Today I blew it. I spoke rashly and harshly towards my wife, my fellow parent, my co-heir in the grace of life. What would compell me to do such a thing? Selfishness. Whether I was right or wrong in the discussion doesn’t really matter. I “lost” the argument when I spoke unkindly. Sure, I quickly asked for forgiveness, pointed out where I was wrong and she was right, but the wound was inflicted and the transgression enacted. Sin hurts. It hurts me and it hurts her. But more- its God-defying activity, an in-your-face move by once poverty-stricken, deathly ill orphan towards an infinitely generous, loving and always thoughtful Father. Sin is illuminating.
Today I got too see myself a little more clearly, as if the fog was cleared from my bathroom mirror just a bit more. Hideous I tell you. Hideous but hopeful. What I saw today wasn’t as bad as what I saw four years ago. Grace. Grace wiped the fog from the mirror and grace changed what I saw. Grace showed me sin and sin shows me grace.
“What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? (ps 8.4)” According to Bildad, the son of man is a worm (job 25.6). Worms are grotesque, insignificant and small. So am I when sin rules over me. When the son of man behaves as he was created to behave- to rule over the works of God’s hands with his wife and not against her (ps 8.6), he displays his crowning glory and honor, his God-like design. When we behave like Christ and not Adam, we rule over our sin and with our fellow humanity. Since Adam, the mirror has always been an awful thing to look into. I must learn from Cain, to rule over sin and not to be ruled by it (gen 4.7). Moreover, when we become the mirror and reflect our Creator we begin to resemble our destined image, the glory of Christ (2 cor 4.6; Col 3.10).
All too often my Calvinism is only skin-deep. Five points paraded around an awfully pompous person . A limp, lifeless tulip (nevermind the other two points). Of course, its the doctrines of grace that give a worm hope. In fact, they move the worm from sinful soil to grace-filled ground, from beneath the earth to ruling over it. God is patiently restoring his image in me, the reflection will get better because the image will become the mirror, the worm will become like Christ, changed from one degree of glory to the next. When sin is illuminating, grace is well-lit.
Robie and Owen at 1 month old
I’m about a hundred pages into Tom Wolfe’s I Am Charlotte Simmons, a novel based on Wolfe’s observations and reflections from an excursion across the American University campus. The picture, so far, is a rather disquieting one. According to Wolfe, contemporary university life is more about getting laid that getting an education. The hedonistic character of our universities set forth in Simmons is striking. Striking because of the failure of the American appetite for happiness. Apparently, students are not too interested in the things of life, culture, truth, meaning, the future of humanity and the world. As C. S. Lewis put it, “They are far too easily satisfied.”
However, there is a shimmer of hope in the character of Charlotte Simmons, whose redneck roots are humiliatingly exposed by her roommate’s upper class unction. Although the first 100 pages reveals rampant decadence as a driving force in university life, they also sketch a picture of hope for the ‘down and out’ demographic in America. The subtle message might be, “If Charlotte Simmons can make it to Dupont, anybody can.” You see, Simmons is bright but poor, qualified but ‘uncultured’. Charlotte concieves of ‘eating out’ as a trip to the “Sizzlin Skillets.” Co-ed bathrooms horrify her (rightly so). She wears keds when everyone else is wearing flip-flops. The point Wolfe is getting at is that the poor, the underpriveleged go to the Harvards too. Ivy league doesn’t mean class distinction.
However, the only problem with his point is that statistics show that of the 146 select colleges, only 3% of the student body come from Charlotte’s economic bracket, which raises some interesting questions. Is poverty next to stupidity? Or does uppity flee from humility? Is Wolfe’s novel a farce, fiction, fact or the future? What’s the point here? Can anybody go to Harvard, provided they make the grades? Apparently not, since a large portion of Harvard students are admitted on clout and class, not grade and gumption. What’s the future of the American University…of students and professors alike? I guess it’s hopelessly tied up with the future of I Am Charlotte Simmons? We’ll see…
How do you begin to download one of the best concerts you’ve ever been to? The night was a double-header. Most opening acts I skip, but thanks to Mark Nelson, we showed up in time to catch aobut 10 songs by Keane. An English band, not new and incorrectly compared to Coldplay, opened for U2. Suprisingly, they possess some of the stuff of U2, not in musical similarity but in raw, emotive displays of musical talent and power. Yeah, they are excellent live. Whats crazy is they are a trio, with no guitar (keyboard, drums and vocals)! If you dont have a cd, get Hopes and Fears and sit back and chill, meditate, enjoy. Sample them at http://www.keanemusic.com/
Opening with “City of Blinding Lights,” a song I didnt care for until I heard it live in May, U2 cranked the Garden in a way that Keane probably dreams of. Bono set the tone for the night saying, “Let’s turn this Tuesday night into a Saturday night and Sunday morning.” Although there was less Sunday morning than I would have liked, it was a party from beginning to end.
Bono’s vocals were stronger than any of the five U2 shows I’ve seen. Hitting the high notes of “Still Havent Found” with ease and digging deep to belt out Pavarotti’s italian opera in “Miss Sarajevo,” which stole the night, you thought you were listening to a much younger Bono. The unexpected and inaugural acoustic “Stuck in a Moment” left you, well, stuck in a moment that you didnt want to get out of.
The typical human rights and political activism formed the center of the night with a interesting seguy out of Sunday Bloody Sunday and into Miss Sarajevo. Bono pleaded for coexistence between Muslims, Christians and Jews, a noble and rather Christian thing to do. He claimed that Sarajevo was an beautiful example of this coexistence, accounting for why evil men destroyed it.
What drives Bono’s activism is the Justice he sees in Scripture: “Holding the children to ransom for the debts of thier grandparents, that’s a justice issue. Or not lettting the poorest of te poor put thier products on our shelves whilst advertsing the free market, that’s a justice issue to me. These things are rooted in my study of the Scriptures.” (Bono in Conversation, 123)
The night ended on a spiritual note with the ancient psalm 40. How long must we sing this song? Probably for eternity.