Friday, August 13, 2010

"all the past blot­ted out in the pre­sence of the Liv­ing Pre­sent and the Eter­nal Fu­ture."

I am not surprised that "In The Garden" is one of people's favorite hymns -- it gets requested at Singspiration all the time -- but I still kind of go, "bzuh?" because in my head it is a funeral song (my immediate thought is of my mom telling me that it makes her cry because it makes her think of the fact that it'll be played at her mom's funeral).  Ari loves it because it is a Mary Magdalene/Jesus hymn.  While I have heard the "Mary Magdalene at the tomb" inspiration story in preface to singing the hymn before, I didn't actually really read the words thoughtfully in light of that until tonight.  It definitely makes the "Jesus sends me away" ending to the hymn make a sense that it doesn't if it's a story about going to Heaven.  I guess most people's sense of the song is that it's a happy dream that you've had about Jesus?  I don't really know.  Mostly I just get cranky about the "And the joy we share [...] none other has ever known" -- 'cause yes, each individual's experience is unique and non-replicable, but aren't we singing/loving the hymn because the narrator's experience resonates with our own?

Edit: It also occurs to me that this being a facebook survey means the respondents are likelier to skew younger than if it were, for example, a print survey distributed through the institutional church.

I don't actually have a point here.

So, there's "Women's Work" -- which points out a troubling theme(s?) about how women are portrayed on Supernatural.

And then there's "On the Prowl" -- whose subject is eroticized violence enacted on men. I am so not the target audience for this vid 'cause I'm like, "Ew! These scenes I have seen already? Squicked me the first time. These scenes I have not seen before? Squicking me now." And it keeps escalating (I started having to look away from the screen). People in the comments talk about how it problematizes the hurt/comfort trope and I'm like, "Oh, yeah, that trope which has always held -- and continues to hold -- zero interest for me." [This is an interesting meta post on the two vids, though.]

This morning at the gym, I watched the CNN segment on "Love The Way You Lie" -- the Eminem & Rihanna & Megan Fox & Dominic Monaghan music video -- and then YouTubed it at the office. It's beautiful, both aurally (okay, Rihanna's voice, I mean -- I would gladly skip all the Eminem bits) and visually ... it's really compelling ... but yeah, the message it sends about domestic violence is really troubling.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

[23] "what if no one's watching?" [Pentecost +11(C) Wednesday, Rest and Bread]

Luke 12:41-48

      41Peter said, “Do you intend this parable just for us, Teacher, or do you mean it for everyone?”
      42Jesus said, “It’s the faithful and farsighted steward that the owner leaves to supervise the staff and give them their rations at the proper time. 43Happy the steward whom the owner, upon returning, finds busy! 44The truth is, the owner will put the steward in charge of the entire estate. 45But say the steward thinks, ‘The owner is slow in returning’ and begins to abuse the other staff members, eating and drinking and getting drunk. 46When the owner returns unexpectedly, the steward will be punished severely and ranked among those undeserving of trust.
      47“The staff members who knew the owner’s wishes but didn’t work to fulfill them will get a severe punishment, 48whereas the one who didn’t know them--even though deserving of a severe punishment--will get off with a milder correction. From those who have been given much, much will be required; from those who have been entrusted much, much more will be asked.”
[I extemporized some filler and largely improv’ed the last paragraph, but this is approximately my text.]

what if no one's watching?

There’s a lot going on in this parable, but the part I’m going to focus on is: But say the steward thinks, ‘The owner is slow in returning’ and begins to abuse the other staff members, eating and drinking and getting drunk.

I’m not interested in a “Jesus is coming -- look busy” Rapture theology. Rather, I want to talk about what we do when we think no one’s watching.

I work at a university, and during the summer? No one’s watching. And I’m reminded this summer -- as I am every summer, but apparently I need to keep being reminded -- that when I’m not accountable to anyone for the work I maybe should be doing, I don’t do the work. It’s easy to feel like it doesn’t matter -- because there are no consequences. Rationally, I may know that there will be consequences down the line, but when I’m not accountable to anyone in the moment, it’s really easy to ignore that.

And I think we live a lot of our lives like that. We’ve been given responsibility to be good stewards, but we start to slacken our responsibilities -- we focus on our own fleeting desires at the expense of the needs of others... We bend rules and cut corners in ways we never would if someone were watching.

I don’t endorse an imagining of God as angry judge in the sky, but I invite us to imagine that someone we love and respect is standing next to us, watching us -- because She is. And She loves us. And she has such amazing plans for us. We have been given responsibilities, but we have also been given a Promise. And so I invite you to remember both of those as you move through the next few days.


Friday, August 6, 2010

why history matters

From [personal profile] ephemere's post "Patalim" (trigger warning for descriptions of violence):

Freedom is not forgetting. And forgetting is not freedom. Look at what the loss of our memory has done to us. Look at it, and ask me whether we are better off acting as if the atrocities of the wars and colonizations never happened, as if we have no need for vigilance because the exertion of political and economic will of a foreign power over us cannot happen again, as if we have learned the lessons of the past so thoroughly we will be sure to fight for our rights and the rights of our people to speak and live free, as if we have so fully realized all the evils and all the complexities of power differentials and the abuse of wealth and the exploitation of resources and knowledge and people that we can now equip ourselves to fight against it, as if we recognize the importance of having and claiming our identities and our dignity and the burden and glory that is our history, as if we no longer stumble through the debris and ruin of so many broken institutions and fault ourselves for our own weakness and our own brokenness and the fact that we are not as good and wise and wonderful and wealthy as our former colonial masters. Look at it. Look at how well we have erased the graves, how so many of us go about our daily lives as if there are not more of us being killed every day, how we continue blithely on, the struggles our parents and grandparents and ancestors suffered through mere footnotes in the pages of our books, certainly things that no longer matter in this progressive story of the Philippines in 2010. Look at it, and go on. Ask me.

I don't want to erase this blood staining my legacy. I don't want to forget, as if it never happened. I don't want to keep coming across, "I didn't know the Philippines was a U.S. colony!" as if I do not bear the damage of American occupation written in my nerves and across my tongue. I don't want to see "deathmarching" used as a verb, the same way I deplore how "imeldific" is used as an adjective -- as if history were an erasable thing and words slipping into common parlance an apology or a healing of all these wounds. I don't want people to go on using this in a misguided attempt to remove the blood in it, because forgetting is what gives the evil behind this more power, by allowing the word to go unchallenged and slip under the veneer of acceptability, lightness, cheapening, banality. I don't want the atrocities of war to become equated with mundane things.

I don't want common use. I don't want a sanitized history. I want my stories, past and present, these stories of my people that we have lost and that we're on the verge of losing, held close to my heart and remembered. I want these stories told over and over again, because the need for them will never lift, not the necessity for memory and not the blatant spitting on the dignity of it. I want to claim them though I may choke on tears and tongue in doing so, though I surrender on so many other things daily and remain one frail and weak person still grappling with the fractures in her present and in her past. Because this, too, is part of who I am. Because every story told and every careless use challenged is defiance, is struggle, is me raising my head and saying, this happened, this matters -- is yet another blow against erasure, silence, the unmarking of graves.

[For more, especially on the specific incident that prompted this, check out, for example, fiction_theory/megwrites' post -- links go to LJ/DW, respectively.  Also, manifesta.]

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Gerasene demoniac!!!

At Rest and Bread last night, Jeff V. reflected on the story of the Gerasene demoniac (Luke 8:26-39). I love this story so much. I think I was properly introduced to it by Amy-Jill Levine at Convo 2008 -- though I can't actually remember much of what she said about it.

Jeff talked about how people often fear the liberator (unknown) more than the oppressor (known).
He said that Tillich defines the demonic as that which we treat as God and which turns on us.
Jeff used the example of the oil in the Gulf of Mexico -- we all agree that what happened was a disaster, but the changes we would have to make in our lives and in society to wean ourselves off of oil seems to be much more frightening than this disaster. [Yes, I know there's no risk-free energy source, but I think the general point stands: that sometimes even when we can indicate a particular problem and a particular solution, we aren't willing to take the risks/make the sacrifices that solution would require of us -- which I think is a common story throughout the Gospels.]

In the shared reflection time, Ian H. said that while Tillich's idea makes sense for some of the demon stories, it doesn't work for him in this story, because Jeff's examples were money, success, etc. -- stuff which if this guy had, society would have welcomed him in. Ian said that this story reminded him more of PTSD -- demons that we created and which we then can't bear to be a witness to, and so we send them away.

Masha commented on the fact that while the man's words (which were really the demon's words) rejected Jesus, the man's physical actions drew him toward Jesus.

At JPLicks afterward, Masha talked about how she grew up in a context where the idea of modern-day miracles was taken for granted, and that she found the prospect of a miracle happening to her really frightening -- because it means we live in an irrational world (what ELSE you thought couldn't happen could?) and also there's the concern: what if there are strings attached?

In the post-service discussions, people kept mentioning the destruction of the swine herd. I pointed out that this story was being told to Jews about non-Jews, so for Jews it would make perfect sense that the unclean demons were sent into the unclean swine who were then sent over the cliff -- that this continuum would have made perfect sense to them (I think credit goes to the bff for this framing of it). [I love that the text Jeff gave me refers to the country of the Gerasenes as being "opposite Galilee."]

At JPLicks, either Al or Masha commented about how people fear that which they cannot understand/control -- in this case, both the demoniac and Jesus.

I read the Sacred Text aloud, both before and after the Reflection, and I am having the same problem now as I did at shared reflection time -- that I have so many thoughts that I don't know what to say.

I was struck by Jesus asking, "What is your name?" This man is afflicted and ostracized, and it feels so tender to me that Jesus asks him his name.
Other people mentioned the power of naming an affliction -- which is also a good point.

Oh, and one more thing: At JPLicks we talked about some about whether demons are real or not, and I said that whether this person was really possessed by demons or was mentally ill (leaving aside the issue of whether afflictions manifest differently depending on how a person's socio-cultural context understands them) or whatever, I felt like one of the major points of the story was that God through Jesus has the power to liberate us from that which oppresses us and keeps us in (nonconsensual) bondage, and can empower us to reintegrate into community.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Old Spice Man meets FeministHulk = best ever

So, when I first encountered "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" Old Spice Commercial, I was uncomfortable.  I didn't have a coherent critique, and I wasn't interested in investing a lot of time/energy coming up with one, 'cause hey, advertising, lots of it is problematic.

And then it became a Thing, and yes, I enjoyed, "Study like a scholar, scholar" (while still having problems with it).

And then fandom sort of fell in love with The Old Spice Man.  Which surprised me a little, 'cause hello problematic, but also wasn't that surprising since when does fandom not fall in love with problematic stuff since linguistically playful and/or highly performative provides lots and lots for fandom to play with.

rydra_wong informed the Internet that "Festibility (index post here) has just received the greatest prompt known to humanity."  Which, trufax.

But then tonight, proving why fandom is one of my True Homes, my best friend pointed me to: The Old Spice Man meets FEMINIST HULK [for more about @FeministHulk, see the Ms. Magazine interview].