Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Revolutionary Road

I’m shocked. Oscar nominations were announced but neither Kate nor Leo got a nod for Revolutionary Road. I’m seriously shocked. Last weekend Cheryl and I made a last minute decision to see a movie and ended up unexpectedly bumping into my writing partner, Don, and his wife, Michelle at Revolutionary Road. I caught myself saying “Wow!” over and over during the many intense and terrifically vulnerable scenes. After, I wanted to savor every moment.

Revolutionary Road is about a couple (Frank & April) who lost hope in their dreams of an extraordinary life in the midst of struggling with their seemingly ordinary life. The disconnection from their life’s purpose caused extreme tension between them. They had vicious fights.

After one huge fight, April finds an old photo of Frank in Paris. She remembers how talking about Paris ignited his passion for life. So she gets an idea to move the family to Paris, she’ll work as a secretary, while Frank spends time connecting with his life’s purpose. That night when she reveals this plan to him is the first time we see their two children. April and Frank connect joyfully with each other like never before, despite the fact that Frank had just had sex with a secretary that day.

The hope of pursuing the extraordinary life they thought was long gone brings life, and life is symbolized by the presence of the children. As long as they are pursuing their dreams the children are in the movie. But as soon as their hope starts to fade…the children are no longer in the movie. They are mentioned but never seen for the rest of the movie.

Just as the children represent life to the full, truth is represented by a crazy person. It had to be a crazy person who spoke the truth. A “sane” person cares too much about logic and feelings. And a person who speaks or acts on truth unapologetically is generally perceived as crazy by whoever is unwilling to see it for what it is. John the Baptist is a classic example. I noticed the tension in the theater during the most intense truth telling scene. The tension was louder than the giggles of my friends and me. Only a couple other people were laughing during that scene, and I suspect they were just as comfortable with truth as we were. The rest were uncomfortably still.

Later, Don told me he wanted to suggest we all go next door to Sitwell’s to discuss. But we all had reasons to go our separate ways, which left us each without words to express.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Freeing the Past

Freeing the Past

A few months ago I was asked to write an article for the OneCity Newsletter acknowledging House Resolution 194. In honor and celebration of the upcoming Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and the inauguration of the first black President of the United States of America, I share the article below:

On July 29, 2008, U.S. Congress passed House Resolution 194 otherwise titled “Apologizing for the enslavement and racial segregation of African-Americans.” It is the first and only official apology for the sufferings of African-Americans by the government that allowed such atrocities and double-standards to exist in this the “Land of the Free.” OneCity acknowledges and stands in agreement with House Resolution 194, which can be read in its entirety by clicking this link:

As a faith-based organization, OneCity believes that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is what truly sets us free. Yet, we have not always, as an organization or as individual Christ followers, behaved as if this is true. Furthermore we recognize there have been times when we could have acted with the character of Christ and failed. So we take this opportunity to confess ours sins against our African-American friends. We are deeply sorry for any actions or words which may have been destructive to the African-American community and dignity.

And in the spirit and character of Jesus Christ we also take responsibility for the damage caused by the people of Cincinnati who have judged, belittled, or demeaned any African-American (past or present) in the Greater Cincinnati area. We pray for healing for both the betrayed and the betrayer. As punctuation to our public apology, we pray specifically for healing of issues related to the passage from House Resolution 194 provided below:

“Whereas African-Americans continue to suffer from the consequences of slavery and Jim Crow – long after both systems were formally abolished – through enormous damage and loss, both tangible and intangible, including the loss of human dignity and liberty, the frustration of careers and professional lives, and the long-term loss of income and opportunity.”

We are committed to working within God’s Will to redeem the damage done and to work diligently with our OneCity partners to encourage freedom to ring throughout our city.

While experiencing the contagious euphoria when Barack Obama was announced as the winner on election night, I thought, “THIS is exactly what this country needs!” There is still a great need for racial healing and forgiveness here in America and worldwide. And I realize that, on Monday, most people won’t give a thought to how the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. embraced God’s perfect truth and grace or how it inspired him to fight for civil rights. But when I wrote the article above and saw the tears of joy on all the faces in Grant Park during Obama’s acceptance speech, I felt full of hope.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Good Grief

This post has been brewing for quite a while. I almost did my tribute to my dad in October around this theme. And I'm not quite sure where my ramblings will take us today. I just sense deeply I need to write on this. Since my first inspiration on this theme in October, my dear friend Stacie lost her brother-in-law suddenly (see post titled Walk On)to an aneurysm in November. Then in December my church community experienced a tragic loss during a Christmas performance.

What I've learned throughout all of these losses is that the grief process is good. I always thought it was an odd expression when Charlie Brown said "Good Grief." But now I see that he knew what he was saying. And grief manifests in different ways for all of us. In the Bible it talks of people ripping their clothes and wailing. When my dad passed grief took the form of feeling a lack of job security or stability. I remember thinking with certainty I would be fired when I returned from my bereavement leave. I later confessed that fear to my boss and she laughed at me. It was nowhere near the truth, my bosses love me and for some reason think I do a great job.

Again, one of the things I love about my church community is that they fully embrace and encourage the grief process and whatever form that takes from day to day. At the prayer service the day after a performer fell to her death in front of an audience of at least 2k, our senior pastor grieved publicly with anger and tears. It was authentic and moving to witness. And this weekend he delivered a powerful message where he acknowledged that part of his grief process and prayed a public prayer to God to apologize for accusing Him of not being there to save the woman who died. He made an excellent point about letting God be God and that means taking people in His timing according to His Will. I'm not doing it justice, but as of Jan 8th you will be able to watch the video of the service at

And another aspect of grief I've been pondering lately is grieving loneliness. And I'm not talking about the Eleanor Rigby level of loneliness. As I mentioned in my post titled "Making Room," no matter a person's level of busy-ness, in most cases if the person doesn't have a spouse to share life with, they experience loneliness. I think there is a reason God said it was not good for Adam to be alone and why He created Eve to be Adam's mate. The intimacy of a marriage is the next best thing to our intimacy with God.

I had the day after Christmas off and found myself watching things I don't usually get to watch, like The View. Whoopie Goldberg said something I think is true. She said something to the effect of people feel lonely when they feel uncomfortable. True for me. There are days that I feel totally comfortable alone in my apartment and I don't feel lonely. But if I've been out socializing and enjoying fellowship with friends and I go home to an empty apartment, I feel lonely. I notice that when I'm feeling lonely I sleep better on the couch. Like the back of the couch is a surrogate for the warm body of a spouse or something. On that same episode of The View, Nicole Kidman was a guest and she talked about how lonely she felt when she went home alone after winning her Oscar. I thought that was profound proof of my point. Obviously she has many many friends and had just been affirmed in her craft with the highest honor of an Oscar. So feeling loved and appreciated were not what she was missing. She was missing having somebody to share that joy with on an intimate level.

Whether they talk about it openly or not, I think anyone over the age of 30 who is single grieves their loneliness. And if they don't let themselves grieve their loneliness and don't experience Good Grief, then they just get bitter. Come to think of it, the same happens regarding grieving the death of a loved one. In God's infinite wisdom and perfect balance of Truth and Grace, He shows us several examples in the Bible of GOOD GRIEF!