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Archive for March, 2011

The French movie “Of Gods and Men” (click here for the movie’s Web site) is far and away one of the best Christian-related movies I’ve ever seen. I’ll probably make it required viewing when I take over the world and declare peace on earth, good will to all.

It’s the true story of French monks who were kidnapped and murdered in 1996 in Algeria, where they lived peacefully with Muslim villagers to whom they ministered and provided medical care.

“Of Gods and Men” does have some intense action, but mostly it’s a quiet and unusually pastoral and, in the end, sublime film about the monks and the lives they lived. These were men of enormous Christian integrity who quietly lived out their vows of poverty and struggled and agonized over whether to leave Algeria and abandon the Muslim villagers they served. It was that or stay in that Muslim community they served and face almost certain death. In the end, they stayed and faced death out of their love and devotion to Christ, and out of faithfulness to their callings to remain in solidarity with the villagers.

The movie honors their very Christ-like lives and their devotion and their theology, and their theology was totally steeped in Christology and all about Christ as the Prince of Peace. But the film also honors the integrity of Islam as a peaceful faith tradition, without flinching from the nastiness and reality of misguided Muslim terrorists (and a corrupt government).

The film–which won lots of awards and honors and received almost universally great reviews–has been around almost a year now, since it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. But it’s just now showing at Angelicka in Dallas, and I can’t recommend it enough, and not just for Christians but for general audiences who like intelligent movies and good, serious storytelling. It’s a mature and powerful work of film art–and one that ought to be seen now more than ever in a world wracked by so much violence and animus and misunderstanding between Christians and Muslims.

You can read more about it here. And a review here.

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I will put my dwelling place among you, and I will not abhor you. I will walk among you, and be your God, and you will be my people.”

— Lev. 26: 11, 12

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Where does God live?”

With this question, the Kosker surprised some scholars who were guests of his.

They laughed at him: “How do you speak! The world is full of his glory!”

But he answered his own question: “God lives, where he is let in.”

—- Tales of the Hasidim

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Soul knowledge sends you in the opposite direction from consumerism. It’s not addition that makes one holy but subtraction: stripping the illusions, letting go of the pretence, exposing the false self, breaking open the heart and the understanding, not taking my private self too seriously.

“In a certain sense we are on the utterly wrong track. We are climbing while Jesus is descending, and I think in that we reflect the pride and the arrogance of Western civilization, always trying to accomplish, perform, and achieve. We transferred much of that to our version of Christianity and became spiritual consumers. The ego is still in charge. When the self takes itself that seriously, there’s no room left for God.

All we can really do is get ourselves out of the way, and we can’t even do that.”

– Richard Rohr

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(Antonija Gospic, photographer)

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It’s been a while since we played our JitterbuggingforJesus.com theme song, which of course is from the fabulous, the late and the great Billy Preston, who was known as “the fifth Beatle” because of his close association with the band that everybody loves.

Love this video because it has Billy jumping up from his fabulous organ and going total pentecostal and overcome with jitterbug feet at the famous concert his best friend Mr. Harrison did for Bangladesh relief about a hunnerd years ago.

However, we’re also posting a song by Tom Petty (click here for it) that was almost our theme song here at the blawg that is saving the world with its wit, wisdom, provocations and stimulations while possibly (probably!) alienating whole towns, cities, nations and states..

It was almost the theme song here because I’m always learning to fly, spiritually, intellectually and every way every day.

It’s a trippy, dreamy song and as longtimers of the Jitterbug cult know, the leader of the ever-growing Jitterbuggingforjesus.com cult likes dreamy, trippy music. And the lyrics about “the rocks may melt and the sea may burn” are not lost on me on this particular week in which I’ve been in prayer for Japan, an event that was not an act of God but rather an event in the natural and beautiful and dangerous world that God created for us.

Click here for more on that.
Grace & peace, peeps.

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Consider this a break from the sad news of the natural world event in Japan and elsewhere.

Enlarge the screen on this wonderful video from Vimeo and chill.

NATURE HV20 from monso on Vimeo.

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A blog posting in which we get to link you to a great old song from the Doobs in a 1996 gig..

Read on. . . .

A story from the Web site of my beloved United Methodist Church’s quite interesting “Rethink Church” movement . . .

With handmade signs that read “Got Ashes?” members of Urban Village United Methodist Church took to the streets of Chicago on March 9 to commemorate Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. They offered to mark a cross of ashes on the forehead of anyone who asked to receive it.

The Rev. Trey Hall, pastor of Urban Village, joined three- and four-person teams at six sites across Chicago. He says the gist of the teams’ invitation was simple: “Everybody’s welcome – Catholic, Protestant, gay, straight, everyone.”

Locations included rail stations, busy intersections and Daley Plaza. Banners at the sites read “Urban Village Church: Doing Church Differently.” The 1-year-old church has members from a variety of faith backgrounds, including some who are new to the Christian faith.

The church explains on its website that the cross of ashes is “a reminder that we are finite, that each of us has only a short stretch of time on this good earth, and that we should therefore live it well.”

In all, nearly 300 people received ashes – including two people who were waiting in their car for a stoplight to change. Hall says that many of the people likely had at least a basic understanding of Ash Wednesday. Others were not as familiar, but were intrigued by what they saw.

“We answered people’s real questions: ‘What is Lent?’ ‘Why are you doing this?’ ‘What is this about?’” Hall said. “If we can reach people who wouldn’t be in church anyway (on Ash Wednesday), then it gives us a chance to talk.”

Hall finds an example in John Wesley, who founded the Methodist movement. Wesley is known for conducting much of his ministry outside of churches. Wesley was successful in connecting (people outside the church) to the larger, more mature Christian story.”

Even some longtime United Methodists were able to be a part of Urban Village’s Ash Wednesday observance. Chris Crook, a member of St. Andrew United Methodist Church in Plano, Texas, was visiting Chicago on Ash Wednesday.

“I was worried that I could not attend an Ash Wednesday service this year,” Crook said. He received his ashes on Michigan Avenue – and then he shared the details with his Facebook friends.

Hall and his church members are pleased to have offered individuals a connection to God that they might not have felt otherwise. He added, “Perhaps, by God’s grace, a tiny seed was planted.”

– By Ben Rhodes

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MARY KARR: HYPER-SMART, ULTRA-TALENTED, HILARIOUS, SELF-DEPRECATING, BEAUTIFUL, BUT OTHER THAN THAT SHE'S A BORE

I’m sure I’m not the Pope’s favorite Catholic.

Nor is he mine.

— Mary Karr, great writer and “a black-belt sinner”

what’s not to love about Mary Karr, (who grew up in “the Ringworm Belt” in coastal Texas) who writes like an angel.

You gotta love a poet who has led such a full and incredibly tragic and bizarre life as to require not one, not two, but three terrific memoirs. Her first, The Liar’s Club, was a year-long New York Times bestseller and an instant classic. Her last one of a couple of years ago, Lit, chronicled her hard-won victory over drugs and strong drink and the journey to deep Christian faith–in the Catholic Church, no less. Karr’s conversion experience surprised a lot of people, none more than Mary Karr herself.

The former vampire lover and bestselling novelist Anne Rice also found her way to Christianity and the Catholic Church (she has since famously denounced and renounced the church but not her faith), but Karr is a far better writer than Rice. In fact, far better than just about any nonfiction writer alive.

And she speaks with the same passionate color with which she writes. Here’s the evidence:

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Rough week at the hospital.

I’m putting on my jitterbug shoes for my 3 day respite.

Blow for me, Junior, with some shotgun soul.

And this is one of the simply coolest songs from one of the coolest of bands (Horns Div.)–a song that reminds me of a 1973 weekend on the island in Galveston.

You had to be there.

And Sam the Man had class, style, charisma, looks and some incredibly smooth chops . . . .

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Fervor comes again with Holy Week, joy comes on the day of resurrection, with all nature singing exultantly God’s praises.

“To keep united to God through the suffering Humanity of His son–that is the aim of Lent. ”

— Dorothy Day

DOROTHY DAY: ONE OF MY FAITH HEROES

In the photo: cover picture of Dorothy Day from On Pilgimage: Dorothy Day, diary entries from a year she spent in the countryside in 1948

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Begin all your prayers with a psalm, advised William Law, because, he said:

— There is nothing that so clears your way for prayers,

— nothing that so disperses dullness of heart,

— nothing that so purifies the soul from poor and little passions,

— nothing that so opens heaven or carries your heart so near it as these songs of praise.

“They creat a sense of delight in god, they awaken holy desires, they teach how to ask, and they prevail with God to give. They kindle a holy flame, they turn your heart into an altar, they turn your prayers into incense and carry them as sweet-smelling savor to the throne of grace.

—-From A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life,
by William Law

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The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.

The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.

The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.

More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.

Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.

Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

— Psalm 19: 7-14

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"ARE WE THERE YET ?"

Yes, Jorge Ignacio (Trey) Rodriguez III has a birthday today. He’s like his granddads–if he gets anymore laid back he’ll tip over in this fishing boat and be alligator bait.

Happy Birthday, Trey Hey! Paw Paw loves you!!!!!

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