Monthly Archives: December 2011

The Enchantment of Nostalgia

In his beautiful book, Berlin Childhood around 1900, Walter Benjamin endeavors to narrate his childhood years without the tinge of nostalgia, but nevertheless, in a way that is enchanted. Nostalgia, he implies, and I agree, does not enable but, rather, undoes the magic of enchantment. Nostalgia – the past idealized – is a weapon easily employed by fascism. It paralyzes our ability to live with our past integrated honestly with our present. It undermines the possibilities of liberation in our future.

Theological themes of memory and nostalgia captivate my imagination. How can we remember well? Continue reading

Between Ignorance and Desire

I mentioned in a previous post that I have been reading Wendy Farley’s, Gathering Those Driven Away: A Theology of Incarnation. The book is beautiful, full of gems that stimulate the imagination to theological pondering. In one section that particularly gripped my thoughts, she writes of the Christian propensity to hold our beliefs too tightly by the presumed (but erroneous) power and authority of our own knowledge. It is hubris, she argues, and I would agree, to think that we can know anything about God – the deep, profound mystery of Divinity – with any semblance of certainty. Walking by faith encompasses walking by doubt, I interpret her as saying. But she frames this relationship in a much more compelling way than I have previously heard articulated: “Instead of reifying any authority,” she notes, “we might explore faith as our capacity to dwell in the breach between our ignorance and our desire” (42).

I loved this image: faith dwelling in the breach between ignorance and desire. Continue reading

I don’t love you; I always will

It’s pretty easy to turn a love song into a worship song. We’ve all been teasing Contemporary Christian artists for doing so for years. But what about turning an anti-love song? And what about a turning that doesn’t water down the longing for the lover with the bile of cliched romance?

I immediately loved “Poison and Wine” by The Civil Wars the moment I heard it (even as the video is pretty terrible…sorry for that, unless you enjoy overly-dramatic singing and gratuitous cleavage-shots which, undoubtedly, many do). But I digress. The song’s achy intensity resonates with my aesthetic sensibilities. What I love most is that the yearning of the song is the yearning for an unloved lover. Don’t we all have those in our past…the lover whose touch haunted us long after they left, but who we might never place on the short list of lovers who we actually loved? Or even the yearning for the hint of a lover – a flirtation never consummated but which lingers in our imagination?

In the world of the song, the couple is committed to a life together – whether in memory or in reality remains unclear – without love. And yet the yearning does not waver. If anything, absent love the commitment grows stronger. The song inspires worship because it poses the difficult question: could I continue to choose God absent loving God? And it articulates a powerful answer Continue reading

Fall On Your Knees

There’s a battle in our house every Christmas. The territory is marked thusly (at least from my perspective): my husband wants to listen to CD’s of sad Irish people singing sad carols; I want to hear my Christmas sung by Motown. I guess I just feel that the Gospel should be sung in gospel style! And so, when it comes to Christmas Eve services, I tend to be dubious when a frumpy white lady gets up to sing ‘O Holy Night,’ which has long been my favourite Christmas song.

But tonight’s rendition at my in-laws’ Methodist church was perfect!

As the soloist hit the line, “fall on your knees,” she held it and her voice yearned my whole body toward my kneecaps and I found myself wanting to hit the floor. Continue reading

The Weight of Our Waiting

A blog begun in Advent that is built on the unstable theological foundation of waiting should probably begin by articulating a theology of that waiting.

I preached this sermon twice this year in the first week of Advent – first, on a Wednesday afternoon, to the community at Emmanuel College where I teach and, second, on the Sunday to a small Anglican church here in Toronto. This video is offered courtesy of that church.

These were the first times I have shared the story in public of my friend Zvezda’s death. She died 8 years ago, and I thought I was ready to tell it, but both times I was surprised by how difficult these words were to speak. Of course, it was the memory of Zvezda that cracked my voice both times. But it was more than that too. What you cannot see in this video are the various faces Continue reading