Thursday, August 16, 2012

Paul and Rae in parallel worlds

Woke up from an intense dream about accidentally taking off in a rocket ship that landed in a parallel world (thanks, Fringe and Sliders!). Flipped open my new testament and came upon this passage from Acts:
"I now feel sure that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will ever see my face again. And so here and now I swear that my conscience is clear as far as all of you have concerned, for I have without faltering put before you the whole of God's purpose.  
"Be on your guard for yourselves and for all the flock... I know quite well that when I have gone fierce wolves will invade you and will have no mercy on the flock. Even from your own ranks there will be men coming forward with a travesty of the truth on their lips to induce the disciples to follow them. So be on your guard, remembering that night and day for three years I never failed to keep you right, shedding tears over each one of you. And now I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace... 
"I have never asked anyone for money or clothes; you know for yourselves that the work I did earned enough to meet my needs and those of my companions. I did this to show you that this is how we must exert ourselves to support the weak, remembering the word of the Lord Jesus who himself said, 'There is more happiness in giving than in receiving.'"
When he had finished speaking he knelt down with them all and prayed. By now they were all in tears; they put their arms around Paul's neck, and kissed him; what saddened them most was his saying they would never see his face again. Then they escorted him to the ship.
Parallel worlds get poignant when you find that you can't get back home. St. Paul senses he was never getting back to Ephesus, once he set his face towards Rome. I find it poignant that it's exactly at this point in the text that Acts switches from third person singular to first person plural. It raises the hairs on the back of my head at times like this, going so quickly into that transition into the more personal narrative. I think it adds to the poignancy that Acts never finishes Paul's story. His fate in that parallel world sitting right on top of the kingdom for which he lived and died is, appropriately, silent.

Monday, August 06, 2012

The shooting at the Sikh Temple in Wisconsin, the shooting at the theater in Aurora, Colorado

Whenever I hear of another shooting incidence such as yesterday’s in Wisconsin and the earlier one in Colorado, I get stirred up inside with a number of emotions: horror, shock, but also titillation and curiosity. There is something compelling about random acts of violence. I am ashamed that I find such things fascinating, but I know that I am not alone in this. Journalism itself tends to run on the axiom, “If it bleeds, it leads.” Volumes could be written, and probably have been written, about why we find entertainment value in observing and telling each other about acts of violence. There is an excellent little film called The Gathering that examines this behavior. In his spoiler-free review of this film on Amazon, Steven Hedge writes:

In addition, consider how some of us go out of our way to view tragedy in its many shapes and forms. We are merely curious. Notice how we rush to the TV when we hear something like "a stuntman was killed on the set of a film today. Be advised that the following pictures are graphic." Wow, we don't miss that do we? Talk show tears notwithstanding, we have been desensitized to human suffering and this film explores that issue. In fact, this film not only explores our morbid curiosity with tragedy, but also our often disconnections to those around us that if we connected with them, we could avoid a tragedy.
  • Let us pray that the Lord comfort and heal all of victims and the families of these senseless shootings. 
  • Let us pray for the souls of the dead and the dying. 
  • Let us pray for souls of the perpetrators of these evils, and their families. 
  • Let us pray for our own souls, that we avoid the temptation to respond to such tragedies with morbid curiosity, frivolous or sentimental discourse, or vain argumentation with others. May the Lord instruct us in all proper and helpful response to the public tragedies of our world.