Thursday, January 28, 2010

Heaven Help Me

This video was passed along this morning by a classmate. I've watched it a number of times and moved to tears by it. I don't have overt addictions, but like every other person, struggle with inner pain. I come across, and probably am genuinely, kind, thoughtful, emphatic and honest to a fault, but inside I see myself as probably not the nicest of people. Like so many, I battle depression and low self esteem. I stuff down feelings to hide behind a heroically stoic face. This song's reminder and my work learning at Austin Recovery this January term has deeply moved me, and changed me. We're powerless without God; albeit, as Niebuhr writes in the Serenity Prayer, "God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed." And, "courage to change the things that should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other."

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Conundrum of Loving One's Enemies

This is what I wrote for my home church's website, to run January 25-29. I was very limited by the word limit so I really could not get into the topic at hand. But, it should just wet the give pause on the topic of Loving One's Enemies. Let me know what you think. I honestly want to know. Perhaps, I should have gone with my other choice for a short essay: the early Christian practice of kissing :-). Here it is:

"I was in my school library recently and I was having a discussion with a friend. She was questioning the differences between the established patterns of traditional thought found in the old testament and Jesus’ antithesis of these accepted behaviors found in the new testament. My friend asked, “How can we stand up for justice in the world and still love our enemies? When we love our enemies are we somehow justifying their wrong doing, or excusing the injustices they impose on others?” What does Jesus mean as it’s attributed in the gospel of Matthew, “You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,...” (Matt 5:43-44).

After our discussion, I went to my main source of wisdom for topics like this, Martin Luther King Jr. In November of 1957, King delivered a famous sermon on the subject of loving our enemies. For King, love held redemptive power and even though there is no excuse for the behavior of the injustice, the redemptive power of love can transform. King said that hate for hate intensifies the existence of hate, but if you can inject the hate with love, then the chain of hate is cut off. King said that loving our enemies starts with ourselves. It’s seeing the other with love because God loves that person. “When you rise to the level of love, of its great beauty and power, you seek to defeat evil systems. Individuals who happen to be caught up in that system, you love, but you seek to defeat the system.” For me, what remains is a tension of hating the consequences of the action while still loving the offender. Something to pray about."

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Franciscan Prayer of Blessing

Franciscan prayer of blessing:

May God bless us with discomfort at easy answers,

half-truths and superficial relationships,

so that we will live deeply in our hearts.

May God bless us with anger at injustice, oppression

and exploitation of people and the earth,

so that we will work for justice, equity and peace.

May God bless us with tears to shed for those who suffer,

so that we will reach out our hands

to comfort them and change their pain to joy.

And may God bless us with the foolishness to think that

we can make a difference in our world,

so that we will do the things which others say cannot be done.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Which imprint do you choose?

I'm not too often excited about, or into a certain television program. However, this year I became turned onto a show called Dollhouse, created by Joss Whedon. Unfortunately, it's been canceled but it's got one of the most interesting, and controversial premises I've seen in a long time. From Wikipedia (I know not a very reliable source), "The show revolves around a corporation running numerous underground establishments (known as "Dollhouses") across the globe which program individuals referred to as Actives (or Dolls) with temporary personalities and skills. Wealthy clients hire Actives from Dollhouses at great expense for various purposes. The series primarily follows the Active known as Echo, played by Eliza Dushku, on her journey towards self-awareness."

What's interesting about this show to me is how the show lifts out the interlinking complexity of personality, the masks we wear, the ego, the shadowed self, and the soul. Can our personality change according to our environment? Can bad memories be wiped away; can the brain be reprogrammed? Do talents and skills necessarily match personality? Just some of the thoughts that the show lifts out for me. I found the following Fox publicity video to promote the show. The actors of the main characters talk about what skill sets they would want to be imprinted, or programmed with. It's kind of fun. What skills would I want to be imprinted with....I liked some of Eliza Dushku's answers. I too would want to be imprinted knowing many languages, especially French. (Just find it a beautiful language.) I would want to be athletic, a figure skater. I would want to be a great singer. (A childhood fantasy is that I wanted to be a famous Broadway singer, actress and dancer.) Since I am afraid of almost everything :-), I would be imprinted with lots of bravery...climbing skills, fighting skills, you name it. But most of all, I would like to be imprinted with a combination of political acuity and a sanguine personality, so I can truly be a peacemaker in the world. I would would like to have a spirit like a Dr. Paul Farmer, or start an organization like Doctors Without Borders.

How about you. What skills would you like to be imprinted with?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New year's tradition by virtue of last year's movies

For the past couple of years, I've taken David Edelstein's top 10 Movie's of the year going out list (in this case top 13) and watched each movie. David Edelstein is the film critic for the NPR program, Fresh Air and New York Magazine. . Edelstein always has a interesting commentary on how what's happening in society mirrors itself in the films we make and watch. For example, he said at the end of the last decade, the movie, the Matrix (1999) was all about that our reality was not real, and that we must break through an illusionary life to something that is tactile and real; versus, the new movie, Avatar where the shift is that we can go into a make-believe fantasy world to fulfill potential and rewrite history. It's like, Edelstein says, "We hunger for our virtual selves to take on the final frontier."

Here's Edelstein's list:
1. Summer Hours
2. Everlasting Moments
3. Brothers
4. The Fantastic Mr. Fox
5. Tyson
6. A Serious Man
7. Coraline
8. In the Loop
9. Food, Inc.
10. The Hurt Locker
11. Of Time and the City
12. Where the Wild Things Are
13. Avatar

Have you seen any of these? I just watched Edelstein's number one movie, Summer Hours. I watched it on Netflix instant movies. Exceptional. A.O. Scott of the New York Times says that Summer Hours is "Quietly Ravishing". He continues, "'s a coherent and complex exploration of the current shape of the world." Edelstein remarks that it deals beautifully by exploring the losses we suffer as we move toward becoming a more global community.

I found two other top 10 lists, both from gentleman who write for the New York Times, A. O. Scott and Manohla Dargis. Click on their names to see their lists.
I'll keep this blog updated as I watch ;-).