25 April 2011

in need of resurrection

One of the least reported stories of the US invasion of Iraq has been its consequences for the church in that country.  Once a fairly sizable minority, it’s estimated that half of Iraqi Christians have been either killed or forced to flee.  When the government was overthrown at the beginning of the war, there was a predictable vacuum of power.  In rushed the forces of anarchy and chaos.  Yesterday, Salon.com did an Easter profile. 

“We have been in Mesopotamia since the times of Hammurabi,” says Chaldean Catholic Monsignor Louis Shabi.  Alluding to both their spiritual and national heritage, he adds, “We are the children of Abraham and Nebuchadnezzar.  After 6,000 years of history on our shoulders, our future in Iraq does not go any further than tomorrow.” 

In our own Easter service, we proclaimed that we are resurrection people.  For us as a community, however, those are little more than words—sometimes that new creation peeks through.  But for the church in Iraq, it is (and needs to be) a visible reality. 

(The image is of Our Lady of Salvation church in Baghdad.  Bullet holes are visible in the walls.)

22 April 2011

a necessity that is sacred

“This life does not have a fighting chance against the promises of another life.  In the battle waged in our minds, we find no place in our daydreams for the burden of being ourselves, where we are obliged—or is it blessed?—to be conscious.  When we choose to live awake and aware, we give up the promises of another life.  We learn to practice the art of wanting what we already have. 

“The sacred necessity of simplicity says, ‘enough is enough.’ 

“All too often, the mantra of ‘not enough’ carries the day, and becomes the de facto setting for all our thinking and internal wiring.  Since we are reminded—three thousand times a day—of what we should do, buy, or be, we assume that we must not have enough.  We capitulate to public opinion.  After all, ‘what would they think?’” 

These are some thoughts from Terry Hershey’s book Sacred Necessities (p. 113).  We’ve been reading it during Lent on Fridays.  Today is Good Friday.  It is also Earth Day.  These comments on simplicity seem especially appropriate today.  We’re reminded of Jesus’ radical yielding of everything—and our own desire to acquire everything.

20 April 2011

Wednesday of Holy Week

“I thank you for becoming weak, Lord Jesus, so I don’t have to be strong.
I thank you for being willing to be considered imperfect and strange,
so I do not have to be perfect and normal…
I thank you for being considered a failure,
so I do not have to give my life trying to pretend I’m a success.
I thank you for being wrong by the standards of religion and state,
so I do not have to be right anywhere, even in my own mind.”

That’s Richard Rohr’s email meditation for today.  It is from the Center for Action and Contemplation.
“I do not have to be right anywhere, even in my own mind”?  I guess that’s different from “in my own brain.”  Whatever, perhaps an absence seizure will provide me with a voice!

02 April 2011

the end and the beginning

After watching Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto (2006), I can understand much of the controversy surrounding it.  Aside from some of the eccentric behavior of the director himself, it is, after all, a Mel Gibson movie.  That means that there’s plenty of blood and guts to spread around.  And there are to be sure, some historical inaccuracies—the most glaring of which being the encounter of the Spanish with the Mayans.  The Mayan civilization had largely disappeared well before the Europeans arrived.

Some see the opening quote by Will Durant, “A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within,” as an indictment of the Mayans, who needed to be saved by the Spanish Christians.  I see it as more of a commentary on every civilization, every empire—including our own. 

But taking Apocalypto just as a movie, I found it to be extremely well done.  There are many stories within a story:  some humorous, some exciting, and some, as the title seems to suggest, a revelation of the end.  It’s the end of the world, and at the same time, a new beginning.  There quite literally is (and those who watch the movie understand what I’m saying) new life from the depths.  There is resurrection.