Sunday, April 30, 2006

This is your Sunday Afternoon Special

Mars Ill's long-long-long awaited Pro*Pain is finally releasing Tuesday. Send for your copy. Do it, now. Before it goes underground for real. A couple of tracks from this (and a couple from their phenomenal re-mix Backwaterprophets) are streamed at their MySpace. A couple more are available at their record company's site,, if you can wade through the teen artists that are the label's bread and butter. Of note are "Saturday Night Special" and "Sound Off."
The Bulls have taken two games from the over-talented, under-performing Miami Heat and are tied, with both teams winning two in this best-of-seven series. Personally, I have nothing against Shaq, and I like Wade. But Riley made the biggest, most stupid mistake of his life by overstocking his team with ego. Here's to hoping that the games stay competetive and close. And that the Bulls take one away from the Heat on Miami's homeground.

Countdown: 4 days. Yum.

I missed a lot of work because my lower neck/upper back/shoulder blades region was hurting like the devil. It took a very calm visit to the ER to discover that it may just be a muscle thing. Some ibuprofen and a couple naps have taken care of it, for the most part. Now I'm way behind in my grading. On a related note, pink slips went out from CPS central last week. O boy!

Sometimes when I go to bars and ask for my requisite oj (I just don't drink) I get some extra pulpy stuff. But, y'know, it's a bar. And it's pretty decent. Last night's "Freshly squeezed" tasted like they freshly squeezed some Minute Maid (from the fountain) and then watered it down. Not that anything in a bar is worth its price, but this surely wasn't worth 2.50, fo' sho.

I'm looking for a place to bring my kids for a field trip. I'd like to take them to a drama. We'll be going through "Romeo and Juliet" for most of the rest of the year. As my sweetie says, Fun, fun.

Adam wrote a good article for Relevant Magazine. Timi's still blogging, but she isn't telling any of her award-winning stories at this point. We're waiting for the stories.

And "The Office"? Still funny as heck.

I'm done!

I Just Wanna Get Warm

The mouths of the best poets
Speak but a few words
And then lay down
Stone cold in forgotten fields
Life goes on in this ant farm town
Cold to the lifeblood underfoot
All talk and no touch
And I just wanna be real
I just wanna be real

The colors here are monochrome
Studies in one shade of grey
The good times and the hard times
Cut from the same grey cloth
And all the fires that crackle here
Consume but do not burn
All light and no heat
And I just wanna get warm
I just wanna get warm

The days they rattle past me
Like a tunnel round a train
Landscapes and heartaches
I don't know what I feel
All I know is my condition
Is worse than I can tell
The small talk and the slow burn
And I just wanna be healed
I just wanna get well

There are things I should remember
But I have forgotten how
I'm all tied up with no time
Trying do too much
And the thoughts that I've avoided
Are the ones I need right now
Like a warm wind and love's hand
And I just wanna be touched
And I just wanna be real
And I just wanna be well
And I just wanna be healed
And I just wanna be warm

- Mark Heard

I wish I wrote his songs. Heck, just the lyrics alone. I've been wanting to post something from Mr. Heard for a long time now. And since the Matthews House Project decided to list a couple of his lyrics as poems, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank them.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

A couple notes from Bart Compolo

One, I had heard about this from Starfish Studios. It's a night-long march as a sort of protest/awarness raising for the "Invisible Children" of Northern Uganda - a massive group of refugee children often forced to join the army or be turned as sex slaves.

Apparently, around the nation, close to 50,000 people have committed themselves to shuffle around metropolitan areas on this Saturday night in the Global Commute Night. This organization also has a movie also called the Invisible Children. I've seen neither, nor am I aware too aware of it. I guess the whole cause isn't as *popular* as Darfur (which isn't as popular a cause de celebre as, y'know, celebs). Anyway, you may find some of their tactics tacky, but they may have a point. The easiest way to get middle class America's attention on anything is through entertainment and an atmosphere of fun, while giving people a clean conscience (heck, I was gonna say "White America's", but the truth is, that's true regardless of race. I just think lower class people sometimes might be a bit more splintered in terms of what constitutes as fun. And I'm coming from a lower class perspective. Camping-out generally isn't fun to us. Which isn't why I'm not taking a part of this particular activity on this particular night).

Hmmm... Republicans... Interesting.

Kinda cheesy, as Jennie says. But I like cheesy.

But the movie, based on the web design and the trailers, looks great. Truly one of those must-sees. Although I must question myself as to why the only movies about the African experience I've seen recently are about the severe degradation of the continent. Maybe that just speeks to hundreds of years of maltreatment. Reaping the whirlwind, indeed.

And this definition of social justice from a Christian worldview (as per Bart Compolo, son of famous Christian sociologist Tony Campolo and famous urban youth worker in his own right):

Social justice isn't about everybody getting what they deserve (that's death), or what they want (that's chaos), or the same thing (that denies reality)…social justice, as I understand it, is when everybody gets what he or she truly needs in order to realize his or her fullest potentiality as a lover of God and as a lover of other people.

It's not about what's fair, but rather about what's right, for each of us as individuals, but more importantly for all of us as a family. It's not about us all wanting all the same things or living the same way, either, though I think pursuing the common good involves putting basic human rights fairly high on everybody's list.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Various, hardly related news.

Derek Lee's out for probably two to three months. It's a bit like losing your major striker, or goalie, or quarterback, for anybody not familiar with the home run / RBI / On-base king of the post-steroid Major League Baseball era. Yikes! Sorry Cub fans. I'm sorry for the whole city. I'd LOVE to see a Red Line World Series. Man!

Yes! it's o-fish'l: The Scrubbin' Bulls are playing the Oversized, Over-Ego'd Heat tomorrow night for the first round. We should steal at least one game. But seriously, the Heat'll explode. Just not in Chicago.
Timi started blogging again. I think she quit again. Somebody say hi.

And finally, less than two weeks to go. I LOVE her! (Sorry, ladies, I'm taken. Cutie, huh? How'd I luck into her? Like the president of the chess and computer club being with the homecoming queen.)

A report in the Chicago Tribune states that, "Of 100 Chicago Public School Freshmen, Six Will Get a College Degree" by the time they hit twenty-five years. Among African-American and Latinos the average drops in half. Three percent. Of probably more than half than the entire population of public school students in Chicago. One of my students was whiney again today and said that I must not care, just as long as I get my check. I assured him that if I didn't care, there's no way I'd be teaching there, as classroom management is my weakest point, but what I spend probably the most time in. Apparently, though, that's not the case for everyone who teaches here. Not that that's the only problem, but still... (Lowered expectations.)

Umm... and looking that story up online (I'm reading it from the print) gave me this little tidbit. If you're gonna blog about your work, keep your racist comments out. In fact, keep them out of our schools.

To quote extensively from the Tribune online article:

Typing rambling screeds in an anonymous blog he called "Fast Times at Regnef High," a Fenger High School teacher unleashed his frustration over the chaos he saw around him.

He labeled his students "criminals," saying they stole from teachers, dealt drugs in the hallways, had sex in the stairwells, flaunted their pregnant bellies and tossed books out windows. He dismissed their parents as unemployed "project" dwellers who subsist on food stamps, refuse to support their "baby mommas" and bad-mouth teachers because their no-show teens are flunking....

This week, after returning from spring break, the students read how they were depicted and flamed the blog with profane threats and righteous indignation toward the teacher.

By Thursday, the reaction grew so vitriolic that the blogger took down his site from Also that day, a Fenger High teacher e-mailed his principal that he wasn't coming to school because he "feared for his safety." The teacher was the same one widely believed to have authored the blog because he told two colleagues that it was his, Fenger Principal William Johnson said.

Johnson said he doesn't know whether the teacher has resigned. The teacher hasn't returned Johnson's phone calls or replied to an e-mail asking to meet with him. The teacher did not acknowledge to the principal that it was his blog, but Johnson said he has no doubt, based on the writing style and his disappearance after the students named him in their postings....

"He's lost his credibility," Johnson said. "He lost the faith and trust of his students."

The animosity stirred up by the blog fueled even more chaos in this beleaguered all-black school in Roseland on the city's Far South Side, among Chicago's worst performing. But the principal said the episode has galvanized the school in a way he had not thought possible—and is encouraging staff and students to talk openly about the problems and how to fix them....

--editor's note:
However, there was a bright spot in this mess. Sometimes out of the mouths of babes... or, in this case, ignorant men indignant that they've stumbled into a world that clashes and crashes with their idealism (not that idealism is a bad thing. It just needs to be tempered with understanding, empathy, a perspective that looks for the positive even within the most dire, and a historical perspective - after all, people just don't appear out of the blue, born ready to be criminals because of their genetic disposition. Of course, we are all fallen short of the glory of God, but that's not the same thing.)

"There is a silver lining," he said. "It brought Fenger together." Johnson said he plans to hold student forums next week to discuss the blog, both the antagonism it revealed and the challenges that need to be fixed.

"He was painting a picture of desperation, and I had a problem with the generalizations he made," Johnson said. "But some of it was true, and that was the tragedy. If he had gone about it in a different way, it could have been a great forum."...

Latasha Ivy, 17, senior class vice president, found out about the blog last week and read it with her mom. They were both angry about the crude stereotypes and didn't understand why the teacher stayed if he was so miserable, she said.

"These are things that happen at Fenger—fights, drug-dealing, gangs—it happens here like it does at other high schools. I already feel bad when I tell people I go to Fenger, because they go, 'Ooooh, that's a bad school.' But there are still people here trying to do something with their lives," said Ivy, who has been accepted at the University of Illinois this fall and plans to study biology.

Gerald Rogers, 17, said the blog was a "big topic everywhere." He was struck by how many students read the site and posted comments. But he still found the teacher's observations "racist and derogatory."

"If he felt that way, why didn't he come up with any solutions to the problems?" said Rogers, the junior class president.

-- Probable answer: He was too busy playing the put-upon martyr.

The teacher compared his suffering to Jesus, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., and he suggested that many others who worked and studied in the building shared his opinions.

"Do you not realize that many people go home and CRY to their loved ones about what they experience here? Do you have any idea the psychological and emotional trauma that is inflicted on those who suffer because of the daily injustices and wrongdoings here? To fear for your own safety? To know that you will likely be unemployed, hated, spit on, punched, and have property destroyed? This is not a one person blog. This is a building speaking for the suffering it sees every day."
-- Yeah, we do hurt. I'm speaking as a teacher who has never felt so emotionally drained, who has hung his head in shame and sadness, who has dealt with major feelings of inadequecy throughout this last year. But I'm not the hero. I'm not Superman or Jesus. I am not dying so that these kids may have life (although in some ways I should and in some smaller ways maybe I am), taking all their sins upon myself. Rather, I think the example should be a Daniel, someone who weeps for his generations sins, and recognizes his complacency and part in them. These young adults don't need someone else to be superior over them, they need leaders to lead them by example and deed. Yes, in that sense we should be Jesuses. This teacher, obviously, isn't.
One Fenger teacher publicly challenged this view, both in a signed posting and in numerous conversations with her English classes.

"Although many of our students adopt tough facades and insist they are grown, they are still children: sensitive children who still crave guidance, encouraging words and positive reinforcement," wrote teacher Gina Miski. "Was the author present when students, having read the blog, dejectedly hung their heads with pained, angry tears stinging their eyes?"

-- God have mercy on us all. On me. On this man. On the staff and students and community of schools like Fenger and my beloved Clemente.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Michael and Dwight are at the Dojo

OMG, are you guys watching this?

"Open your mouth."

"Do I want people to love me or fear me? That's easy. Both. I want people to fear how much they love me."

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

More random stuff

I introduced my students to the wonderful world of jazz-based poetry readings today, with a recording of Jack Kerouac's "The Subterraneans" and Gil Scott-Heron's "Whitey on the Moon." Kerouac had some great lines, but not as trippy as I would've imagined. It kind of went over the heads of the youth, which was ok today, since they were in decent - if not excellent - form today. "Whitey on the Moon" was well-received. And I'm glad, since I bought this guy's stuff on iTunes and they have another two readings/songs of his to listen to before we move on to some Nikki Giovanni and The Last Poets, topped off by a couple Common/Kanye collabs w/ the aforementioned Scott-Heron and Poets.

Tomorrow's report card pickup/parent-conference day. More broken promises to receive, more parents to meet (kind of a neutral experience) and hopefully more smiles and/or changed-behavior. But I also remember that the last time we had one of these days was my first official date with Jennie. My next date with her is in two weeks and a day. I miss her.

The Bulls are winning. Which means that they'll get at least a seventh-place spot in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. Not bad for a team that desperately needs a star player. I thought I had a chance to go to the game tonight (which, by the way is against the lowly Toronto Raptors, the Chicago Blackhawks of the NBA) but my friend decided to take his Cubbies loving wife instead. O well, she's pregnant. What can I say?

The White Sox are one game behind the Red Sox for the best record in baseball, having won ten of their last eleven games. The Yanks stank. I think this will be another good year for baseball.

Monday, April 17, 2006

At this moment:

  • My beloved Chicago Bulls are trying to wrest control from the Orlando Magic for a chance for a fifth-place seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
  • I'm counting down: two weeks and three days, to the hour, before I see my girlfriend again. It's been a loooooooooooong, long five months without her nearby.
  • My teaching doesn't begin til 9 a.m. starting this morning.
  • The White Sox are in a three way tie for first in the AL Central Division. The Cubs are in second-place in the NL Central. Baseball season lasts for another year and a half, though. So, no telling at this moment, but the Cubs are starting fairly strong. Wait til next year.
  • A placard in a protest against violence occuring in Chicago Public Schools (this one in relatively peaceful south side Kennedy High after a beating of an honor roll student in a school assembly) proclaimed that, "Education is dieing." And how!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Joyous Easter to All

Call: He has risen!

Response: He has risen indeed!

My pastor this morning was telling the story of how the Roman Empire would put Christians to death in the 2nd Century AD - the blood and circus trick of feeding them to the lions. However, unlike the eponymous hero in The Gladiator, these brave men and women readied themselves for a different reality in the throes and claws of death. For the Christians on the inside of the ring - as the lions were released - would call out to the Christians on the outside of the ring, watching and waiting for their turn, "He has risen!"

Those just outside of the ring would respond, "He is risen indeed." This was a way to call and bring back hope for themselves, for their hope, their only hope, their life-long hope was in the resurrection of the Christ. And if the Christ had resurrected, surely they who followed him under his promise of their rising, would also be resurrected.


"Ascension doesn’t mean absence; it means sovereignty, exercised through the Spirit."

N. T. Wright's Easter message this year focuses in on Mary Magdelene's central message of the ressurection, and once again, he opens my eyes to see some thing(s) that I've overlooked. (For one, that the climax of the resurrection in the Gospel of John is Jesus telling Mary to go to his "brothers and tell them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God," not this near comical piece of Mary getting confused and riled up only to cling to Jesus as he's trying to float upwards to God.)

Empty-Tomb by He Qi, China

I do think that it's significant that the first to witness, to see and to hear and to proclaim to others this news of the empty tomb were women.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Happy Holy...., No, wait... Merry Holy... No, that doesn't seem to work either... Blessed Ho... Hmmmm....

(How do you greet people during these more somber hol(y)idays anyway? As if the name Good Friday isn't ironic enough.)

I was going to link to an article written by Eugene Peterson, who gave us The Message paraphrase / translation of the Bible and is one of my favorites writers at this moment for his simplicity of prose and for living that simplicity. But she already did (see what happens when you email someone your ideas? haHa!).

Right now, however, we Christians from what I understand, should live in somber silence. I know I've done my fair share of non-Shabot-union work today. But even within those moments I've tried to get myself into a place of mourning Christ's death, mourning my sinfulness, mourning my world's fallenness (admittedly easy to do when you work at a homeless soup kitchen on some particular days - like this one - and are constantly at a loss for our own humanity to our own bodies and each other) and yet expectant of hope. Hope that a resurrection from the dead will occur; hope that tomorrow, the Son shall rise with healing in his wings; hope that we shall taste life, gushing out as a river from now through eternity. And that hope should fuel us to great acts and leaps of love.

I need more Holy Saturdays if that's the case.

The second short meditation I wanted to kind of zero-in on was a statement of Jesus about Jerusalem. It's an observation from N. T. Wright again, specifically his The Challenge of Jesus. He notes the curious processional riddle of Jesus, comparing himself to a hen and Jerusalem - the holy kingdom city - to chickens he wants to protect. From the New International Version:

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate.
(Matthew 24:37 & Luke 13:34)

The picture, Wright notes,

is of a farmyard fire; the hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and when the fire has run its course, there will be found a dead hen scorched and blackened, but with live chicks under her wing. Jesus seems to be indicating his hope that he would take upon himself the judgment that was hanging over the nation and city. (86)

Was Jesus being cryptic? Were his own people turning their collective back on him? Was he still to suffer as the mother hen, only with no chicks to protect, a wasted sacrifice? No, I say, for even though the tree (of Israel) itself is holy and will be made whole and reconciled again, the shoot (of the Gentile church) is alive and kicking. And I'm a part of that!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Some more meditations on Good Friday and Easter:

EASTER is not the celebration of a past event. The alleluia is not for what was; Easter proclaims a beginning which has already decided the remotest future. The Resurrection means that the beginning of glory has already started.

Karl Rahner, Everyday Faith
courtesty Christianity Today.


Jesus's death was not only physical, as noted earlier, but also spiritual. I'm not a theologian, I don't have a clue as to whether or not he went to hell for a day. Or how else Jesus would've preached to the souls in prison, as testified in one of the latter epistles (I think Jude's). But I was able to glean a bit into the suffering of Jesus, why he would agonize so much over the cup he was to drink (more on that later), asking that that should pass from him.

A few years ago, my associate pastor decided he wanted to dramatize the Life and Death of Jesus as a one-act wordless play. He and I worked on much of the dramatization together. One thing that struck us, that we tried to dramatize, as silently as possible (with the sole exception being one of the last words of Christ) was his connection and then rejection by God the Father, and how utterly cold and alone he must have felt on that "Dark Night of the Soul."

Jesus was a human being, as we mentioned earlier, but he was intimately connected with his Holy Father, the first person of the Trinity, whom he did everything according to. I'm not sure that Jesus would ever sing a song about "Everyday is sweeter than the day before" about his relationship with the Father, but it's evident, from his miracles, his teachings, his lifestyle, his prayers, that they were intimately connected, that God the Father was his lifeblood. Jesus' act of being led to the slaughter was an act of obedience to the Father, in fact. And, there could be no breaking of the connection between the obedience and love of Jesus. They were intertwined at the hip, in soul and embodiment.

Yet, for all of the relationship, for all of the kinship, for all of the blood between them, why does Jesus feel abandoned in his primo time of need? One of Jesus's famous last words is a desperate cry, "Father, Father, why have you forsaken me?" (Which was the aforementioned spoken part of our dramatization.) As much as we like to point out the obvious, that Jesus died a horrible physical and bloody (though probably not as bloody as suggested by Gibson's The Passion of the Christ) death by means of the crucifixion, a cruel, long-lasting mixture of asphyxiation and (internal and external) blood-letting, what happened spiritually was of equal importance. (As per the worth of the physical death of Jesus, "Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins.")

If, again, death is a separation from life, than Jesus' death was both physical (organs stopped working, as attested to by the Roman soldiers, experts on excruciating and painful dying and death) and spiritual. For God, the epitome of life itself, had separated himself from Jesus. What Jesus suffered was the cup of God's wrath, his anger and punishment against all humanity in all of our sinfulness was upon Jesus (the Suffering Servant of Isaiah) and it was God's good will to have him suffer - on our behalf.

Happy Good Friday! Or a Somber Good Friday! Pick yer poison.

For your reading pleasure, I'm gonna kind of load-up today. I don't know when I'll be able to again.

I used to have everything on cassettes. And I listen to a lot of kind of underground CCM stuff, like Adam Again, LSU/Michael Knott, the Choir, Mortal, Daniel Amos (a band, not a man), SFC, Freedom of Soul. One of the cassettes I was quite proud of was a largely acoustic album called "At the Foot of the Cross," and was put together mostly by the fellas in The Choir. This was done a few years before the sufferably long-running renaissance in all things "worship music" (which, unfortunately, means second- and third-rate music that is supposedly acceptable because it's, y'know, worship to the Most High Guy Upstairs. Makes me wanna throw up my hands in revolt. But then again, I stopped listening to CCM a long time ago.) Steve Hindalong, the drummer, is the main lyricist and has the air of a poet. He wrote the following, my favorite Good Friday song, by far. (Not that there's much competition.)

Thank you, for these lyrics.

Words by S. Hindalong, Music by D. Daugherty

Beautiful Scandalous Night

Go on up to the mountain of mercy
To the crimson perpetual tide
Kneel down on the shore
Be thirsty no more
Go under and be purified

Follow Christ to the holy mountain
Sinner, sorry and wrecked by the fall
Cleanse your heart and your soul
In the fountain that flows
For you and for me and for all

At the wonderful tragic mysterious tree
On that beautiful scandalous night you and me
Were atoned by His blood and forever washed white
On that beautiful scandalous night

On the hillside you will be delivered
At the foot of the cross justified
And your spirit restored
By the river that pours
From our blessed Savior’s side

At the wonderful tragic mysterious tree…

Go on up to the mountain of mercy
To the crimson perpetual tide
Kneel down on the shore be thirsty no more
Go under and be purified

At the wonderful tragic mysterious tree
On that beautiful scandalous night you and me
Were atoned by his blood and forever washed white
On that beautiful scandalous night…

Miraculous night

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Love - VI

If you were coming in the fall,
I'd brush the summer by
With half a smile and half a spurn,
As housewives do a fly

If I could see you in a year,
I'd wind the months in balls,
And put them each in separate drawers,
Until their time befalls.

If only centuries delayed,
I'd count them on my hand,
Subtracting till my fingers dropped
Into Van Diemen's land.

If certain, when this life was out,
That yours and mine should be,
I'd toss it yonder like a rind,
And taste eternity.

But now, all ignorant of the length
Of time's uncertain wing,
It goads me, like the goblin bee,
That will not state its sting.

- by Emily Dickinson

Monday, April 10, 2006

It's Holy Week - pt 1

Excitement, seasonal celebrations, joy to the world, peace on earth, family gatherings from far and abroad, warm and fond memories, extra church visits. The whole non-consumerist aspects of Christmas (i.e., the best parts, in my mind) should really culminate during the Easter season, right? Wasn't the Passover lamb crucifixion and resurrection (Jesus' sacrificial death and re-life) the ultimate, the reason for the incarnation (God-becoming-flesh that we supposedly celebrate on Christmas)?

Sorry, had to get that off my chest. It's not like I spend the whole year in anticipation of this season. But, to put in my little tribute, I'd like to semi-tackle an issue related to Jesus and the events of this week, a little meditation mixed with a little (hopefully, mercifully little) rant.

This Gospel of Judas is supposedly taking Christians by storm. I hope no one's fooled by that. I seem to be the only Christian I come in contact with that is even aware of it. Much like the Da Vinci Code. Really, they're very similar. Some fool believes he has the keys to unravel centuries of deception and malevolence and power-grubbing and releases a media blitz around some fascinating news that there were other, alternative Gospels (recordings of the life of Jesus) that some dark forces tried to bury.

The Gospel of Judas is one such. Is it authentic? Sure, someone wrote this version of the story in ancient times, before Christianity was recognized as the official religion of Rome, before Constantine, before the canon (the official registry of the New Testament books) was firmly established. But also written a full hundred years after most of the rest of the gospels (John, one of Jesus' disciples and therefore an eye-witness, wrote his toward the end of his lengthy life while in exile on the Isle of Patmos, but it was still within the first century AD). Which means that he did not witness these events, nor was he in contact with those that did.

One thing about the text is clear: the writer was not Jewish, nor was his Jesus. (Neither is Dan Brown's Jesus, of course.) They were both Gnostic - of Greek and, I believe, Egyptian influence and background. Gnosticism is a philosophy of a secret, hidden knowledge that only a distinct few could gain access to. In the Gospel of Judas, Judas was one such recipient. The other disciples, apparently, were left out of the big secrets of Jesus. In the accepted gospels Jesus demanded that his followers "yell from the rooftops what [they] hear in secret" (Gospel of Luke, chapter 12) and, as his defense in front of Caiaphas and the religious rulers testifies that: "I have spoken openly to the world; I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together; and I spoke nothing in secret. Why do you question Me? Question those who have heard what I spoke to them; they know what I said." (Gospel According to John chapter 18, verses 20-21 - NASB version.) In other words, Jesus' teachings weren't to be secret, they were to be open to all with "ears to hear." Admittedly, some people will never open their ears nor their eyes, but that didn't mean they weren't to receive witness and warnings, it just means they won't accept it.

Now, as to the secret: in keeping with the Gnostic tradition, spirit is good/flesh is bad. So Jesus, being a very spiritual person, couldn't wait to unravel his mortal coil. And Judas was key to this. Jesus' execution would free his spirit and finally do away with his pesky body. (Anybody remember Agent Smith's soliloquy in the first Matrix about the stench of the human world? It's kind of like that.)

But the Jesus that the canonical gospels illustrates is a person within the Godhead who did humble himself to become a man, complete with flesh and smells and poo and fat and muscle and fatigue and hunger and laughter and limited vision and follicles. And he lived with a group of men and at the mercy of a group of women. And then he died at the hand of people. One of whom was his friend. But for one to suggest that Jesus (or that we) live in sinful bodies that need to be eradicated is missing the point. Sure, the whole world is tainted and blemished and messed up royally. But it was created good, perfect. God becoming a man and entering his own creation as one of its subjects (and, despite his miracles and his command of wind and rain, was a subject of nature, if for only thirty-three years) and living an unblemished life was/is a sign to the rest of us - a sign of redemption. All things can and will come under his authority, that includes the flesh, the body.

When Jesus died, he died in both body and spirit. Hopefully later we can attack the idea of Jesus dying in spirit, but it is important to note that he fully died in his flesh. And that is the focus of the church's most important ritual, the regenerative (recreating) consumption of Jesus's flesh and blood (which, if I recall, represents death and life, respectively). [There's your Holy Grail for you, Dan Brown.] And when Jesus was resurrected, his body was resurrected with him. Anyone who doubts that can seek Thomas' account, where he physically put his hands into the open grooves of Jesus's side and deeply into his hands. (I don't mean The Gospel According to Thomas, of which I must admit, I'm quite ignorant.)

N. T. Wright, Decoding the Da Vinci Code.
National Geographic's summary on The Gospel of Judas.
GetReligion on The Gospel of Judas and the response.
Christianity Today: "The Judas We Never Knew".
Screwtape on DVC, a satire written in the spirit of C. S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters.
For those who have ears to hear...

Hemos perdido aun

Hemos perdido aun este crepusculo.
Nadie nos vio esta tarde con las manos unidas
minentras la noche axul caia sobre el mundo.

He visto desde mi ventana
la fiesta del poniente en los ceros lejanos.

A veces como una moneda
se encendia un pedaxo de sol entre mis manos.

You te recordaba con el alma apretada
de esa tristeza que tu me conoces.

Entonces, donde estabas?
Enter que gentes?
Diciendo que palabras?
Por que se me vendra todo el amore de golpe
cuando me siento triste, y te siento lejana?

Cayo el libro que seimpre se toma en el crepusculo
y como un perro herido rodo a mis pies mi capa

Siempre, siempre te alejas en las tardes
hacia donde el crepusculo corre borrando estatuas.

- Pablo Neruda
de Viente poemas de amor y una cancion deseperada.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Hack! Hack! Bill D. Cat 4 Prez!

Took a break from my extensive I'm-trying-o-grade-and-it's-scaring-me-when-it's-not-boring-me day to catch the mail and bring up my clothes from the basement laundry room. I never made it to the dryer.

Asthmatic Kitty records delivered Half-Handed Cloud's Thy Is a Word & Feet Need Lamps and Sufjan Steven's Greetings from Michigan: The Great Lake State in the box. It's more of the singer/songwriter ork-pop/folk-rock I've been rapping my mind around for the last half year. Delicious stuff. Michigan is the first part of the ongoing States records series that Stevens swears he'll complete (that's right, you can grab all 50 of them!). Illinoise (my favorite record of last year) is the second. That's two records in about three years, give or take. With one intermission (Seven Swans, which AK didn't have.) He may complete the series in his lifetime, but some of the albums will have to be as short as some of his songs. Of course, with the return of singles as the dominant recording form, he just may.

Sufjan and Co. trying, unsuccessfully, to conquer one of the lakes of Michigan.

I'm sure band geeks could come up with a better joke than mine about this Half-Handed Cloud playing the tromboney-thingy. (Ok, again, not a joke. Again, I'm not a musician. Sue me.)

I actually want to write a review of these records, if for nobody else than for this geek right here. So, maybe I should listen more before I say much. But I'll say this right now: I'm glad the roommates aren't here right now. As Linford from Over the Rhine says, you need to play quiet music loudly. Not that this is necessarily quiet music (very busy). But makes me happy.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Best of the Week

Best quote:

"Apparently, in the medical community, 'negative' is a good thing. While, to the rest of us, negative is a bad thing. This is very confusing."

- Michael on "The Office," concerning his nearly falling out when he gets the news that one of his coworkers' skin cancer tests came back negative.

Best movie:

Without a doubt, Inside Man. A few months ago, my roommates did a very odd thing. They watched a (non-sports related/non-romantic comedy) movie with me, fully enraptured in it. The 25th Hour was a good Spike Lee movie with a social conscience, although hardly a person of color in the entire film. And, unlike Bamboozled, Inside Man is not a African-American movie. It does present a multicultural NYC with hardly a big deal thrown in. (The scene with the Sikh was appropriate, but somehow it didn't seem to mesh with the rest of the movie. It seemed a bit forced, I guess.) There's a lot of humor in this caper. It has a lot of funny scenes (the mostly white-people filled theater I saw this in last Saturday afternoon was not only half-filled - rare for a matinee adult movie - but also busting at the seems throughout. This is especially true for the loud gentleman sitting behind me. Oh, well, I've seen worse.) and is more suspenseful than your typical star-loaded caper (Take Ocean's 12 - please - or even 11). And yes, it has a social conscience. It wouldn't be a Spike Lee movie without one.


Ok, so these are easy. It's rare for me to go see a movie or to a concert. Rarer still to do both in one day. But going to Wheaton to catch the very energetic, charismatic and technically superb Nickel Creek, opened by a probably more energetic and charismatic Ditty Bops - who stylistically were all over the place. Although the DB's were also absurdly musically gifted and practiced (apparently, the core's been together for ten years) the singers' tinny voices are a bit grating. And, oh, yes, there was a pirate song. "ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!"


Have to thank Micah for this one, but there's just something insanely funny about nerds playing dress-up live action role playing games (apparently, it's larp to those in the know).

Check out "Lightning Bolt! Lightning Bolt! Sleep! Death!" here.

It also reminded me of an episode of "Reno 911" I saw on dvd a few weeks ago, that Micah was also happy enough to find for me. You might recognize the "Boots of Escaping" guy as Patton Oswalt from the King of Queens and that Marilyn Manson [edit: Monroe] / kilt parody commercial. And then again, you may not.

Nerds of the World, Unite! & Enjoy!