Archive for the ‘theosmattery’ Category

On Facebook, in order to bare your true soul and find harmony with everyone in this great wide world, you can list your religious preference. I recently got reacquainted with an old acquaintance, who chose to list this link under that heading.

Iris Dement, “Let the Mystery Be”

I kinda dug that.

If you’re feeling extra mysterious, you can also see David Byrne sing this with 10,000 Maniacs.


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I put this up in another format recently, but I love this quote attributed to Gregory of Nyssa’s Life of Moses. I haven’t found it yet, but it’s worth digging for in there:

Concepts create idols. Only wonder understands anything.

Song of the day, by some trick of my ear:

Gillian Welch, “Annabelle”

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[I’m going to talk about this as if you are among the six bazillion people who have already paid to see it, i.e., “spoilers ahead”]

The Dark Knight is a great movie, and there is plenty of print to tell you so, so I’ll skip over that point. Christopher Nolan has crafted something which, as the wife said, I know is good, whether I know if I like it or not.

The film has me mulling over Batman as a story about the “powers and principalities;” Batman as a figure seeking out justice in a way that the rulers and their swords simply can’t accomplish. He has set out parameters for himself to keep his mission clear, and, as someone who operates outside the laws of the land, to keep the boundary between himself and those he pursues. Nolan has named this boundary “thou shalt not kill,” and placed Bruce Wayne/Batman’s refusal to be executioner at the center of the character in both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.

The myth of Batman is as powerful as any fists or gadgets at his disposal; a man with no accountability but his own will, which appears steeled in his purpose. And a man who uses fear as much as force to disarm his opponents. This fantasy, and the extent to which we revel in it, is a catharsis for our own powerlessness against the injustice of this age. Despite the order achieved through the power of the state, the state is not to be trusted to bring about That for Which We Hope. No strategy, structure, party, or candidate can fulfill the promises that only God’s reign can, and, says the Bride, will.

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This idealized newsfeed (HT ME) was really fun for me. It might not be all your hopes and dreams, but it got my imagination going.

It also got me thinking about how we talk about heaven. A lot of our songs and language about the restoration of a broken, groaning creation amount to odd quotes of ideas and images that don’t connect much to the greatest hopes we have for ourselves, or humankind. The glory of streets of gold and vindicated martyrs that fills the eyes (and ears, and nostrils) of John of Patmos has come, too often, packaged as an ancient-future aesthetic in the worst way: a distant, irrelevant, often gaudy and usually baroque collection of characters and props that don’t generate the excitement incited by what we experience in a movie theater, even when it’s no closer to experience than what we read in Revelation.

But in John’s vision, the imagination is cast around something super-real; something on the fringe of conceivable, but rooted very much in the world we inhabit. What are the things out of our reach, that only God could be worthy to hold in hand? Who are the people or situations that seem least likely to gain favor or justice in this lifetime? Which regimes seem least likely to ever submit to righteousness?

Yeah, that’s at the center of things, when the New Jerusalem drops.

NP: Al Green, Just for Me

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I have not committed my vote, but I am now more interested in attending Senator Obama’s church.* Here is Rev. Jeremiah Wright addressing the National Press Club (broadcast on CSPAN and FOX News in its entirety)[after the jump]. He invokes the prophetic tradition in the Black Church in America as the full context of his recently excerpted comments that have been so inflammatory on the political scene. Agreeing or not with his wider theology, I like the idea that the Tradition of the whole church serves as a criteria for discerning the prophetic role of the church; not just the segment of history and location of those with the biggest microphones.

I also think this is a great opportunity, agreeing or not with Wright’s politics, to consider the way scripture speaks to power, or to the dominant culture. There are a lot of white churches presenting incendiary texts every week without anything catching fire. Who gets to speak for God? Well, who does God tend to pick?

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Thanks to RSS, I’ve never seen any of your cool widgets, and you’ve never seen the big red button in my blog’s margin that says “click here for free money!” But every once in a while I try to catch up with what folks had in mind for my viewing experience, and sometimes am pretty impressed. The other day I left a comment for Todd, and noticed this NT Wright quote for the first time (anybody remember where this came from? I guess I know who to ask). How cool is this:

We are called to be part of God’s new creation, called to be agents of a new creation here and now. We are called to model and display that new creation in symphonies and family life, in restorative justice and poetry, in holiness and service to the poor, in politics and painting…. …That is the opportunity that stands before us, as gift and possibility.

N.T. Wright, Bishop of Durham

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Batman Begins:

As idealistic DA Rachel Dawes receives a kiss her lawyer boyfriend, former child sweetheart Bruce Wayne observes from sidewalk, dressed in dingy hooded sweatshirt.

Viewer banter:*

J: That’s so sexy when a billionaire dresses like a homeless person. If I was super wealthy that’s what I would do. It’s. . . it’s like an expression of true freedom.

D: Is incarnation is an expression of freedom?

J: Yeah, maybe. Right. I like that about Jesus. I don’t buy the romance of “giving up his divinity.” I trust him more because he still is God. I like that he knows something I don’t. He’s choosing this human form, but he still has this divine identity.

D: Like, the romance cheapens the choice being made or the restraint required?

J: Right. Whodathunkit: Batman is a Christ figure.**

Batman Begins:

Wayne squats at the bottom of a cave as the sound of hundreds of bats rushes towards him. Facing his fear and accepting his fate, embracing the symbol whose form will give him his power, Wayne slowly rises as the bats circle and immerse him in a whirling black cloud.

*As best I recall. Actual speakers had more believable conversational tone.
**Actual movie did not interpret itself thus. Maybe.

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