Poetry, Please

This poem by Wendell Berry showed up in my Twitter feed yesterday. I quite like it, particularly as a distillation of Berry’s thought and practice.

(hat tip to Nick Ripatrazone)

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More Reflection on Being a Sitting Duck

Earlier in the week I posted a short piece about what I did this past Saturday, when the “ballistic missile alert” text was sent and then, many minutes later, rescinded.  These last couple of days has allowed me to catch up with students and co-workers.  There are so many different responses to such an interesting and sobering moment!

Michael Brendan Dougherty of the National Review posted a great reflection on the moment from the lens of recent history.  The whole thing is worth reading, but here’s a great quote:

The U.S. post–Cold War holiday from history was destined to end. And it should frighten every sensible person to consider that so many of the events that could have precipitated nuclear conflict during the Cold War were halted by men who personally remembered the last round of great-power conflict, and that all those men are now dead. They’ve been replaced by others whose experience of foreign policy could never be so educative. Similarly, in the Korean peninsula, the men who remember the awful horrors of that war are dying.

In many ways, the modern world is younger, dumber, and more innocent about these things than our grandparents were. We discovered that on Saturday in Hawaii. And now is the time to think it through. If you ever received such a text warning, would you fill your bathtub with water, or with your family members? How many of us turn to resources for advice — YouTube, text — that won’t be available in the event of real disruption?

You can read the whole thing here.

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Deepening the Comic Narrative

Last night I was able to catch up on this week’s return of the CW’s superhero shows.  I had missed Supergirl, but knew that I had to catch up as they finally decided to more fully play the Legion of Super-Heroes card.  Sure: it was mostly just three and not a Legion, but it’s a step in a direction.  Beyond that, the show made a nod to a pretty significant modern-era Legion story: the Legion of the Damned story that really energized the series for a number of years.  We got that in the mention of “the Blight,” which was also a visually stunning enemy that the team faced.  It will be interesting to see if the show brings in any other team members.

The other watch last night was “The Trial of the Flash.”  Heavy episode, really.  But not dark like most of last season.  I think it’s because Barry is being more and more like Barry.  Here’s the verdict scene from the end of the episode.

There were a number of great moments in the episode, including the “time stop” moment that worked wonderfully well (and, let’s face it, was a classic “Wally West moment,” but I digress).  It’s also a great set-up for moving Ralph Dibney’s character forward.  Here’s the trailer for next week’s new episode, “The Elongated Knight Rises.”

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Reflecting on the Gifted

This season’s one new television show for me has been The Gifted on Fox.  I’ve not followed my Marvel television, really only Agents of SHIELD.  The show takes place in a world where the X-Men and the Hellfire Club are nowhere to be found.  There are hints all around of their existence, just as the names and powers of some of the show’s main characters are rooted in the long narrative of Marvel’s Merry Mutants.  It’s that distance from the source material, though, that has kept the show fresh and interesting.  That and putting a family of humans with mutant kids at the heart of the show.  And so even though the show has really been one search-and-rescue after another, there’s been a good growing tension in the show as philosophies have collided with one another (a hallmark of all things X-Men).

That philosophical discussion has been percolating on two levels throughout the season.  The first is with the adults, primarily Lorna and Marcos as leaders of the Mutant Underground.  As more about Lorna has come to light (which fans of the comics already knew), she has slowly moved to the side opposite of Marcos’s more “Professor X” approach.  At the same time, a deepening rift between the Strucker kids has also brought the philosophical schism to a head.  Here’s a conversational clip from the season finale, right before everything fell apart.

The season, of course, is done now.  Luckily, the show has done well enough to warrant a second season (and that with a number of different characters moved to different sides of the playing board).  Hopefully the second season won’t wait long.

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Like a Sitting Duck

This past Saturday morning was one of those moments that will be difficult to forget.

It started out like almost every other Honolulu Saturday morning for me.  Slept in a little bit (compared to a work day).  Caught the bus down to the coffee shop where I usually grab a hot breakfast before walking over to check out what’s new at Barnes and Noble.  Frustratingly, the wifi was out, so I had to settle for my phone and whatever was downloaded to my iPad.  My phone, as usual, had been put to the side.  I remember hearing what sounded like the buzz of a new email, which I didn’t check.  Then I heard the worker at the counter ask someone if they had “gotten the message.”  I looked at my phone and saw the the message from 8:07 am in all caps and ending “this is not a drill.”

I had no idea what to do.  I’d left a movie theater for a tsunami warning.  I’d put up plywood for a hurricane warning.  I’d experienced an earthquake.  But a ballistic missile alert?  That’s something from the worst of my 1980s-fueled imagination, really.  So I took my coffee and backpack and headed for Ala Moana Center, which was across the street.  I wasn’t sure if it was all that safe, really.  As I walked, I pointed out the phone message to others who had not heard anything.  I came across a group of workers leaving their not-yet-opened story.  Still not knowing where to go (and knowing that getting back home wasn’t an option), I stopped and spoke to a couple of bus drivers waiting on instructions from their office.  And then, just after speaking to a couple of tourists at a bus stop, I made my way over to the new gym that just opened by the new Target.

Along the way I got a phone call from a friend and co-worker checking on me.  I think I got a call in to my landlady.  At some point long the walk, phone service stopped working.  So I was glad to get a FaceTime call from a friend while waiting in the gym to see what would happen next.  I couldn’t find anything of consequence online or with Twitter.  The lady next to me, though, eventually said something about a false alarm.  We looked it up and there it was.  Others around the lobby confirmed what she had found.  We quietly dispersed and went back to our Saturday mornings.

I went back to the coffee shop, grabbed a small coffee, and used my phone to look online for different responses (mostly Twitter, as I’d removed the Facebook app from my phone couple of years ago).  Lots of confusion.  Anger, too.  After a while I made my way over to Barnes and Noble, reflecting on what had (and had not) just happened.  On my way from there, I ran into a few friends, who still seemed to be processing things as well.

+ + + + + + +

Sunday brought a couple of different church services, a couple of different conversations.  It brought more news, more processing things from a national perspective.  My own Twitter feed (the people I follow) didn’t have much to say about the alert at all.  Finally Rod Dreher posted a hypothetical-question that used the alert as a springboard for others to question what they would have done had they been a part of the situation.  Most of the humor from almost every source was rooted in relief.  One pastor I heard, after finishing the bulk of his sermon, took a small digression to share from his own experience.  It was, perhaps, the most comforting and challenging thing I had heard.

+ + + + + + +

I’ve learned some things about myself over the last couple of days.  I’ve realized some things worth un-learning.  And I continue to learn more about what it means to live a single life, somehow rooted in the Christian faith, far away from family and a deep history.  It’s been a reminder of the kind of  “sitting duck” existence all of us live, some more than others, each in our own times and ways.  And if I let Him, God will use it to continue showing me a better way.

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Sunday’s Best: Well-Played, Caulfield

This conversation between Caulfield and Mrs. Olsen starts out like a conversation most teachers have at least once a week.  And then he turns it into a direction I just didn’t see coming.

well played caulfield(image from gocomics.com)

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Closer to “the Last Day”

Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD continues to hit it out of the space-time ballpark.  Now, as their journey to the future crescendoes, some major plot devices from previous seasons are coming into play.  The end-of-episode reveal this week was as cool as the return of Gravitonium (which some have been speculating about for a while).  Here’s the preview for next week’s episode.

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