This post is a reflection on Dorothy Day’s classic advent writing…Room for Christ by Dorothy Day
Dorothy Day has a way of hacking into our sophisticated means of cushioning the incarnation, doesn’t she? There is little that we, including me, would love more than to believe that Christmas is something that we simply need to remember. Wouldn’t it be nice to say that Christmas was a thing that happened in a different era; “The Bible Times,” as we like to say. It was a thing that happened and it has meaning for us today. And isn’t that lovely and worth commemorating with pageantry and especially crafts and baking. We have quite literally domesticated Christmas in the tamest and most disappointing sense of that word. Continue reading
David J. Dunn is a good friend whose friendship helps sustain my faith. He also writes my favorite blog on the Huffington Post and one of the sharpest Christian Blogs on the internet providing keen and refreshingly Christian insights on on otherwise boringly controversial topics. Here he offers some particularly helpful reflections on imperfect faith.
My Sullied Cross
This is the cross I received at my chrismation. It’s tarnished. It is always tarnished. It was bright, shiny, and new the day that I first received it. It became sullied almost immediately afterwards.
It’s not that I haven’t tried to polish it. I have actually tried to polish it several times. The dark smudges will go away for a couple of hours, but by the time church is over, the imperfections of my cross will reappear. I have decided that that’s way the it’s supposed to be. I think God is trying to tell me something. I am an Orthodox Christian. I should believe in miracles. A common miracle in the Orthodox Church is weeping icons. Icons that drip myhrr. I have never seen a weeping icon, but my cross won’t get clean. Continue reading
Communion of Saints Tapestries (Photo credit: Zeetz Jones)
Flannery O’Connor, Dorothy Day, Henri Nouwen, Mother Teresa, Thomas Merton, and Walker Percy. Those are my answers when people ask me, knowing what they do about me, why I became Catholic so late in my life. In fact there are many answers to that simple question, but one of the quickest ways to say what I mean is simply by making a short list of some of the people who I want most to be like. If you want to know who I am, ask my friends. But if you want to know who I am becoming, ask my heroes. Continue reading
Sammy is a pale and furious vision. He is shirtless, young, scrawny and utterly enraged. He shrieks as he runs toward the small white gate that serves as the thin membrane between Short Term 12 (his group home) and his ridiculous idea of the life of an autonomous child. He is ferrel. He is angry. He is, as they say, “throwing a fit.” He is also dead in his tracks, suddenly caught, held down and screeching.
For a while he flails like a fish on sand but only for moments. It subsides while you watch. Mason asks him if he almost has it out of his system, which is clearly the case. Grace tells him to let it pass. It does. Now if we were all wise enough and smart enough, that one scene would have taught us everything we need to know from the movie “Short Term 12.” Thankfully, we are not yet that wise because the rest of the movie is so worth it. Continue reading
The cross on the World Trade Centre site (Photo credit: almost witty)
Today my FaceBook feed is wrought with variations and recollections of the event of September 11th from twelve years ago. The personal recollections have shrunk from previous years and some simply share a photo or state, “Never forget.” Seeing that phrase repeated over without more context has begun to trouble me, and not just a little. What is “never forget” supposed to be shorthand for on this kind of anniversary?
On one hand I think it is referring to a kind of remembering that simple tries to honor those who have suffered, especially the handfuls of people who were not merely victims, but heroes who sacrificed themselves for others. It is good to remember heroic lives. There are, however, other kinds of remembering too, which may be mingled in there as well. Some ways of remembering may be the very spiritual disciplines of a never ceasing war. It strikes me that the real challenge we face is is not just to remember, it is learning how to remember, how to tell the story in such a way that is about speaking the truth, but it is also about speaking the truth in love. Continue reading
English: Passover Seder Table, Jewish holidays עברית: שולחן הסדר, Original Image Name:סדר פסח, Location:חיפה (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Tonight I realized how much laundry had to be done and my mind immediately started looking for other things to do. My newsfeed on FaceBook kept informing me that a good portion of my friends (most of them burners) were either confirming or canceling their RSVP to attend a Passover celebration that some someone was holding somewhere. It turned out the someone was a indeed a fellow burner with whom I had many mutual friends and the somewhere was his house. So I did what any self respecting burner and experienced procrastinator would do, …I invited myself over. Continue reading
“Eat Chocolate” Caged By Freedom
It is Ash Wednesday and throughout the day and the week my friends and I will be bantering back and forth about what we intend to give up for the season of lent. The list will inevitably include more and less brave endeavors. After many years of self-discovery, I now try to keep my personal commitments, ahem, modest.
Lately I have begun to think that our lenten choices are beginning to feel more and more like new year’s resolutions than spiritual exercises: quit smoking, exercise, skip dessert, drink less, eat more broccoli… And if I happen to loose a couple pounds along the way, so be it. Self control and discipline are good and praise worthy, but I do have to wonder if that kind of discipline really needs God. If our lenten practices have become mere efforts of will power and self-help then I am pretty sure we are still missing out on the transformative power of this kind of fasting can be: grace. Continue reading
This is another entry in the Faith for Reasons series, more entries can be found here: Faith for Reasons.
The burning man, from the Burning Man Festival (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I am back from another Regional Burn in central Texas (FreezerBurn!) and boy is my art tired. My bedroom is clobbered with explosions of shiny red costumery and camp-stuffs, my laundry pile smells of smoke and sunscreen lotion, and there is, of course, glitter.
Even for this short winter burn, for which I had made no particular elaborate plans, the hours I spend going, coming, and restoring order once I am home will far outweigh the hours I actually spent on the land. If you know at all what you are getting yourself into at these things, no matter how hard one tries not to try, these things take work. (Sparkle Ponies Excluded). Continue reading
When tragedy hits, we ask why. It is visceral, perhaps even instinctual, and almost involuntary. For the past 48 hours I have mostly sat quiet in my house, mostly alone, listening to people process an unthinkable event, a moment of real evil. How did this happen? How could this happen? Thankfully one of my friends just said it outright, “How can there be a loving God in a world like this.” We want to understand, we want to explain, at least in hopes that we can make this happen less often. We dwell on the moment, on the suffering, and ask ourselves, “How can this make any sense.” But this violence does not make sense. It never will, nor should it. There will never be a thought pondered or a sentence uttered that could ever make any one of us pause and say, “well, yes, now I get it.” This is simply evil. There is no sense inside it at all.
I woke this morning painfully aware that everyone who is going off to Church today is going to light the odd pink candle in their advent wreaths and celebrate gaudete Sunday, or more poignantly stated, Joy Sunday. It feels like a set up. This whole thing seems staged, doesn’t it? And just in the mere poetry of the whole thing it makes the day feel like it wants to be ironic, a cruel punchline, a bit of sarcasm from a most awful god. But this is not irony. It is a confrontation. It is a vocation, a call to change. This day in Advent says God has nothing to do with that violence, at least not yet, and it is time for that to change. Continue reading
Deer in the headlights (Photo credit: T Hall)
I am an overly cautious driver to begin with, so when I know I am in the Texas hill country at night, and I have already seen 3 deer carcasses that day and five times as many deer warning signs, It is all I can do not to slip in a paranoid hawk-like state seeing antlers around every bend that actually just aren’t there. In this country you have to anticipate Bambi if you want to make sure you keep safely on the road without a set of antlers wedged in your grill.
But, as I mentioned, I am an overly cautious driver, which means I do not merely adjust my behavior to the possibility of coming across a deer at night, I base all of my behavior on the likelihood that Texas deer are suicide bombers viciously luring 4×4 Doge Rams to a most fiery and gruesome death.
I feel fairly certain my con-deer-acy theory is far fetched. What I am also aware of, however, is that the expectations I bring to the road, especially when it is unfamiliar, radically changes how I actually approach it. Continue reading