[Rough Draft]

A weblog about god, doubt, insomnia, culture, baseball


batman begins

this could be terrific. notice i say could. i love the decisions to have chris nolan and christian bale on the project, and the story is something i have actually wondered about since i was a kid. now i've only got 4 mos. to get myself all worked up only to be disappointed (remember insomnia? that did get better upon a second viewing, so maybe something like the little friend was a bigger disappointment).


severe mercy, pt. ii

yesterday's quote continues (after skipping a little):
when christianity says that god loves man, it means that god loves man: not that he has some “disinterested,” because really indifferent, concern for our welfare, but that, in awful and surprising truth, we are the objects of his love. you asked for a loving god: you have one. the great spirit you so lightly invoked, the “lord of terrible aspect,” is present: not a senile benevolence that drowsily wishes you to be happy in your own way, not the cold philanthropy of a conscientious magistrate, nor the care of a host who feels responsible for the comfort of his guests, but the consuming fire himself, the love that made the worlds, persistent as the artist’s love for his work and despotic as a man’s love for a dog, provident and venerable as a father’s love for a child, jealous, inexorable, exacting as love between the sexes. how this should be, i do not know: it passes reason to explain why any creatures, not to say creatures such as we, should have a value so prodigious in their creator’s eyes. it is certainly a burden of glory not only beyond our deserts but also, except in rare moments of grace, beyond our desiring . . . .
(lewis, problem of pain, ch. 3)


severe mercy

(phrase purloined from vanauken)

last sunday's emmaus group spent a few minutes talking about unanswered prayers, or @ least not getting the answers we want. i, in turn, have been thinking a lot about why, when and how to discipline ellie grace. all of that was in the background when i heard this quote on the way to work this morning:
i might, indeed, have learned, even from the poets, that love is something more stern and splendid than mere kindness: that: even the love between the sexes is, as in dante, “a lord of terrible aspect.” there is kindness in love: but love and kindness are not coterminous, and when kindness (in the sense given above) is separated from the other elements of love, it involves a certain fundamental indifference to its object, and even something like contempt of it. kindness consents very readily to the removal of its object—we have all met people whose kindness to animals is constantly leading them to kill animals lest they should suffer. kindness, merely as such, cares not whether its object becomes good or bad, provided only that it escapes suffering. as scripture points out, it is bastards who are spoiled: the legitimate sons, who are to carry on the family tradition, are punished. it is for people whom we care nothing about that we demand happiness on any terms: with our friends, our lovers, our children, we are exacting and would rather see them suffer much than be happy in contemptible and estranging modes. if god is love, he is, by definition, something more than mere kindness. and it appears, from all the records, that though he has often rebuked us and condemned us, he has never regarded us with contempt. he has paid us the intolerable compliment of loving us, in the deepest, most tragic, most inexorable sense.
(c. s. lewis, the problem of pain (chap. 3) (emphasis mine))


cool x 10


ok, let's try this one more time:

  1. "pot kettle black" - wilco (yankee hotel foxtrot)
  2. "call me over" - tom conlon (country dog city boy)
  3. "raging fire" - garrison starr (songs from takeoff to landing)
  4. "the crucible" - george fenton (the crucible soundtrack)
  5. "praise ye the lord" - john rutter (requiem)
  6. "all i need" - bethany dillon (bethany dillon)
  7. "marie" - willie nelson (poet: a tribute to townes van zandt)
  8. "boomin' granny" - beastie boys (the sounds of science, disc 1)
  9. "22 steps" - andy stochansky (five star motel)
  10. "highway kind" - cowboy junkies (poet: a tribute to townes van zandt)
the fact that there are 2 songs from poet on here makes me think of this newsweek article by steven levy: "does your ipod play favorites?" and a quick ipod shuffle poem (thanks to kottke for posting a line). i'm just running windows media player, but i don't think there's any way this is really random. it's fun nonetheless.

"homosexuality and the body of christ: is there a new way?"

bishop v. gene robinson recently spoke @ my home parish as part of its lenten forum series on "the gift of sexuality and the body of christ." they've posted mp3s of his comments on "homosexuality and the body of christ" (parts 1 and 2) as well as a panel discussion (1, 2).


if it's friday . . .

it must be fart jokes.

please allow me to apologize in advance.

i try my best to keep the level of discourse @ a respectable level @ [rd], and in these very pages i have bemoaned the degeneration of sensibility in america, but this morning i was thinking back to my seminary days and i remembered an, uh, "extraordinary" video clip that was making the rounds back then. i banged out a google search, and, lo, there it was -- the robert tilton fart video. that link is to the original, but there appears to be a sequel called farting preacher ii. i like to think that even the rev. tilton would think these are a little bit funny. i don't particularly like to consider what it says about me that i would link to these.

again, i apologize; and now back our regularly scheduled programming.


my favorite 4 words

"pitchers and catchers report" (aside from "sox win world series," of course; i also like "i love you pop" and "wood wins nobel prize")


take courage

(from today's grace lent blog)

courage is not the absence of fear, because we are all afraid.
courage is the belief that there is something more important than safety
- hon. gordon brown, former labour party mp


from the garden to the city: 2

jeremy had some great thoughts, not least the idea that gardens are designed for discovery, while cities are designed for progress. he writes, inter alia:
When all the peoples of the Earth came together at Babel to form one city God confused their languages because humanity did not have the maturity for that level of collaboration. God intended us to remain on this journey and to not begin a world-wide collaboration that would make unlimited progress possible. In Zion our redeemed state and lifelong wisdom will be rewarded with the privilege of uninhibited collaborations. Imagine minds like Einstein, Newton and Hawking with purified motives and limitless lifespans creating and building this future Kingdom. Imagine the artistic collaboration. Zion is the ultimate unleashing of this process.
i posted @ jeremy's weblog:
i'm reminded, when jeremy writes about progression toward maturity, of parts of perelandra where ransom is blessed to be able to watch the lord and lady of a world take their rightful place as rulers. "the world is born today," said malacandra. "today for the first time two creatures of the low worlds, two images of maleldil that breathe and breed like the beasts, step up that step @ which your parents fell, and sit in the throne of what they were meant to be. it was never seen before. because it did not happen in your world a greater thing happened, but not this."

redemption of the world. putting things in perfect order. on earth, our father and mother in the garden were placed in the garden to obey and enjoy god and, yes, to learn good from evil. on malacandra, the first parents "have learned of evil, though not as the evil one wished us to learn. we have learned better than that, and know it more, for it is waking that understands sleep and not sleep that understands waking. there is an ignorance of evil that comes from being young: there is a darker ignorance that comes from doing it . . . ." all is coming to fruition w/ the return of the edenic state, and it is perfect but not as perfect as it will be after "we will fill this world w/ our children. we will know this world to the core." they will creatively make the beasts wiser, all the while progressing toward that farther perfection that will culminate in the holy city. and once they/we arrive, the journey is only just beginning, for the king said "i set forth even now on ten thousand years of preparation -- i, the first of my race, my race the first of races, to begin. i tell you that when the last of my children has ripened and ripeness has spread from them to all the low worlds, it will be whispered that the morning is @ hand."

his name be praised!


lehrer on the anglican communion crisis

fairly long piece on the news hour about the current division among american anglicans. lots of quotes, including ones from the presiding bishop, the president of the anglican communion network, and even one of the priests from my home parish, rev. martha giltinan.


from the garden to the city

a while back i heard a sermon by dr. tim keller that mentioned the significance of creation having begun in a garden and moving to a city. after having heard that my friends jeremy and stephen talked about the idea @ their theology on tap, i started to think about the significance of the concept of a sweeping progression from eden to "the holy city, the new jerusalem." i wonder: is there something more to the idea of creation culminating in a city than simply the fact that, when creation is finally redeemed, god will dwell w/ humanity? is there some particular significance to the fact that the new heavens and new earth are pictured as a city? (nota bene: you should go immediately and read jeremy's reflections on our "collective journey" from garden to city -- this is the kind of original thought i'm just not capable of yet, and it's one of the reasons i'm glad jeremy's my friend. stop reading. go. now.)

the roman catholic catechism summarizes the hope of the new heaven and new earth thus:
for man, this consummation will be the final realization of the unity of the human race, which god willed from creation and of which the pilgrim church has been "in the nature of sacrament." those who are united with christ will form the community of the redeemed, "the holy city" of god, "the bride, the wife of the lamb." she will not be wounded any longer by sin, stains, self-love, that destroy or wound the earthly community. the beatific vision, in which god opens himself in an inexhaustible way to the elect, will be the ever-flowing well-spring of happiness, peace, and mutual communion. [1045]
i know that st. augustine made much of the idea of the city of god (i wish i had the book @ my fingertips, but i don't, and the library is closed), but i wonder how much of this is merely figurative and how much is laden w/ real meaning. i sense that there is something to the fact that the church is to be the sacrament of the kingdom of god (i recommend reading schmemann's eloquent for the life of the world: sacraments and orthodoxy if you'd like to investigate the idea), so we should be multi-cultural, creative, dynamic, all the things that the human city embodies (w/o the crime and garbage, of course), but i'm just guessing.

has anyone got some insight they can drop on a brother?
'cause it's a winding road
i've been walking for a long time
and i still don't know
where it goes
and it's a long way home
i've been searching for a long time
still have hope
we're gonna find our way home



i know ash wed. is supposed to be solemn, but the first thing that happened to me this morning when i got to work was my boss playing me this voicemail from a jack in the box employee running late for work (when you click on the link, wait several seconds for open another window that plays the .wav file). i think it's definitely worth 3.5 minutes of your life (or 10.5 -- i've listened to it 3 times), although josiah tells me i overhyped it. we report, you decide.
update: but did it actually happen?


ash wednesday

where shall the word be found, where will the word
resound? not here, there is not enough silence
not on the sea or on the islands, not
on the mainland, in the desert or the rain land,
for those who walk in darkness
both in the day time and in the night time
the right time and the right place are not here
no place of grace for those who avoid the face
no time to rejoice for those who walk among noise and deny the voice.

(from "ash wednesday," by t. s. eliot)

ellie gets set for the st. peter's mardi gras parade

have a blessed lenten season, everyone!

and could you tell that i'm a caterpillar? i cut quite the figure of one, if i do say so myself. Posted by Hello

austin city limits alert

awesome show to be rebroadcast this saturday (@ least on memphis public television): damien rice and patty griffin.
  • stream a live version of "the blower's daughter" (one of the most beautiful songs i've ever heard) performed @ union chapel, london.



(note: this post is apropos of nothing and will likely be a waste of your time)

just found half a pack in my trousers pocket. i like to keep lifesavers b/c it seems that if ellie happened to start choking on one, she would still be able to breathe through the hole in the center. in fact, that's what i assumed was the origin of the lifesaver: some philanthropic confectioner wanted to make candy wolfing safer. come to find out, i was wrong. it's all about the benjamins.


families that watch superbowl teams play together, stay together

the obligatory pregame fam photo. what a fantastic season! two seasons, really. 32-2 for the last 2 years, undefeated in the playoffs, back-to-back superbowls by a vinatieri margin. whew. what a team, and what a lot of fun we got out of our directv this football season. i wish the season started next sunday! Posted by Hello

this deserves another pic

bruuuuuuschi! now, shall we name our son trot or tedy? i love all the players on this team, but bruschi's got to be my favorite. without him on the field, no way we win 3 sbs in 4 years. and he took less money to play for this team! what a player. so, good night new england. your pats are celebrating being superbowl champs again.Posted by Hello

3 out of 4! Break out the D-word!

hub of champions - the city where arguably the greatest coach in nfl history lives! Posted by Hello


no. 22

back to stuff that matters: i'm gonna miss this guy. my dad and i have watched and cheered for some amazing athletes -- dorsett, archie, bird, smoltz, mcgriff, manny, pedro, aikman, andrew, maddux, clemens just a baby in beantown. we have witnessed some transcendent sports moments -- bream's slide to the pennant in '91; johnny most's call when "bird stole the ball"; clint longley on thanksgiving '74; the miracle @ lake placid in '80; the second coming of bird straight from the locker room to the court to take over that game in the celtics-pacers series; in my cubs days, the hawk chargning the mound w/ blood in his eye (literally) after having been hit in the head by a pitch, and kerry wood's 20k game; the october day the creminoles rode into south bend and the numbers changed; gimpy gibson's home run; belichick's lethal coaching and brady's icewater veins; papi's walk-offs in the october new york and new england nights. i could go on ad infinitum, but maybe nobody (except maybe bird) held our allegiance more than emmitt. i was always proud to see him wear that helmet, and i was sad to see him go today.

you guys have had your bradshaws, montanas, rices, sooners, uscs, george rogerses, favres, walter paytons, lawrence taylors, hogs, jordan-led bulls teams, villanova over gtown, but the ones i talked about above are ours, my dad's and mine. our histories and loyalties have weaved in and out of each other over the years, and together we can craft a tapestry of more than 30 years of shared sports to rival pretty much anyone's for sheer devotion, passion and fandom rewarded.

another mvp on sunday would fit right in w/ the rest of the collection.
update: in the light of day, is that not sappy writing? wow. i meant it when i wrote it, but when did i start channeling dan brown? and p.s.: i saw a clip of emmitt's press conference this morning on imus. what was he doing? suck it up, man. you're a legend, so don't screw it up hugging your helmet and thangs.

sleaze tv

it's official: mtv = "incessant sleaze." you know, i used to watch a lot of mtv for "educational purposes," or so my twisted little mind reasoned. if i actually listen to korn, i queried, should i not be more able to relate to the guys in the youth group @ our church? i should say @ this juncture that i did, indeed, find korn interesting and have a "korn" sticker on my guitar case, but that is quite beside the point. what i'm getting @ is that my motives, @ best, were mixed. maybe part of me watched and listened for the music or to be more "relevant;" the rest of me watched as one watches a vase falling. it's an interesting phenomenon in itself, but it's the spectacle that holds my interest. i honestly couldn't believe some of the things i saw were on the airwaves. christina aguilera grinding on some guy in a boxing ring? come on. to what interest does that appeal if not prurience? (nota bene: if you want a more erudite statement of the question, tom howard asks "what, we might ask, constitutes the watershed between an interest in, not to say a fascination with, the lurid and the titillating and a greater interest in the annals of sanctity?")

cnn reports that mtv spokeswoman jeannie kedas said the network "reflects the culture and what its viewers are interested in," and calling into question mtv's responsibility is "underestimating young people's intellect and sophistication." of course it reflects a fallen culture and holds the interest of hormonally charged teenagers (and inquisitive youth ministers). but intellect and sophistication are not the issue here. lewis lectured about "the doctrine of objective value, the belief that certain attitudes are really true, and others really false, to the kind of thing the universe is and the kind of things we are." (the abolition of man, san francisco: harpercollins, 2001 (18)). and it is incumbent upon parents (not christian parents but parents, for heaven's sake) to teach our children that the tripe masquerading for entertainment on mtv distorts sensibility and sexuality and humanity. lewis continues:
as the king governs by his executive, so reason in man must rule the mere appetites by means of the 'spirited element'. the head rules the belly through the chest -- the seat, as alanus tells us, of magnanimity, of emotions organized by trained habit into stable sentiments. the chest-magnanimity-sentiment -- these are the indispensable liaison officers between cerebral man and visceral man. it may even be said that it is by this middle element that man is man: for by his intellect he is mere spirit and by his appetite mere animal. (lewis, 24-25).
i defy anyone to curl up to spring break week on mtv and conclude that it is anything but appetite run amok. and appetite, sexual or otherwise, run amok is objectively wrong.

truthfully, i'm not sure why i'm so incensed @ the moment by the sexually graphic programming on mtv, or the gratuitous gore on the practically inane csi, or the rampant narcissism of curb your enthusiasm. but i look @ my daughter -- tiny, impressionable, hungry to engage whatever's out there, whether it's a purple dinosaur or whatever the execs @ nbc decide to throw @ her on fear factor -- and i cringe. am i being overly dramatic? do i see a tempest where there's merely a teapot? maybe. maybe. but i am concerned w/ the degeneration of sensibility that considers who's your daddy? entertainment. if it's paranoid to believe the fox network is out to intentionally undermine what's left of our society's tattered moral underpinnings, then i guess i'm paranoid.

so this was a jeremiad. i'll give you that. but i can't believe i'm the only person who thinks these things. and i don't believe i'm merely succumbing to fundamentalist morality, christian or otherwise. i'm a democrat. i just wonder if anyone else is awake. and on that note, i'll let thom yorke say what i want to say:
it's the devil's way now
there is no way out
you can scream & you can shout
it is too late now

you have not been
paying attention
(from 2+2=5)


che guevara t-shirt

your richard shindell lyric-o-the-day (and if it ain't a springsteen-worthy tragedy, i don't know what is):
unburdened of their passengers
the taxis have all scattered
the hawkers move their tables out
they'll be selling no more leather
the oslo queen is set to sail
from the port of buenos aires
the ropes are thrown and the big horn moans
as she slips out of the harbor

the stowaway is keeping still
in the dark of his container
with his blanket and his flashlight
and a picture of his sweetheart
he's rationing his batteries
but right now he can't resist her
standing there with her long brown hair
in a che guevara t-shirt

as the contents of his wallet show
his plan's a little sketchy
three hundred bucks and the bad address
of a cousin in miami
in a couple months with a little luck
he'll be wiring home some money
and even if they send him back
it'll make a damn good story

late at night he ventures out
each time a little farther
emboldened by his wanderlust
his boredom and his hunger
'til he's standing out on the open deck
searching for la cruz del sur
but by-and-by the sky he knows
has yielded to another

the moon shines on the shipping lanes
off the coast of venezuela
and as he looks out at the oilers
riding heavy up to texas
he sings a little to himself
'luna, luna, luna llena'
while the moon, a word he's yet to learn,
betrays him to the cameras

he's somewhere in dade county now
six weeks without a lawyer
and on the basis of the evidence
they could keep him there forever
then the guy with the cuban accent says
"do you recognize this picture?"
and there she is with her long brown hair
and that che guevara t-shirt

"che guevara t-shirt," from vuelta, a cd which you should go and purchase forthwith

little help w/ luther

quick question: somewhere i read a quote attributed to martin luther, the gist of which was that there are actually only two gods or two visions of god: one is a god that remains aloof and humans have to "climb up" to through good works or karma or whatever; the other god descends to humans w/ mercy and forgiveness. does that ring a bell w/ anyone? if it does, please leave me a comment w/ the quote or a cite or something. unless imagined it, in which case, uh, never mind.


sleep & the superbowl

the dreams started last night. nightmares, really. for some reason, my noctournal musings became patriot-related during superbowl week last year, and the trend appears to be continuing this annum. last night's episode was a little mental realtime enactment of the moose's nine reasons the eagles will win the superbowl. i awoke all kerfuffle and began to intercede for belichick & the boys before my feet hit the slippers. i suppose i read johnston's article a little too close to bedtime last p.m., and, in theory, i concur w/ pretty much everything he had to say; however, the pats -- on paper -- should've lost to every team since the buffalo hung 31 on them in week 1 of 2003 (except the orange-jerseyed fins, to whom they lost on mnf). this is the same team that hit on an 82-yard td in ot against miami and intentionally took a safety en route to a win over denver last year, so i remain strangely confident they'll figure out a way to win on sunday. still, that practically assures that tonight's hallucination will be a docudrama where the bsg's prediction comes true, all of america turns against the pats b/c they win too much, and i am chased around the oxford square in my skivvies by steelers and jets fans in pickup trucks.Posted by Hello

lonnie frisbee

question: what do you do when the jesus freak who started your church dies from aids?

answer: simple. erase him from history.

thus reads the tagline for an upcoming documentary about lonnie frisbee, apparently an instrumental figure in the founding of the vineyard and calvary chapel movements, although i'd never heard of him until i read arlen's post about frisbee @ wanderer of the north. i don't know anything about frisbee himself, or about the man behind the movie (also the author of a book by the same name; not in amazon's catalog), but i'm definitely curious in case it ever comes anywhere near here for a screening.

christianity & "religion"

a friend emailed me today to ask what i thought of this quote:
religion was designed by the creator to satisfy that longing for infinite good and purity, which exists, in some degree, in every human soul; its mission is to elevate and purify mankind, and a system which tends to degrade any portion of humanity is but a libel upon the sacred name of religion.
i thought i'd ask whether the quote or my own hastily penned response generate any discussion (read: can anyone please say what i mean better than i can?). here go what i wrote:
hmmmm. good and noble sentiments throughout, nothing to say "i disagree" or "that's wrong" necessarily. but i think this is an example of something i do take issue with regarding the issue of "religion," or @ least what i perceive to be the common conception of it. what is "religion" exactly? for instance, the american heritage dictionary (bought for freshman english and currently residing upon my desk) defines religion as "belief in and reverence for a supernatural power recognized as the creator and governor of the universe." the quote you sent implies it is a worldview or a system that a quite anonymous creator designed in order to satisfy some innate human desire for goodness and, thereby, move a step toward "elevating" or "purifying" humankind (watch that non-gender-inclusive language in the quote there). as i see it, that may be what "religion" is, but that's not what "christianity" is. the latter wasn't just dreamed up or crafted out of whole cloth in order to achieve some end; it is a true account of the creator god acting in history to redeem his creation. moreover, christianity explains what i think is far more universally evident than any generic "longing for infinite good and purity," which is to say that the doctrines of christianity explain why humans don't always long for good, why sin and evil exist and why redemption and purification are even necessary. it seems to me that "religion" is, or can be, a way of thought that is generally considered nice, socially acceptable, politically correct and tolerated (although most moderns know it's really not true and have a darwin fish on the car). "christianity," on the other hand, refuses to be that. if it's anything, it's not nice, socially acceptable and politically correct. rather, it is messy and complex and it makes us nervous because it has to do w/ guilt and forgiveness and whatnot -- it talks about blood, for goodness sake, and that is not a topic of polite conversation, dontcha know. and i would prefer, to be quite honest, not to have anything to dow/ it . . . except i believe that it's true.
WWW [rough draft]