Monday, May 31, 2010

The Secret of Kells

Our son the animator took us out to see this lovely film tonight, an imaginative, loving, and visually rich little story about how one of humanity's greatest books might have come into being.  Look for it with the Inde movies and catch it if you can! 

Friday, May 28, 2010

Thirty Years in Ministry

There was a kind of strange movie out a few years ago, called “Into Great Silence”  It was a movie about a monestary so austere that the monks live in silence and solitude, eating most meals in their cells, doing chores and spending hours in silent prayer.  They eat together…in silence…once a week, and speak to each other only for a few hours on Sunday afternoons.  They clearly thrive in this life.  

The movie was mostly silent, the charm of it in the beautiful work of the camera detailing the daily work of these men’s lives.  The Monestary is located in the Alps, so the scenery is beautiful, and these monks live in well-kept buildings and rooms.     It all looks so peaceful, so restful, so…orderly.

And then the camera comes to the Father Abbot’s office.  Alone of all the spaces we have seen so far, this one is cluttered and strewn with papers.   It takes only a little French to see that Father Abott has been writing a fund raising letter.  It’s a kind of a shock…this surreal place needs money!  Furthermore, on Father Abbott’s desk is a telephone.  Alone of all the monks, their leader has been talking to the world. 

The camera left this scene quickly, having made the point that this place of other-worldly beauty and silence is sustained by the world and its work, and that while the lowly junior novice may live in silence and in prayer, his religious leader has to talk, raise money, and endure enough stress that he never gets his desk cleared off.   Apparently Father Abbott thinks it's worth it.  

On Tuesday, I will pass the 30th anniversary of my ordination.  I think it's worth it, too.  

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Let's Lose That Word, "Hate".

I'm sorry to say that I know Hate.  I know it from news of young men tied to fence posts and left to die in a snowstorm because other young men were afraid of their sexuality.  I know it from pictures of houses torched because the owner was planning to sell it to someone of a different race or religion from the rest of the neighbors.  I know it from the personal experience of escorting patients into the Planned Parenthood clinic...shouting, angry men waving bloody overblown pictures at women who mostly were there to get birth control so that they would never have to make the choice the men abhorred.  That didn't matter to the wrought-up men.  They spewed their fury at anybody who walked in the parking lot.   I know it...just once...from the snarled words of a man who believed that God hated women ministers and needed me to know it.   It was just once, but I remember it well.  Words of hate, someone said, leave footprints in the mind.  

Hate is dislike gone rogue, and there is no doubt it exists in our world and does terrible damage.  It's a stage of conflict where you're not looking for a solution or even a separation, or even an effective end to your pain.  All you want to do is hurt the one you hate.  

It's a strong word, and when hateful behavior needs to be named and stopped, we need a strong word.  

So...let's not waste the word "hate" on the current immigration debate; at least, not the part of the debate that is taking place in the most civil and democratic way, as it is in Arizona.  Call Arizona bill 1070 misguided, unconstitutional, dumb, ineffective; point out all the ways it will hurt the innocent, like children separated from parents and legal residents who don't happen to have their "papers" on their person when they have run a red light, and all of us as our civil rights are eroded.    Work endlessly for it's repeal, march and write letters and refrain from entering such a backwards state if that's how you feel.

But let's not throw around that word,  "hate."   No doubt there is some, but the majority of legislators who passed it don't hate anybody, and they know it.  They are trying to solve a big problem that nobody else has been willing or able to solve and they may be misguided and the result unconstitutional and dangerous, but I see absolutely no evidence of hatefulness.  It is possible to do great harm, be foolish, and hurt people, all without hate. 

To call someone hateful is a very strong accusation.  Do it too much and you lose a word which you need when someone has been lynched, when a wayward policemen has spit into anybody's face, when emotions are way out of control and doing terrible, memorable damage for the sheer hell of if.  Throw that word "hate" around too much and those you accuse start writing you off as inarticulate and without a real case.  Call other people and the causes they think are legitimate "hateful"  and it gets harder and harder to convince people that you are standing on the side of love, harder and harder to join the fight, harder and harder to make the compromises which are the essence of politics.  

The Buddhists call that "unskillful"; a word which, for it's sheer, understated glory, is unmatched.