August 15th, 2009

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The Shack (William P. Young, 2007) [2009-08-15]

When Jesus was asked, "What is the greatest commandment?" Jesus responded: "The greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, strength, and soul -- and the second is like it: to love your neighbor as yourself; on this hang all the law and the prophets" (paraphrased from memory).

The novel The Shack never cites this passage specifically, but it's arguably at the heart of the book: that relationship is at the heart of how we are called to be, that we must be in loving relationship God (God who is Trinitarian because God's essence is Love and love cannot exist outside of relationship) and that all our other relationships must be rooted in that model of relationship.

This isn't new(s) to me, so I wasn't blown away by the book like some people have been. Plus there were a variety of little things that just didn't quite work for me.
Isaiah 9:6, blasphemy, family love

thinking about relationships

As I said, I wasn't blown away by The Shack; but reading it these past couple days has meant I've been thinking more than usual about relationships.

A friend once joked, "You love Jesus more than you love me" -- because I wouldn't break a church commitment to have dinner with him -- and I said, "I love Jesus in loving you."

The same friend asked me last night my thoughts on panhandlers, and I stumbled for a bit and then wrapped it up by saying that I thought what I am really Christianly called to do is to buy that person a sandwich and talk with them -- I said that Jesus didn't give money to charitable organizations; he sat down at a meal with people. "But that's hard. And I hate people most of the time. So I don't do it."

When I really love people, though, the hard hard work that is being-in-relationship is just What I Do. I don't know how to explain it, 'cause it's not that it's "easy" exactly, so much as it just is What I Do, and Want to do, even when it's really hard (and certain kinds of it being hard -- like sitting with people in their pain -- almost make me more want to do it, because that is such important work, and such work of love, and work that so few people can do for any given individual).

Edit: And I think that the more we love someone, the more we want to use (and grow) our gifts and graces for them -- yes I'm in part thinking of my recent musings on doing the work of the church (and yes I know I still owe people comment responses).

[Shakespeare on the Common] The Comedy of Errors [2009-08-15]

It's been just over 5 weeks since I last got my hair cut, but it was feeling too long (hello, summer) plus there were some errant too-long bits.

I got the same hairstylist I had last time -- either a stroke of good luck or a testament to their record-keeping, since when I called earlier this week I totally couldn't remember her name (Lauren).

She complimented me on my hair's natural highlights :)

While I was waiting, I read The Improper Bostonian.  Its entertainment listing included Zero Arrow Theatre's The Donkey Show -- a "disco adaptation of A Midsummer Night's Dream" (August 21, 2009 - January 2, 2010).

I was going to go to Shakespeare on the Common this past Thursday, but both friends I was going to go with asked to bail for totally legitimate reasons -- and Comedy of Errors is not a Shakespeare play I like all that much, so I wasn't very broken up.

Carolyn had invited me to dinner at a Salvadorian place in JP to be followed by a walk around the Pond, but then she heard about free Shakespeare in the Park, and she likes Comedy of Errors, so we went to a Vietnamese place near Chinatown -- Xinh Xinh (7 Beach Street ... that appeared to be like Pho alley).  Very tasty.  I got tofu stir-fry with vegetables, and it was really light, but really good.  And I got a jackfruit (which I had never heard of before) smoothie, which was also quite tasty.

I was introduced to Comedy of Errors in an elective Shakespeare class I took my junior year in high school (so almost 10 years ago).  I have never been a fan of mistaken identity plots, and I remember literally thinking "Shakespeare, this was before you got good at this like with Twelfth Night" (my love for that play was surely influenced by having been in a production thereof two years prior).

I have not encountered the play since, and oh tonight was PAINFUL.  Everyone is so STUPID.  I can't even say they're clueless because they totally have clues, they're just oblivious and unthinking.  The dance interludes were fun, but oh ... I was really glad the show was only two hours (including a ten-minute intermission).

From the program:
The Setting for CSC's Comedy of Errors
    Just as The Comedy of Errors offers a fun, farcical stage story shaped by a stark, tragic backstory in which a storm tears a family apart, South Beach Miami of the 1930s offers a wild, exciting setting for The Comedy of Errors shaped by a devastating backstory in which a storm tore a city apart.  The Great Miami Hurricane of 1926 destroyed much of the waterfront area of South Beach, ending Florida's first real estate bubble and giving the region an early start in the Great Depression.  However, the same storm that wiped out the waterfront in the 1920s left it ripe for redevelopment in the 1930s, a period that saw the creation of many of Miami's signature buildings in the Streamline Modern Art Deco style.  Such rapid redevelopment in a time of economic depression led to the growth of another industry in the region: organized crime, with no less a mobster than Al Capone setting up shop in Coconut Grove at the close of the 1920s.
    And all of this crime and construction happened on top of Miami's ever-present dual-identity as both a vacation destination and an active port: a place through which strangers of many types (merchants, lifeguards, dog walkers, young lovers, jazz musicians, mafia henchmen, etc.) pass for various, overlapping reasons.  In the dumbshows (actions presented by actors onstage without spoken dialogue) that punctuate Shakespeare's acts, we've tried to capture all the energy and characters of South Beach Miami in the '30s and to use them to further Shakespeare's story, but also to present the stories and personalities of this world in as full and as fun a way as possible.