Saturday, April 25, 2015

What If Aronofsky Had Taught Noah In My Sunday School Class?

Today I'm writing about Darren Aronofsky's film, Noah.
For production info and cast list, check out
the movie's IMDb page

Yes, it came out last year. So I'm late to the game (I only recently watched it on Netflix).  But maybe I made up for that by live-tweeting when I watched it?

Yes, it was hotly contested because many Christians of a more biblically-literal persuasion tried to boycott the movie because it was itself not accurate to the Bible (and I will point out a few of those inconsistencies with a rant). But that really only made me want to watch it more.

Yes, I am going to give you all the spoilers along with my commentary. But now I've warned you so you can decide for yourself whether or not you want to wade into these waters (that pun was not intended).

When it comes right down to it,  I thought that the movie was visually stunning and completely captivating, even if it was Biblically inaccurate. But it was also innovative. I've grown tired of all the kid-friendly, feel-good representations of this story; the watery account of divine genocide (yes, yes, that's right... you did just witness me firing shots at my deity).

But enough with the intro. We'll get started, shan't we?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

What Is It to Believe in Jesus, or, To Have a Life of Faith?

Isn't it just crazy when different media you subscribe to suddenly align and seem to be giving a similar message? That's what has happened to me in the last week.

 It started with Pray As You Go. The scripture that was read was a passage from John's gospel that comes right after Jesus fed the five thousand. The crowds follow Jesus, as he has left in a boat, and when they encounter him again he criticizes them and says, "You are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life" (NRSV John 6:26-27). It seems like a critique aimed at all of us, and for my part, I feel like I am being taken to task for not seeking the ways of God.

But at the end of the prayer, I was left with an idea that came straight from the Gospel itself: "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent."

Monday, April 13, 2015

Baseball and Scripture Are #Twinning

I'm often asked whether I'm named after the Apostle Thomas. To which I respond, no, I'm not. I'm named after Tom Kelly, manager for the Minnesota Twins baseball club during their 1987 and 1991 World Series wins.

I then usually launch into the story that my parents have told me, about how I was supposed to be named after my grandfather, Juel Adrian Monson. They were going to give me the name "Monson" and call me "Muns," as my grandfather was. But as soon as I came out, both of my parents agreed that I wasn't a "Monson," I was a "Tom." My father will usually give an addendum and say that it wasn't until well after I had been born that he decided I was indeed named after Tom Kelly.

So names are strange, interesting things. For example, the Apostle Thomas (who we recently heard about in the Gospel reading for the Second Sunday of Easter) is said to be called the Twin. Why was he "the Twin?" Well, biblical scholars tend to agree that his given name was Judas, so he was called the Twin in order to distinguish him from the other Judas, son of Simon Iscariot.

But at any rate, it's actually true that the name we have today, "Thomas" is a transcription, through New Testament Greek, of the Aramaic name תאומא (te'oma), which means "twin" (and makes me think that maybe all managers of the Minnesota Twins should be named Tom or Thomas). But this particular apostle is also called "Doubting Thomas." Which is, I think, a custom that causes grief for people who may tend to act like he does in this story of Jesus' posthumous appearance. I mean, I should know; I think I'm one of them.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Lord is Risen! Or, What Is This Madness? This Is An Empty Tomb!

My wife, Amanda, took this picture
as we kept vigil last night.
I'm a Vigil-goer, so as I write now on Easter morning, I have done my waiting and said my prayers by candlelight. I have renewed the vows of my baptism and I have heard the story of the empty tomb, where Jesus could not be found. But then, of course, I did find him in the Eucharist. After the strange, awkward day of Good Friday, the day we could not make Eucharist, the day that we had to share the leftovers from the Last Supper on Thursday (I'm only now realizing the irony in that), Jesus could not be found among the dead because he was among the living!

In the past few years, the idea that has fascinated me about the Easter story is that the women found an empty tomb on Sunday morning. Which means that, if they were being diligent and went to the tomb at first light, Jesus must have risen sometime during the night. While everything was still shrouded in darkness and there was no clarity, Jesus rose and made his way out. Today, especially, I feel connected to story because I woke up early and could not get back to sleep (I must have too much joy this morning!). So I want to take a closer look and walk with those women on their way to the tomb...

Friday, April 3, 2015

Good Friday and Veneration of the Cross

By a perversion of justice he was taken away.
Who could have imagined his future?

They made his grave with the wicked
and his tomb with the rich,

although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him with pain.

Isaiah 53:8-10

The worship space at St. Christopher's, prepared
for Good Friday

"Good Friday is a very solemn day and it feels heavy to me." These words were spoken by my pastor in his sermon during the noontime liturgy today. I agree with him. Good Friday is a very heavy, uncomfortable day.

At the Altar of Repose, or, Stay Here and Keep Watch With Me

I took this during my Holy Hour this morning

I was at the Altar of Repose this morning just after daybreak. I don't really know when it was that they would have arrested Jesus, so I don't know whether or not he would have still been here, praying. But I am here because I promised to keep a watch. I am praying and contemplating and trying to find my way through all the overwhelming toil of the world.