Reality has a habit of raining down hard and melting away the comforts formed by the kindness of imagination and the vagaries of memory. There’s the way a person wants to remember an event that occurred in his or her life, and then there’s the way the event actually played out, complete with details absent of sympathy.
Five hundred years ago there was a group of Christians living in Europe known as the Anabaptists. These are not to be confused with today’s Baptists, though the groups do share points of common history. The name Anabaptist was not so much a description as it was a condemnation.
Love others as much as you love yourself,” Jesus told his followers. These words are considerably more than a sugary Sunday-school story. For those who take these words to heart, “love others” has profound, life-altering implications, not all of which are warm and fuzzy. Consider the life of Bernard Lichtenberg, arrested seven decades ago. His crime: He loved. Lichtenberg was a Catholic priest serving in Berlin before the outbreak of World War 2. When Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party came to power, he recognized the coming terror better than most, and made it his ambition to help the Jewish people and other persecuted groups.
Light serves a profound function in our lives. Receive too much or too little of it and you’ll experience physical and emotional effects. I remember visiting Alaska in the summer and reading a book by sunlight at 2 in the morning. This was a pretty cool experience, but it made it quite difficult to sleep during my normal times. I also have many friends who live in Seattle and talk about the lack of sunlight they receive on a regular basis. It’s not uncommon for a person to choose where she lives based on the light available in that state. Light affects everything.
My wife and I do some baby-sitting for a single mom we know so she can have some well-deserved “alone” time. Recently, we took her two munchkins to the dollar theater and watched “Mr. Peabody and Sherman.”
The movie “The Matrix” features a computer hacker called Neo, and deals with the themes of reality and freedom. In the movie, most of humanity has been enslaved and locked into a virtual reality called the matrix, which is controlled by intelligent machines. A dawning awareness has led some to escape from the matrix and form a resistance group to fight the ruling machines. Neo joins the rebellion, and struggles to free humanity from the grand illusion of the matrix.
I find it fascinating that the Lord sometimes asked people what they wanted Him to do for them. He already knows everything. Everything. Nothing is hidden from him. Matthew 6:8 says, “Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”
If you are reading a book review column, I assume you enjoy reading. If so, it’s furthermore safe to assume that “The Storied Life of A.J. Firky” will have great appeal to you. As one reviewer claims “...this book is a love letter to the joys of reading.”
Have you ever walked through a season in your life you thought might break you? I’m not talking about the everyday stuff. We’re each going to wrestle with our share of broken air conditioners in July, cranky bosses, and family feuds. I’m talking about soul crushing, heart wrenching times when getting through the days takes a herculean effort. When you can’t lift yourself out of the pit despite all of your coping resources – faith, friends, family, chocolate ice cream. And wine, in the name of truth telling.
Four years ago, I entered into a whole new chapter of my life through my role at Mountain View Lutheran Church. Since then, I’ve reflected many times on my experiences – both the good and the “what was I thinking” moments. Admittedly, I came into my role with a bit of arrogance. You know – the “I don’t have much experience, but I’ve read a few books about it” type of raw talent that doesn’t fool many for long. Little did I know that a humbling four years was knocking on the door.
Last month, two events occurred in the same week that once again had us searching for answers. On Sept. 16, a heavily armed civilian contractor with a history of disorders fatally shot 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard. Later that week, terrorists attacked a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, in a three-day rampage that resulted in the deaths of at least 61 civilians and six Kenyan soldiers.
In 1997, then Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), The Rev. H. George Anderson wrote a book called, “A Good Time to be the Church.” His successor, The Rev. Mark Hanson, who will complete 12 years as ELCA Presiding Bishop in November, quipped that he was thinking of writing a book called, “It’s Not All That Great a Time to Be the Church.”
I’ve known Jerry for more than 40 years. We met through a mutual friend in high school, albeit an unlikely match: Jerry was a star athlete in three sports and I was a nerd who wrote for the school paper and belonged to the Ecology Club. The most obvious difference between us, however, is that Jerry is an African-American.
I am one of those whose mother invoked starving children in India or China as a way to get me to eat nasty vegetables like eggplant and okra and to otherwise leave nothing on the plate. These days, I like vegetables, I clearly do not often leave anything on the plate, and my mother need not look past our own shores to see starving children.
Up there with “Stoker” and “Like Someone in Love” as one of the best films to hit theaters this spring, “War Witch” is devastating, beautiful and truly not to be missed. An Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, this gut-wrenching tale of a child soldier has been reeling in the accolades: Best Actress awards for young star Rachel Mwanza at both the Berlin and Tribeca film festivals, along with a whopping 10 honors (including Best Picture) at this year’s Canadian Screen Awards.
Around 25 years ago, I was racing bicycles in Southern California. It was mostly local club races and I enjoyed training rides with teammates. We began hearing stories of a talented junior (under 18) in Texas. He had gifts, but tended to be so relentlessly competitive that he wanted to lead a race from start to finish, which often is not the best strategy. That young Texan turned out to be Lance Armstrong.
The Thunder look to return to their winning ways behind a talented junior class and a group of committed seniors in 2014.Produced by David JolkovskiNarration by Jason P. SkodaInterviews (in order of appearance):Cade van RaaphorstTJ RobertsAlex FarinaDrew McIntyreCoach Dan HindsAdrian PerezAndrew MacnairSaxon McDonald