Thursday, April 30, 2009

this is somethin' else

Pachelbel's Canon in D major as arranged by Trace Bundy, playing with Sungha Jung.

a moment's pause

so, this is the last time i take the journey south, bound for dublin, on an outbound ticket. next time it'll be a return.
tomorrow i'll back up over the border in a van to move all my worldly possessions.

100 miles seems very far today. but as i stood on the platform at holywood with my suitcase and looked out over the lough, feeling my throat choke up and my eyes prick at the corners, i realised i felt relief mixed with the anxiety and sadness of such a significant day. relief at having a different view in the future. of how the past 4 years (almost) have been against this backdrop with so much sadness and loss. each time i have looked out over the water, that was in years before shared and home, having then changed irrevocably... each time looking out over the water acted as a reminder of things i'd rather forget.

i'm moving so that i have a different view. a life less scarred by memories. the memories i associate with dublin are older. and having been in belfast for 8 years, i have been able to leave much of the past it holds to rest. so that now it feels like a new place. so here i am, on a train, leaving the past behind.

as i sit here on the train as i have done so many times in recent months, and as i hold back tears, all i can say with conviction is, i want the future to be different.



as the train passed Newry and crossed the border the sun finally appeared, and a feeling of leaving turned to going toward...

tomorrow i will have some, "see you soons" that will catch in my throat. but for now, the view from my parentals' balcony is of hills and trees exploding in spring green and there's dinner on the stove. so i'll be thankful. for tomorrow will be a long day with a 200 mile round trip in the van and moving as much stuff as it'll take and there won't be time to pause and take in the beauty. and then a weekend of unpacking awaits.


the writer's almanac for today tells me it's annie dillard's birthday. which is worth a pause in itself in which to feel good about the world. it's a better place for her having been in it.

also from the almanac, Leisure, by William Henry Davies. which i haven't read in years. hard to argue with...

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

as an old Irish saying goes,
not one of us is promised tomorrow.


taste of home

in anticipation of the perfect pint when the moving's all done...

how fitting


at the above site any URL can get a Dickensian makeover.

so i thought i'd try the url for this here blog. this is the replacement it generated:

yep, that's,

Pip, dear old chap, life is made of ever so many partings welded together...

- from Great Expectations

ha. i didn't know code could have such a wry sense of humour. ;)


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Give Up Yer Aul Sins

i was wanting to load something to mark moving back to dublin.

This series, including the original Oscar-nominated short, from Brown Bag Films, is based upon the 1960s recordings of young Dublin children telling Bible stories in a classroom to their schoolteacher. more at youtube.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

au revoir, beloveds

with tomorrow night as my last night sleeping north of the border, tonight marked my last night, for a while at least, at the tuesday table.

i am so grateful, and always will be, for the deep connection i have forged with the folks around that table. those who challenge me in a way i have never been challenged anywhere else. because, as i said to them tonight, these distinct voices around the room, i carry in my mind like a prism. each one has a unique take on the world and together their voices make for harmony.
it has been a real gift to have their individual and collective presence in my life. and i realise now just how much i will miss them, their constancy. miss the reflecting i get to do each week as i replay our conversations and look at the scribbles in my notebook and feel them adding shape and texture and colour to the themes that unfold.

i don't think any of them know just how much influence they have had on me over the years. i realised too tonight that the sharing of a journey together has been so valuable, so important to me, in a way i don't yet fully see. we have shared memory and that strikes deep for me. i value it more highly than i can find adequate words for. and i'm not even sure why that is so important. perhaps... perhaps because they have stayed true as much as they have stayed constant. they have my trust.

as i move back to the town that was home for many years to connect with my biological and blended family and do the work of allowing myself to be a part of that just as i am, i know i have my family of choice back here. a table to come back to. and wherever team fury or i am in the world, they will always be family to me.

so, with deep deep love and immense gratitude for getting me to here, for making tuesday the new sunday and for always holding on,
it is with a smile and with some tears, i finally hear myself saying, this really is it. i'm moving.

thanks family.
i'll be back soon.


educating us out of creativity

i know a load of folks who will totally get this. so i'm sharing it. plus it's full of quirky humour, as much as it's beautifully insightful.


Sunday, April 26, 2009

sacred questions before this 21st century cross

interrogate everything
- ikon, lessons in evanDelism, '08

i've been listening to david's talk at ffm 09. which is about as frustrating a thing as a person can do for pleasure of a rainy sunday. my brother said he enjoyed it because it's like having david in the room. a comfort in a familiar voice. and that's why it's frustrating. david peppers all his talks with,
does anyone have anything they want to throw in on that?

and david means it. which is one of the reasons i like him so much, why he's one of my favourite people to be in conversation with. he's got, what seems to me, something like an instinctual Ricoeur thing going on. it's all about the space inbetween, in the exchange, in the Q&A, the back and forth of that inbetween where things get electric. that to me is the space of divine happening.
so i'm speaking to the laptop. saying,
yes, i do... i wanna talk about this. wonder around this. i want to see the space spark and breathe. i want how i envisage it to be expanded. see its edges perforated, where my limitations only now see solid boundaries. i want cracks to appear so that more light comes in... but all i have is the laptop and me responding to an audio recording...

perhaps when we have a space in between that's closed, small... claustrophobic, only reaffirming of what we already think or finding ways to reaffirm what we desire to achieve, then the possibility of divine happening is being squeezed out. it's the kind of space in which politicians sit with lawyers and find doublespeak loopholes that will make,
pervert, justice to be synonymous with brutality. that's a space that's not opening up room for revelation, for truth. in those spaces, people become bodies. and we become God, rather than G-D being revealed... and i don't know what to do with that... not a fucking clue other than to pray... and praying to G-D i pray is outside of my head... the G-D that suffers here:

david quotes Marx,
religious suffering is at one at the same time the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering.
religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature the heart of a heartless world and the soul of souless conditions.

the man who also said, "religion is the opiate of the masses"... and david poses a question about how we define religion. global consumerism as religion perhaps...?

and so i'm there speaking back to the laptop and asking, what happens if we say it's democracy that's the opiate of the masses? or maybe, the drug's a two party system played out in the media as a false dichotomy of left v. right, that reduces what should be moral action to mere party political?

what is it that's keeping us asleep?

because religion, when it's weak, when our G-D is weak, by which we might mean self sacrificing, might help us speak to power... i'm trying to make sense of how interrogate everything without adding to the brutality... faced with this cross, what do we stand for...? what will i stand for?

i was reminded of this:

If anyone asks: "How did Jesus raise the dead?" kiss me on the lips, say:
like this!

- Rumi, Like This, translation from Rumi's Divan by Fatemeh Keshavarz

when i heard this:
justice is what love looks like in public
- cornel west, ffm09

that's about as religious statement as i've ever heard. we need this space for the apocalyptic, for the conversations from the war room to the campus to the check out aisle to the hospital room waiting room to the prison to keep being broken open with our questions, out interrogations. i know i need it, 'cause i don't know what to do with all of this.

and so by way of cornel west and solomon burke and all the other poets, i find those edges of the conversation that david and others keep bringing to the table, that i talk to as i stand at the kitchen counter with coffee and scrambled eggs... those edges are pushed out wider for me... this, i say, i believe:

it's not the religion of Jesus that keeps me numb... that's what keeps me hoping there's something impossible around the corner... that justice, which is beyond any impeachment, but looks like heart rending change in the name of full force goodness... it keeps me questioning everything, even when i'd rather sleep easy and not have to look this cross in the face.


this i used to believe. 4 very different stories on this american life. all worth hearing.

edited to add: as is this sobering conversation between bill moyers and co-creator of the wire, david simon on the truth about what he calls the war on the underclass.

"If you don't need 'em, why extend yourself? Why seriously assess what you're doing to your poorest and most vulnerable citizens? There's no profit to be had in doing anything other than marginalizing them and discarding them."


thy kingdom come
thy will be done


(photo from this in the daily dish.)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

what about the view from your window...?

the daily dish is still looking for photographs from north dakota, south dakota, tennessee and rhode island for their upcoming book. details here

spread the word...


love: when loneliness is shared

shirley and i went to the movies last night and saw, let the right one in.

what follows are some wonderings in the aftermath...(no plot spoilers, but *lots* of thematic ones)

shirley and i both loved it. it really is as good as they said it'd be. and it left one with so many questions... questions about untold stories within the story... the title alone is open to layers of interpretation, full of ambiguity, and the ending is an almost perfect "..."

was it scary? yes. is it horror? yes. but not gratutiously so. a great deal is left to the imagination. i was ready to cover my eyes numerous times but i think only once did i actually look away. i struggle with gore, but this is not a slasher film. the violence is portrayed and concealed in some clever ways. the scariest moment was for me not even a moment of violence but downright creepy in the way the ending of the japanese horror movie, ring is creepy, or the monster with eyes in his hands in pan's labyrinth is creepy. nightmarish.
funny? yes. in a way that the horror genre often is. and poignantly sad and beautiful without ever descending into mawkishness or melodrama.
this is perhaps one of the most restrained horror films i've seen. it's a dark, DARK, fairytale. it's a children's story made for adults and filmed very much from a child's perspective.

for me, science fiction and fantasy at their best are deep with metaphor, pushing at the edges of reality so as to make comment on what we call 'normality'. when the everyday meets the fantastical we have to question how we would react if we were in the same circumstance but we've been unhoused in order to be provoked. something is put off kilter. the line between the real and the unreal messed with.
the vampire myth is in large part about the psychosexual, where sex meets death, sex being equated with both violence and a life force, hunger, and not being able to have what you want without someone else paying a price. but where the vampire myth deals with what we do with our perverse desire, this takes a totally different route...

so we find themes of difference... of love... innocence... what it is to be a child... cruelty and manipulation... aging... need... love without sex... and a fascinating provocation about gender ambiguity... not for a second do i mean that to not 'fit' the assumed heteronormative is to be equated to being a vampire, ie to be not-human, or a monster. this film somehow managed to deftly avoid such an equation, while at the same time placing gender ambiguity as absolutely central to the story, as is the companion theme of being an outsider, overlooked or bullied by society, of being excluded and to experience deep loneliness, of wanting to be something other than a victim, of wanting to love and be be invited let someone else in...of not being able to change who you are...

there is something very challenging about how we confuse sex with love and needing to sexually fit in order to experience love and partnership. that the characters are pre-pubescent (or right on the cusp) allows this to be exposed. sex for them is something apart, distant, not yet... if anything sex is something to be feared, for it is both unknown, and will get in the way of love... and one wonders where there story will go after the credits roll... that tragedy is yet to strike... that what they share is potentially impossible... because it's going to get complicated and upsetting the moment full sexual desire kicks in... love will inevitably turn to perversion...

it is therefore ironic in an unsettling way that the movie was preceded by an advert for a sparkling orange drink. it featured two dolls in a very basic stop motion animation - think action man and barbie - they are in the act of foreplay. they touch and kiss. but when the towel the male doll is wearing drops, barbie is horrified to find he lacks genitals. they lie side by side in bed, her on her side away from him, him on his back. the tagline appears...

some bits are crucial.

now i get it. this soft drink prides itself on having orangey bits in it. we were meant to laugh and think, oh, yes, that's clever. but instead, shirley and myself both turned quizzically and said, "What the...?" imagine they were not dolls but real people... and the film proved to be a welcome (albeit inadvertant) response...

what bits are crucial...? what bits of you are the ones that love another? is innocent love without sex an impossibility? a fantasy? what is it that is lost when we grow up? none of this is answered, but is provoked... when we love someone and want them to be our most special of friends, what are we looking for? what is it that is being shared? loneliness perhaps. and what does true love (if such a thing exists) overlook or accept?

if wikipedia is anything to go by, the novel from which the film is adapted, seems to have been very different, or at least, more definitive, more complex than the screenplay (written by the author himself), which left aspects wide open to audience interpretation. now knowing the back story from the novel puts a completely new spin on certain characters and scenes. but it says something about the difference in translating a novel to film - they are entirely different mediums. i can't decide if i want to read it or not. there's an american remake of the book about to get underway(rather than a remake of the film - which i take to mean the screenplay will be different) and one can only imagine it'll be a very different take on the story.

the film is beautifully shot. at times it is almost like a graphic novel - the camera held steady, frozen. the lighting is incredibly used to great effect. brilliantly original. standing in an empty train station after the movie was downright creepy. it is the use of electric light against snow and concrete as much as the darkness that is unsettling. the score is beautiful too.
but the real beauty is down to the lead actors who give seemingly effortless embodiment of their characters and show a subtlety that most adult actors would love to achieve.

and at the centre of the film is a scene of such quiet beauty, both visually and in terms of the script, that i found myself choking back tears at the vulnerability and acceptance it expressed in both the central characters. one of those moments when you know this is the scene on which everything else hangs. i found myself making associations with moments in both boys don't cry and don't look now. of showing what physical and unapologetic, emotional tenderness looks like.

if there's a lasting question embodied in these characters, it is perhaps, what is it to love despite difference? what is it to accept another as they are? this is a love story about two children who are in different ways vulnerable and lonely. and perhaps that's what makes this horror tale so compelling, that neither of them attempt to conceal their outsiderness from the other. they are different from others and from each other. and they love anyway. is innocence lost the moment we dehumanise the other? when we push the other away because they are different, because there are things they don't want us to see in them, when we reject...? how do we accept someone who feels rejectable?

the vampire gore of this film is not the real horror of this story. the violence is part of the package. that might be problematic on one level, but beyond the blood, this beautifully captures the enduring power of the vampire-mortal love myth and does something really fresh with it. it gives us two characters who draw compassion from the viewer and reminds us that it is a tragedy to be trapped in eternity without growing old. we fear death, but to not have death is not a gift, but a kind of hell.

what bits of me are crucial to who i am? to make me worthy of your love? to make me human? how often is the unspoken subtext of human relationship, if you knew who i really am, would you love me anyway? will you share this loneliness with me?

the innocent love in us ignores the in-spite-of, and says, yes. in that moment love is more powerful than death, and sex. and such love is therefore horrifically, tragically and yet still beautifully blind... it ignores difference, the external body and even the fear of death, and defiantly says,

i know. but can we go steady anyway?

which reminds me of this line from neil gaiman.

right, back to packing boxes i go.


note: the version released on dvd in the usa does not feature the original theatrical (english) subtitles. apparently a new version is going to be brought out following complaints at the simplified and inferior translation.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

stories from the margins

peterson has a great post today:

Three men in a Tube–NEW YouTube videos on Transgender Issues

i believe it's vitally important to listen to the stories of those who are living on the margins. to believe in the dignity and worth of each human is to undergo transformation beyond the narrowness of our experience, definitions and understanding. gender difference is perhaps the most basic human definition we have. it colours everything we expect in a fellow human being. trans stories challenge the limitations we create for others and ourselves through these gendered assumptions.
when one begins to hear the stories of those who are excluded and hurt because their stories don't fit our expectations, there is a responsibility to keep on listening and to learn. if we believe we are called to step into being more compassionate and welcoming, then we are implicitly challenged to explore whether our own understanding limits to whom we are willing to extend our compassion and welcome. each human story can reveal more about what it means to be human. to understand the other better, is to understand ourselves.

is my understanding open enough, understanding enough, just enough, loving enough, to embrace the dignity and worth of the other...? all too often it's not... it's not the other that has to change, it's me...

enlarge your world


when all possible outcome seems dark

last night at tuesday group we talked through brueggemann's reading of jeremiah's prayer in Jer32:16-25

it was conversation filled with struggle and doubt, the tension of contradiction and many more questions than answers over what "Jeremiah has YHWH say"...
we talked of the sins of the father being wrought on the child, and our varying struggles to understand or conceive of divine intervention. balanced by the knowledge that to live by the sword means almost inevitably one will die by it. and that even if one generation does not, the next one will reap what has been sown. you don't need to believe in an interventionist G-D to believe in that...

when we pray, we are not meant to systematic theologians, we are meant to be human...

some of the discussion was a wrestling within on what to do as individuals who are part of a national or even international us. i found the themes difficult in light of all the talk of torture... and i thought, not for the first time this week, of Jeremiah Wright's controversial sermon post 9/11... and wondered with the others what it is we are called to be... how do we intervene? what is my responsibility?

someone cited australian activist and writer, dave andrews, who after many years of trying to change others, came to the conclusion that ultimately his job was to change himself and be a witness. someone talked of us being G-D's hands, G-D's light in the world. another spoke of us willing ressurrection with life and compassion. to step out beyond ourselves... if the Bible tells stories of how G-D listens to those who are on the edge, who suffer, then that is our job too...

blessed are you who are care-full for you will find yourselves cared for... and each of us must choose if we want to be doing the caring for, or walk on by...


andrew sullivan quoted neil gaiman - i lay awake with a heavy heart.

The memos refer to other classified documents -- including an "Effectiveness Memo" and an "IG Report," which explain how "the use of enhanced techniques in the interrogations of KSM, Zubaydah and others . . . has yielded critical information." Why didn't Obama officials release this information as well? Because they know that if the public could see the details of the techniques side by side with evidence that the program saved American lives, the vast majority would support continuing it.
Marc A. Thiessen, The Washington Post
Tuesday, April 21, 2009

(highlights, my own.)

i lay awake hoping that isn't true.


yep. i hope not. <-- i fell asleep watching this.

i still believe G-D is the impossible happening...


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

the power of digression

be still my beating heart.

i just washed off the grime of the day with this as the soundtrack. don't know if i posted it before but it's worth recommending again. i find this to be deliciously good. and beautiful.


from a tea break

it's all about interesting conversations at the moment. well, that's one of the bigger themes.
the day-to-day this week is all about emptying shelves and packing my life up into boxes but that's dull as dishwater in my book. the unpacking and subsequent turning of a blank magnolia slate of an apartment into a suitably me-zone is the only carrot to tempt me to keep up the pace. still, at least i'm not having to do this relocation while my heart is in free fall, like the move to here last May. if i needed proof that there's some strength in me, that i survived that fucking horrible month is a contender. but thankfully that is the past and today is today and if i find myself bored rather than weeping while i pack, then i know i'm doing better.

so. anyways. interesting conversations... oh. yes:

my dear brother highly recommended this interview from ffm 09. his praise was not unwarranted. not that it ever is. so i knew whatever this turned out to be it'd be good.
cornel west talks with lupe fiasco. i'd never heard of mr fiasco but this conversation contains some great stuff from both of them. it's been running in the backround as i pack to stave off the boredom and on each listen i hear something new.

i get to go to tuesday group tonight. which is cause for joy and gratitude.


something happy...

are we in a post-moral era?

so Dick Cheney has joined in the US torture debate.

surely using the, "But the torture worked" defence is like a guy defending a charge of rape by saying, "Well it got me an orgasm, didn't it?"

just because it got you what you wanted, doesn't make it right.
torture as a means to an end is no better than torture being an end in itself.

we're in deeply disturbing moral territory when the publicising of, and efficacy of, torture are the issues at hand,

you will be known by how well you treat your enemy...


Friday, April 17, 2009

ever get the feeling...

the universe is trying to tell you something...?

i feel like i've been tossed a little cosmic bone of encouragement.

thanks universe. i'm rather chuffed at the gesture.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

don't let the T be silent

i've added peterson's blog to my published list, over there on the right hand side, but he wanted this particular story to get a push. so consider this me circling it with a highlighter pen and passing it over. please pass it on.

through his art and activism, peterson has been focussing increasingly on the rights and stories of transgender people over the past year, and this story is troubling. on several levels.

no time to say more right now as my step-brother is getting married in a couple of hours and there's champagne needing drunk...


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Låt den rätte komma in

i *loved* the trailer for this when i saw it in the loft in tucson way back in early december. reviews since have been full of praise and now the wait is finally over. as soon as i am done with family wedding shenanigans here in dublin, i'll be heading north to track down a showing.

guillermo del toro is singing its praises. which only cranks up the expectation another notch...

Let The Right One In


lost love 2

no amount of coffee
no amount of crying
no amount of whisky
no amount of wine
no no no no no
nothing else will do
i gotta have you
i gotta have you

- the weepies, gotta have you on :: Say I Am You ::

so much of life is spent living with what you cannot have, however much you gotta have it...


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

what the...?

colour me grimacing...

i'm not going to hit the website for these folks lest it induces some kind of breakdown of my current general gooder-than-it-has-been disposition towards life or suggests to these folks i'm interested in what they might have to say, but i note these folks state their purpose as,

Answers in Genesis is an apologetics (i.e., Christianity-defending) ministry, dedicated to enabling Christians to defend their faith and to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively.

going by their other advert on YouTube these folks are worried about anti-Christian prejudice. err... lads? i'm pretty sure this ain't gonna help your cause.

wrong. just plain wrong.

and no, i don't what the heck it means either.


judas recalled and some rambling thoughts

pete's posted up a summary of ikon::recalls Judas, including our recordings of the reflections.

the live version of mine ended up being more like as i intended it - more pitching and heaving, fast paced and well... angry than the earlier recorded version. that said, the table was so crowded with folks that there was no room to gesticulate. my body felt like a coiled spring and there was no room to physically express as i'd have liked. jonny was behind doing the live mixing underneath our voices and commented afterward, it's a shame you couldn't stand. and this is what i love about the whole collaborative experiment, that we try stuff and it's okay for it not to be perfect...
(i toned it down to a much more meditative level for the audio-only version. but, as an experiment, i'm glad we have kept a record for once. )

in the '08 gathering, Satisfaction, and in our workshop at gb08, lessons in evandelism we recognised that it is disatisfaction that keeps artists making art, not success. you keep trying to make it better and learning as you go.
it was a real treat to back at the ikon table after leaving the cyndicate 6 months back and taking a break. i loved what everyone brought to the table, it really provoked me. i can't wait for whatever we're gonna try next.
even as an ikon::recalls, this was *so* different from the 2002 version of Judas, that it was still a one off.
we prepare, we do it and we move on to the next... Sunday night really got close to embodying what i think theodrama might be about...

on a not unrelated front, i haven't watched all the videos, but in thinking over Easter about what the heck it is i actually mean when i say, i believe, i came across this theopoetics site, which i'm really enjoying exploring. and in a way, this gets the closest yet to articulating how i understand my belief, without making me feel boxed by the technicalities of labels such as Christian Agnostic or a/theist. this breaks something open for me. this video on bruggemann's dialogue with the emerging church really did it for me. i kind of want to pull up a chair with david and sarah and this guy, and several folks besides. actually, no kinda about it.

i've been wondering for a while what would develop from my journey through deconstruction and the psychoanalytic, and have been in increasingly finding suggestions of narrative and the unsystematic and the poetic coming out of my mouth... embryonic unformed questioning attempts with several nouns and adjectives increasingly taking on a verb form. which probably stems from exploring in '07 the idea of "G-D as event" (rather than as being) in The God Delusion. and i think it's also been an attempt to wonder what category to put what i did at Vanderbilt last October into... i've been filling out a college application and trying to describe what i've been up to on the ikon journey has been wrecking my head.

the experience of ikon is very often doing something that i don't know how to describe. and i'm willing to confess that it can be bloody intimidating when the kind of people who typically describe what you're doing are philosophers like Jack Caputo. (there's a reason why when someone approaches and says they've been reading Pete's work and Caputo's and they're a big fan of ikon although they've never been and would love to talk about what we do that i typically respond, "let's get a pint". thank G-D we do a lot of stuff in pubs!) i love the conversations but man do i have to work hard at them. and i don't say that to imply i'm stupid or ignorant, or that i have a problem with the philosophy that's been used to describe and inspire ikon. it's just i'm more comfortable with, and have been in want of, an alternative language set that allows for all the provisionality but which flows more freely rather than making me feel tongued tied beside the academics.

i suspect of a fair few of us collaborators in ikon have at this stage enough knowledge in our heads and have done the stuff enough times to get an honourary PhD in Philosophy but don't realise it because we are doing it without the need, or indeed in some cases desire, to articulate or even understand it philosophically.

so anyway, all that is really meant to say, some helpful dots are being joined through this theopoetic stuff... this all intrinsically seems to make sense to me in a way that feels potentially liberating and worth exploring more. and my brain's not hurting.

Reknitting our creeds light in hand
We are liberated by our uncertainty
Our fragile belief
where G-D is the wound, the hole in the weave
We discover the world
We face the other
Undergoing, Listening, Wondering, embracing
Asking, Is this how it could be?

Let our stories unravel and be told without conclusion
Let us knit our lives together
With meaning that cannot be grasped by our words

(from the liturgical poem i wrote for The God Delusion. seems to fit. somehow.)

Brook, if you read this - l'engle gets a mention on the theopoetics site, which brought you to mind.


the woman next door

via an incredibly eloquent dorothee soelle quote from sarah,

and via the daily dish. sullivan got choked up over Miss Boyle, (who, physically, reminds me so much of the Scottish women i was surrounded by in my youth), and i'm unashamed to say, so did i.

here's to the unseen and unexpected. which is a theme i'm increasingly interested in, especially in a gender and queer context - seeing the assumed normative deconstructed as it is subverted by those kept to the edges because they don't quite fit our expectations.

my dear brother-by-choice, Chris, said, "If The Wire were a bible passage it would be this:" seems fitting here too...

God chose what is weak in the world to make the strong feel ashamed. And God chose what is insignificant in the world, what is despised, what is nothing, in order to destroy what is something, so that no one may boast in God's presence. (1Cor 28-29)


Sunday, April 12, 2009

we love with our innards

Ms. Tippett: Something I've always been intrigued by, though, in my conversations with Orthodox Christians, is how this attunement to, to the senses is also very earthy, also has a very earthy side. It's not all just about gorgeous images in worship. And, you know, I just, I wanted to read this passage that you quoted in your book Incarnate Love, which, of course, is a central theme of the Easter story. And, you know, the example you used of talking about this is, is how it was articulated in, by Dostoevsky's Ivan Karamazov, right?

Mr. Guroian: Yes.

Ms. Tippett: And you wrote, he said, "Alyosha, my boy, so I want to live and go on living even if it's contrary to the rules of logic, even if I do not believe in the divine order of things. The sticky young leaves emerging from their buds in the spring are dear to my heart, so is the blue sky, and so are some human beings, even though I often don't know why I like them. I'll get drunk on my own emotion. I love these sticky little leaves and the blue sky. That's what, you don't love those things with reason, with logic. You love them with your innards, with your belly."

Mr. Guroian: Yes. And of course, the irony, which is so often a device used by Dostoevsky is that the principal atheist who's rebelling against God in the novel is articulating precisely what the Christian experience is or ought to be...

from this conversation.



happy easter... as i write the bells of the local church are pealing.

last night after a lovely meal and company hosted by Pádraig, he, Willow, Mark and i headed round to Clonard for the Easter Vigil. Will Crawley was there to film the vigil for an upcoming BBC programme on religion in Northern Ireland, and i'm pretty sure the cameraman must have been pretty delighted with the scenes on offer.
the vigil began outside the church with a fire being lit in a brazier from which the Paschal candle was lit. from this in turn the candles held by the congregants were lit and then the light passed from candle to candle throughout the crowd as the people followed the Paschal candle into the darkened church.
inside, a traditional Irish litany was sung by a priest and when the congregation sang the refrain of praise the candles were lifted up high. it was beautiful. each time the candles were lifted it was as if light was being breathed into being. it wasn't til after a reading of the entire creation story in Genesis that the electric lights in the church were slowly turned on to reveal Clonard's rich interior. we later relit our candles for the baptism of a South African man, Philip. the congregants were invited to renew their baptismal vows and once Philip had been baptised several priests moved through the church with bowls of holy water, dipping evergreen branches, ("palm leaves" from Palm Sunday) into the water and annointed the people. i've been in Clonard and masses in general enough times to not mind that i can't remember the entire liturgy. the vigil was a feast for the senses. but i left the service with a sense of incompleteness and questions, lightly held, but suspended within me and seeking resolve...

to have been raised in what were for the most part ecumenically minded Presbyterian congregations i am used to communion being preceded by a very intentional welcome to all. what i write here i write without rancour or resentment and i know enough about the monastic community at Clonard and its ecumenical activities to know that had i chosen to receive communion i could have done so without fear of reprisal or judgment. i was present several years back at a Presbyterian communion at which one of Clonard's priests took his first public communion in a Protestant church - it was a *deeply* moving occasion of ecumenical friendship. so this is not about Clonard or its people. but as the liturgy unfolded i was struck by the absence of the explicit welcome i expect to find weaved into the liturgy...

the Roman Catholic liturgy does contain these lines,

Priest: This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Happy are those who are called to his supper.
All: Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.

in conversation after the service, Pádraig noted these lines as being the basis of welcome, that i could have participated, and i had heard them. but i wasn't the only one in our group who heard the absence of the welcome we are used to our own traditions. i believe that not sharing in the Mass was my choice. i did not desire permission in order to partake. through lack of belief in transubstantiation, or feminist principle, or as one who is divorced, i might have found various reasons to not partake. but it came down to this... to have come from a denomination in which one can measure the theology of the church one finds oneself in by how the welcome is phrased (and in my own tradition were it absent or delivered in a way that inferred exclusiveness, i would not take it) last night, not being on 'home turf', i found myself not being one of the 'welcoming' but one seeking explicit invitation as a visitor.

i have shared communion, although not in recent years, non-attending backslider that i am, in both the lowness of Presbyterian tradition and high Anglicanism. the mass liturgy is no different from these in showing the limitations as much as the rich beauty of liturgy.

i haven't taken mass when at the midnight Christmas eve vigil in Clonard. but this Easter vigil... something was different. it mattered in a way that it had not before. i left the church, grateful to have been there but with a sense of there being a gap... there was something i did not receive. the choice was mine to not step across that threshold, and so i write all of this, not to criticize but to question... what does it mean to feel welcomed to the table? what were the words i needed to hear?

i hold these questions lightly. they do not feel like a burden. perhaps they are an invitation of their own... to understand better what belonging at the table means to me...


today, Easter Sunday, marks a moving from orthodoxy of the vigil to what some might call heresy and others think of as theodrama. as i sat in the church last night i contemplated several times on what is to come in the ikon gathering, Judas. Pete's been recording the reflections, which Jonny's going to mix with music and then they'll be posted online. he recorded mine yesterday morning.

i believe in G-D as the ear that hears all human hearts... and is witness to both our suffering and our resurrecting
the homily delivered last night sealed for me why i feel complete peace with what we will be exploring. for the boundaries we are pushing at, the story we are trying to break open... even though some of my own words might be recieved by some as a kind of blasphemy...

here it is, paraphrased... (how to spot the Presbyterian in a congregation: the one taking notes in the sermon ;) )

when we move from self-centredness and focussing on our own happiness to giving to others,
resurrection is happening. new life is emerging.
when hopelessness and despair turns to hope, resurrection is happening. new life is emerging.
when we are released from addiction into freedom, resurrection is happening. new life is emerging.
when we find a way through to heal dispute, resurrection is happening. new life is emerging.
when in chaos, we find meaningful sense, resurrection is happening. new life is emerging.
when we are suffering and we find a place of acceptance and even meaning, resurrection is happening. new life is emerging.
in survival of hardship, resurrection is happening. new life is emerging.
when we find purpose, meaning and happiness in unexpected places, resurrection is happening. new life is emerging.

find resurrection in your life. and share it. with those you love. and perhaps even with those you might hate.

if you are still at Good Friday, still at the cross, then hold onto trust, that Christ is risen and brings new life.

Judas has remained in a perpetual Good Friday... his legacy - a long anguished cry throughout history, as the one who is scorned as betrayer and does not live to see resurrection. i believe in a G-D of welcome and invitation. who stands with Judas and all others in pain of Good Friday, and who being outside time is waiting on Easter Sunday, inviting us to be surprised by resurrection. to hold on to trust... that all things are possible. to have hope in darkness for what is always to come. G-D is both the cross and the empty tomb. and i believe we are held wherever we are. and perhaps in truth, we are all of us living in Easter Saturday, in the place inbetween for much of the time. neither there nor here. i believe in G-D who is present in that inbetween - in the vital wrestling space between endings and beginnings. the space of daily resurrection. where we might defy death with hope, however fragile. On Good Friday, there is an Easter Sunday that never ceases to be coming, just as we are always emerging...

may we hold on to trust... and may we emerge into welcome... to allow those parts of ourselves and our lives that are caught, like Judas, at the place of suffering to be heard, so they might be healed.


Friday, April 10, 2009

conservative teabagging phenomenon

oh sweet Lord. after gareth showed mark and i glenn beck's deeply disturbed and reprehensible, "Obama, douse us in petrol and set us on fire" broadcast on Fox "News" from last night, which i refuse to link to on sheer principle, *this* was the antidote i needed.

i damn near broke a rib. it would have been worth it for the laugh. bravo girls. bravo. love it.

soul surmise

stocki has a new blog - hit above title for link

and mike riddell's has been renamed and reformulated, here

secret love

i have an online news alert set for the South West USA and was shocked to see the reports of fires in Oklahoma and Texas. yet another sobering reminder of the power of nature and the fragility of human life in its path...

my eye was caught by several place names - Wichita, Amarillo, Choctaw...

the Choctaw Ridge in this song is, as far as i know, in the Mississippi delta, but no matter - the report got me to remembering a car journey, possibly through France, when i was about 9, in which i got into country music thanks to a mixtape my dad had playing on the car stereo. it was this song that did it.

it's been a couple of years now since i (port fueled) sang this at our (much missed) sessions in the kitchen (sometimes at the cottage or at Pádraig's)... it remains for me one of the most haunting songs ever penned. and i think it always will.


when the night has come...

and the land is dark
and the moon
is the only light we see
no i won't be afraid
no i won't be afraid
just as long
as you stand
stand by me

it's curious how singing helps us feel safer in the dark. this video (served up on the daily dish) seemed like an invitation to have faith and solidarity as we wait for what we hope will come...

Stand By Me from David Johnson on Vimeo.

so, 'til the new dawn easters in, i'll keep watch. you, find some rest. i'll try and sing softly.


Wednesday, April 08, 2009

next ikon

as part of the ikon :: recalls series - ikon revisits a previous gathering, Judas, with a new take

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

meg ryan is a helicopter pilot*

apropos of absolutely nothing other than this made me laugh. a lot.

few things make me chuckle more than mark kermode in rant mode, when he can barely keep up with himself. the billboard ads for bride wars made me want to claw my own eyes out. the trailer left me not far short of apoplectic. kermode and i agree on the brilliance of the wicker man, don't look now and mary poppins but firmly disagree on casino royale. i'm never sure what he's going to like, but i enjoy his reviews regardless and find his energy infectious. although i was pretty sure we'd be singing from the same hymn sheet when i came across this review yesterday. he did not disappoint.
"Everyone will tell you this is a 'chick flick'. It is. Only insomuch that if it was ground up and fed to battery hens it might be better served than running through a projector."

- Mark Kermode, reviewing Bride Wars, Jan '09

* see also, kermode reviews, marley and me

savagely entertaining.


harsh and delicate

from Sunday: Will and Stox discuss the CFC legacy on the Northern Irish music scene with Stewart Bailey on Sunday Sequence. surreal way to start one's Sunday. were it not for the listen again button i'd have thought i'd dreamt this conversation while dozing. (see the highlight from latest programme Hidden Sermons...)


from today:
bravo to Vermont. another significant step in the right direction for gay rights in the US. let's hope 2009 proves to be the year that Ireland achieves marriage equality for all its citizens.

(might as well celebrate something good, since news today is now shifted from the tragic scenes in Italy to be dominated by the brutal emergency budget. the next couple of years will be lean. as if on cue, the weather has turned brutish and we're being blasted into the night by driving wind and rain. just to add to the mood. it's being called the toughest budget in the history of the Irish state. but will the government fall? time will tell.)

another welcome thing: nathan phillips has sent me a lovely gift of his new cd, Postcard. (couple of tracks at that link). i'm gonna curl up under the duvet for the first listen and pore over the lyrics. i think nathan's voice is like dandelion clocks in slow motion. aaron & whitni roche and julie lee feature. it's gonna be good.

you are giving it up
to the one in the rough
of the Cyclamen, violets and thorns
there is life to be won
there are things to be sung
so you pull down the guard
and lift up your voice
to know your not all alone

high on the hill
where you are in the sun
peace comes to you
where you are in its beams
through the sky, over the trees
leaps in patches along the leaves

- where you are, nathan phillips, on Postcard

Saturday, April 04, 2009

ever get the feeling...

that you're just not living?

certainly can't be said of this man:
George Moyse, a few days shy of his 98th birthday.



Friday, April 03, 2009

everything was beautiful & nothing hurt*

2 pieces of video...

first, the footage of a girl being flogged by Taliban fighters in Pakistan, which left me this morning in horror and feeling speechless. i had no idea what words to respond with and still don't now. and certainly not any that are non-violent in spirit right at this moment.

second is this, over at the daily dish. andrew sullivan is bringing up to the minute coverage today of the extremely important iowa and vermont rulings on gay marriage. but this video stands out, as does his commentary.

it's all got something to do with rights and human dignity and justice. but the world keeps turning...

:: and so it goes :: *


*slaughterhouse-five tattoos

sounds irish

i have had, for many years, a serious love/hate thing going on with music-related best of lists... but this one avoids the very thing i hate. the irish times has created a list of the 50 best irish music acts right now. which allows for both established and new acts to have an equal crack at the whip based on what their currently up to and their impact on the irish music scene. so it naturally means those lower down the list will rise up on the basis of well received work in the future, and equally those in the top 10 might drop if they don't have longevity or influence on other artists.

if nothing else it's a good reminder of just how distinctly established the irish music industry is, and thus how different the perspectives can be in dublin and belfast. only 100 miles between them but undeniably these are two very distinct scenes. on several levels.

regardless, this is possibly the first music list of its kind i've not felt the need to have an argument with... this is why it's good to have some provisionality...


Thursday, April 02, 2009


yesterday was filled with April fools across the web but i think i'm gonna hand my own little imaginary award to the guardian, who announced yesterday they were ending 188 years of print to providing news published exclusively through twitter. they get a very nice dig at the daily mail in there too.


Wednesday, April 01, 2009

file under "must read"

doing my bit for the cause - david's new book is out today:

the sacredness of questioning everything.

what i'd call extremely worthwhile stuff.


happy birthday Miriam

Introducing a brand new series, A Bird in the Hand
Pilot Episode: Oops!
in which our heroine admits to being a bad sister-in-law and makes a low budget
animated movie in a flagrant attempt to make up for it by morning.
Starring an approximate rendering of LittleBird, and her entirely fictitious imaginary friend, Bob.