tim keel

some things that stood out to me from the last part of his book, intuitive leadership:

"The heart is not engaged or satisfied in the same ways the mind is. It cannot be domesticated, or at least if it can, it is only at great cost and is often the result of violence. To engage the heart, your own and others', you must be present, and that can be incredibly hard for many of us because it means engaging pain. When we give ourselves permission to engage our hearts (usually with the help of another), what we find there is often scary to us. But far scarier is what happens when we don't engage the heart: we pay a price personally and our churches miss out on an intergral part of what it menas to be a disciple of Jesus Christ."

"There needs to be more tension than...previously allowed. We must abide in the tension between questions and answers, between the head and the heart, between spoken words and living words. It is not an either/or option. It is both/and. Why? Because there is no long-term life to be found in abandoning and marginalizing one set of competencies or leaders with traditional skill sets for an emerging set of leaders or skills, no matter how life-giving they initially appear to be. When we hold these twin realities in dynamic tension, life emerges as we depend on God."

then he quotes buechner in one of my favorite passages and then goes on to say:

"'If I were called upon to state in a few words the essence of everything I was trying to say both as a novelist and a preacher, it would be something like this: Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.' --Frederick Buechner

"The opaque and open-ended nature of what he is inviting us toward can produce anxiety. Just tell us what to do, we say. We'll execute it. We are accustomed to discovering God and his life out there. We can observe it and go and lay hold of it. Listen to my life? Can you be more specific?
I believe a great many of us have forgotten, or maybe we never knew, what it is like to relate to God, each other, and ourselves in this manner. We have sought answers from experts who promise success rather than postures that would allow us to be integrally engaged in the discovery of life ourselves. Now we are discovering that laying hold of other people's answers no longer provides the promise that we once thought it might. We must reckon with our environment and with God in a different way. The answer lies in God, in us, and in the engagement between God and us. We must listen to our lives and engage."



so i guess this is something of what it means to be me today. that was the first thing that came up on a google search of "25."

if you make the same search on youtube you'll come up with a great segment from some power rangers episode, but it was a little too long to justify putting on here.

interesting fact about the day of my birth you might not know--it was also the day of the the first african-american in space taken by one of the challenger shuttles.

i also happen to share a birthday with ted williams, cameron diaz, shaun alexander, cliff lee (will win the cy-young this year), and andy roddick.

it is the feast day of felix and adauctus.

and there's way more than you ever thought you'd know about this day, am i right? maybe i'll write a more substantial entry tomorrow during the day if i have time. that is if i can tear myself away from bemoaning all the things i still haven't done now after 25 years.



there is a coffee shop in manhattan known as java. don't give me any of that bluestem crap. not happening. anyway, the shop is pretty big for a cafe. it is long and somewhat narrow with windows along one wall that look out into an alley with a deck and seating in it. it's actually quite nice if you haven't seen it before. and there are tables that run along with wall. only downside: you smell terrible if you spend too long in there. it's the baking + coffee. not good.

the layout though makes for some interesting seating. if you are at a table by yourself, say reading or something, sometimes you'll end up with another person across from you at another table facing you. maybe they have a laptop or something, but inevitably there will be moments where you are both looking up and you catch each others' eye--much more than at other places with scattered tables. the moment of contact is quickly broken, as it is a strange sort of intimacy with a complete stranger.

even more striking is when there are two people in the table you are facing, but you can still see past the back of the one to the other person facing you. sometimes you catch their eye, even in the midst of them being in a conversation. it is so interesting because you can almost absorb the look they are giving to the person they are sitting with. it's like you are able to become a little bit of who that person is to the other. and just so rarely, sometimes you see the look a woman gives to that man she is deeply in love with. and you catch a piece. and it makes your heart ache. or at least it does mine.

sigur ros


just so everyone knows

i think that personal hygiene products are just hilarious. especially now with all the different ways of marketing. from body wash in a container that looks like an oil can to deodorant spray that will make women tackle you to shampoo that gives women orgasms--it's all pretty ridiculous.

the funny thing is that it works. i remember being on summer staff with a youth group and watching all the middle school boys on a retreat just load themselves up with that terrible axe spray stuff. you could smell them 3 rooms over. which i suppose is better than the alternative with a lot of middle school boys where you still smell them 3 rooms away. but only slightly better. the sad thing is how much more likely i also am to buy a product if it has the simple words "for men" on it. some of it is to avoid smelling girly or whatever. but then i guess it's just an image thing maybe. you all know the rules you have to follow with all of this stuff (or at least the guys out there do).

my shampoo comes close to the edge of those rules. the bottle is fine and it is pretty herbal--which i need because of my sensitive skin. ooo. but the brand is called abba, which is just kind of weird to be associated with a very effeminate pop group. it doesn't smell girly though--at least i don't think so. it's the perfect blend of coconut, lavender, and cherry bark. and it makes my hair not too oily. i would recommend it.

but as i was standing in the shower not too long ago, just after my return to manhattan i noticed something. this is the description of the shampoo of my roommate tyler roark:

Pink bottle.
Title: "Body Envy"
with a fusion of white nectarine and pink coral flower
and then towards the bottom it says, "get a lift in all the right places"

oh tyler. what have you done?


music; heart

every now and then there is a song out there that just reaches you. something about it speaks to you in a way that you can't really describe. it is lyrics that speak to your life and where you're at. it is moving music that swells up emotion and connection to all that is around you. sometimes it's a fun song and you are just filled with such joy and happiness that you dance in your car not caring about the woman and her dog staring at you from the other lane. or you sing it loud so that it will resound in your chest and maybe your heart will know it more fully then. it could be a sappy song about heartbreak that you would be ashamed to admit has been on repeat for days. or anything really. even if it's terribly musically and all those snobs at there shake their heads at you for listening to it (i admit to being on both sides of this at times ;) ).

but then every now and then you find not just a song, but an entire artist who you just have some sort of connection with. it's like half the songs were written directly to what you've experienced, and the other half are telling you what you haven't known yet. the tunes are catchy and solid. and you just fall in love with the music. you probably have a couple of those bands you can think of off the top of your head. sometimes it's your "favorite" bands or sometimes those are different. it's more than just music you like. it's about your heart.

i think i found one of these artists recently. and i am just digging it like crazy. and maybe singing it a lot too. i submit to you that you check out Matthew Perryman Jones. one of his albums is free on noisetrade. i think you'll like it. if you don't you have no musical taste whatsoever.

even the big black dude that changed my oil said it was "a good tune."

this one is about the only non-live recording i could find on youtube, and definitely a good song but not even one of my top favorites. musically maybe, but not lyrically. some other songs have just ridiculously good lyrics. so take this as a starter sample--not something to be satiated with.


Robert Benson

"To embrace one's brokenness, whatever it looks like, whatever has caused it, carries within it the possiblity that one might come to embrace one's healing, and then that one might come to the next step: to embrace another and their brokenness and their possibility for being healed. To avoid one's brokenness is to turn one's back on the possibility that the healer might be at work here, perhaps for you, perhaps for another. It is to turn one's back on another, one for whom you just might be the Christ, one for whom you might, even if just for a moment, become the body and the blood."

from alli rogers' blog


g.k. chesterton

That we all depend in every detail, at every instant, as a Christian would say upon God, as even an agnostic would say upon existence and the nature of things, is not an illusion of imagination; on the contrary, it is the fundamental fact which we cover up, as with curtains, with the illusion of ordinary life. That ordinary life is an admirable thing in itself, just as imagination is an admirable thing in itself. But it is much more the ordinary life that is made of imagination than the contemplative life. He who has seen the whole world hanging on a hair of the mercy of God has seen the truth; we might almost say the cold truth. He who has seen the vision of this city upside-down has seen it the right way up.


elliott smith

been on repeat. no need to watch the video, just the song.


life and death

"Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry."
Col. 3:5

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."
I Peter 1:3

Life is all about a series of births and deaths. I say births and deaths because it simply isn't so simple as just one of each. And I'm not talking about other people. I'm talking about in just one person's life. It is all about the things you birth and the things you put to death.

Every day is an opportunity to put something to death--an old fading friendship, a propensity to procrastination, that sin that keeps cropping up, that struggling relationship. And every day we have the opportunity to birth new things in our lives--a relationship with that co-worker you've always wanted to talk to, eating more vegetables, beginning your writing habit. But many days pass with little change. Is it because we do not realize the power we have in our own lives?

A lot of talk is made about how little power we have over our lives--how at any moment something can happen that we have absolutely no control over and everything is completely different in a matter of moments. This is true to some extent, and to that we should always keep to our humility. But at the same time the New Testament doesn't quite see it that way. Our life can be taken at any moment sure, but ultimately the Lord is in control. We might cry foul but it was almost more like a non-issue with the early church. Death was a joy. Men sang in prisons. Martyrs raised their eyes to heaven singing in the midst of flames or the Colosseum.

The fact is we have far more control over our lives than we think. We have the power, we have the authority to control our lives. Control sounds negative, but it is rather more like the power to escape being controlled by the evil both around and within us. Are you struggling with despair and fear? Bring about a birth of life and hope into yourself. Are you struggling with a sin? Put to death therefore...

It all sounds so simple. In the past I always wanted to know "but how?" The scriptures just state the imperative, but do they realize how hard it is? How am I supposed to do this? I need a companion book that tells me how to do all the things that are just simply stated in the bible. Two things come to mind.

1. We do not receive because we do not ask. Do you want hope in your life? Begin by asking God for it, and not just in passing. Continue to bring it in prayer and you will be like the man knocking on the door late at night. He will get up and answer because of your persistence. I know it's not that easy, and not all that we ask for do we receive (wait, isn't that contrary to some verse?)--and it will take time. If you're asking for something good from God like hope or joy, he will begin to give it.

2. We give far too much power to our emotions. We say we cannot do something because it is far too difficult. In other words, our emotions complete control us. I'm not saying our emotions are bad--just that they seem to have the final say. In black and white matters we may not be so bold, but in pretty much anything else any idea of what we "should" do is decided by what feels right. Or the feeling is too overwhelming to try and do anything different with it. Many of us live under this oppression without really realizing the full extent of its presence or error.

Those are just two simple things, and they are not the "how." There is no eternal how because there is no formula. That second point especially is a very cultural one, specific (though not exclusive) to our time and place. To some extent we all have to figure out how, and that is done in the present in community, with others. But we must be willing to try, and not let ourselves be ruled by the blowing of the winds. And by winds I mean feelings.

Birth and death. What are you birthing in your life? What are you putting to death? There are so many possibilities for both of those.

But there is another little wrinkle in this pair:

"For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"
II Cor. 2:14-17

Resurrection. Because of who Christ was and is we believe in resurrection. And not just after death, but in the constant and continuing restitution of all that has gone wrong in this cruel world. The temptation in life, especially after a little seasoning, is to give up to the overwhelming death rate we experience in our own lives. We fight for life and new births, but we cannot keep up. We stick to what we know will survive and we stay there.

But we can challenge death. We can believe that resurrection is possible. Not all death is bad of course, but whether it is or not it doesn't have the power. We have the power, because it has been given to us through the authority of Christ. We can look at our lives and what has died. And we can not only look forward but actively seek resurrection of that death in our lives. It may not always rise again to look just like it did. That area/relationship/desire might and really should be quite transformed. It is precisely this transformation that makes not only all things new, but also renewed and full of life--life to the full. Oh and by the way in case you missed it, it is love that makes any and all of this possible. Christ's love and his love in us. It is the only way to true death, resurrection, and life.

"I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds."
John 12:24



What is your pain? It is the experience of not receiving what you most need. It is a place of emptiness where you feel sharply the absence of the love you most desire.

You have to begin to trust that your experience of emptiness is not the final experience, that beyond it is a place where you are being held in love. As long as you do not trust that place beyond your emptiness, you cannot safely reenter the place of your pain.

You have to weep over your lost pains so that they can gradually leave you and you can become free to live fully in the new place without melancholy or homesickness.

Your heart is greater than your wounds.


soren kierkegaard--the geese

Imagine what it would be like if geese could talk--then they surely would have ordered their affairs so that they too had their divine service, their worship of God. They would gather every Sunday and listen to the gander's sermon. The gander would dwell on the high density of geese, the high goal for which the Creator had designed them--and each time His name was mentioned the lady-geese would curtsy and the ganders would bow their heads. Their wings would carry them away to distant regions, blissful regions, where they truly belonged, for on earth they were like strangers in a foreign land.

Thus every Sunday. When the service was over the congregation would rise and the geese waddle home. And again next Sunday they would attend divine service--and go home--and that would be that. They would thrive and grow fat, become plump and tasty, and eventually they would be eaten on St. Martin's Eve--and that would be that. Yes, that would be that. For while listening to resounding sermons on Sundays, on Mondays the geese would have a lot to tell each other, among other things what happened to a goose who tried in earnest to use the wings the Creator had given it, destined for the high gaol set before it; yes, what happened to it, the horrors it had to endure. The geese, among themselves, knew all about it. But of course it did not behoove them to speak of it on Sundays, for, as they said, then it would become obvious that our worship actually is a mockery of God and of ourselves.

There were also among the geese a few who began to looked peaked and were losing weight. Of those the other geese said, "Well, now we certainly see where it leads, this wanting to fly in earnest. For because they constantly have this idea of flying on their minds they lose weight, don't thrive, don't enjoy God's grace like ourselves, which is why we grow plump, fat, and tasty--for God's grace makes one plump, fat, and tasty."

And again the next Sunday they would go to church, and the older gander would preach about the high goal for which the Creator (here the lady-geese curtsied and the ganders bowed their heads) had destined them, the goal for which they had been given their wings.

Thus it is with the worship of God in Christianity. Man too has wings; he has imagination. It is meant to help him really to soar--but all we do is play, we let imagination entertain us in a quiet hour, in a Sunday reverie, and for the rest we stay as we were; and then on Monday we regard it as God's grace that we grow plump, fat, tasty and put on an extra layer of yellow fat, save money, acquire prestige in the world, beget many children and are successful--all this we regard as proof of God's grace. But all those who really get involved with God and who therefore--it cannot be otherwise and according to the New Testament it isn't--suffer and look worried, have trouble, toil and affliction--of those we say, "There, it is quite obvious that they don't enjoy the grace of God."

Then when someone reads this he will say, "How fine, how very fine." And that is that--then he waddles home and strives with all his might to become plump, tasty, and fat--but on Sunday the parson delivers a sermon and he listens to it--just like the geese.


george macdonald

I think I shall not ever pray for such;
Thy bliss will overflood my heart and brain,
And I want no unripe things back again.
Love ever fresher, lovelier than of old--
How should it want its more exchanged for much?
Love will not backward sigh, but forward strain,
On in the tale still telling, never told.

God help me, dull of heart, to trust in thee.
Thou art the father of me--not any mood
Can part me from the One, the verily Good.
When fog and failure o'er my being brood.
When life looks but a glimmering marshy clod,
No fire out flashing from the living God--
Then, then, to rest in faith were worthy victory!

'Twixt thee and me there's no division,
Except the meeting of they will and mine,
The loves that love, the wills that will the same.
Where thine meets mine is my life's true condition;
Yea, only there it burns with any flame.
Thy will but holds me to my life's fruition.
O God, I would--I have no mine that is not thine.

In the great glow of that great love, this death
Would melt away like a fantastic cloud;
I should no more shrink from it than from the breath
That makes in the frosty air a nimbus-shroud;
Thou, Love, hast conquered death, and I aloud
Should triumph over him, with thy saintly crowd,
That were the Lamb goes ever followeth.

selections from The Diary of an Old Soul: April.


bon iver



foy vance

Two Shades of Hope

If there’s one thing that I know, It is the two shades of hope, One the enlightening soul, And the other is more like a hang man’s rope, It’s true you may reap what you sow, But not that despair is the all time low. Baby hope deals the hardest blows.

There was once someone I loved, Whose heart overflowed his cup, And his shoes got covered in blood, Oh but he never knew ‘cause he only looked up, Now he was a troubled soul, Who’d known pain more than most I know. Yet it was hope that dealt the hardest blows.

And the girl that holds the hand, Of her somewhat distant man, Though she do everything that she can, Still his heart sets sail for distant lands, And she wonders sometimes if he knows, How she feels like a trampled rose. Baby hope deals the hardest blows.

Well some people think that their sin, Caused the cancer that’s eating into them, And the only way they can win, Is by the healing of somebody’s hands on their skin, And praying… but when the cancer does not go. Surely hope dealt the hardest blows.

Now all these truths are so, With foundations below them, That were dug out in the winters cold, When the world stole our young and preyed on the old, Now hope deals in the hardest blows, Yet I cannot help myself but hope.

I guess that’s why love hurts
And heartache stings
And despair’s never worse than despair that death brings
But hope deals the hardest blows dear
The hardest
Hope deals the hardest blows


olympics - life

in an article in today's paper on the stabbing to death of the father-in-law of US olympic volleyball coach Hugh McCutcheon in China yesterday:

"No, it's not easy to make sense of things. i remember being in Atlanta in 1996--there in the madness near Centennial Park after a bomb exploded and killed two, injuring more than 100. There was this terrible feeling that it was all so pointless--all these sports, all these games--so pointless when you thought about how much pain there is in the world. But then you remember that if you stop the games, you are only left with pain."
--Joe Posnanski

i was in minnesota this weekend. this morning in st. paul visiting a covenant church where a friend of mine is the youth pastor. and i saw something that struck me terribly deeply.

a man in the church, perhaps in his 30s or 40s walked up onto the stage with the help of a cane and a couple people. he sat down next to his wife to talk about faithfulness amidst the discovery of several large tumors in his brain just a few months ago. he talked about being led to seek prayer just before the tumors were found, when he didn't know why he needed prayer--he just felt it. his wife, through her tears, talked about the developments on treatment and a little about their two children.

i don't know what it is like to read that hearing it from me second-hand. perhaps it doesn't particularly strike you, the tragedy of it. there is too much tragedy in the world, so when we encounter it, we shut ourselves off from it. we almost have to in order to make it through. i do it all the time. and i started to do that this morning--i didn't know the guy at all.

but then i looked at him. i pictured what he might look like with hair, dressed up nice like any other middle-aged man sitting in the pews around me (or even as a younger person, like the friend at k-state who had a brain tumor earlier this year). i saw the lines on his face, the eyes that were almost lost amongst all the skin with no hair to offset it. he was holding it all in behind there, back with the tumors.

at the end of the service we gathered around them in prayer. i saw people who had shaved their heads in support. i saw older women weeping and squeezing his hand. i saw people cry out to God with various degrees of boldness in prayer. i saw the church.

i wanted to shout out and pray for this man Rick, whom i'd never met before. i wanted to declare in boldness that through the power of Christ he would be healed that very instant. but what power did i have that many hadn't already prayed with at a healing service held for him recently? and that aside, i completely lacked the faith. what if i said such a thing and i was wrong and he wasn't healed? where i am now, is the holy spirit with me much? i couldn't do it. could you?

a story came to me yesterday. well, to be more honest a title did. we'll see if i write the story, but i'll copyright the title anyway: and the children will play. watching a video showing kids jumping on car sculptures half buried in the concrete parking lot and covered in blacktop, i thought that this is what happens. in any tragedy, in any wreckage, the children will play. they will make it their playground and find a game. they have to, probably because they just cannot process the depth of it all. or to what extent they can, they must play to cope.

maybe posnanski's right, without the games you just have the pain. maybe we need to play. maybe we need to watch the olympics and cheer in the spirit of nationalism--keeping a close eye on that countries medal watch. you know, bragging rights and all. but maybe we really do. maybe we need to play.

i've heard it said that the US, as a country and culturally is like an adolescent. we try to prove ourselves, we are obsessed with sex and cars and the like, etc. and maybe we still want to play like kids (very competitive kids maybe). but sooner or later the games will stop (espn360 aside), and we will know our playgrounds as the wreckage they are. we will be a little older and wiser maybe. and will we be left only with the pain?

when rick and his wife got done sharing in church this morning, a man called out from the congregation, "we love you." and everyone rose to their feet clapping. and rick started crying. he started crying like i've never seen anyone cry before. this wasn't the weeping of heartbreak or mourning. this was something else. it was hard crying, but with no shame. it was filled with fear. yet it was also filled with so much love. he didn't cover his face or wipe his tears. his mouth was open as his chin held up his whole face. i don't know how else to describe it. but it is an image i won't forget.

he was face-to-face with eternity, and he bawled as any of us would. no need for our polished exteriors anymore. it was very human. so many people came around him though. he would not be left alone with his pain. and somewhere in it all, God was there. God the eternal.

most of us don't really give much of a look towards eternity. maybe a sideways glance or lip service. i'm not talking about heaven. the eternal is now, right before us. and we play. or more accurately we watch. and we pay a lot for our coping support, cash and more.

maybe we could take in a little more. maybe we should see what's happening in the new war in georgia, the friend struggling to suffer the aftermath of all the chemo, the family who lost someone recently--or not so recently (it still is hard).

or then again, phelps could get 8 golds and wouldn't that be something to see? it's just 17 days, our problems will be there still in 17 days. so will are friends. and hopefully rick. do we need these games? is it unhealthy nationalism? or is it truly world-uniting? what do you think?


the dark knight

warning: contains all kinds of spoilers. don't read if you don't want to know.

i saw this movie tonight for the second time. it was good to see it again to give things a little more time to sink in and at least let me try to understand and sort through the vast complexity of this movie. it is not only a very engaging and entertaining movie, it is also quiet a film filled with philosophical and artistic depth. granted the film is quite dark, demented, and disturbing at times--but often so is life. that is, if we allow ourselves to see it for all it is, which you could argue is something that this movie does. it may be full of evil, but in reality so is the world. so we should not hide from it, but really learn from it. there is much to learn from this film. still, i've been pretty appalled at the age of some of the kids parents are taking to see this film. there was a 5 or 6 year old girl sitting in the front row tonight. that just isn't right.

well i don't think i'll be able to organize all these thoughts into any flowing semblance, there is just too much there to put it all together. so here they are mostly at random, as they come to me.

heath ledger did an amazing job. i won't be at all surprised if the oscar goes to him. his character was by far the most interesting in the film, and probably one of the most interesting in all movies. he was an agent of chaos for sure. certainly a strong representation of satan--just out there to destroy everything. and the way he works. getting people alone, whispering into them, asking questions, raising their anger and using it against them. its almost like watching the screwtape letters. his tools--knives and dynamite, all about slashing things up and blowing it all away. he was the ultimate deconstructionist--with no leanings or sympathy for the supposed "good" or "evil." he broke down so many of the assumptions of what is good and what is wrong. and in that he exposed the deep flaw of pluralistic morality. which actually is something satan probably wouldn't openly do--it's much better if people don't realize those errors.

in fact the entire film showed that, on every level. "sometimes the truth isn't good enough...sometimes people don't need the truth, they need to have their faith rewarded." that is the final message the film offers as it is climbing to its end. but what is faith if it is in something that isn't true. it's deception. and the people in power are perfectly ok with deception, as long as it will ultimately help things.

on every level the film answers pluralistic morality with pragmatism, with what works. and usually always with what works in the immediate. people start dying, and the presented "solution" is for batman to turn himself in so that's what people demand, despite that it makes no sense. but it will work. people need a hero, so the lie is given because it will work for the good of the city. batman cannot know the truth, so rachel's letter is burned because it will work better for him to believe and have the strength for what he needs to do. which is to become an outcaste because it's what the city needs. it's still power and control, making the choices for what works, it just is supposedly done with good intentions--most of the time. but even that is also undermined.

in that sense they don't trust the people to be able to handle the truth. the truth about harvey would ruin everything, so they lie--for the good of the people. translation=the people cannot be trusted. yet just before there is the boat experiment, which is supposed to prove that people do still have good in them. but they still can't be trusted with the truth, with being able to have hope restored. faith and hope are therefore held up as very fragile things, things that must be shielded from the truth to really survive. unfortunately it's probably actually how a lot of people think and act in this culture, even those who hold their own faith.

the haunting thing is that the points made by the film in the different situations that arise are very realistic. it is probably how people would respond, the assumptions they would make, the action they would follow. you can learn a lot about our culture from this movie.

the film is also one that is very much for our time. it addresses the issue of wiretapping, of doing what is "needed" but "at what cost?" the inability of people to deal with the loss of human life and casualties--as that speaks to the war. when the "rules" are broken how people go crazy. speaks to democracy on the situation on the boat--how that works in theory but then no one will actually go through with it, will do what they need to do themselves. and it takes no sides. it asks the questions, and then shows why many of our given and accepted answers are wrong.

it totally undercuts the idea of schemers and control. how everyone is trying to work out their plans, but how easily those plans can be derailed. how little control people actually have. and that is true. the illusion of control. whether that be through power, or through any sort of rules. everyone will break the rules when people or things they care about are at stake. and that ruins any and all sorts of plans.

that was what brought harvey down. his character took a pretty hard fall from high idealism to sinister evil, and i'm not sure it was developed enough to be truly believable. but in the absence of schemes, when those fail, when the world is cruel he says, the only true morality is blind chance. that is the message of nihilism, as also portrayed in No Country for Old Men with another coin flipping killer. no one wants just chance though. that idea dies if the connection is made.

the decrying voice of the pragmatism of pretty much all of the "good" characters is the little boy at the end saying "but he didn't do anything wrong." right and wrong as typically defined don't really matter anymore though. what matters is that things get better. that the situation is fixed for the time being.

someone cares about right and wrong though. someone out there still wants the truth. is it the younger generations? will they see the horrors of tenderness as morality? that there are no limits to what that can bring--killing for love, stealing for the poor, lying for the better. it may seem like pragmatism, but does it really work? are we smart enough, insightful enough to know what it is we truly need and what will ultimately work? constantly making adjustments along the way? there are no true heroes this movie seems to say. everyone has their limits. everyone can fall, even the best of 'um.

only the truth can constantly endure, because it is just that--the truth. but not truth as a set of guidelines and rules, because that does not always endure. no, the truth as a person. that is the only truly trustworthy answer. though the movie goes to the opposite--in the absence of truth it must be the dark one who is willing to take on the scorn and ridicule to do what is right. maybe that sounds familiar to something like a cross. but is it taken on in the right way? i don't know. not with truth, but seemingly with love perhaps. can love exist without truth? is that just tenderness, which ultimately isn't the most loving thing, though it is seemingly sacrificial? will it ultimately work?

well i guess in the film world we'll have to wait another couple years to see.


the shack

this book is just filled with goodness. somewhere along the line it somehow became controversial in some evangelical circles, though not exactly sure why--i mean if you actually read it. i loved it, every bit of it. hard to read at times for sure, but really wrestles with the deep questions of suffering and God. and unlike some other books that use story as a simply poor shroud to cover a non-fiction writing, this is truly a good work of fiction that has a lot of literary merit.

i don't know if there is better praise than this: "this book has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress did for his. it's that good!" ~Eugene Peterson

any of you out there read it yet? thoughts?