I have spent the week at Summer School studying the Gospel and Western culture, we have looked at art, literature, music, film and popular culture in their myriad expressions.
With that in mind I bring you the cultural Friday 5.
_____ that helped/challenged you on your spiritual journey.
— "When Bad Things Happen to Good People," by Rabbi Harold Kushner, came into my life at a time when God seemed impossibly distant and cruel, if existent at all. I’m thankful for the way Rabbi Kushner opened my mind to different possibilities.
2. Piece of music
— It’s hard to choose just one, but I would go with Faure’s "Cantique de Jean Racine," another healing force in the great dark wilderness of my mid-thirties. And in another vein entirely, Kanye West’s "Jesus Walks" spoke to me after Hurricane Katrina.
3. Work of art — I’m going to choose a play rather than a painting. The summer The Princess was born, 9 year old #1 Son played Slightly in "Peter Pan" at Vacationland State Music Theatre. I sat in the back of the theatre for many performances, on the stairs leading to the balcony, with Snowman by my side (and even with The Teeny Little Princess once, but don’t tell anybody! She wasn’t allowed to be there!). That play captivated me. I was 34, pretty clear that my marriage was likely to end, at the beginning stage of the postpartum depression that clung for quite a while, and I recognized something in Wendy at the end of the play that both broke my heart and made me feel I was not alone.
— Okay, let’s talk about it. I found "The Passion of the Christ" profoundly disturbing on many levels. The portrayal of the violence against Jesus upset me on a visceral level, as I imagine it was intended to do. But on a positive note my reaction against this way of using the gospel helped me form more clearly my own ideas about Jesus and what the different gospels tell us about him.
5. Unusual engagement with popular culture — From that same time period of ten years ago, Joan Osborne’s "One of Us." I had not listened to popular music in a long, long time, and I started just as that song was getting a lot of play on FM radio. I was commuting to seminary and heard it often.
Bonus: Is engagement essential to your Christian faith, how and why?
I’m assuming Sally means cultural engagement. Most definitely. I look at everything as a text that may potentially help me better understand my life and my call.