Episode 95: Bedknobs and Broomsticks

But this cast is really about causes and activisms.

The problem with attaching your personal cry for reparation and “just desserts” to larger symbolic passions and concerns is that when you’ve finally righted the wrong, and leveled the playing field, you can still find yourself unsatisfied. “Yes, we won. (Thank God.) Then why do I feel so bad?” The reason may be that you short-circuited the inward healing you needed in favor of a conceptual healing you didn’t.

John Sturges, the director of The Magnificent Seven, said that the problem with filming the novel By Love Possessed was that the book was “eighty per cent introspection”. He found it impossible to put the introspection on the screen.

The problem with causes and activisms is that you don’t get the introspection (of you) “on the screen”. (In the case of By Love Possessed, it fell to the movie’s musical composer, Elmer Bernstein, to capture the real theme of the story. I think he came close to doing it.)

Another problem with seeking self-transcendence and self-healing in passionate outward involvement, is that it can get hooked to passionate anger. It’s a “true fact” that anger does as much wounding to the subject as it can do to the object.

Finally, causes and activisms tend to fly away, out into the realm of indifference and almost amnesia, when you get sick! Kerouac commented on this in Big Sur. A German theologian friend of mine met this in the hospital recently. I encountered it myself, in myself, a few years ago, when I got sick. (Surgery cured the complaint.) Video killed the radio star.

Just like the fun scene in Mary Poppins, when the tea party up on the ceiling has to finally come back down on the ground, working out one’s inward problems on the field of battle outside, generally ends in a big long drop, down to earth. You’re sadder but wiser.

Episode 96: Strack-Billerbeck

Interesting feedback is now coming forward over at PZsPodcast@gmail.com. Some would like a more sermonic approach — more of the “old Paul”, perhaps. Others are requesting some interesting new subjects for future podcasts, such as Uncle Tom’s Cabin or the case of Paul Billerbeck, the German Lutheran New Testament scholar of Jewish background. Each of these possible subjects relates to grace in practice.

This podcast looks at one’s choice of theme, or material. Are giant-crab movies too lame for talks like this? (Lame they are not: they walk on four legs, with pincers.) Or, how many French movies can you actually come up with to talk about? Can good preaching really be compared with The Invisible Man Returns?

Well, it’s not that the message has changed, but maybe the bearer of it has, a little. That’s bound to affect things, and maybe for the good. Or maybe not.

This podcast ends up talking about Claude Berri, a wonderful man, who understood a lot. Listen to him!

Episode 97: Surprise (Symphony)

Something came over PZ today, like a Portuguese man of war, and he had to shout (out). It was a thought or two on creation, on expression, on the nuts and bolts of communicating personally.

Something’s so exuberant and real in Jacques Demy’s movie Lola — the scene when ‘Cecile’ and ‘Franky go to the fair. There’s nothing quite like that scene for pure joy. Teenaged ‘Cecile’ finds out the meaning of life, tho’ she’s too young to put it into words. (In fact, she can’t put it into words, and therein lies a coming sadness for her mother.) Lola, in that single scene at the fair, communicates the nature of life.

This podcast is about ego-less communication. You are not needing to be heard, you are not needing to be recognized, you are not needing to reach anyone, you are not needing to affect anyone. Oddly, you’re able to reach everyone when you don’t need to reach anyone.

Lola is a meditation, without words, on what theologians call the “passive righteousness”. If only I could do this with my own attempts to speak.

‘Journey’ did this, by the way.