October 12, 2005

Lost and Found

So I'm doing a little CD reviewing for Grassrootsmusic.com. I just got my first set of CDs to review, including the new Project 86. Envy me.

I also received a live worship project from Acquire the Fire, and one song on that disc in particular is giving me trouble. The last part of the chorus goes:

As simple as it sounds
In You my heart is found
I love You, Lord

That line, "In You my heart is found" is the troublesome one. It expresses something I just can't seem to get hold of --- this idea that in a very real, relational, and tangible way, God makes things right, makes a person right.

Fr. George echoed my questions in the homily this week at St. Antony. He said that our communion with God enables us to really love each other, that the redemption of heaven isn't at some fixed point in the elusive future, but now. Now is the time when we have healing and restoration.

I'm not a big watcher of Oprah, but one afternoon a few months ago, I walked by just in time to get pulled in by one particular segment. The story was that an eighteen-month-old (that's "month" as in "a span of approximately 30 days") had been gang raped in Africa, a practice that grows alongside the myth that having sex with a virgin will cure one of HIV. She survived after several hours of surgery to repair her bleeding body.

I cried. There was nothing else to do. I still cried, even as the cameras showed her laughing and adopted face, because I couldn't believe she would ever be really alright.

"The Kingdom is now." If that's true, I should believe that God can fix her. The problem is, I don't.

Later that night, I dreamed. After a classic "naked" dream, I screamed and flashed forward to sitting and talking with other residents in this tall, shadowy house. They were talking about a rape that had happened nearby, taking the tone of the fearless: superficially concerned, but with that certain callous detachedness that flirts with morbid fascination.

I ran to the woods outside and screamed again, this time not a scream of alarm but a cry for safety. Now partly awake, I could direct my dream-self to seek sobbing shelter in arms I created --- the scratchy tunic of Jesus, perhaps, or the cottony T-shirt of a guy I know who works out a lot.

I opened my eyes, sweating and angry, sure that it was midnight and I would spend the rest of the night awake, clammily straining at noises in the house. But it was 6:00, and the gray pre-dawn was already softening the room.

Lord, have I lost my faith in You? Have I lost my faith that you can make someone alright, take someone from ashes to cool, green health?

Somewhere, I think I really do believe that the Kingdom is now --- somewhere, there's this wild hope in me that "in You my heart is found," that the dawn has already blushed, and healing is on its way. And as the day goes on, a toddler in Africa will come to be alright.

October 02, 2005

An Ecclesiastical Crossroads

Warning: This is kind of a ramblative post.

Iíve blogged a bit about my recent experimenting with the Eastern Orthodox church. After attending several services and a couple Q&Aís with the priest, Iím kind of in an interesting position. Itís a tough decision to make, one with several factors:

1. The liturgy is truly amazing, just a really reverent, even cleansing experience. I have no intention of joining a church just because it gives me an experience that I want, but still, this is a big plus.

2. I kind of feel like this is where Iíve been heading for even the last two or three years. Before looking at Orthodoxy, Iíd kind of come to the point where the only thing I really knew for sure was that I really liked Jesus. Iím not trying to be flip --- I really do. And Orthodox theology just works really well with that --- all I know is that I want to be in with Jesus, whatever that means, and Orthodoxy holds that connection with Christ comes through connection with the Body, which is the Orthodox church. I know this isnít a whole lot different from Protestant theology; itís just that this idea plays out with a completely different sensibility in an Orthodox church, almost a mystical sensibility.

3. Okay, thereís a major problem area: Am I willing to make the break with Protestantism and say that Protestants, as well meaning as they may be, arenít getting it right? God knows Iíve been frustrated with evangelicalism for a really long timeÖ

I once got some very good advice: When faced with a decision before two things, go where relationships are. Going to an Orthodox church would kind of be leaving relationships. I know I can forge new ones, and thatís something I feel challenged to do anyway, butÖ I think thereís a very real sense in which doing the Orthodoxy thing would damage some of my existing relationships. I canít explain that here; youíll just have to take my word for it.

4. I love Orthodox worship. I do. But as far as personal spirituality goes, the unfortunate reality is that if I donít have music, I donít really have a spiritual life. I probably should, but for some reason I just donít. Itís not that Orthodoxy is against the acoustic guitar worship music thing per seÖbut I still kind of feel like I would be missing out, though Iím fairly sure I wouldnít be expunged from church records if I went to a little worship session every now and then.

I donít know what Iím going to do. I wish I wasnít confused. I wish it would just make sense. But maybe thereís a solution in here somewhere. The important thing isnít really Orthodoxy versus Protestantism so much as finding a place to be more whole, if that makes any sense. And thatís kind of up to me more than up to a congregation.

03:51 PM