A Lenten MacGuffin Served with Some Greeks

There’s a mysterious briefcase in Quentin Tarantino’s violent, vibrant Pulp Fiction (1994). Some characters wanted it. Some characters had it. Sometimes we (the viewer) observed the case was shut. Sometimes, it’s wide open, but the contents weren’t visible. In the film’s story, there was little doubt the briefcase mattered. People were killed. Lives threatened. When unlatched, the inside emitted an ethereal glow.

But then the viewer sees . . .


There were more important scenes than the briefcase in Pulp Fiction. Even if you haven’t watched or can’t stand the movie, trust me, it’s rightly considered a classic. Tarantino manipulated chronology with the script (kairos vs. kronos time, anyone?), John Travolta’s career was resurrected, and the film’s impact gave noir cinema a modern twist and shout.

But the viewer . . . never saw inside that briefcase. What was there? In a sense, the briefcase contained a MacGuffin.

Huh? Continue reading →

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Lent, Ophidiophobia, and Wounds

I’ve never been bitten by a snake.

I’ve seen snakes. No, I’m not counting any zoo sightings. I’m referring to riding a bike along a sun-dappled path, hiking a trail through a jumble of boulders, and even a few times around my local suburbs. Yep . . . seen ‘em, nearly stepped on ‘em, and have gladly circled wide of many short and long, still or slithering snakes.

But I don’t fear the creepy, crawlies like the fictional Indiana Jones. Don’t label me with ophidiophobia! Continue reading →

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I Have Never Suffered

It’s Lent. The second Sunday’s looming.

Let’s talk suffering.

And yet, how can I?

I am an American white guy, mid-sixties, with a swell pension plan, health insurance covered by my wife’s job, with access to Medicare on the horizon. I was raised by ridiculously loving parents, played in quiet, safe neighborhoods as a kid (and later as a teen), and have two remarkable sisters who still voluntarily talk with me and openly express love for me. I labored in my unremarkable career as a pastor in places where people handed over the keys to the buildings on the first day of work—they trusted me from the get-go! Those churches paid a way-below-average salary (compared to others of similar education, experience, and responsibility), but always gave me tons of freedom to hike the mountains, write in the early mornings, and to fiercely preach the “good news.”

I have never suffered. Continue reading →

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