(Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, March 6, 2019)
I am the minister.
And yet also a sinner, believer, servant, husband, son, Jesus-follower, holy wonderer and wanderer, and God-lover.
I am cold.
I am alone.
It is Ash Wednesday.
As the preacher serving a congregationâ€”which has included churches in Wisconsinâ€™s dairy lands, along with urban and rural zip codes of Californiaâ€”I would head for the sanctuary before dawn to prepare the elements. Some would be for a traditional communion, though on Ash Wednesday, I usually chose the dry, brittle matzah bread rather than a freshly baked loaf. Other items were less familiar, an annual nod to Ash Wednesdayâ€™s peculiarities. There was literal ash, burned down from the prior Christmasâ€™ pine boughs. Oil. And words. Always words. Always something on a page to read, something ready to say.
I would be the celebrant. Continue reading →
Thereâ€™s a mysterious briefcase in Quentin Tarantinoâ€™s violent, vibrant Pulp Fiction (1994). Some characters wanted it. Some characters had it. Sometimes we (the viewer) observed the case was shut. Sometimes, itâ€™s wide open, but the contents werenâ€™t visible. In the filmâ€™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 havenâ€™t watched or canâ€™t stand the movie, trust me, itâ€™s rightly considered a classic. Tarantino manipulated chronology with the script (kairos vs. kronos time, anyone?), John Travoltaâ€™s career was resurrected, and the filmâ€™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 →
Iâ€™ve never been bitten by a snake.
Iâ€™ve seen snakes. No, Iâ€™m not counting any zoo sightings. Iâ€™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 â€˜em, nearly stepped on â€˜em, and have gladly circled wide of many short and long, still or slithering snakes.
But I donâ€™t fear the creepy, crawlies like the fictional Indiana Jones. Donâ€™t label me with ophidiophobia! Continue reading →