24 mayo 2008

"hey! where's the cream filling?!"

thought one: being perfectly honest here...

so the previous post is the rationale behind the wait.
now, emotionally...

i waver.

hope: God does want me to go "cross every mountain, ford every stream..."

anti-hope: God wants me to give it up...

to what shall i liken it?
the disillusioned animals in the twinkies commercials from my childhood, "hey! where's the cream filling?"
Jacob the morning after
Jonah sensing the Middle Eastern sun suddenly beginning to roast the back of his neck...

"it is right for me to be angry, even to death!"
i want to love God enough to give up everything, anything, but how do i know He wants me to DO it?

thought two: what i would miss about the USA (EEUU) if i were never to see it again...
(in no particular order and not counting persons; assuming also i'm not lacking basic amenities)

~ libraries: how can there be education with out plentiful books? how can the poor be educated without FREE plentiful books?

~ jalepenos, tortilla chips, tortillas, salsa

~ a literate culture and the accompanying skepticism: there's probably a better heading for this, but the dependency we have on reading. i assume a lot of people get their information from TV, but never without the knowledge that they COULD double check (or somebody could) the claims on the internet, in a magazine, in a book, etc. oral cultures have their communicational strengths but i APPRECIATE "just the facts, ma'am." the accountability numerous information sources provide is inestimable.

~ the virtue of individuality: now, i'm not sure i would chose individuality over community, but i would miss the appreciation of the unique, the marcher-to-one's-own-drummer, the conscientious renegade that so characterizes American culture.

~ the shared culture (of childhood): being able to meet any kid on the street and share kool-aid and lucas, laugh about macaroni and cheese and wieners, laud peanut butter and jelly, and reminisce about playing in the sprinkler and Saved by the Bell... (okay, any kid of a certain bracket on federal student aid forms...)

~ the opportunity: the solution really is "hard work." if your kids work hard enough, develop their intelligence, and get an education as well, they really can become an astronaut or firefighter or secretary of state or whatever.

~ ecumenicalism: the thought that a good number of Catholics, Assembly of God-ers, and even Baptists have a fighting chance of getting into the Kingdom of Heaven...

~ public trash cans and clean streets

~ Walmart, quality control, Goodwill and other perks of a consumer culture

~ Christmas lights, trees, and carols

~ THANKSGIVING (but i'm not letting go of that one, no matter)

i'll do one on Peru if i make it there...

thought three: frederica! of missions and beauty

[a nonbeliever entering a worship service:] Maybe he doesn’t yet see the Lord we worship, but he see us, and sees that we see something; that we are being held rapt by the presence of something awesome, terrible, beautiful. He can tell that something is going on. And that mysterious beauty is a hook that pulls people further in.


Any missionary needs theological education, as well as love for those in the mission field. But we Orthodox know of one further element of missions: beauty. We worship in beauty because it is what God commanded. He instructed Moses to provide elaborate beauty in worship—gold, incense, embroidery, carved wood, vestments, “a golden bell and a pomegranate.” But not because God needs these things – as the psalmist says, he already owns the cattle on a thousand hills. No, it is we humans who need such things, and their use in worship empowers mission in ways that, literally, can’t be conveyed in words. Beauty sets the heart aright, and opens it to God.


the single most aesthetic "worship" service i recall attending happened last summer in Tambillo. the electricity was out for the whole valley because some drunk had driven into an electric pole (if my memory serves me right.) anyhow, electricity is inane when one speaks of devotion, so we stumblingly, gigglingly made our way down (up?) the road to the "new" church building (templo) one June night.

the chalky rock road was generally perceivable (if you didn't look directly at it) and the square doorway at the end framed a glow. "how..?" i puzzled. oh, candles...

no electricity means no amplifiers, which are THE symbol of Latin evangelicalism. (these are invariably purchased before the pews and occasionally preceeding the pulpit as well.) artificial amplification, however, was unnecessary. adobe, concrete, and the human voice sent out shiveringly perfect spheres of sound waves up the road and over the town. the "surround sound" inside was unnerving. singing mixed with prayer. Aleluja! Gloria a Dios!

tall, thin candles were placed on the back of the wooden benches about ever 5 rows. shadows, good heavens, thank the Lord He created shadows! is there beauty without them?

a wooly fleece below shielded knees from the concrete's cold. a manta on the shoulders provided insulation. elbows rested on unsanded wood.

aesthetics... funny: the elements were so simple. just the essentials: light, darkness, cold, warmth, voice and echoes, but it was so old, so singular, so unmanufactured, and anything but plain. it made a body WANT to have something beautiful to say to God. i dunno. maybe it was just me. but it was unpretentious, unawkward, untrivial. it was beautiful, and nobody even tried.

if we did try what would we need?


Blogger axegrinder said...

"if we did try what would we need?"

start w/ Frederica and work your way back. she's there for a reason.

your senses may have been engaged accidentally but you connected with something essential to Christian worship.

"we are our bodies."

lunes, 26 mayo, 2008  
Blogger berekkah said...

the more i stop to think about it, the more extensive the whole subject of beauty in worship/ worship in general gets.

duh, right? but just defining all the terms is taking some time... objectives, means, application... good thing that time i have much...

Frederica has some WEIRD views, i'm finding. But apart from all that, i want to "isolate" the truth of her experience within the Orthodox tradition and see how it would apply to THIS setting. and that's hard.

still musing on our ONTOLOGICAL connection to our body... thanks as always for your input-


jueves, 29 mayo, 2008  

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