Stop apologising

Even though Christmas has passed, this opinian piece entitled “Stop Apologising for Being Christian” by Simon Heffer in the Daily Telegraph (British newspaper) dealing with the politically-correct de-Christianization of Christmas is well written, especially since he is an athiest.
Here is the link to the piece. You can also read his opinion here.

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Brokeback Mountain – 4

Yes, yes, I know, enough already. Ashton got me the book as a stocking stuffer for Christmas. Since I’m heading home to Ohio today, we opened our gifts on Monday.
I finished the book – really a short story – by Annie Proulx.
I must give credit to the screenplay writers for their expansion of the story. They did a wonderful job. The book is a little more graphic and the realities of limited education, a hard life, and aging are more realistic in the book. The book is just as heart wrenching, and the use of the written page rather than visual images become more poetic in many places. The screenplay is faithful, sometimes to the very words, to the book.

Strike! Strike! Strike!

Well, today is the first day of the New York Transit workers’ strike. Leaving West Orange, NJ on the NJ Transit train this morning wasn’t so bad. I suspect a lot of people just stayed home today. The train actually had two less cars than they normally run, which did make the train a bit crowded. No delays getting into Penn Station in Manhattan.
The station at 8:00 am didn’t seem much more crowded than a normal Tuesday, although there were more people. As I came up the stairs into the lower level from the platform, the crowds did pick up. Approaching the 7th Ave. & 34th St. exit, which also happens to be the entrance for the 1,2,3 subway lines, I was a bit dumbfounded to see the crowds. It took me 10 minutes to walk the single city block to reach the exit stairs – wall-to-wall people. I’ve never seen anything like it! I must say, it was kind of fun. That is one thing about New Yorkers – in a situation like this people are generally very polite and simply do what has to be done, which is to wait and shuffle.
I figured the streets would be very crowded and there were more people than normal, but not nearly as packed as I expected. This may be because many people decided not to come into the city, maybe it was just a Mid-town thing, who knows. We shall see how things go as the strike continues.
If people attempt to drive into Manhattan below 96th street, they must have at least 4 people in the car. From my perspective, Mid-town at around 8:00 am, the traffic wasn’t all that bad. I don’t know what it was like in other parts of the city.
Au Bon Pain was very crowded, but their workers seemed to have gotten to work. The fruit venders were not out this morning, but the coffee and donute carts were on the street corners.
I tell ya, I think the transit workers have made a big mistake striking this close to Christmas. They will win no sympathy from the average New Yorker, particularly because they are demanding pay increases of 8% every year for the next three years. The City’s proposed contract would require all new hires to contribute 1% to their own health-care with all current employees continuing to receive absolutely free health-care, but the union will not abide by such a thing. I just don’t think people are going to be clamoring to the City to give the transit workers what they want.
Luckily, I’m leaving for D.C. and then Ohio tomorrow for Christmas week. It’s kind of fun to be in the midst of the first strike in 25 years. Honestly, I’m not that inconvenienced at this point (except for the fact that I cannot meet with a friend for lunch today, and his Christmas present will have to wait until after Christmas – Brooklyn is too far to walk!

Brokeback Mountain – 3

brokebackposter.jpg
I saw the movie for a second time. It is better the second time around – you pick up on small things that were easily missed the first time around.
I knew this movie would affect me, and it has. It is hard thinking of lost opportunities and struggles. There has not been a day in my adult life that I have not struggled with this whole issue. What could life have been like? If I had made a single different decision, how could my life have been different? Better? Perhaps not. Who knows? If that first person, of whom I am reminded poignantly by this movie and Ennis in particular, and I could have continued… Most of my angst is written in my paper-n-pen journal – thank God for that!
I’ve been reading newspaper articles about the movie, particularly from mid-western, western, and southern papers. It seems that only the Religious Right organizations are down on the movie, which is expected. The review from JoBlow.com seems to sum up the attitude of many people not residing in the largest metropolitan areas.

Easy?

It is not always easy holding onto what I profess to believe. We all change over time. If we don’t, we stop living, we stop being human, we stop experiencing the world around us, we descend into… who knows what.
The process of giving up to the ether our beliefs, ideas, understandings can be a wearying endeavor. If we seek Truth – honest, real, legitimate Truth – we have to be willing to give up on preconceived ideas even if those ideas bring us great comfort. To grow is to move on, to move forward, to push through the shim that clouds our vision of things before us.
The process is disquieting. If I profess to believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob… if I profess to believe in Jesus as the Christ… if I profess to believe that the Good News is truly good and available for all of us, then I can do nothing less than allow all that I perceive of myself to be stripped away in order to understand… in order to be discover the “me” that I am meant to be.
“Consider it pure joys, my brothers, when ever you face trails of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”
I’ve come back to this verse so many times. I believe it to be true.
Then, of course, there is this quote from Ann Rice:
“Very few beings really seek knowledge in this world. Few really ask. On the contrary, they try to wring from the unknown the answers they have already shaped in their own minds — justification, confirmation, forms of consolation without which they can’t go on. To really ask is to open the door to a whirlwind. The answer may annihilate the question and the questioner.”
See, it isn’t easy! We fail all the time. Mercy. Grace.

Brokeback Mountain – 2

A good, sad, tragic, poinent movie. I have my own story, as do we all. It was interesting hearing the perceptions of the others in the group of four with whom I saw the movie. The straight guy didn’t like it. The gay guy who never had a problem admitting to or being in a relationship with another guy said he just could not connect with the characters – “we all can make choices.” The other gay guy was on an emotional rollercoaster. And me. Unless you are caught in the situation where all your choices seem to be wrong – all seem to hurt other people – you cannot understand the tragic situations presented in the characters of this movie.
I can understand.

Brokeback Mountain

I’m just about to leave to see Brokeback Mountain. I’ve been reading the personal stories people have written on the website – so many of them are heartbraking.
So many of us have our own stories that are so similiar to Ennis and Jack’s (I think that is their names). I have my own story. They never leave you.
I’m actually a bit nervous. I know that it will be a difficult movie to watch – a flood of memories, feelings, thoughts, lost possibilities, questions, and who knows what else. Yet, these are the experiences that life is made of. They cannot be denied, they cannot be ignored. To try to avoid such things is to avoid living.

More on the Bruderhof Communties website

Gentry Underwood has created a website for comments from those for whom the Bruderhof Communty website played an important role in our crazy lives.
Here is his comment:

I’ve just created a site — http://www.bringbackbruderhof.com
where folks who want to express thanks or regret about bruderhof.com
going offline can do so. i’m going to compile it all together and
send it to them…
please pass the word around….

Indeed – pass the word!

I am so…

Here is the latest, and last, Daily Dig from the Bruderhof Communities:

Your Last Dig
“The work is more important than the talking and the writing about the work.” – Dorothy Day
“There have been enough words, enough sermons and books. What matters now is deeds.” – Emmy Arnold
Dear Reader:
We will no longer be publishing online, so this will be your last Daily Dig. This is only the beginning, not the end. We want to thank you for your friendship over the years, and look forward to meeting you face to face. Now the real contact can begin. We welcome you to drop by any of our communities any time to join us in our daily life and work.

I checked their website – a wonderful and full collection of “Anabaptist” and intentional community information. A rich and deep web-presence. They even took down their website! I am so bummed.
What causes me concern is that this web-presence offered such an incredible alternative to the Religious Right and Fundamentalist stuff out there. Now, for a society that is becoming a majority unchurched, the only face of Christianity they increasingly see is the mean-spirited, egotistical, and rigid fundamentalism. This has nothing to do with “liberal” vs. “conservative.” It has everything to do with an image of the Christian community and life that upholds the essence of the Way of Christ – Love God with everything and love you neighbor as yourself. People being intentional to live at peace with all men, as much as it is possible for you. It is such a far cry from the “Americanized”-Religious Right members who are bent on imposing their theocratic view of everything upon the rest of society – for society’s own good, of course.
If we are not careful, and I mean we are at the tipping point, the only image of Christianity the public will see is rigid fundamentalism. Sojourners is a strong force, but just a drop in the bucket of other Christian websites that present such a culturally-compromised message. The Religious Right may claim Mainline Protestant and Anglican denominations have “compromised with the culture,” but they are blind to the fact that they have compromised at perhaps an even more profound level – the materialism of the “Prosperity” message, the equating of American nationalism with the faith, militarism, support of public policies and laws that enrichment the wealthy at the expense of the poor (and I am no socialist!), the support for theocracy over democracy through ideas such as Dominion Theology, etc. What are we going to do? What must be done?