Wednesday, January 31, 2007

What Is The Ring?

i was having a conversation with one of my best friends day before yesterday and i said something which i'm now wondering about. my friend and i use analogies from The Lord of the Rings archetypes - being responsible for something important and difficult is to be a ring-bearer, a close friendship is like frodo and sam's, and so on. and ... i think each of us is a ring-bearer. each of us carries her or his life and challenges and lessons, and we, as each person who interacts with the ring of power does, learn about ourselves and change and grow based on our attachment or lack thereof to the power of the ring. And if the ring is my life, your life, then the whole lesson is about attachment.
i was thinking about that in relation to our faith community, journey. what would it mean if the ring of power, for us, were the miraculous and crazy and mysterious power that god has given to journey, which we recognize as our faith community's calling? i know that gandalf says that "the ring is altogether evil" at the council at rivendell, but i think he's making the point that he says earlier to frodo: i would want to use the ring for good, but if i connect it to my power, it'll be too much, and it would twist my power to do evil things.
so, i'm wondering whether i'm off base in this thing i wrote for my friend. but i'm not worried about it - just thinking. maybe the calling given to our faith community is neither altogether good nor altogether dangerous, and my lesson is to learn not to elevate it to the status of being equal with god. if our calling/vision/mission becomes so important to us that we are attached to it, then our shadow is attached to it as well and that can give us even more power to be unhealthy with.
the true power is in not grasping the ring, but just carrying it, and continuing ... here's what i wrote:

Our vision and calling are not to carry the Ring – they are to carry the Ring but not keep it.
The warehouse [where journey meets, which requires a commitment to pay for each month and can feel like a burden we're carrying] isn’t the Ring – our sense of our calling from God is the Ring. We must carry it lightly and be ready to let it go. To let it all go. To give it back. To release what we are so attached to.
Isn’t that weird? That the Ring we are to carry is our calling from God? That is, our calling from God is what we carry. We are unwise if we think that we on our own can use it for good. It can only be good if it is given back to God, to the Fire from which it came. If we own it we will be turned. We cannot claim it. Clergy and ministries and churches all over the world forever have claimed the calling God had given them and seized it - and it made them sick. Like Saruman the Wise ... and reason turns to madness ... and they can't see anymore; success for God, the Kingdom, is all that matters - which is really, "success for me, for my kingdom, is all that matters, and God gave me this power to achieve that, and that's what God wants!"

but to accept it ... and let it go ... and not own it ... just serve it ... and be ready to release it?
Yeah, it’s painful. Like Galadriel, when it is offered to us, we may get a little headrush …

Sunday, January 28, 2007


Remind me to tell you about my theory about something I like to call Young Man Disease.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

have i mentioned that i love ella fitzgerald?

It's not right for me to have a picture of Billie Holiday without one of Ella as well. She makes my heart sing. And I got a box set of her older songs at Half Price Books last year with some birthday money. And there's a wonderful CD of her with Louis Armstrong. Joy. She has whimsy and power. Not a bad combination.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

how'd i do?

let's see ...
I pegged the Best Picture noms. Well, I included "Dreamgirls" but that wasn't what I wanted; it was just what I figured would happen. I got the other 4 right, and then said my choice was "Little Miss Sunshine" ... and there it was! ha!
Best Actor - I was right except that I said I wanted Sasha Baron Cohen instead of Peter O'Toole, but that O'Toole would probably be nominated. He was. And Leonardo DiCaprio was nominated, but not for "The Departed," which I guess makes sense, since his work in "Blood Diamond" really did carry the film - except when Djimon Hounsou carried HIM, figuratively and literally. Djimon deserves to win something; he's amazing - but this is a strong category this year.
Best Actress - yep.
I missed Best Director in substituting Bill Condon for Stephen Frears. What was I thinking? a big part of what made "The Queen" so amazing was its perfect tone and pacing. That's up to the Director. Well done Stephen. And let's face it - I pegged this too - "Dreamgirls" was wooden, and that's up to the Director as well. So, hang in there Bill Condon. I think this is a good group this year - all of these films are artful and well-done and have powerful vision. It occurs to me that perhaps Scorsese isn't a lock. But he needs to win. Good Lord. To quote Randy Newman on his win after his zillion nominations, "I don't need your pity!"

yay beth

Beth Wood, barefoot singer-songwriter with very cool heart and soul, came to Journey this past Sunday. She made our hearts sing and brought something ... i don't want to say "amazing" or "very talented" ... those too ... she brought - she brought herself. she showed up. she was present.

thanks beth. come back anytime. you're a journeyer. we all loved you and your little hands.

Monday, January 22, 2007

tomorrow morning's oscar noms ... ready?

here are my predictions for some of the biggies. i'll check back in 12 hours and see how i did.

best picture:

borat (yes, seriously) (okay, maybe that's ridiculous)
flags of our fathers - no, it'll be like the golden globes; it'll win best foreign language film. (we saw it. it was so so so so beautiful. so subtle. so fine. clint eastwood - holy cow.)
the departed
the queen

i wish little miss sunshine would be in the list but i don't think it will.

best actor:
sasha baron cohen - yes, seriously.
matt damon for the good shepherd and yet maybe not
leonardo dicaprio for the departed
ryan gosling for half nelson
will smith for the pursuit of happyness
forest whitaker for the last king of scotland

interesting, isn't it, and very cool, isn't it, that it's not that big a deal that the frontrunner is a person of color. forest whitaker - will he win? i dunno. haven't been able to make myself see the movie about a mass murderer dictator yet.
actually, the two frontrunners, from the academy's perspective, because they often like sweet films, are both men of color - will smith. who was amazing. loved it.
i don't want peter o'toole to be nominated but he's my dark horse. why don't i? because he's a sentimental favorite and i don't root for those. which is dumb. i should get over it. they win a lot.

best actress:

helen mirren. end of story. have you seen the queen? good lord. unbelievable.

oh, there will be 4 other nominees. okay.
not beyonce
kate winslet for little children, which i haven't seen, but kate winslet is my favorite actress.
penelope cruz for volver. haven't seen it. want to.
judi dench for notes on a scandal. haven't seen it. eek.
meryl streep for the devil wears prada. she was unbelievable. although i don't think she was the lead actress - i thought she was a supporting player. but the academy can't help but give her nominations. it's like an addiction. and not a bad one.

best director:

martin scorsese will win for the departed. that's all. he has finally, with that nearly almost completely perfect film - without a lot of his editorial quirky additions which have in the past with films like Goodfellas and Gangs of New York been cumbersome. beautiful, but in the way of the story. although i didn't like jack nicholson in it as much as i had hoped i would - he played jack. and i love love love jack. but i like it better when he's not being jack as much as he's being a character - i thought he was better in as good as it gets and in something's gotta give.
oh, others
clint eastwood for flags of our fathers
bill condon for dreamgirls. i don't think he should win. i thought dreamgirls was sort of wooden.
a. g. inarritu for babel.
paul greengrass for united 93.
hmm ... i dunno.
maybe guillermo del toro will be nominated for pan's labyrinth. we're going to see that this week. can't wait. the images of the pale man kept scaring me and then i saw the little preview documentary on hbo or wherever it was and i just decided it was amazing.

the supporting ones, i haven't seen enough to comment on. but i will.

and, be praying to god that i win the bleacher seats on the red carpet from ellen.

Monday With Ellen

I enter Ellen DeGeneres's contest every day trying to win a pair of seats in the Oscars red carpet section (outside, where the stars walk up) that Ellen's giving away, since she's hosting. I want to win so I can take Leslie because Leslie loves movies so much. And I love 'em too, which is nice. It's not as if I'm trying to win Leslie a shopping spree in the fancy district of L.A. - not that she'd want such a thing, I'm just using that as an example - because then I'd want to send her with someone else. No, I'd love love love to go with her to see these movie stars and just feel what the Oscars are like. But that's not the point. The point is, I want to win! I'm trying to figure out what to do to get the Ellen people to pay attention to my entries. I would say to put that on your prayer list but I know God doesn't give a shit about contest entries. At least, I don't think so.

I dunno, maybe my sense of God is way too small. Who am I to say that God doesn't care about such things, because God is too busy paying attention to famine and grief and sickness? Isn't God everywhere? Infinite? There's not a limit to how much God there is to go around!

... I dunno, I think I'm slanting this so that it sounds sort of creepy. I'll just ask God to send some happy sunshine into the Ellen show offices this week.
PS I hope she doesn't think that because I'm a minister I'm boring or against gay people or stuffy. I think if she got to know us at journey she'd find out differently.....................

Saturday, January 20, 2007

i and the george are one

I am George Bailey. Beginning, middle, and ongoing. Dark and light.

everyone says what a sweet film it is, and it is ... but it's dark and brooding and it goes into the place where you just have to stop and give it all up ... all your plans ... all your dreams ... and say, Okay, uncle. that's a broken place. nobody wants to go to the desert. the bridge. the place where mr. welch breaks your jaw. you're ready to jump and be "worth more dead than alive."

and then there's an angel. a fat dumpy one. with weird underwear. who is willing to destroy itself to awaken you to wonder. to the beauty within and around you.

that's jesus.

Out of the fog

What was really odd this past week was how much I was able just to relax and enjoy the fact that an ice storm shut down Austin, and I have all these emails and things to take care of for Journey, and instead of being anxious about it (much), I rested. I told some friends it was like "forced sabbath."
It makes sense then that I just happened to - ... - pick up a book which I just happened to - ... - open to a chapter on ... sabbath, and its deep roots in Hebrew thinking and Torah. And how resting and inentionally investing in one's self, one's family, one's faith, is a way of affirming that God is giving and good. And how not resting is self-absorption and fear.
Well, the focus on self because of fear part sounded familiar. The resting as a way of trusting that God will provide, already HAS provided, everything that we need ... that part was a little more foreign. Okay, I can say it to other people, but it's harder to do it for myself.
But I practiced. And all there is, is practice.
I wish you sabbath.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Just watched the Golden Globes.
Sacha Baron Cohen is the best. Helen Mirren is wonderful. I also think Leonardo DiCaprio is wonderful. He'll win someday. He's also taller than I thought.

I can't help it. I know that conspicuous consumption and star-watching aren't what Jesus were about, but I have justified my preoccupation with movies by saying that they're our culture's most significant message-bearer and story-teller. And they're fun.

Having said that, I do think that awards and the Hollywood culture are pretty unhealthy. Okay, very. But I keep watching.

yes yes yes

It's time for me to write again.
This will be a bit of a wander.
I'm learning some things.
Here we go.