Monday, November 23, 2009

Two Bodies

Wounded, bleeding, flailing
and even my best success
a failing.
Slipping, sliding
inching ever closer
as the shoreline
slips away.
Grasping at straws
as the one who grasps me
breathes into my gasping
My body broken
dies a little bit
more today.
My body broken
by hands unforced.
My body broken
by me.
And yet your body
breaks and bleeds
every day
for me.
Your body broken
calls out to me
to die
to me.
Your body broken
my body
with new life
that my old body
can never see.
The old wounds of your
new body
call to my wounds.
Bloodied, broken, bruised
still seen
still touched
still real.
Renewed, restored, reborn

And once again, my savior looks like this.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Genocide and Forgiveness

Tonight I watched the finale of a film about the Holocaust, from the perspective of a survivor who decided to "forgive" the Nazis who experimented on her and her twin sister during the war. Questions were raised about whether she even had that right to forgive those beyond her own experience of persecution. The film gave us a very complicated woman, Eva, who decided for her own sake, to forgive those who had tortured her and her twin sister on behalf of the Nazis. She decided to forgive not only those who had done these crimes against her and her sister, but also decided to forgive the entire German people and the Nazis among them for what they did. Then, later in the film, she, Eva, visited Israel, and more importantly, the Palestinian territory, to try to work her "forgiveness" into their fabric. The experience, however, for her, was unnerving to say the least. She found herself being the person who represented "power" (as an Israeli) being confronted by those who knew no power of any sort. They confronted her with the many crimes that were committed by Israelis against Palestinians on a daily basis, including outright murder. She saw, if I may say so myself, and I don't know I have this right, the discomforting sight of being on the other side the victimization table. I think she was not able to see herself as belonging to a people who could ever do such a thing. She had "forgiven" those who had victimized her from a perspective of innocence. And certainly, as a child, she was indeed innocent. In that sense she could forgive those who had violated her and her sister from a vantage point of actual innocence. In other words, they had no power to resist the violence against them. In this she was correct. Yet, when she ventured to scenarios which reflected a picture which had Jews, Israelis, being in positions of actual power, she did not have the emotional or intellectual framework available to her to allow that her own people could be guilty in the way (though not by any means in the way Nazis had been numerically) other oppressors had been before. And yes, including the Nazis. That's the most disturbing part of this. Could a people, a people victimized so horribly, become a people capable of the same horror?
This is where forgiveness takes into account, and must take into account, that every human being has within himself and herself the ability to forgive and yet also has the ability to be the perpetrator of the greatest crimes known to humanity. This brings to mind that we must always be attentive to what stirs within us as much as what drives those we would be against.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Twitter Evangelism

Tonight I discovered that Twitter is a powerful means to interact with people, whether far away geographically, or ideologically. I interacted with someone who "follows" me on Twitter about both politics and religion. It was fascinating. He's someone who is "conservative" politically, and who I thought was similarly conservative, i.e. orthodox, in his Christian convictions. Yet at the end, after finding out he believed in some pretty wild conspiracies regarding certain birth certificates, I also came to find that he questioned the basics of the reliability of the Christian text.

This exchange was enlightening to say the least.

It showed me that many among "Christian" conservatives are driven as much by a mindset that is governed by a conspiratorial way of seeing the world that not only questions our current President's origins, but also questions the foundational origins of the historic Christian faith. This, quite honestly, surprised me. It betrayed a radical skepticism that I hadn't assumed for the person I was interacting with about these issues. In my initial interactions, I saw the typical Christian conservative expressions. And in this I assumed that he had a basic trust in the reliability of the text governing Christian life. It was only as we engaged, back and forth, about political issues, that he mentioned the "birther" issue. That was my first clue. Then, within minutes, he asked about 'sources' and 'codices' regarding the basis of scripture. My first inclination is to think that he's been overly influenced by Dan Brown nonsense. But I don't want to prejudge. He may simply be examining the textual variants that do actually exist. But the fact that he brought it up so quickly after offering up the 'birther' argument does make me wonder if he's operating from a framework that is inherently conspiratorial and unrealistically dualistic. Other topics came up that, I think, point also to an either/or mindset, such as a strong focus on illegal immigration issues. In any case, it's been a good conversation so far. He's been receptive to what I've had to say so far. I hope it can be fruitful and help us both come to a better sense of what is true. In any case, it's been really interesting.