Tuesday, December 14, 2010
- Thomas Cahill, historian.
And this time we have a little bungalow all to ourselves, that our big-hearted in-laws are opening up for us to stay in. And we're married. And I have feasts and ocean and sand and luncheons and parties and celebrations to look forward to, all drenched in that glittering sun that hovers above the clear water and white sand.
Sometimes I look at my life and don't know why I have so much. So much love, comfort, peace in my life, so much of everything; and others have nothing. All I can comfort myself with is that I don't deserve it, no-one really does, and so the burden of earning it all is eased off my shoulders for those few minutes that I remind myself.
And then the mists of worry begin to take over and taunt with their questions of "Do you really think this will last? Enjoy it while you can, because one day in your near future you will have a plate full of sorrow and misery and you will be laden with all the grief you missed in your youth."
Tell me I'm crazy.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Here are some photos of the last few months
This guy is amazing. He's passionate about social justice, so much so that he spent a few weeks in the Philippines with a team rescuing girls from brothels and strip clubs; some of whom were about 12-15 years old. This tattoo is of the national flower that only virgin girls can wear on their wedding day. He's wearing it for all the girls that will never be able to.
The husband DJ-ing for a community skate event
Monday, December 6, 2010
You began what we thought would end with your coming: our poor human kind of life, which is sheer frailty, finiteness, and death
You have clothed Yourself in the form of a slave. You, the hidden God, have been found as one of us. You have quietly and inconspicuously taken Your place in our ranks and marched along with us. You have walked with us, even though we are beings who are never coming, but rather always going, since any goal we reach has only one purpose: to point beyond itself and lead us to the last goal, our end.
And thus we still cry: “Come! Come to us, You who never pass away, You whose day has no evening, whose reality knows no end! Come to us, because our march is only a procession to the grave.” Despairing of ourselves, we call upon You – then most of all, when, in composure and quiet resignation, we bring ourselves to accept our finiteness.
You promised that You would come, and actually made good Your promise. But how, O Lord, how did You come? You did it by taking a human life as Your own. You became like us in everything: born of a woman, You suffered under Pontius Pilate, were crucified, died, and were buried. And thus You took up again the very thing we wanted to discard. You began what we thought would end with your coming: our poor human kind of life, which is sheer frailty, finiteness, and death.
Contrary to all our fond hopes, You seized upon precisely this kind of human life and made it Your own. And You did this not in order to change or abolish it, not so that You could visibly and tangibly transform it, not to divinize it. You didn’t even fill it to overflowing with the kind of goods that men are able to wrest from the small, rocky acre of their temporal life, and which they laboriously store away as their meager provision for eternity.
No,You took upon Yourself our kind of life, just as it is. You let it slip away from You, just as ours vanishes from us. You held on to it carefully, so that not a single drop of its torments would be spilled. You hoarded its every fleeting moment, so You could suffer through it all, right to the bitter end.
You too felt the inexorable wheel of blind, brute nature rolling over Your life, while the clear-seeing eye of human malice looked on in cruel satisfaction. And when Your humanity glanced upwards to the One who, in purest truth and deepest love, is called “Father,” it too caught sight of the God whose ways are unfathomable and whose judgments are incomprehensible, who hands us the chalice or lets it pass, all according to His own holy will. You too learned in the hard school of suffering that no “why” will ever ferret out the secret of that will, which could have done otherwise, and yet chose to do something we would never understand.
You were supposed to come to redeem us from ourselves, and yet You, who alone are absolutely free and unbounded, were “made,” even as we are. Of course, I know that You remained what You always were, but still, didn’t our mortality make You shudder, You the Immortal God? Didn’t You, the broad and limitless Being, shrink back in horror from our narrowness? Weren’t You, absolute Truth, revolted at our pretense?
Didn’t You nail yourself to the cross of creation, when You took as Your own life something which You had drawn out of nothing, when You assumed as Your very own the darkness that You had previously spread out in the eternal distance as the background to Your own inaccessible light? Isn’t the Cross of Golgotha only the visible form of the cross You have prepared for Yourself, which towers throughout the spaces of eternity?
Is that Your real coming? Is that what humanity has been waiting for? Is that why men have made the whole of human history a single great Advent-choir, in which even the blasphemers take part – a single chant crying out for You and Your coming? Is Your humble human existence from Bethlehem to Calvary really the coming that was to redeem wretched humanity from its misery?
Is our grief taken from us, simply because you wept too? Is our surrender to finiteness no longer a terrible act of despair, simply because You also capitulated? Does our road, which doesn’t want to end, have a happy ending despite itself, just because You are traveling it with us?
But how can this be? And why should it be? How can our life be the redemption of itself, simply because it has also become Your life? How can You buy us back from the law, simply by having fallen under the law Yourself (Gal. 4:5)?
Or is it this way: is my surrender to the crushing narrowness of earthly existence the beginning of my liberation from it, precisely because this surrender is my “Amen” to Your human life, my way of saying yes to Your human coming, which happens in a manner so contrary to my expectations?
But of what value is it to me that my destiny is now a participation in Yours, if You have merely made what is mine Your own? Or have You made my life only the beginning of Your coming, only the starting point of Your life?
Slowly a light is beginning to dawn. I’ve begun to understand something I have known for a long time: You are still in the process of Your coming. Your appearance in the form of a slave was only the beginning of Your coming, a beginning in which You chose to redeem men by embracing the very slavery from which You were freeing them. And You can really achieve Your purpose in this paradoxical way, because the paths that You tread have a real ending, the narrow passes which You enter soon open out into broad liberty, the cross that You carry inevitably becomes a brilliant banner of triumph.
It is said that You will come again, and this is true. But the word again is misleading. It won’t really be “another” coming, because You have never really gone away. In the human existence that You made Your own for all eternity, You have never left us.
- Karl Rahner
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
"I feel each day as though I am being pulled deeper into the mystery of the faith. I'm not sure how else to describe it, but the deeper I'm drawn, the more like a neophyte I feel. It's as though this sacred, blessed, mystery religion, ripe with endless possibility, meaning and import has been hiding all along behind the facade of the Church; hidden by pews in straight lines and nicy-nice chit-chat, and minutiae of doctrine, and bad organ music, and intolerance or at best irrelevance. Faith to me is an experience and not intellectual assent to a set of propositions and I just want to invite others into the experience, not tell them what it means or try and get them to agree with me, but to create space where they can engage the mystery of Christ. Here's something I read this morning pertaining to the Transfiguration of our Lord which I found to be beautiful:
The basic response of the soul to the Light is internal adoration and joy, thanksgiving and worship, self-surrender and listening. The secret places of the heart cease to be our noisy workshop. They become a holy sanctuary of adoration and of self-oblation, where we are kept in perfect peace, if our minds be stayed on Him who has found us in the inward springs of our life. And in brief intervals of overpowering visitation we are able to carry the sanctuary from of mind out into the world, into its turmoil and its fitfulness, and in a hyperaesthesia (pathological increase of sensitivity) of the soul, we see all mankind tinged with deeper shadows, and touched with Galilean glories. Powerfully are the springs of will moved to an abandon of singing love toward God; powerfully are we moved to a new and overcoming love toward time-blinded men and all creation. In this Center of Creation all things are ours, and we are CHrist's and CHrist is God's. We are owned men ready to run and not be weary and to walk and not faint.
Again this Wednesday we joined the broader church in singing vespers, the evening prayer which always includes Mary’s song, The Magnificat. We joined Christ’s church and Christ’s mother in singing about the wondrous things God has done in blessing us and in casting the mighty from their thrones and in feeding the hungry and sending the rich away empty
Some of you know that the church I went to in High School, and where my parents still attend, is a very theologically and socially conservative congregation in Centennial. It’s, suburban, white, very upper middle class, and privileged. Very privileged. Well a few years ago, over 10 years after becoming a Lutheran and singing the Magnificat in Vespers countless times and really loving how radical it was, I visited my parent’s church and was amazed to see in the worship folder that the closing song was The Magnificat. All through the service I kept thinking “I can’t believe that this wealthy suburban evangelical church is going to sing Mary’s song of the poor being fed and the rich being left hungry”. Finally the moment came. The congregation sang a praise music setting of…and I can’t make this up…the first half of the magnificat. They proudly sang a nice praise song based on the Magnificat about how their soul magnifies the Lord who had looked with favor on them and that generations will call them blessed because the mighty one has done great things and holy is his name.” And then the song ended. I was speechless. Well, not really. As I shook the preachers hand on the way out I said that it was theologically irresponsible to allow a profoundly privileged congregation to sing only the first half of Mary’s song.
They may not know what the Magnificat is about, but I do. I felt pretty proud of that.
Progressives see Mary’s song a bit differently. Mary isn’t a docile picture of obedience singing about how great it is to be pregnant. Mary is singing of nothing less than complete overturning of the social and economic order. She’s basically a first century female Che Guevara calling for revolution. There’s a reason why the magnificat is said to of terrified the Russian Czars. Because, the message is that if you find yourself rich and powerful then… watch out! This young little Jewish girl is not singing about a whole lot of good news for you. But the poor…their time is coming because now the poor will be the rich and the rich will be the poor.
The liberals understand the Magnificat and feel pretty proud of that.
But this explanation sounds more like retribution than redemption. Because when the oppressed become the oppressors then the oppression hasn’t actually gone away. It’s a zero sum gain. It’s the exact same play with the same plot and the same ending…just with a different cast. What Mary sings of is not an endless cycle of retribution, but a total dismantling of the entire system. The child she bears is not coming to make the oppressed the oppressors. He is coming to disrupt the whole notion of oppression itself. And the way in which God accomplishes this in the birth of Christ is the same way in which God accomplishes this in the death of Christ: namely vulnerable love. This divinely vulnerable love is the only way out of our cycle of power and oppression.
This all makes it a bit tough to pull of being prideful about knowing what the Magnificat is really about. For me or for anyone else. Ironically, to be prideful about understanding the Magnificat is to not understand it at all. Perhaps it is pride itself which causes the rich to be sent away empty. And not because God doesn’t want us fed, but because we don’t realize that we’re hungry. Maybe in Mary’s song the wealthy are sent away empty because we simply don’t need God. We’ve got plenty of daily bread and seem to be able to handle most stuff that comes our way. But the truly hungry… carry none of these illusions of self-sufficiency. It is our hunger which God feeds, not our fullness. The rich are left hungry because there is no entry point for God.
Mary’s song is perhaps not about being proud of being chosen by God and perhaps it’s not about pride in the coming reordering of things when she and those like her will finally be the ones in power. Maybe the Magnificat is about the entry points of God’s vulnerable love. The cracks into which the light of the Christ enters our hearts and enters our lives and enters our world. The entry points of God’s vulnerable love are not our pride and power and self-sufficiency and wealth, but our need for God…our hunger for God.
It reminds me of the song of another prophet… Leonard Cohen
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.
It’s the cracks that allow the light to enter.
These cracks in ourselves and in the world are entry points for God’s redeeming work . The absurdity of Mary: Her insignificance, her poverty, her unwed femaleness, was the perfect crack for the light of Christ to enter. And her kinswoman Elizabeth, this inappropriately pregnant old lady from the hill country was the perfect crack into which the messenger of the light of God to enter.
So the very real suffering in our lives and in our world which makes us question if God is really just, if God is really present, and if the Magnificat is still singable…this suffering is right where God chooses to hang out. Ever since there have been men and women and children who weren’t allowed the dignity of heaven’s children, God has been right there, right next to them, preparing a way out of all that darkness. God has always been like this, and the ones like Mary, the ones who see that truth plainly, finally have all of the world’s power. But this power isn’t the kind we create for ourselves…it’s the power of brokenness and humility. Power-over and retribution and vengeance and oppression be damned. This vulnerable love of God is what claims us and what gives us hope, real hope, in a way that noting else can. Even amidst a world in which we are all very aware that the mighty sit on thrones and the hungry are still hungry we can sing her song. Because Mary doesn’t sing the Magnificat out of ignorance. I’m certain that the reality of empire and oppression and poverty and the abject powerlessness of her very self in her very context was not lost on the mother of our Lord. Quite the opposite. I think she knew. She knew that because of her lowliness and poverty and insignificance - because of this and not in spite of this that God was and is doing an entirely new thing. Never had the poor been so exalted than for God to slip into their skin insistently blessing the whole world in a radical way. She knew you simply can’t speak of such things. They have to be sung.
Friday, November 12, 2010
The child was so unbelievably small, a delicate scrap of human, so small in fact, that the fingers were topped with nubs of flesh instead of slivers of nail. The mother had never seen such a small child, despite it being her fourth, and the nurses; well, they, in their starched uniforms had drawn, long faces that spoke volumes of the future the child would endure. Their thin lips spoke also, “She won’t live long outside the incubator. Sign here, here and here. She must remain for at least a year.” The diminutive peasant-woman nodded gravely and signed her daughter away, signed her daughter’s life sentence on that cold October morning. The nurses intoned to the mother “The child will not live. Take her to the priest, baptise her, and give her the last rites so that she may have a proper burial." So she did. Despite having never set foot in a Catholic chapel before, she made that last desperate dash for her daughter. The road back home to the village was long and lonely, made longer by the knowledge her child had never touched her skin, never felt a mother’s embrace.
The father kept a vigil, with tall glasses of hot water placed in a ring around the incubator, a feeble attempt to feel useful, in control. His ocean eyes pleading with God to keep his child alive, save her, keep her.
One routine visit, months later, as she neared the door of the stark room, the mother glanced back to see her daughter’s ice-blue eyes turn towards the window, the sun sparkling through. Her daughter’s eyes followed the light, the warmth, but it was not her eyes that alerted the mother. As the child craned her neck, the shadow of an indentation on her crown caught her eye and she caught her breath. Rushing over, her fingers gently searching the back of the child’s head, her eyes became steel and her heart was resolute. “I am taking my child home now.” The nurses were adamant, “She must stay for another 5 months, you cannot have her yet, it is too soon.” The mother’s brows were knitted, drawn over her dark eyes, “She either comes home with me now, or you can keep her. I will not come back for her.” She drew her headscarf tighter and with a swift movement, re-tied the knot under her chin. “I mean it. I will not come back and she can stay here unless I take her home today.”
With great reluctance, they complied, but not without imposing other, more stringent rules on the young mother. “You go ahead home and we will bring your child to you tomorrow. If we are satisfied that she will have a sanitary environment, then we will leave her with you.” The matron had images of dust-piled floors, unwashed linen, cramped sleeping quarters rush through her mind, knowing exactly what conditions most peasants lived in outside of the city.
The mother washed, wiped, disinfected, changed, and cleaned with the intensity of a woman possessed. Not a word she spoke, and then the crowing of the rooster and the grunting of the pig announced the nurses’ arrival. They swept in, all three like the wise men, and proceeded to make no secret of their inspection. The child was nestled quietly in the bundle they carried, swaddled tightly with only a pink rose of a face peeking out. The mother brought offerings of placinte, hot tea and woven tapestries, hoping to soften their hearts. Satisfied, about to hand the child to the mother, they were stopped by the woman’s demand “Unwrap her and let me see that she is truly my daughter.” There had been a barren woman a few months back, a wealthy doctor at the hospital, who had fallen in love with the tiny child and would not have hesitated in claiming her as her daughter. The mother was thinking of this woman as she questioned their offering, her offspring.
The insinuation incensed them, their noses turning red and nostrils flaring. “How dare you!? Who are you to question us? Be grateful we have allowed her home so soon, take her and be satisfied.” The mother’s face was stone, knowing that such deceptions were not uncommon in Communist-run hospitals “Unwrap her now, show me her birthmark.” Their refusal apparent, she deftly unfolded the swaddling clothes, and, seeing the pinprick of discoloration on her daughter’s thigh, was relieved. The girl grew to be the apple of her father’s eye, sitting often with him as he peeled the sweet fruit; him holding out the coils for her to gnaw on and listen to his gravelly voice intone tales of the old days.
The little girl was destined to be less than ladylike, what with three rambunctious and boisterous boys as brothers. She was nevertheless a cherished child, whose long flaxen hair was brushed every night by her mother’s calloused hands in their small hut in the hills of Parva. But who was to know, that fateful day, on the lonely hillside with just the bleating of sheep for company, that she would breathe her last? That the maiden would be struck down, struck dead by that bolt of electricity from the heavens. Her name meant resurrection. Her youngest brother, the adventurous Nelu, endured a train ride home for her funeral, the window pane streaked with winter rain and his tears. The mother’s hands became idle over time, the father’s voice cut short by the loss of his only daughter.
Friday, November 5, 2010
- From The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis.
The line is from C.S. Lewis’ The Silver Chair, which is the 6th book in the Chronicles of Narnia series. It is spoken by Puddleglum in defiant response to the Witch-queen as she tries to enchant and persuade the characters into believing that whatever they cannot perceive with their senses must be imaginary, and as such, that Narnia and Aslan cannot possibly exist. For all of C.S. Lewis's failings as a writer, he managed to create beautiful allegories of life - reminds me so much of Plato's Allegory of the Cave.
As an English teacher, I affirm that one must never limit oneself to an understanding of the world in purely scientific or economic terms. As a reader of books, I believe that a life utterly devoid of the rejuvenating power of imagination can only leave us so much the poorer for it. Yet as a Christian who has been called upon to defend her faith, I am constantly coming back to the fact that what I believe in is indeed considered foolishness by so many others.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
The characters are so well written. So much so, that I actually caught myself musing upon the possible motivations of the protagonist, Don Draper, trying to figure out what he wants, what and who he truly loves. I never usually give any other T.V character a second thought. It's one of those shows where the characters are never black and white, constantly evolving and keep you guessing. Much like real people, I guess.
I'll leave that thought for another post, but this show is having such an effect, that I am subconsciously trying to emulate some of the oufits I've been drooling over, considering what I wore to work today. It seems as if I'm trying (and failing) to be Joan Harris (nee Holloway) without even realising it! I've got on a mustard yellow pencil skirt, that happens to echo the silhouette of the 60's, perhaps because the length is a more flattering (just past my knees) as below. I threw on the scarf at the last second, and it gave the outfit a more 'Joan' feel. All the compliments have me feelin' pretty good, to be honest!
Christina Hendricks as Joan Holloway/Harris. It saddens me that there's been so much fuss made in the media about Christina Hendricks' casting and her body shape and size, since it shouldn't be such a 'news item' that a beautiful woman happens to be a size 14 (AU). That is the Australian average size. She is by far the 'hottest' on the show, outshining Betty Draper with her curves and voluptuousness, which is such a relief for millions of women who can see that our current obsession with 'skinny' is just that; current. Only a few decades ago, the current 'perfect' body type would have been viewed as sickly. As long as you're healthy and feel comfortable in your clothes, no one particular size should be vilified or glorified.
Saturday, October 2, 2010
NO! I WILL make a concerted effort to take pictures and upload, especially since I've found some really nice skirts and dresses and more skirts at the Salvos.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Click to enlarge.
Matthew 7:4 How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.
Picture from nakedpastor.com
Monday, September 13, 2010
Here's a snippet from theresurgence.com/blog
Women have significant roles in Luke’s Gospel, despite their low social standing during the time of Jesus’ ministry. This was very countercultural, as women were not even allowed to be trained by rabbis in those days.In Luke 8:40-56, not only does Jesus heal a woman and a girl, but he heals the bleeding woman who was religiously unclean and a social outcast.
This serves as one more example of God’s heart for the oppressed, and of the universal scope of the gospel: It is for all men and all women. No one is excluded from the reach of God’s love. Throughout his gospel, the physiucian Luke emphasizes Jesus’ tendency to hang out with the unfavorable within Israelite society. The prostitutes, drunkards, and tax collectors received more attention from Jesus than did the Pharisees and scribes. Luke shows us that Jesus did not come to be honored, respected, or successful, but instead, to show that God does indeed love all of his people, even though the religious establishment does not. As Howard Marshall writes, “Jesus brought salvation to the people who were under-privileged in Judea—to the poor, to women, to children, and to notorious sinners.”
Blood and Bravery
The bleeding woman was considered unclean, and everything she touched would have been unclean. She would not have been accustomed to touching or being touched by people, which may be why she tried to “sneak in” and touch Jesus. She had attempted to seek medical help but nothing worked. Bleeding for 12 years, this woman would not have been able to get pregnant. An inability to bear children in that time would have brought a social stigma on her, and if she were married, this would have had a large impact on her family. Over a decade of bleeding would have left her physically weak, too.
Moreover, it was rare in that day for a woman to speak in public. So, when Jesus calls for the person who touched him to say why he or she touched him, it was an act of bravery for the woman to speak. It then required further bravery from her to explain why she touched him and the awkward condition she was healed of. Her lunge toward Jesus was a last resort, desperation, and also demonstrates the magnitude of the woman’s faith and trust in Jesus.
Others would have avoided this woman—and everything she touched—because she was unclean. Except Jesus. In the Old Testament, people became unclean by contacting what was unclean. When the clean touch the unclean, they become unclean. But when the holy touches the unclean, it can be made clean. When this “unclean” woman touched “holy” Jesus, she was made clean not only physically, but societally and spiritually.
When comparing this story with the story of Jairus’ daughter, we find an important contrast: This woman had no advocate or companion, while Jairus’ daughter was surrounded by people and family. Jesus heals the unclean and clean, the lonely and befriended, the defended and the defenseless, the woman without companion and the child of noble birth.
Can I say - love it?
Sunday, September 12, 2010
When I was fourteen, I went walking in the park on a Sunday afternon, in clean, cold, luminous air. The trees tinkled with sleet; the city noises were muffled by the snow. Winter sunset, with a line of young maples sheathed in ice between me and the sun - as I loked up they burned unimaginably golden - burned and were not consumed. I heard the voice in the burning tree; the meaning of all things was revealed and sacrament at the heart of all beauty lay bare; time and space fell away, and for a moment the world was only a door swinging ajar. Then the light faded, the cold stung my toes, and I went home, reflecting that I had had another aesthetic experience.I had them fairly often. That was what beautiful things did to you, I recognised, probably because of some visceral or glandular reaction that hadn't been fully explored by science just yet. For I was a well-brought up, right-thinking child of materialism. Beauty, I knew, existed; but God, of course, did not.
A young poet like myself could be seized and shaken by spiritual powers a dozen times a day, and still take it for granted that there was no such thing as spirit. What happened to me was easily explained away; it was "only nerves" or "only glands". As soon as I discovered Freud, it became "only sex". And yet if ever a human life was haunted, Christ haunted me.
My own parents were Jews, but their story differs only in degree from that of many Christians. Their religion of the letter rather than the spirit heartened the Jews to endure fire and terror and murder through a thousand years. But it was kept going by persecution, as a dead man in a crowd may be kept on his feet by the pressure of those around him. With the persecution removed in America, the corpse collapsed. Many Jews got rid of the traditional forms of Judaism, but kept a vague and well-meaning belief in a vaguely well-meaning God. However, my father declared proudly that he had retained the ethics of Judaism, the only "real" part of it and got rid of the theology - rather as if he had kept the top floor of our house but torn down the first floor and foundation. When I came along, I noticed that there was nothing supporting the ethics; down it crashed.
I declared my own atheism at the age of eight, after reading H.G. Wells's Out of History. In a few years I had rejected all morality as a pipe dream. If life had no meaning, what was there to live for except pleasure? Luckily for me, my preferred pleasure happened to be reading, or I shouldn't have been able to stay out of hot water so well as I did. The only lasting damage my philosophy caused me was near sightedness.
Men, I said, are only apes. Virtue is only custom. Life is only an electrochemical reaction. Mind is only a set of conditioned reflexes, and anyway most people aren't rational like ME. Love, art and altruism are only sex. The universe is only matter. Matter is only energy. I forget what I said energy was only.
Portrait of the hapy materialist; and yet it is no more than half the picture, for, like most adolescents, I was really two people. The hard, arrogant young atheist was largely what psychologists call a 'persona', a mask, a surface personality for dealing with the world. In the greedy, grabbing, big city, middle-class world I knew, this seemed the sort of persona that was wanted. But underneath the surface my own real personality stirred, stretched its wings, discovered its own tastes. It was a girl with vague eyes, who scribbled verses - scribbled them in a blind fury, not knowing what she wrote or why, and read them afterward with wonder. We call that fury "poetic inspiration" nowadays; we might be wiser to call it "prophecy".
This inner personality was deeply interested in Christ, and didn't know it. As a Jew, I had been led to feel cold chills at the mention of his name. Is this strange? For a thousand years Jews have lived among people who interpreted Christ's will to mean floggings, burnings an closed universities. If nominal Christians so confuse their Master's teaching, surely a poor Jew may be pardoned a little confusion. Nevertheless I had read the Bible (for its literary beauty, of course!) and I quoted Jesus unconsciously in everything I did, from writing to verse to fighting my parents. My first published poem was called 'Resurrection' - a sort of private argument with Jesus, attempting to convince him (and myself) that he had never risen. I wrote it at Easter.
The cross recurs through most of my early poems, and I seem to remember explaining that Jesus was a "valuable literary convention". Those verses were mainly the desperate question; Is life really only a matter of satisfying one's appetites, or is there more?
my soul betrayed;
as the clock ticks
I am unmade;
the clock struck nine;
my life ran down
on gears of time
with a sickened sound.
The noonday struck
a note of pride;
spread on the clock
I was crucified
The clock struck one;
whose spear, whose dart
transfixed by bone
and narrow heart
The sound of seven
filled me with bells;
I left great heaven
for little hells;
the midnight let
my blood run out
fierce and red
from my opened mouth
Great chaos came
to murder me
when the clock named
the hour of three
The dawn grew wide;
the clock struck five
and all inside
I was alive.
Monday, September 6, 2010
The ultimate rebel.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Choose Life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a f**ing big television, choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol, and dental insurance. Choose fixed interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisurewear and matching luggage. Choose a three-piece suit on hire purchase in a range of f***ing fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who the f*** you are on Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing f***ing junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pissing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, f***ed up brats you spawned to replace yourselves. Choose your future. Choose life... But why would I want to do a thing like that? I chose not to choose life. I chose somethin' else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you've got heroin?
I must admit, had a small chuckle at the feeble attempt to be anti-authority/anti-mainstream/anti-everything, when succumbing to the idea of 'heroin chic' that was so popular in the 90's is one of the most conformist positions one can take.
Reminds me of the verse that says "I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both you and your children may live."
The people I know who have chosen life are some of the most compassionate, charming, insanely hilarious and kooky people you will ever meet.
Friday, July 9, 2010
and as big as vultures eyes
with wings hanging to their sides like laundry on the line
they were standing in a circle letting their tongues dry
they’re coming for me like thieves or ghosts
stealing songs, and whispering poems to themselves
about nonsense and existence
I don’t want to die
I saw 4 black eagles, with horns growing towards the ground
like columns or anchors reaching for the bottom
their feathers folded like hands on a man resting in his coffin
bending over each other rattling my bones
drumming out the answers in ways I will need one day
their hooves are giving me growing pains
I sleep like a tornado
I saw 18 black hawks, with beaks full of teeth
roaring like a pack of wolves in perfect V
with hoods over their eyes to cover up what they’ve seen
secrets bouncing off the insides of their lips meant for me
they landed on my life like spears, ears tucked back like arrow feathers
wings spread wide like storm clouds over kansas
hailing on me teaching me their dances, they gave me armor
we will never die, we will never die, I don’t want to die, we will never die
we will never die, but we don’t want to try, I don’t want to die, I won’t let you die
we will never die, we won’t even try, but if we never die, then we never really live
I saw 9 black owls, they were quiet as death
they had talons like antlers growing from their hearts
and they were tearing me apart
each bird was tagged like cattle with one word
and they burned them in to my mind...they read
you have never lived because you have never died
- The Listener
Monday, June 28, 2010
Monday, June 7, 2010
And so it is with God. You hear all the time things like “if God were figure-out-able, then it wouldn’t be God that we’re talking about.” And I suppose that is inevitably true (and incredibly frustrating), but there are so many times where I wonder if God has been turned into someone or something for us to throw up all over. Someone or something for us to call "God" so that we don’t have to call it self.
I happen to believe in God, believe it or not. I believe in a God that is bigger than problems or formulas. I believe in a God that is bigger than religion; a God that is bigger than Christianity, even (gasp!). I believe in a God that wouldn’t ask of us something that He isn’t capable of doing, and a God that redeems and rescues and tries to remind us what real life is like. But I just grow wary from time to time of the different things that God “is” to people. Can I say that without sounding crass?
I just see God often being something that people attempt to take ownership or possession of. God is “for” some people, and “not for” others, I've heard countless times. That’s ownership, and I think in trying to do that we are putting the cart before the horse, or as my grandmother would tell you, that you were “getting too big for your britches.” As if the Creator is restricted from certain people, places, generations, “sins,” lifestyles or choices?
And so Scriptures are read, and there is a failure to recognize them as something that was written in and through time, instead delighting in seeing it as something magical that God wrote in the sky and plopped down on humanity. We fail to see the cultural implications and the constant themes and characteristics of God and His ways. We fail to see that the men and women that were a part of creating the very scriptures that we read today were of the same caliber that we are – only living in far less desirable circumstances most times. They were sinners and addicts and liars and cheaters and adulterers and murderers and the absolute scum of the earth. And those were the good ones.
I’m not sure where we went wrong, but it isn’t too terribly difficult for me to see how affected I am by these misconceptions. Personally, I would rather hide from my failures. Not because I'm afraid to fail, but more because I experience an unexplainable amount of shame when I fail in instances where I know better. Not shame in the “God is angry” kind of way, but moreso in the same way that your dog might when it knows it has shit on the carpet again: tail between the legs, no eye contact, would rather run and hide than face its reality, so long as you keep its nose out of the mess. I would be the first person to admit that I’m not very brave, but is this how it should be? Is this natural? Is this the reality that God has chosen?
I have a friend who has deep, deep-seated issues with self-forgiveness. He cannot help but feel alien because of his past decisions, as if they make him less human than others. And I mean this in the most intense and serious way imaginable, not simply in that self-loathing sort of way. He has a past filled with sexual abuse, which of course led him down a path filled with sexual confusion. How, when a child of six is exposed to same-sex encounters, could you blame him for growing up thinking that intimacy = sexual relations with men? You can give any number of answers or scriptures, but the simple psychology of it all is that his psyche was affected and influenced by these catastrophic acts done against him. He has found freedom in a Christ that offers redemption and forgiveness, and it is his story that often reminds me of the frivolity of my complaints. It is his story that reminds me of grace in the real and experiential way, not just the magical "Smile! Jesus Loves YOU!" kind of way.
Often we would talk about this, and I would try to paint a picture with him of God, just for one day and in giant, cursive, neon lights writing our deepest, darkest secrets above our heads to carry around for all to see. And we would smile and laugh at the very idea – him sheepishly, me more nervously – but regardless, it was lifting. And it was lifting because there is such freedom in recognizing our flaws - even our most hidden and locked away ones - as very, very normal.
Not just forgivable, or understandable, or ‘acceptable,’ but absolutely, positively normal.
So you’re confused. Or mistaken. Or mixed up. Or addicted to drugs. Or drama. Or cheap shots. Or alcohol. Or pornography. Or self-image. Or food. Or school. Or work. Or money. Or reactions. Or the American Dream. Or the opinions of others. Or all of the things that allow you to suppress your convictions in order to further fleeting falsities that tell you that you’re happy, or that you’re not like the rest of us.
Funny how we keep our secrets to ourselves but are so quick to boast in our accomplishments. And we think that if we master the art of subtlety that it’s somehow hidden. Maybe we tell jokes, or try to impress people or ourselves with our wit or our knowledge or our degrees or certifications or bodies, or maybe it's our “f*ck the man” mentality. Maybe it’s denial or deprecation covered up with pleas of humility, or for some of us it’s that unique ability to seem nonchalant about things when, in reality, we are very, very chalant, indeed.
But it’s painful for me every time I realize that the ways of God are exactly the opposite: freedom and beauty in confessing our junk to others, and truth and humility in doing our good deeds in quiet. But we don’t operate that way, for some reason. Is it our Australianness coming out? A “product of The Fall”, perhaps? The Devil himself? Maybe it's karma kicking our ass for not giving those Salvation Army bell ringers our change as we walk past them with bags of stuff that is far beyond any sort of justification. Depends on who you ask, I guess. But the undeniable truth is that it is the reality that we live in.
I talked to a friend tonight on the telephone. There was some confession in our conversation, and it sounded like there were a few moments where maybe her weakness was being cultivated to the forefront of her person. That, or she was just tired. Or maybe she had a sore throat. These things can go a million different directions, you know. As for me, I will just clear it up for you and tell you that it was absolutely weakness coming from my end of the line. Also, I was doing the confessing.
And it was so right. She didn’t offer me five steps to feeling like a million bucks again, and thankfully she spared me the generic responses to my mini-crisis. But what she did do was remind me of God’s character. Not the American version of God, or the Western version of God, or even the “Biblical” version of God. You might very well find what she said in all of those facets of the great God machine that is being constructed seemingly everywhere, but where it came from inside of her was a place of knowing, a place of experience. A place that many of us would be familiar with if we'd ever muster up the courage to die to self and find the one that is freedom.
And I will leave you with it. And you’ve heard it before, a million times perhaps. And it is simple. And however upsetting it is, it won't make everything better, either. It’s one of those things that you will never understand, although you’ll think that perhaps you do. Because every time I think I understand it I have to go back to asking myself why, then, do I fall victim to the things that prove otherwise?
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Every man or woman who has risen to the ranks of history's eminent; Tolstoy, Augustus, Dickens, Catherine the Great, Boudicea, Churchill, Hitler, Shakespeare, whether benevolent or malevolent, they are but dust now. Yes, influence had they and power unadulterated but when faced with eternity, what conqueror dare speak? What playwright or poet or monarch, leader or tyrant, dare to speculate?
Hubris; what poison.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Monday, March 8, 2010
Excuse Numero Uno: Camera cord lost, cannot upload awesome photos.
Excuse Numero Dos: Start of new school year = new classes that have bowled me over in terms of behaviour/curriculum
Excuse Numero Tres: Complete lack of time management skills.
Meanwhile, I cannot WAIT for winter! So excited about boots and jackets and dresses and being able to dress without worrying "hrm, will this shirt show up sweat patches?" sorry if that's TMI, but seriously....bring on the cold!
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Although I will qualify that by saying I do love those balmy summer nights at the beach or strolling around with friends at a cafe districts in the warm breeze, but in general, Melbourne's extreme heat at this time of year equals unoriginal and boring outfits. Give me winter any day, where the layers can be as simple or complex as you wish, but not summer, where anything more than a loose, short dress or singlet and shorts is too much. Not to mention the hair!
Is it just me, or does summer also equal boring ponytails or quick buns on top of the head?
I have so many pieces in my wardrobe that do not lend themselves to above 35 degree heat, and perhaps I should seek to rectify that in future. Hrm. Food for thought.
On another note, I recently (at Christmas?) bought the cutest little floral bustier.....loves it! However, talk about a cleavage alert! I can't wait for winter to be able to layer on top of some singlets ala Fashion Toast. Sorry about the crap photo where you can't actually see the bustier, all other photos were much too 'busty'...ha. ha. ha
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Sunday, January 3, 2010
Meanwhile, ever since seeing them on another blog, I am dying for a pair of nude Gorman clogs....sounds 'ugh' but just divine! I am pretty sure they would match every single item in my wardrobe.
Enough of this banter, photo time!
Perhaps ugly to some, but insanely comfortable and they're not black! I like the edge they give most outfits, I love me some contrast.