WE DID NOT ASK FOR THIS ROOM, OR THIS MUSIC

It’s much easier to know what’s wrong with the world than how to fix it. Or at least to think we know what’s wrong with the world. There’s no quick fix for the problem of how to discern what’s truly real, especially amid the bombardment of images and words that have given birth to the idea of fake news and alternative facts. Wisdom takes its time. Living in the present is best done with a reflective eye to the past. Looked at through the lens of how far we’ve come, then the current moment of confusion and challenge can be seen as an opportunity, not a catastrophe. 

Read More

SILENCE

Silence, Martin Scorsese’s film from the novel by Shûsaku Endô, is about two young Jesuit priests, searching 17th century Japan in hopes of finding their mentor who, it is rumored, was tortured for his faith. Beneath this surface, it is about the question of finding meaning in life, and showing mercy on that path - to each other, to ourselves; the evolution of religion - as an oppressive power or a way of understanding the nature of life and the common good; and about the possibility of being transformed from within by love, even amid a swirl of noise and aggression that aims to terrorize all dissent. Scorsese was first made aware of the novel when promoting another film based on a story by a challenging spiritual seeker, The Last Temptation of Christ. That movie, released in 1988, was met with protest by folk whose experience of Christianity skewed toward repressing doubt, lest the recognition that someone else might think differently somehow pollute your own faith. But not all Christians felt that way - a helpful bishop, pronouncing The Last Temptation “Christologically correct" sent Scorsese a copy of Silence; for nearly thirty years now, he’s been trying to make it a movie. It’s an astonishing work, fully alive, a portrait of faith and love, willing to confront rage and terror, refusing anything other than the most disciplined path, taking seriously the question of just what life is. I imagine I will never forget it.

Read More

Making the World Safer

Because shaming, scapegoating, and aggression have become go-to modes of cultural exchange, I think we should declare those who ask for help to be the heroes of our time. The very request for help should be an occasion for rejoicing, for another human being is setting themselves free from the death-dealing oppression that says we are alone and must fend for ourselves. This is the gift of innocence battling with fear of the authorities. For when external authorities seem to threaten, the trick would then be to see this as an opportunity for liberating inner work. 

Read More