For I Was Ill and You Cared For Me – Busted Halo

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via For I Was Ill and You Cared For Me – Busted Halo.

This is, by looking at the date of publication,  an “old” article, but I think it still resonates strongly, especially with regard to the appropriate Christian response to the possibility of universal health care.  The responses are equally as compelling as the article.  Here we have an opportunity to allow for an informed compassionate legislation in line with Christian belief and doctrine, and Christians are…against it?  Phil Rose explores the dichotomy.

Into “The Other”

rooseI’ve spent my summer indulging in my love for Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and other Tolkien lore.  Tolkien’s words stay with you long after reading, like the scent of your grandfather’s cologne, and coming back to the book means simply settling down once again to the comfort of an old friend.  I don’t really get “sucked into” the books, per se- it’s almost like rejoining the journey.

So it was a pleasant surprise to pick up a book at Border’s the other day and get sucked right into The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner’s Semester at America’s Holiest University by Kevin Roose.  Seriously- I sat at the café and read about 80 pages while my coffee got cold.  An English major with an interest in journalism at Brown University- purported to be one of the most liberal universities in the US- decides to get the “full story” and registers as a student at Liberty University, a right wing evangelical college founded by the late Jerry Falwell.

Now, I consider myself a recovering Christian- coming back to the faith after years of absence determined to engage with a living faith that says “come and see,” rather than “do it or go to hell.”  In other words- someone who cringes at the thought of institutions like Liberty who have science professors on staff teaching creationism.  And not intelligent design, mind you- what some consider a more moderate approach to creationism- this is hardcore “fitting dinosaurs on the Ark” creationism.  Yeesh.

It’s easy to get caught up in the spectacle of extremes in American Christianity.  And when they butt heads, it’s quite a show (thinking of Doug Pagitt’s interaction with the Way of the Master dudes).  But I have to realize as a spectator, I’m just as guilty for indulging in the reactionary sideshow as those who perpetrate it.

Roose’s book humanizes the caricatures of the religious right and puts a real face on an otherwise stereotyped school.  He doesn’t condone the views he finds reprehensible –one student didn’t like interracial dating because “it just isn’t right”- but he doesn’t throw the student under the bus, either.  He carefully and thoughtfully reflects, often with piercingly humorous insights, on the people he encounters.  And he engages and reflects on his own spiritual journey in the process.

Christians are once again starting to ask themselves “What does it mean to be Christian?” and I find hope in the tension that question brings to every facet of Christianity across the globe.  This book doesn’t have answers, but like a good book, it raises more questions along those lines.

Mariette in Ecstasy

Currently reading Mariette in Ecstasy by a new author I have just discovered, Ron Hansen. Hansen has been on the map since the 80s, with books such as The Assasination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (recently a movie with Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck). Mariette focuses on the mystical experiences of a turn of the century nun in a convent located in upstate New York. My intense interest in monastic life and experience, as well as in Christian mysticism and experience has not waned over the last few years, so this novel is good fictional grist for the mill. Hansen has also written a book A Stay Against Confusion that details his beliefs on faith and fiction, and the purposes of writing from a Catholic/religious perspective, which is also an interest of mine, stemming from Tolkien’s theory of subcreation and its worldview of the writer/artist in connection with the Divine.

I enjoy this reading with a vague sense of panic in the back of my mind about the impending school year. The feeling is due to not hitting the books and really preparing for the upcoming school year, which is just a few weeks away. The daydreams of “The First Day” have already begun, so it is about time to get cracking. Immediate pressing goals: organization of grades, redoing syllabus (first nine weeks or semester only), rules/procedures, pretest for general knowledge with writing sample, initial powerpoints lesson plans for History of English and Beowulf.

Was going to buy a new laptop today, but the Mini would not start for me! Tow truck currently on its way- how odd is it to have a tow truck come to one’s house? But I’ve done this more than once before.

Awaiting in the mail: Exiles, Ron Hansen new novel. Focuses on one of my favorite poets Gerard Manley Hopkins.