Monthly Archives: November 2008

voice of the day

“The God-life cannot be domesticated or used – it can only be entered into on its own terms. Holiness does not make God smaller so that he can be used in convenient and manageable projects; it makes us larger so that God can give out life through us, extravagantly, spontaneously. The holy is an interior fire, a passion for living in and for God, a capacity for exuberance in the presence of God.” – Eugene Peterson, The Jesus Way (Eerdmans, 2007)

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foto Friday

A good friend (Dan)
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joined me this week in the Kairos/Hope courtyard to help out with the homeless feeding. Usually Tuesdays are crazy as bags & bags of groceries are dropped off & many more people than usual show up. However, this week even the charities that bring food here — for us to distribute are hurting…

Here is Lenny on the right side — who is captain of the ship in the kitchen…
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Also, here is Ed — who oversees it all…
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Quantum of Solace thots

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So I went to a late movie last night with Caleb & two friends — Mark & Rudy, to see ‘Quantum of Solace’. I loved it! Interestingly, I normally feel ‘intellectually above’ simple entertainment movies. I usually need/want to feel moved in some way. However this movie — was simply entertainment (to the nth degree) & I loved every minute of it. Okay, you have to suspend your disbelief in multiple places in the movie — but no matter it still worked for me.

A blog I read (Ben Witherington – BW3, which can be found on the blog roll to the right — had this to say about the movie, which I found intriguing. Mark, who I went with — thought that bW3 — was reading way too much into the film, but nonetheless I agreed with his overall thoughts…

“Vengeance, revenge, wrath. It is often the human response to being deeply wounded, or having someone you love be deeply wounded or even killed. And while it is perfectly normal as a fallen human response to injustice and wickedness, this in itself does not make it a good or godly response. Can one really get a quantum of solace from inflicting a quotient of pain?

This is the question posed to us in the latest Bond thriller, and it is indeed a telling question, and towards the end of the movie one gets a hint of an answer when the female lead played by the Ukrainian star Olga Kurylenko asks Bond, after she has killed the man who murdered the rest of her family– “What do I do now?” If you have lived for revenge and made it your mission in life, what comes next, once it is mission accomplished?

The movie suggests that there is something profoundly unsatisfying about revenge, rather than it being sweet, or at least, if there is a sense of release, there is also a sense of emptiness, a hollowness about the victory— precisely because you have become what you despised, a person who ruthlessly kills another person.

To be sure, a James Bond action film is not usually intended to be a morality play, although one has to say that this one comes closer than most such movies. Especially telling is the scene in the middle of the film in which a performance of the opera Tosca is going on, and is the setting used as a venue to plot and plan what I can only call eco-terrorism, the hoarding of water in a dry and weary land.

Why is Tosca an apt play within the morality play that is this movie— consider the following summary of some of the plot of Puccini’s masterpiece—

“Sciarrone enters to announce that earlier reports were mistaken, Bonaparte has defeated the royalist forces at the Battle of Marengo. Mario Cavaradossi [the hero], exulting (Vittoria!), is taken away to prison. Tosca [the hero’s girl] attempts to follow him, but is held back by Scarpia. She asks what the price is to free Mario. Scarpia avows his passion for her and lasciviously demands her body, her virtue, and herself, as the price. Tosca attempts to flee but is restrained by Scarpia as he attempts to rape her. During the struggle drums are heard – Scarpia indicates that they are the drums beating Cavaradossi to the scaffold. Tosca finally collapses and asks the Lord the reason for all this cruelty against her (Tosca: Vissi d’arte, vissi d’amore – “I lived on art, I lived on love”; Scarpia: Sei troppo bella, Tosca, e troppo amante – “You’re too beautiful, Tosca, and too loving”). Feeling as if she has no alternative, Tosca finally agrees to yield. Scarpia orders Spoletta to organize for a mock execution of Cavaradossi, while Tosca demands a safe-conduct for herself and the painter to leave the country. While she is waiting for Scarpia to write it, she notices a knife on the table, and makes the decision to kill Scarpia rather than allow him to rape her. As he advances to embrace her, she plunges the knife into him. (Questo è il bacio di Tosca–”This is Tosca’s kiss”). Having piously composed the body for burial, she departs to the sound of drums in the distance (E avanti a lui tremava tutta Roma – “And before him trembled all of Rome”).”

Here is a tragic tale providing a true example of how death and revenge triumph over love, again and again.

And this is Bond’s dilemma in the latest installment of the Bond films (number 22 if anyone is counting, in almost 40 years worth of filming). He truly loved Vespa, the girl he fell for in Casino Royale, and though he swears he is only doing his duty, in fact in the end he admits that a large quotient of his actions are part of an attempt to get revenge for Vespa’s death, and most especially to kill the man who destroyed her.

I must say that while I found this film less ‘fun’ and enjoyable than Casino Royale, I did find it a riveting film, and not because of the usual grip the edge of your seat chase sequences, though they are not lacking in this movie. While it is sometimes said that revenge is a dish best served cold, this movie serves it up piping hot, and it leaves your breathless in the end. I quite disagree with A.O. Scott, the NY Times movie critic’s review this morning (see http://movies.nytimes.com/2008/11/14/movies/14quan.html?th&emc=th). This film is not a hodge podge at all. It is one that will bear repeat watchings, not least because of the subtle and crucial dialogue in spots.

Daniel Craig has injected back into the Bond business a new energy, life, vibrancy, and yes a brooding ominous presence. He is also clearly the most athletic of the Bonds, and appears believable in scenes that Pierce Brosnan and others were not believable. To be sure, one still has to suspend one’s disbelief when one watches one harrowing escape after another (‘he takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’), but this is less of a problem with Craig than with previous Bonds.

Brown is the operative dominant color of this particular film– brown as in desert, brown as in too much sun, brown as in the color of a dead corpse, brown as in burnt– emotionally, brown as in growing old (see Judi Dench as M). Brown is the color of parched Bolivia, and the buildings in Haiti, and even Sienna as well which are some of the major venues for this film. You should not go to this film expecting a travelogue of the beautiful places, nor for its humor, although there are one or two wry moments in the film.

While most American movies these days operate on the ‘youth must be served’ mantra, this film does not. It is not teenagers but rather older persons– those in their 40s thru 80s who rule the world. More specifically the film suggests older men rule the world, but then this is Ian Fleming’s original vision, and the movie is true to that. In this regard the movie’s gestalt is somewhat dated or outdated. Even the strong women in the end give way to an attract for or trust in Bond in this film.

This movie is rated PG-13 mainly because of the violence and sexual innuendo (no explicit sex scenes) and it moves along very rapidly for its somewhat less than two hour length.

There is no lard in this movie. There is also no Lord in this movie. It is only the machinations of men that parade across the screen in a world of sorrow and sin where humans control all the action. And yet there is an irony– if there is no God, why then is there such a passion for justice deep in the heart of human beings when everything in the world is compromised by sin? Why try for human revenge if at most it gives you a moment of release, a small quotient of satisfaction, a quantum of solace? Instead of looking for a quantum of solace someone should have read Qoheleth:

“Everything under the sun is meaningless, like chasing the wind. What is wrong cannot be righted. What is missing cannot be recovered.” Eccles. 1.14-15. That’s the way life is– without that ultimate action hero who once cheated death. You know who I mean, but his identity will be concealed here, until you have eyes to see.”


voice of the day

I spoke last night at Kairos – about finding perspective in difficult times. I read from James 1, and shared this quote by my friend 🙂 Dallas Willard. It seemed to really resonate with people, as multiple people asked for the quote. So here it is…

“First we must accept the circumstances we constantly find ourselves in as the place of God’s kingdom and blessing. God has yet to bless anyone except where they actually are, and if we faithlessly discard situation after situation, moment after moment, as not being “right,” we will simply have no place to receive his kingdom into our life. For those situations and moments are our life.” (The Divine Conspiracy p. 348)

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voice of the day

This is from Dangerous Wonder by Michael Yaconelli…he’s taking about the dullness of Christianity

Episcopal priest Robert Capon named the first obstacle: “We are in a war between dullness and astonishment.” The most critical issue facing Christians is not abortion, pornography, the disintegration of family, moral absolutes, MTV, drugs, racism, sexuality, or school prayer. The critical issue today is dullness. We have lost our astonishment. The Good News is no longer good news, it is okay news. Christianity is no longer life changing, it is life enhancing. Jesus doesn’t change people into wild-eyed radicals anymore, He changes them into “nice people”.

If Christianity is simply about being nice, I’m not interested.

What happened to radical Christianity, the un-nice brand of Christianity that turned the world upside-down? What happened to the category-smashing, life-threatening, anti-institutional gospel that spread through the first century like wildfire and was considered (by those in power) dangerous? What happened to the kind of Christians whose hearts were on fire, who had no fear, who spoke the truth no matter the consequence, who made the world uncomfortable, who were willing to follow Jesus wherever he went? What happened to the kind of Christians who were filled with passion and gratitude, and who every day were unable to get over the grace of God?

I’m ready for a Christianity that “ruins” my life, that captures my heart and makes me uncomfortable. I want to be filled with an astonishment which is so captivating that I am considered wild and unpredictable and…well…dangerous. Yes, I want to be “dangerous” to a dull and boring religion. I want a faith that is considered “dangerous” by our predictable and monotonous culture…

later Yaconelli says…

Immorality is much more than adultery and dishonesty, it is living drab, colorless, dreary, stale, unimaginative lives. The greatest enemy of Christianity may be people who say they believe in Jesus but who are not longer astonished and amazed. Jesus Christ came to rescue us from listlessness as well as lost-ness; He came to save us from flat souls as well as corrupted souls. He came to save us from dullness. We have forgotten how to dance, how to sing, and how to laugh. We have allowed technology to beat our imaginations into submission and have become tourists rather than travelers…