The Arts section of Orient Lodge


Last night, they found the body of the seven month old baby thrown from a bridge by his father when his father attempted suicide. How do you make sense of this? I’m not sure you can.

In the evening, I stopped at the vigil.

Perhaps art can help us as well. I’ve been listening to the playlist of 2015 Falcon Ridge Emerging Artists. One of the songs that jumped out at me was Camela WIdad’s My Turn. It reminds me of another moving song, David Silva’s It Will All Be Perfect.

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It’s hard to concentrate
as the helicopter
flies up and down the river,

I read old emails
from a father and son
about a website
we worked on,

Then I glance at the news
about the father
whose only son
was stabbed to death.

I can’t imagine the pain.

It’s hard to concentrate
as the helicopter
flies up and down the river.

I read Facebook
where a friend posts
about the seven year old boy
who was killed by a gunman
aiming for his father.

I can’t imagine the pain.

It’s hard to concentrate
as the helicopter
flies up and down the river,

I take a walk at lunch time
Three rescue trucks
return to the firehouse
and the baby boy
believed to be thrown
from the arching bridge
by a young man attempting suicide
still hasn’t been found.

I can’t imagine the pain.

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Rent: What Would Jesus See?

In the 1980s I lived in New York City and attended an East Village church with many friends who were struggling artists. I would go to off off Broadway shows to see them perform in Israel Horowitz’ ‘Line’ where the cast often outnumbered the audience made up of friends of the actors, and if they were lucky a potential manager who had already seen Line forty-three times but wanted to see how well a potential client could really act.

The adult Sunday School classes were often on topics like Christianity and literature and we would discuss Christian themes in the works of Fyodor Dostoyevsky, W. H. Auden, and Flannery O'Connor. We would talk about what it means to be created in the image of our Creator. We would talk about the Gospel in the contemporary context of AIDS and drug addiction.

Years later, I saw a local high school production of ‘Rent’ and thought back to those days, those friends and their struggles. Four years later, after Sandy Hook, the local high school produced Sweeny Todd and a group of townspeople organized against it, led by a local priest. They were concerned about the depiction of violence. I attended a Board of Education meeting, and spoke in agreement with those concerned with the depiction of violence I encouraged everyone to attend the musical, and then to gather with friends to discuss it and broader topics of violence in society.

Another person who testified at that hearing was Howard Sherman, and I started following his blog. Recently, he wrote about church leaders in Tullahoma, TN criticizing a production of Rent there.

I shared the following as a comment on Howard’s blog post:

As a devote Christian, I agree with part of what Pastor Wayne says, "Jesus should be our moral compass". If we look at the New Testament, we find Jesus healing and breaking bread with characters not much different than the characters in Rent. Personally, I believe that one of the best ways to get a richer understanding of the Gospel is to attend Rent, asking yourself, when Jesus told us to love or neighbors as ourselves, who did he have in mind?

As I suggested when our local school produced Sweeny Todd, go see the play, and then get together with friends and discuss the underlying themes. In the broader context, I’ll take a phrase kicked around a bit and apply it here. “What Would Jesus See?” I suspect Jesus would see plays about suffering, love, and redemption. Rent would probably be high on that list.

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It’s not just that rain
is an overused metaphor
for tears
or the grey of the sky
often symbolizes grief

The air had a cold clamminess to it
like I imagined a dead body would.

It was like one of those mornings
on vacation
when you knew it was going to rain
but you’d go to the beach anyway.

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After the spectacular celebration
the deflated balloons
hang limply
from the mailbox.

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