26 January 2010

Cobbling Fish

You never told me about Sacco and Vanzetti, Mother.
We are their champions, though they looked guilty,
at least we are more than any Jewish-Russian beatnik.
And Father, well, he always said it just takes a little
common sense, as if there were a collective answer that defined
the practicality of all action (nevermind those wild orchids).
La via vecchia, the old ways, laid beside me last night,
telling me of things to fear: “You always loved me.”
Non si sorprenda.

15 January 2010

Photography Friday (4)

Seattle is one of my favorite American cities. Its surrounding area is one of my favorite American countrysides. This may have to do with the fact that I've only been there while the sky was sunny and the air was cool (early fall). I assure you, it has nothing to do with the fact that my favorite Christian hipster lives around there (it's a cheap shot, but he can take it). What, then, is it about this place? Ernie Pyle sums it up pretty well:
"The prairies are all right. The mountains are all right. The forests and the deserts and the clear clean air of the heights, they're all right. But what a bewitching thing is a city of the sea. It was good to be in Seattle—to hear the foghorns on the Sound and the deep bellow of departing steamers; to feel the creeping fog all around you, the fog that softens things and makes a velvet trance out of nighttime."
When you don't know a city, it's very hard to photograph. So all my offerings today consist of what comes easy—nature (as opposed to grace—the city?). The first four photos were shot in Mount Rainier National Park; the last one in the Olympic National Forest. All of them were taken on a Canon AE-1 with E100VS (slide film). Click on an image to get a closer look.

Here's a picture taken once my wife and I traversed the footpath across a patch
of somewhat-slushy ice (part of Nisqually Glacier?). I'm using "footpath" literally.

A little plot of paradise atop a Cascade bluff complete with a little crik and
incredible vista. The ice we just crossed can now be seen off to the right.

Love how the wind is whipping off the crest of this peak
and what it does with the snow and the clouds.

Driving by and had to stop. Mount Rainier basking
in the September sun. Timing is everything.

A little Photoshop finagling to highlight the fiery orange fungi.

04 January 2010

Therefore, Go

I MET A FELLOW the other day who claimed (in jest) to be a member of a recovery group for those addicted to rededications. Apparently, he had suffered from years of rededicating his life to God. By the time he was eighteen, he had rededicated his life ten times. The emotional support and strength he garnered every time he went forward at the end of camp week left him exhilarated, ready to face the task of being Christian in this world—that is, until he slipped up again.

Now, by no means is there anything wrong with rededicating one’s life to God, but by the tenth time, we might consider the notion that something in the church (by “church” I mean “all of God’s people,” not “clergy”) has run amuck. That something might be the lack of discipleship. Far too anxious to “get people in,” to pray the prayer, we have ignored what it takes to stay in, namely, the irresistible and efficient grace of God. Just as soon as we can get a Christian profession out of someone, we drop that person and move on to the next. What does this produce except new converts who have to learn the hard way how to avoid false teaching, or worse, confessors of the faith who have no faith at all? Combine this with the unspoken but ubiquitous (and misguided) doctrine that really good Christians no longer struggle with sin, and we have a situation ripe for rededications.

While dispensing with sin is indeed the charge and duty of all who claim to follow Jesus, the fact that sin persists in this world reveals our need of the grace of God. This, of course, does not mean that we continue in sin so that grace may abound (“By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” Rom. 6:2). Rather, our continuing battle with sin, seemingly increased because as Christians we are more sensitive to it, reveals to us God’s abundant grace (see Rom. 5:20).

By this grace we are made into Christ’s disciples, but it doesn’t happen by just quietly sitting there. This is where the tired cliché “something worth fighting for” actually applies. Becoming a disciple of Christ has to be desired, yearned for, chased after; and further, we who are in a position to disciple must be willing to do so; we must actively seek the opportunities so to do (see Matt. 28:19a). And that means, if the metaphor holds, getting our dirty hands dirty with the lives of others. It simply will not do to shuffle people in only to shuffle them aside, unless we’re ready to send into battle one-legged soldiers in an army of rededication addicts.

{This originally appeared in Tabletalk 29.8 (August 2005): 25}

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