Headlines from First Thoughts

Monday, July 16, 2007

Church in the Hogwarts

Harry Potter is growing up. I guess he's joined the rest of the adolescent world. You can't be a cute little boy forever. But as I watched the latest movie the other night, I was reminded that growing up is painful.

In the "Order of the Phoenix," he's confronted with the choices of every teenager-
Do I go it alone or depend on my friends to help me?
Do I remain angry or make wise choices?
Do I name the evil around me or do I ignore it and hope it goes away?

Harry of course decides that he can't live without his friends. Surrounding himself with Ron, Hermoine, and other good influences makes him a better person. His godfather Sirius Black tells them that he can choose not to be so angry. Instead he can choose the good rather than the darkness. When the "Ministry of Magic" is so afraid to face the reality of an evil too powerful to remain hidden, Harry has the courage not only to name the evil-Voldemort-but to summon friends to band together to withstand the wiles of the evil one. Hogwarts becomes not only the training ground for the good but also the support system to help them believe in others who can be just as good as they. Hogwarts is not immune to problems; others in their midst insidiously try to wound them; but the band of believers remains united.

Isn't that what church is supposed to be? The band of believers working together to shape and re-shape the community around us. We are so secure that we can withstand others in our midst who would seek to deny evil exists. Instead we remain vigilant, courageous, unafraid, confronting most importantly the evil that resides within. And all along, we never face the world alone; we do so with each other. And that's how we grow.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Dreams Before Waking

This is a great poem for city-dwellers. It's written from the perspective of a window whose view is being blocked by a high rise.

Dreams Before Waking
by Adrienne Rich

Despair falls:
the Shadow of a building
they are raising in the direct path
of your slender ray of sunlight
slowly the steel girders grow
the skeletal framework rises
yet the western light still filters
through it all
still glances off the plastic sheeting
they wrap around it
for dead of winter.

At the end of winter something changes
a faint subtraction
from consolations you expected
an innocent brilliance that does not come
through the flower shops set out
once again on the pavement
their pots of tight-budded sprays
the bunches of jonquils still with cold
and at such a price
though someone must buy them
you study those hues as if with hunger

Despair falls
like the day you come home
from work, a summer evening
transparent with rose-blue light
and see they are filling
the framework
the girders are rising
beyond your window
that seriously you live
in a different place
though you have never moved

and will not move, not yet
but will give away your potted plants to a friend
on the other side of town
along with the cut crystal
flashing in the window-frame
will forget the evenings
of watching the street, the sky
the planes in the feathered afterglow:
will learn to feel grateful simply for this foothold

where still you can manage
to go on paying rent
where still you can believe
it’s the old neighborhood:
even the woman who sleeps at night
in the barred doorway—wasn’t she always there?
and the man glancing, darting for food in the supermarket trash—
when did this hunger come to this?
what made the difference?
what will make it for you?

What will make it for you?
you don’t want to know the stages
and those who go through them don’t want to tell
You have your four locks on the door
your savings, your respectable past
your strangely querulous body, suffering
sicknesses of the city no one can name
Your have your pride, your bitterness
your memories of sunset
you think you can make it straight through
you don’t speak of despair.

What would it mean to live
in a city whose people were changing
each other’s despair into hope?—
You yourself must change it.—
what would it feel like to know your country was changing?—
You yourself must change it.—
Though your life felt arduous
new and unmapped and strange
what would it mean to stand on the first
page to the end of despair?

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