jean vanier 1

Some people flee from commitment because they are frightened that if they put down roots in one soil they will curtail their freedom and never be able to look elsewhere.  It is true that if you marry one woman you give up millions of others--and that's a curtailment of freedom!  But freedom doesn't grow in the abstract; it grows in a particular soil with particular people.  Inner growth is only possible when we commit ourselves with and to others.  We all have to pass through a certain death and time of grief when we make choices and become rooted.  We mourn what we have left behind.

So many people do not realise that in giving up everything to follow Jesus and live in community, he gives back everything a hundredfold.


land of the free

"but who would want an american soul?"

not too long ago i watched the movie cold souls, with paul giamatti.  it was pretty funny dark humor.  it was about storing your soul and being set free from its burdens, and even being able to try on other people's souls for a time.  this led to a large soul trafficking business operated by the russians.  when the suggestion is made that they could not only send russian souls to america, but perhaps bring some back if people wanted them--that is when this line is said.

which struck me.  in the movie the joke is that the only american soul with any value is that of an american actor.  russian poet sounds like a soul someone would buy.  but apparently the only thing americans have a soul for is pretending to be someone else.  like the best of jokes, it strikes perhaps because there is some truth to it.

maybe not real truth--just perception.  there are many talented and rich american artists in music and film.  but many would say america is still lagging behind in literature and art.  of course, according to who?  well, the nobel prize people, but who put them in charge?  of course they would preference european stuff.

i have heard it said though that america is in many ways much like an adolescent culture, in comparison to european culture which is much older (read: wiser).  this is very western-focused, but isn't it true to some degree?  don't americans look up to europe like the older brother who seems to be so much cooler?  even though the younger brother has surpassed the older in prowess and ability.  then could you say the same about rising cultures like india and china in how they view america yet have their great abilities and disciplines?  i'm diverting a little.

still the question remains, "who would want an american soul?"  what is the american soul?  is there anything that makes it great?  do we as americans have something of an inferiority complex--where deep down we wonder if we are really as inwardly rich as other cultures?  does this lead to our arrogance?  or is it just the position of power we have over the rest of the world that goes to our head? 

as individuals, how do we see ourselves stacking up against the rest of the world?  would you say americans are on a whole immature?  what is our obsession with television and sports all about?  why are our politics so juvenille like small children fighting for their side?  why are americans statistically far more generous in giving money than any other nation on the planet?  what are the other questions we should be asking?

i've found myself thinking a lot about american life lately.  culture, the church, music, television, art, even a little politics.  i want this entry to be the first of a series on american life.  i know that's a broad topic, but i want to try to understand more.  i want to know what is at the heart of the american soul.  that's a lofty goal eh?

if you have any thoughts or ideas for topics please feel free to share.