Suffering
What We Want/What We Get: Imagination and Holy Week

What We Want/What We Get: Imagination and Holy Week

The friendly overtures of a person whom we no longer love, overtures which strike us, in our indifference to her, as excessive, would perhaps have fallen a long way short of satisfying our love. Those tender speeches, that invitation or acceptance, we think only of the pleasure which they would have given us, and not of all those speeches and meetings by which we would have wished to see them immediately followed, which we should, as likely as not, simply by our avidity for them, have precluded from ever happening. So that we can never be certain that the good…

Read More »

Hopelessly Devoted: Matthew Chapter Twenty Seven Verse Forty Six

Hopelessly Devoted: Matthew Chapter Twenty Seven Verse Forty Six

This Holy Week-inspired devotion comes from Jeff Hual.

About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46, NIV)

When these sorts of questions are asked, the asker is calling out from a deep place of hurt in the heart, not the head. Unfortunately, those of us who try to help answer such questions often make the mistake of trying to answer questions of suffering from the head rather than the heart.

My grandfather dying was my first experience with these sorts of questions. I was 22…

Read More »

“XLIX” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

tennyson-01-reducedBe near me when my light is low,
When the blood creeps, and the nerves prick
And tingle; and the heart is sick,
And all the wheels of Being slow.

Be near me when the sensuous frame
Is racked with pangs that conquer trust;
And Time, a maniac scattering dust,
And Life, a Fury slinging flame.

Be near me when my faith is dry,
And men the flies of latter spring,
That lay their eggs, and sting and sting,
And weave their petty cells and die.

Be near me when I fade away,
To point the term of human strife,
And on the low dark verge of life
The twilight of eternal day.

Philip Seymour Hoffman Was Right: A Belated Memorial

Philip Seymour Hoffman Was Right: A Belated Memorial

When you work too much, you don’t experience events of life so much as you pass them by.  The dry cleaning piles up.  I need to take those shirts in; I do when I’m down to my last shirt.  Without realizing it, the only thing in my refrigerator is a carton of curdled half-and-half and some rotted vegetables.  I have some friends, I remember; I’ll catch up with them when work dies down (which it never does).  I need to refresh myself on the current events; yesterday I heard something about a lost airliner.  At the coffee shop, at two…

Read More »

Francis Spufford on Christianity’s Attention to Waste

Francis Spufford on Christianity’s Attention to Waste

In reading the gospels, it is difficult to separate the person Jesus from the images and stories that have been built up in our own memories and readings. It is hard to shell, to un-husk, the historical account from the gloss that our re-readings and re-tellings have rendered. It is impossible not to heroize with story the death and resurrection of a man who is also God’s son. To make His crucifixion the Crucifixion.

But to do so, as (our conference speaker!) Francis Spufford says here, is to miss the point of Christianity’s unique position on the everyday tragedies of life,…

Read More »

NYC Preview: Ye Who Are Heavy Laden: Anxiety, Suffering and the Gospel

NYC Preview: Ye Who Are Heavy Laden: Anxiety, Suffering and the Gospel

We all, at one point or another, have experienced anxiety or suffering to some degree, and many of us have experienced both. The way our world addresses anxiety is to offer temporal solutions that may (to some extent) ease the physical side-effects of anxiety. But, in the grand scheme of anxiety itself, these temporal solutions do nothing for the root problem: I’m actually anxious, I’m actually stressed. The same can be said for the way our world addresses suffering; often the solutions offered to the sufferer do nothing for the greater problem: I’m actually suffering, I’m actually hurting.  We’d tell…

Read More »

Blown Knees, Thwarted Plans, and the Wounds of Grace

Blown Knees, Thwarted Plans, and the Wounds of Grace

In his sermon on Genesis 32, Tim Keller defines “wounds of grace” as “the chronic physical limitations that a person endures after wrestling all night (literally or figuratively) with the living God and living to tell about it”. In this chapter, Jacob wrestles with “an Angel of the Lord” or “a pre-incarnate Jesus Christ” (as some have inferred). As a result, Jacob walks with a limp for the rest of his life.

These wounds come in various forms and levels of severity, and without exception, wrestling (figuratively) with God involves an altercation. In that altercation, we see ourselves for who we…

Read More »

Mockingbird: Bringing You the Gospel (pt 32)

IMG_2312

Another Week Ends: Negatively Positive Thinking, Bill W. and Dr. Bob, Love and Friendship, Fun Families, Facebook Sociology and Vonnegut’s Shapes of Stories

Another Week Ends: Negatively Positive Thinking, Bill W. and Dr. Bob, Love and Friendship, Fun Families, Facebook Sociology and Vonnegut’s Shapes of Stories

1. Think positive! The New Yorker this week pushes back against the “think I can” trend, famously espoused by Thomas the Train – and even in adult media, too. While it’s certain that confidence often sometimes helps (Seahawks defensiveback Richard Sherman self-imputed the title “best cornerback in the league” and subsequently grew into it), it tends to break down in the long run, ht TB:

According to a great deal of research, positive fantasies may lessen your chances of succeeding. In one experiment, the social psychologists Gabriele Oettingen and Doris Mayer asked eighty-three German students to rate the extent to which they “experienced positive thoughts, images,…

Read More »

Fanny Howe and Ilona Karmel are “Keepers of the Image”

Fanny Howe and Ilona Karmel are “Keepers of the Image”

This comes from an essay Fanny Howe wrote, called “Keepers of the Image,” about her mentor, Ilona Karmel, and a short essay she wrote, also called “Keepers of the Image.” Howe describes Karmel, a Jew who survived the WWII Polish labor camps, as a woman of Dostoevskian realism, someone who sought to write about her experiences not for sentimental purposes, but for an exact depiction of abject human darkness. She wrote of the conflict in each person, between the self they know everyday, and the self they long to be, the “secret self.”

Like Dostoyevsky, Ilona Karmel pursued truth (without quotes)…

Read More »

Simone Weil on the Cross

From Gravity and Grace.

GravityGraceWEB“Christ healing the sick, raising the dead, etc–that is the humble, human, almost low part of his mission. The supernatural part is the sweat of blood, the unsatisfied longing for human consolation, the supplication that he might be spared, the sense of being abandoned by God. The abandonment at the supreme moment of the crucifixion, what an abyss of love on both sides!

“The cross. The tree of sin was a real tree, the tree of life was a wooden beam. Something which does not give fruit, but only vertical movement. “The Son of Man must be lift up and he will draw all men unto himself.” We can kill the vital energy in ourselves while keeping only the vertical movement. Leaves and fruit are a waste of energy if our only wish is to rise. Adam and Eve sought for divinity in vital energy–a tree, fruit. But it is prepared for us on dead wood, geometrically squared, where a corpse is hanging. We must look for the secret of our kinship to God in our mortality.

“We have to cross the infinite thickness of time and space–and God has to do it first, because he comes to us first. Of the links between God and man, love is the greatest…God crosses through the thickness of the world to come to us.”

Nick Cave on Why Most Love Songs Are Hate Songs

Nick Cave on Why Most Love Songs Are Hate Songs

Dr. Cave, again, in vivid form, tells us about love. This time he delves into literary philosophy of Lorca, and the term “duende,” which means the power of spontaneity, the language of the heart, and also the Portuguese term “saudade,” which is a deep, rooted longing for something/someone that is absent. In thinking of rock’n’roll music, Nick Cave believes that a true love song is not true without this saudade. Any other “love song” without this longing, is not a love song, but a fraud, a “hate song.”

And then there’s his very carnal description of the Song of Songs. Take…

Read More »

Why Must I (Be Depressed?): ‘Til Tuesday’s Gracious Introspection

Why Must I (Be Depressed?): ‘Til Tuesday’s Gracious Introspection

For the rich possibilities of dialogue between 80s New Wave and the old, old story, look no further! This one comes to us from Tyler Beane:

This is a great Aimee Mann tune from the late ’80s when she was still heading the band ‘Til Tuesday. The song is about a gal experiencing what I read as depression following the loss of “a boy,” probably a boyfriend. The song has a lightness to it, a breeziness to the pop. However, when the song moves to the lyrics “This time” in “Why must I take it so hard this time” in the…

Read More »

Under Pressure on Modern Family

I was recently thinking how ABC’s Modern Family just isn’t as good as it used to be (for me) and that I kind of watch it out of duty nowadays. And then, BAM! They produce probably one of their better/best episodes ever. It revolves around high school anxieties, SATs, and college admissions: “Under Pressure.” The theme is certainly timely since this is the time of year many high schoolers start hearing back from college and university admissions offices. The unquestionable hero of this episode? Claire Dunphy. You have to watch the entire clip below to find out why:

What Can Woody Allen Trapped Inside John Calvin Teach Us About Anxiety?

What Can Woody Allen Trapped Inside John Calvin Teach Us About Anxiety?

“To some people, I may seem calm. But if you could peer beneath the surface, you would see that I’m like a duck—paddling, paddling, paddling…” – Scott Stossel

You don’t have to have a therapist on speed dial to relate. You don’t need a prescription to Xanax or Ativan, or a shelf full of ‘dealing with anxiety’ books to know what he’s talking about. You don’t even need to be interested in mental health. If you have a pulse, you know. Of course, it helps if you have an Internet connection too. The skyrocketing rates of anxiety in America are no…

Read More »