Archive for February, 2013










My eyes hurt.  My brain hurt.  I was exhausted.

I had watched two episodes of the television show “Homeland” following a day of reading.  The show was fast-paced and frenetic, images changing every second.  My emotions were frayed and I wasn’t sure why.

The visual has a powerful impact and we give it tremendous weight in forming conclusions. “I’ll believe it when I SEE it.”  “A picture is worth a thousand words.”  Especially in a visual culture that values brevity, words are increasingly dispensable. There is even an Oscar-nominated film this year that is only 1000 seconds long – the visual is that powerful!  It’s called “Fresh Guacamole” but it’s not just about avocadoes, evidently.

Graphic images of violence and torture upset me to the point where I turn away and usually have to leave the room.  I know it’s not real, but the terror and fear I feel is real.  I still haven’t been able to see films that are highly praised (“Pulp Fiction,” “Zero Dark Thirty,” even “Schindler’s List”) because I don’t want these images in my head.

Last Sunday at Adult Ed Phil Rose led us in a group discussion of how movie or television programs had influenced our lives and our actual behavior (his series continues next this coming Sunday).  My list would be a long one; I still want to be Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird and Karen Blixen in Out of Africa. 

However, sometimes visual images don’t just overwhelm; they heal. Bring us back to a part of ourselves that we thought we had lost.  Access wonderful emotions we thought we had buried.  Take us back home.

I hope you’ll join us tonight for part 1 of the Lenten Series.  We’ll see excerpts from a movie that will bring you “back home” and talk about how it feels to go there.

Soup and bread at six.  Childcare provided.  Program at 6:30.

See you tonight at church.


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I watched the Superbowl last Sunday – except,        of course, for the hour when I fled the stadium  for the regal confines of “Downton Abbey.”  Actually, the Granthams were fighting, too.

I don’t have much time for football. The point seems to be to gain ground and storm the enemy’s fortress.  Knock them over, maim if you have to, but conquer!  This is unlike baseball, a sport of a gentler tone, whose goal is simply coming home.

(Sidebar:  After only watching the Vikings play – to bond with the grand-dudes Anders and Gunnar– I was so impressed with the two Superbowl teams that found I myself calling the little guys and saying, “Do you believe how good these guys are?  I mean, passing and catching and everything!”)

The reason I watch the Superbowl is because I don’t want to feel left out.  “Good Morning America” proclaimed that it is “the time when America comes together.”  And the streets are quiet, the stores nearly vacant, and lighted screens are seen in most house windows.  Some non-sports-types say that they watch it for the ads. Okay.

Coming from agricultural folk, I liked the farm ad.  However, I was outraged by one ad to the point of yelling at the TV (I was viewing the event alone):  “You are kidding me!  You are blank blank KIDDING me!”

The object of my scorn was the old people ad for Taco Bell (or Taco Hell, as my kids used to call it).

We begin by watching old people (we know they’re old because they have canes, wrinkled faces and goofy expressions) fleeing “The Home” for a night on the town. I guess they’re not allowed out often because they seem really excited.

So what do the old people do?  Go to the symphony?  No, no, no.  They drive fast and squeal tires; they jump in a swimming pool that is supposed to be closed (the rebels!); they set off a little fireworks explosion and laugh; they go dancing and really cut up as the men make out with young blondes and one older woman is seen walking out of a bathroom with a much younger man; one gets a tattoo across his back; another exposes part of his bare chest to people behind a restaurant window – I guess that means he’s what?  Playful? Gross?

The geezers wind up the wildness by eating at Taco Bell and holy cow, guess what happens. They have to jump in their car and   squeal away (still laughing hysterically) so as not to get busted by the fuzz.  Evidently the cops have been looking for these outlaws.

Of course, then they have to sneak back into The Home on tiptoe or who knows – they’ll be grounded?  Have their allowance taken away?  No cell phone privileges for a week?

I think the tag line for this ad is “Live More.”

How about “Live Stupid”?

Or “Live like you’re a 12 year-old?”  Whoops, didn’t mean to insult 12-year-olds.

What is really being “sold” here are two things: first, the idea that youth is to be worshipped and everyone aspires to be young in a cliché-ridden, groovy way, and secondly, old people are pathetic and to be laughed at.

Forget the tacos.

There wouldn’t be ads about Blacks cutting up in the cotton fields (“For just one night—forget you’re a slave!”) or college students being ridiculed for not being able to get a job (“You studied, you’ve got loans and no job… Tough luck but go out and get drunk anyway….cause things aren’t going to get better…”)

Rather than desperate senior citizens who want to recapture youth no matter how stupid it is, I’ll give you a model of what being young can be: At Adult Education last week, there was Jered with tiny Baby Simon, feeding him, burping him, holding him with confidence and joy.  This is a model of the Father who changes diapers, gets up at night and rocks the baby back to sleep; even carries the little guy in a pouch on his chest at work– as naturally as he would carry a pack on his back.  These qualities were not givens with the fathers many of us experienced and the rightness of it is apparent and inspiring especially when it is sitting right in front of you.

And older people?  Here is what most of the older people I know do: They read; they travel; they socialize; they go to the theater and to movies; they provide gracious, interesting company; they are loving parents, aunts, uncles, and they adore their grandchildren.  I’ve always bought the term “The Greatest Generation.”

I believe age-ism is one of the last bastions of discrimination in our culture and some time ago I made a personal decision to fight it when I see it, with as much fierceness as Beyonce projected last night, although I’m not completely sure what SHE was so worked up about.

See you in church….


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