1 October, 2014
The thing I’ll remember most about my grandfather is his hug. A hug from him was a strong, powerful, enveloping thing. He was a wispy figure, but was somehow always able to lift me up when I ran in the front door. He would swoop me up with an urgency and hold me, vice-like yet gentle. When I got older, too big to lift up, the hugs were still strong as beastly jaws and soft as down. I craved those hugs, excited to visit my grandparents to hear my grandmother’s laugh and rest in my grandfather’s arms. When my grandmother’s laughs were no more, the hugs remained. Now the hugs are gone, too, but not the memory or the meaning they left. He loved me, and I loved him.
My grandfather loved deeply and broadly, firm in the knowledge of his createdness and his role to love those around him. It’s an example I’ll take with me until my own death. Love big, hug big, and that love will define your family and relationships with the swiftness of rapids in water and with the power of booming echoes in the deepest canyons of time. Grandaddy died early Monday morning, a being of lovely stardust returned to stardust, free to be one with Grandmama in the long memory of God. Be proud of your life extraordinarily lived, Grandaddy, for Death cannot be proud now. It’s only poppy and charms, after all. Your hugs will always be stronger than those.
26 September, 2014
By Mark and Logan
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Logan has a great love of Soren Kierkegaard. Mark, knowing this, drew a comic about it.
Say, it just so happens that Logan’s post this week includes some thoughts by good ol’ Kierkegaard. Check it out with your eyes and your brain, and contemplate it in your mind and your heart.
24 September, 2014
In Toronto there’s a sculpture of Jesus depicted as a homeless person just outside Regis College, a Jesuit school, at the University of Toronto. But it found its home there only after being rejected by St. Michael’s Cathedral in Toronto and St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. It has been reported that rectors of both cathedrals were enthusiastic about the piece but higher-ups in the New York and Toronto archdiocese chose not to install the sculpture.
Timothy Schmalz, the artist, was told that the sculpture could not be installed because it was “inappropriate.” The word “inappropriate” suggests offense.
Except those churches, the one in Toronto and the one in New York, being Roman Catholic, have multiple depictions of Christ inside the building where he hangs, dead or dying, from a cross. Do the decision makers in the archdiocese of New York and Toronto not take offense at Christ crucified?
Is the humble depiction of Jesus as a sleeping homeless person more offensive than Jesus on the cross? That depends on why the sculpture is offensive in the first place. Perhaps it’s the depiction of Christ as less than divine, a simple human, and a homeless one at that. The sculpture says more about the viewer than it does about God. The sculpture challenges what we think about ourselves, and about those around us who we may not see or who we chose not to see. It is personal. Meanwhile, the cross has come to challenge what we think about God more than it personally challenges we who stand before it. But our reaction to the cross is what faith is all about, and we have lost the ability to really see it.
Perhaps the men who rejected the sculpture in question stand before the cross and, through a work of faith, do not choose offense. Soren Kierkegaard tells us that “the possibility of offense is precisely the repulsion in which faith can come into existence—if one does not choose to be offended.”1 It is possible that the same people who reject Christ depicted lying destitute on a park bench do not reject Christ in his abasement on the cross, but it ain’t likely. It’s likelier that something else entirely is going on.
The sculpture is genius because it delivers the possibility of offense back to us. The image of Jesus, the Christ, the anointed one, the Human One, the beloved one of God tortured, hanging from a bloody cross is not offensive to us not because of our faith but because the offense of the cross as been obliterated by time and the ubiquity of an image that says “here is a church.”
Christ says, “Blessed is the one who is not offended at me.” But it is not a blessing to find oneself in a situation where offense is impossible. To bring in Kierkegaard again, one must be confronted with the possibility of offense, must move through it, in order to have faith.
So I ask myself: why do I accept the sculpture of Jesus as a huddled homeless person? Does my acceptance come from a genuine belief that God is truly incarnate in the least among us? Or does acceptance come from a knee-jerk, right-headed, progressive liberalism in which Christianity is “stirred in as a seasoning”?2 Or is the possibility of offense impossible, because the existence of God has been rendered impossible in this secular age?