Cracking That Jar

Much like The Far Side, WuMo is all about the odd juxtaposition of things (that also ring true to life as we experience it).  This past Sunday’s strip was a great example of that odd-but-potent placement.  It’s all about cracking that jar.

crack that jar(image from gocomics.com)

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As the Journey to Resurrection Begins

Andrew Peterson will be releasing his long-awaited Resurrection Letters: Volume One at the end of March (and in time for the beginning of the Easter season).  For the season of Lent, though, he has released a “prologue” EP, which dropped a few days ago.  They are five diverse tracks intended to act as real encouragement for the season of Lent, which leads up to Easter.  Here’s one of those songs (and one of my favorites): “Always Good.”

You can read more about the story behind the Resurrection Letters here.  It’s an interesting and encouraging read.

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Write, Sally, Write

As the day comes to an end . . .

write, sallyCharles Schulz’s Peanuts did bring together the best and worst of the human condition.

(image from gocomics.com)

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Walker Percy and the 98%

The MoviegoerEarly in The Moviegoer, Binx Bolling starts talking about “the search” that he finds himself on when he is not too “sunk” into reality.  Soon after that initial talk of the search (which I mentioned here), Bolling continues:

What do you seek– God? you ask with a smile.

I hesitate to answer, since all other Americans have settled the matter for themselves and to give such an answer would amount to setting myself a goal which everyone else has reached– and therefore raising a question in which no one has the slightest interest.  Who want to be dead last among one hundred and eighty million Americans?  For, as everyone knows, the polls report that 98% of Americans believe in God and the remaining 2% are atheists and agnostics– which leaves not a single percentage point for a seeker . . .

Truthfully, it is the fear of exposing my own ignorance which constrains me from mentioning the object of my search.  For, to begin with, I cannot even answer this, the simplest and most basic of all questions:  Am I, in my search, a hundred miles ahead of my fellow Americans or a hundred miles behind them?  That is to say: Have 98% of Americans already found what I seek or are they so sunk in everydayness that not even the possibility of a search has occurred to them?

I mention this passage from Percy’s classic because it asks something good and vital about community and belonging.  How do you ask a question and seek an answer when most around you have already answered it or can’t even acknowledge the question even exists?  Are churches full of people who are members of (what was then) the 98%?  And if so, what changes has this belief brought about in the lives of these believers?

+ + + + + + +

Every week at the church some of my closest friends attend, the priest acknowledges the church’s approach to communion.  If the person present is a baptized believer, they are welcome to partake of the bread and wine.  If the person is not a baptized believer, if they are still seeking God and asking questions, they are welcome to come to the front (arms crossed) and receive a blessing.

I often wonder if there is a way to do both at once.

Because to have found God, or been found by Him, is not to stop asking questions, to stop seeking.  This isn’t about orthodoxy or orthopraxy, either.  It’s something, I think, like this scene from The Hunt for the Wilderpeople.

How do we work with the genuine seeker in our midst?  And is it possible for them to fit in community when they understand the significant questions in slightly different ways, in ways that still ring true and maybe ringer louder and in a tone we have too easily and often ignored?

Continued tomorrow with something from Mere Christianity . . .

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Friendship or Community

I’ve spent the last few days thinking about this post by Rod Dreher and the comments that it inspired.  The post, which consists almost entirely of a letter written by one of Dreher’s readers, was intended to be a kind if show-of-solidarity from a middle-class guy with so many others who are struggling in key ways.  Only one comment that I saw made note of this.  The rest of the comments were either condemnations or recommendations for the man.  A sobering paragraph:

I thank God for my dear children and my religious faith, because I could not endure this otherwise.  I am a Catholic who is faithful to the sacraments, but my experience of parish life is profoundly lonely. We attend a relatively large but shrinking suburban parish. The priest is a decent man, but his homilies are terrible, and it looks as if he sees his job as trying to get through the days and weeks without offending anyone. I try not to judge him harshly. I could not do what he does . . .  We are a gathering of strangers in that parish. We don’t know where we are going, or why we are going there. When my family first began attending it, I tried to get involved in the parish’s life, but I couldn’t sustain my efforts in the face of so much religious lethargy and indifference.

A few weeks ago my church entered into an unexpected time of concern and reflection.  The reflection, of course, is happening on multiple levels from multiple directions.  In the midst of this, many seem to be handling things well (though the question should be asked: what does it look like to genuinely handle difficult times as a church?).  Different people have different coping systems and different splinter communities to help process these things.

I, on the other hand, probably relate a bit too much with the Dreher reader (which would probably put me at odds with many of the people responding to the original post).  What’s interesting about institutions in general is the lack of a healthy, verbal framework to genuinely process difficult things.  Maybe there is some good to this (of course there is, right?).  But maybe there is a price to pay, too.  And that price is relational.

Friendship and formation, I think, are at the heart of this situation.  I can’t help but think, though, that many (most?) churches might be doing something deeply and categorically wrong with how we are being formed and (as a result) forming one another.  I cannot help but think that we have traded the possibility of genuine friendship for a kind of anemic community that rarely transcends its parts.  (Don’t get me wrong: it is good and right to step up when things are falling apart, when the budget is in shortfall, when the wheels have come off the wagon.  But dramatic surgery is intervention, not health). We might be dutifully starving ourselves of something vital.  We might be inadvertently silencing those with something to say, whose experience and concern might not line up with the verbalized concerns of the day.  And we press on even though (perhaps) almost a whole generation (or two) has supposedly walked out the door with no intent to return.

If you get a chance, I strongly encourage you to read the original post to Dreher’s site and the comments that it inspired.  A great picture of a very sad reality for many (but not that we could tell because most of those that have “moved on” are out-of-sight, out-of-mind).  We should be very careful of condemning the guy, for sure.  If we were more honest, we’d see ourselves feeling like him more than we’d care to admit.  And we’d find some way for those thoughts and concerns to see the light of day in something more like healthy community.

Continued tomorrow in “Walker Percy and the 98%” . . .

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Sunday’s Best: Love in a Time of Mail Delivery

Poor old Chuck.  Even the postal system gets in the way of his hopes and dreams . . .

Love Mail Delivery(image from gocomics.com)

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The Music That Catches You

It’s been nice having a season of The Flash that hasn’t centered on a villainous speedster. The unfolding story of the Thinker has brought a nice twist to some familiar tropes of the superhero television genre.  The through-line of the “passengers on the bus” is also a nice way of broadening the shows antagonists (at least until this past week).

Here’s the trailer for the next episode, which drops in a couple of weeks.

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