spirits that speak


I Second that Devotion

I was thinking about something in the car on the way home from work today. Hopefully those that read this blog don't mind being asked to be a sounding board for things that I'm mulling over.

I have heard Christians talk about thinking something is wrong with them because they really don't endure what they consider "persecution". Basically, the idea is that you're really not doing your job, as an evangelical Christian, if you're not even sometimes under fire for the "Christian" things that you believe. The logic there being that, naturally, any belief associated with Christianity will upset most non-Christians in the vicinity. They further speculate that perhaps they're not as much devoted to their faith if they're not seeing a noticeable amount of persecution.

Usually such a discussion will veer toward my question of "Well, what qualifies as persecution anyway?" I won't go there in this post. But what I thought about was one good reason for Christians to desire at least some people to be in their lives who confront them with challenges as to the validity of their beliefs as associated with Christian faith.

While this is most assuredly not an original concept, I think that reason can simply be stated as "devotion". It seems as though many of the people who cling most to their faith, and demonstrate devotion to it most fervently, is those who encounter something that is dangerous to them or their faith. The reason this occured to me is I was listening to a song by a rap group called "Westside Connection". I would never claim that anyone in the group is a Christian since I have no idea whether they are or not and the majority of their lyrics are somewhat obscene. However, the following words made me think:

"See, we all got problems but some need addressing. And so at night i hit my knees and begged him for my blessings, And ask him for forgiveness to minimize my stress , Nigga, continue to know how to dodge this Smith & Wesson, And with his help i will perform in my best, And it's still hard with all this temptation and testenin', If i'm wrong I Just accept it as a lesson"

The writer is talking about facing danger on daily basis and depending on God daily for protection and health. Also, he talks about how to approach mistakes made in that effort. While this doesn't necessarily that the writer is devoted, it's an illustration of what that kind of "persecution" can change in someone.

Maybe it's not sounding as profound as it did in my head, but I'd say if there's a reason to desire persecution, as Paul did (2 Cor 12:10), it's because you may find your faith becomes strong because of your weakness to hardship.


Eternal Sunshine: What the Heart Remembers

Well, I have a friend. She may not realize that I still think of her as a friend, but I do. It's been so long since we've talked, but one thing that I know Shelly and I do have in common is that Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (possibly translated: "Ignorance is Bliss") is our favorite movie.

Well, I don't know if it's my absolute, number one, all-time favorite...but I don't see why not either. When someone asks you what your favorite movie of all time is, how do you answer that question? It's never easy. I prefer to think of my top 5 all-time favorites (a la High Fidelity), but...absolute favorite? Whenever I try to answer the question, and a title comes to mind, I always think, "No, that one doesn't really meet this criteria".

So, anyway, I think Eternal Sunshine... may possibly be the all-time favorite. Why? There are so many reasons that I like it (great cinematography, great story, it's possibly Jim Carey's most real and human performance of all time, great editing, etc.). But it also has that certain indescribable quality that I just can't quite put my finger on that makes me think there's something profound in it. So here's my guess at what that might be:

a) No matter what, there is no obstacle that two people in a relationship cannot overcome given some persistance and patienceThis is most demonstrated at the end of the movie. I won't spoil it for those who haven't seen it yet, but intend to. But it's the kind of thing that communicates some sense of hope to anybody who has ever been in a long-lasting relationship and has wondered how anybody ever makes something last more than a couple of years. I could go on and on about the divorce rate in North America, spouting statistics and philosophies, but I won't. I'm sure it's harder for some than for others, but really I'm optimistic enough to think that most anyone could do it if they exercise certain methods...one of which is named in the movie.

b) What the mind may forget, the heart never willThis, to me, is the most recent profundity I have gleaned from seeing the movie again just recently (for the 4th or 5th time). I actually wonder if it's not the better of the 2. Then again, there's a general vagueness about it that makes me think twice. There's something very cliched in how I am thinking about it, in that it's like "All emotions and memories are part of the broader human experience and therefore make a person who they are, so they are valuable" But, as Joel is getting memories of Clementine erased from his mind, out of spite mind you, his heart tells him it needs to stop because even a few positive ones make the other ones (perceived as negative) worth holding on to. It's an all or nothing package (at least as presented by the movie). Really, how can we pretend that something was good just because we decide to remember only the good times? Why can't we realize that it was good in spite of, but with acknowledgement to, the bad times?

I haven't communicated the second one well, these thoughts are all kind of spilling out onto the page as I write them, but I think the movie does a much better job. Essentially, for the second one, even though you try and possibly succeed in erasing the bad experiences you had in relationship to someone or something, your heart will always remind you that it's possible to love someone as a whole package. Why not? Some people treat you that way (though you may not see it).

As the last memory of Clementine is being erased, Joel's heart makes one final attempt to plant a seed that will survive the demolition, in the form of the Clementine that is still barely alive. It comes in the form of a whisper: Meet me in Montauk. If you haven't seen the movie, I would strongly encourage (no, shout at) you to obtain it, open your mind, and give it a chance. I believe it will hold suprises for you.



This is actually a post that may be more fitting for my other blog, but I haven't posted here in a while.

Every year around this time, the same things occur to me. We are in the season of Lent. Many people celebrate Lent. I'm sure some more sincere than others, but that's not easy to determine. I have had several discussions (sometimes arguments) with people who participate in Lent a certain way. I don't know if I'm way off or not, but most of it doesn't strike me as being meaningful.

I'm not sure if those who I've come across that celebrate the season have done any research, but the common approach to observing Lent in North America is to give something up. That is just the traditional thing to do, regardless of why Lent exists or the reason it began. But, fine, I won't argue with that angle (if you're curious about Lent, you can always do a little research...the internet is your friend).

It's not the common North American approach to observing Lent that I necessarily have qualms with anyway (even though it is seemingly half-hearted). What I normally have difficulties with is what people give up. Almost everyone that I have personally spoken to about what they give up is usually giving up something that isn't that hard for them to do so. For example, someone who talks about the majority of TV programming being unhealthy is often the person who gives up TV for Lent. It would be like me giving up pizza pops. I like pizza pops, but really don't find a craving for them ever.

It's not my intention to be judgemental about people who observe Lent. I'm 100% sure there are those who take it very seriously and part with something that they can barely stand to give up for the very long month-and-a-half, using that time for deep reflection. I'm also sure that many who give up what isn't even that difficult for them also have good intentions. However, I do question exactly how meaningful it is for someone to give up McDonald's when really, even though they eat there once a week on average, they don't like it anyway and only go there because it's on their way home from work.

Lent isn't about proving something to yourself. It's not about finding out how much restraint you have or pushing your own limits for the purposes of self-betterment. If someone were to do even the smallest bit of research on Lent they would find out that it's about far more than just giving something up...or even being hard on themselves when they fail miserably at it. If you won't do it to honor of the meaning it originally had, why bother?