Iraq, with its fractious history, could be remade in our image—has been lost. And second, that a full American withdrawal from the country is no more possible than a swift and easy victory was. Americans and Iraqis are bound together for the foreseeable future, regardless of the terms on which U.S. forces are drawn down—even if we are driven out of their country by rival factions in a civil war. “To love our enemies cannot mean that we must connive with their injustice,” Niebuhr wrote in 1942. “It does mean that beyond all moral distinctions of history we must know ourselves one with our enemies not only in the bonds of common humanity but also in the bonds of common guilt by which that humanity has become corrupted.”
As it was in Western Europe, so it is in Iraq. Its history now has an American chapter—and the other way around—and this shared history brings a shared responsibility, whether we like it or not. The recognition of this fact would be not only realistic, but the beginning of wisdom—the first step in the recognition of the limits of our power.

The Centennial

Sunday a group of my friends gathered for brunch at Nova (a sure way to run into gays) before heading downtown for the Centennial Parade. Those that watched on tv saw a better show, but it was fun to pack in with the crowds for the high school marching bands, old celebrities, and lame floats.

At the beginning of the year my group of closest friends decided that throughout this year we’d do special things to celebrate the Oklahoma Centennial. It became a personal goal of mine to try to do 100 Centennial related things. I lost count a long time ago (plus it wasn’t always clear what counted and what didn’t), but the intention to get in touch with Oklahoma , its geography, history, and culture remained. . . . [read more of my column here]

Fackenheim's What Is Judaism.

Last week I completed a couple of books.

One was by the Jewish philosopher Emil Fackenheim entitled "What is Judaism?" I highly recommend the book. Fackenheim is introducing Judaism, particularly Judaism post-Holocaust and post-Israeli Statehood. It is an intriguing presentation, from which I learned a lot. I started the book back in the summer when I was preaching on Elijah and preparing a series on Galatians.

As I read, I found that many of my views on salvation and revelation and other doctrinal points are closer to Judaism than the Christian theology I grew up with. Maybe Christian theology has returned more to its Jewish roots in recent decades.

Of course there were still some differences. For example, my theology is very universalistic and evangelistic, whereas Judaism is more particularlistic and not driven to missions.

Fackenheim also helps to point out some of the absurdities of certain Christian views. For example, he tells the story of an Christian who tried to convert Eichmann before his execution. When the press asked this preacher if Eichmann converted he would be in heaven, the preacher said yes. Then asked whether the Jewish children Eichmann had had killed would be, the preacher said no. Fackenheim is rightly appalled and disgusted by such a theology. The story works as a reductio ad absurdum that the premises that give rise to it are clearly wrong.

Near the end he struggles with post-Holocaust Jews beliefs about God. There is a powerful phrase, "just as God is infinite so His pain is infinite, and this, were it to touch the world, would destory it."

The Last Fortnight

So, in a rush to catch up.

Be-bop a Baden
Two weeks ago guests from the Baden Chuch of the Union of Evangelical Churches were visiting the Kansas-Oklahoma Conference of the UCC. We were fortunate to host Susanne and Albert for dinner at Iron Star BBQ. It was their first time to eat fried okra.

They were delightful and we had a fun interchange about cultural differences. Albert was amazed at how unhealthy Oklahomans are, including how little they walk. They both had never been to the US before -- Kansas and Oklahoma being their first trip! They were amazed at the spaciousness of it all.

Susanne had one of the best observations of Oklahoma culture that I've ever heard. We were discussing some of our history and Oklahoma's resulting psyche (I think as a state we are slightly depressed with a self-esteem problem) and Susanne said we had a culture of "suffering and displaced persons." She grasped up pretty quickly.

Pop, Pop, Fizz, Fizz

On the 5th, Michael, Jon, Danny, Colin, and I roadtripped up to Arcadia to see Pops the new convenience store/diner on Route 66 with the unique architecture, the soda bottle statue, and hundreds of different soda options. We had fun picking out our unique sodas and then passing some around while we were waiting for our table. We were intrigued by the celery soda, for instance, though no one really loved it.

A few of our group ordered the chicken fried steak (unfortunately I did not) and it was amazing. Maybe the best I've ever had (Cheever's has competition).

Barking the Blessing

The morning of the 6th CoH hosted its first effort pet blessing. A handful of church members attended with their pets (mostly dogs). Everyone was well behaved, though some were more energetic and rambunctious than others. It was really fun to see the joy on church members' faces as they brought their pets to church and to share with friends who otherwise might not see their pets.

Bravo! Renee

On the 6th, Michael, Christa, Jon, and I went to see Renee Fleming. Reneefleming

Michael cried during the concert. She is so lovely, and I love her performing style -- there is so much energy and interaction.

She is currently at the peak of her career and considered by many to be the best in the world at what she does at this particular moment. As we drove home we discussed whether any of us had experienced anyone else at the peak of their careers in any other field of endeavour.

Say you want a Revolution

Last week Michael and I went to see Across the Universe. I had been looking forward to it since Michael sent me the first trailer on-line. I loved Julie Taymor's Titus back in 99 and was excited to see what other visual splendors were in store.

Well, it is visually splendid and enjoyable to watch. But, it's not a very good film. Too contrived in many places. Weak plot and characters throughout.

My favourite vignette was actually Joe Cocker's cover of Come Together.

Fag, Dyke, Bitch

Last Thursday was our Stop Hate in the Hallways anti-bullying conference. We had a capacity audience. Kevin Jennings of GLSN was great. His presentation was on the statistics and facts of bullying in schools and what schools can do that is proven to help. I wish our OKC school board members would listen to this data!

I was moderater for a panel discussion of the role of religion in such bullying. It was entitled Religion: Cause and Cure. The panel was incredible. Dr. Uysal, a Muslim, shared a story of a young eighth grade boy at Norman High who was called a terrorist and how he had counseled the young man. Dr. Uysal cried while telling the story. Rabbi Fox spoke about how one of his congregants was upset when she heard that at her school's See You at the Pole, the Christians were going to erect a cross and nail the names of non-Christians to the cross! Each panelist discussed ways they had dealt with such bullying in their faith communities. I was really pleased with the end result.

Okay, so now I just have to bring you up to speed for this weekend just past. I wish I'd blogged separately and at more length for each of these!

Poetic Excerpt

Sorry I've fallen behind in my blogging. Life has been so full, I haven't taken time to sit down and write about it. Today I'll try to do some catching up. Until then, enjoy this excerpt from Czeslaw Milosz' The Separate Notebooks: A Mirrored Gallery.

Pure beauty, benediction: you are all I gathered
From a life that was biitter and confused,
In which I learned about evil, my own and not my own.
Wonder kept seizing me, and I recall only wonder,
Risings of the sun over endless green, a universe
Of grasses, and flowers opening to the first light,
Blue outline of the mountain and a hosanna shout.
I asked, how many times, is this the truth of the earth?
How can laments and curses be turned into hymns?
What makes you need to pretend, when you know better?
But the lips praised on their own, on their own the feet ran;
The heart beat strongly; and the tongue proclaimed its adoration.

Oh, Silly Tangled Webs

Why do we make much ado about the silliest little things. This should be worth a laugh and nothing more.

Read about the lawmaker who accidentally flashed a picture of a naked woman to a high school audience. And the absurdities that followed.