Saturday was a lovely day. The weather was warm and the snow and ice around the house was melting. I cleared off the deck a little bit more and sat outside. Later, I drove Fiona and Wesley up to the dog part in Southbury. Wesley, who had been playing outside much of the morning, took a quick dip and decided the water was still too cold. I ran with a few dogs for a little while, but fairly soon lost interest and started hanging out at the gate, ready to go home. Perhaps the ice which still covers much of the dog park inhibited his enthusiasm.
Fiona and I sought out places to get some ice cream, but many of the ice cream stores are still closed. We ended up having some self-serve frozen yoghurt on the way home. I rested. Soon after dinner, my stomach started bothering me, so I went to bed early and didn’t write.
As I think about Lenten disciplines, and for that matter, so much of my life, I am reminded of the need to relax, to not try to do it all, to enjoy the weekend and keep the Sabbath holy.
This morning, I awoke in low spirits, from an interrupted sleep and residual aches and pains from Saturday. I listened to story of Jesus’ temptation in the desert and a sermon reflection on these temptations. Afterwards, I played hand chimes and headed home.
Fiona and I picked up some almond milk, lemons and sugar and in the afternoon, we made lemon sherbet. It came out very well. I rested more, and am finally sitting down to write before heading off to bed.
So, I close the blog post without any great insights from postmodern cyber biblical fusion, but that’s okay.
This morning, it was grey and cloudy. Looking straight ahead through the windshield it seemed a fairly uniform grey. Yet as I looked up through that tinted part of glass at the top of the windshield, the contrast was enhanced and the contours of the clouds appeared. My mind wandered back to my childhood. I remembered looking through sunglasses and being struck at how different things looked. This was especially the case with polarized sunglasses.
In junior high school, I joined the photography club and started developing pictures. I learned about burning in the clouds to similarly increase contrast by underexposing or overexposing different parts of the photograph.
It’s all about how you look at things. I guess this applies back to my blog post yesterday, as I talked about postmodern biblical studies and checking your privilege. Technology provides us new ways of looking at things differently. Wearing Google Glass, I’m more aware of opportunities to capture an image. Using special lens for my cellphone which I got for Christmas, I’ve started my deconstructed selfies series of Instagram photos to look at faces different.
Perhaps this also provides a way of thinking about Lent. It is a time to repent, to turn around, to look at things differently. Technology can be a distraction from looking at what is around us, but it can also be a tool to see things differently.
As I start reading the introduction to The Postmodern Bible, I’m reminded of David Foster Wallace’s This is Water.
It starts off with
There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says "Morning, boys. How's the water?" And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes "What the hell is water?"
To apply it to Biblical studies, water is the cultural context we are surrounded by when we read the bible, a context we are probably not even aware of. As we read the scriptures, we turn around the creation story and recreate God in our image, because that is the image we know and understand. Megyn Kelly recreates Jesus as a white conservative and James Hal Cone speaks of God in terms of black power.
As I think back of my journey to understand Christianity, as well as to understand cultural constructs like whiteness and blackness, maleness and femaleness, straightness and gayness, transness and cisness, I shudder at the presumptions I made about how to love my neighbor.
These days, these ideas are reflected in phrases like “Your privilege is showing” or “check your privilege”. Perhaps that is a good Lenten discipline, checking one’s privilege. Perhaps as we sit and read the Bible, we need to think about how much our interpretation and understanding of the verses comes from our own privileges.
Back to David Foster Wallace’s This is Water; towards the end of his commencement speech, he pulls it all together with
If you're automatically sure that you know what reality is, and you are operating on your default setting, then you, like me, probably won't consider possibilities that aren't annoying and miserable. But if you really learn how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars: love, fellowship, the mystical oneness of all things deep down.
Checking one’s privilege, pay attention, looking for other options, perhaps this needs to be part of Biblical Studies and Lenten discipline.
The past month has been particularly rough, and I’ve gotten very little time for writing. This is my first blog post of March after only getting up about seven blog posts last month. At other times in my life I had years of getting at least one blog post up every day. Things are settling down a little bit and hopefully I’ll be able to get back to writing more regularly.
Various friends have talked about what they’re giving up for Lent, but I’ve been thinking some other sort of Lenten Discipline might make more sense for me this year, so I’ve been thinking of spending time studying and journaling.
My starting point has been to try and figure out, in my own mind, how my interests in cyberspace, social justice and Christianity fit together. My first thought was to spend time reading some liberation theology. I had been thinking of Introducing Liberation= Theology by Leonardo and Clodovis Boff, which I’ve read some good reviews of, but I can’t find a copy of it in the Connecticut Library system. I’ve looked around for other books to read, but I haven’t found one that jumps out at me.
Liberation theology is one if the themes I’ve been interested in pulling together, but there are some others as well. One web page I found theology of cyberspace provides a bunch of interesting links I’m considering exploring. These include a message from John Paul II about computer culture and a Pontifical Council document about Ethics of Internet. These are old documents, but look interesting.
Then there is the work of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. One link was to Toward a Theology of the Web: Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and Cyberconsciousness. This led to an article in Wired, A Globe, Clothing Itself with a Brain I see that The Phenomenon of Man is available in a nearby public library, so I may pick this up as I dig deeper into my reflections.
As I thought more about it, I remembered a book my eldest daughter got me for Christmas a couple years ago, The Postmodern Bible.
So, I set out on a journey. Forty days wandering through reflections, if not lost in the wilderness. Let’s see if I can coalesce many of my thoughts and interests in this exercise.