April 22, 2013
I’ve heard it said often that the problem with the doctrine of reincarnation is that it encourages people to slack off about living life fully, giving the illusion that we have unlimited time to screw around or watch television.
From a common Christian point of view, the problem is the illusion that we have unlimited time to repent our sins and reconcile with God before we’re called to judgment. That we can sin without limit or consequence because we’ll always have more time to get it right.
But I think it would mean something much, much better, if it were true in any way.
It would mean that all of the world’s greatest people, everyone we’ve loved, everyone who’s meant a great deal to us, everyone whose work has changed our lives…is still here with us.
But we can’t know who they are now. They could be anyone and they could be anywhere.
And so every single chance you have to show goodness or kindness to another person, is a chance to show it to any person who’s ever lived and died.
Far from the idea of reincarnation being an excuse not to live life to the fullest, I think it’s an invitation to live as well as we can and show as much goodness as we can to everyone around us.
April 8, 2013
I was reorganizing a props closet recently when I found this fellow.
I got all of his strings untangled to try to see how he works; he’s a marionette, but seems to be missing the wooden handhold that would allow a puppeteer to operate his legs independently from his arms and head.
He’s beautiful, and also clearly not a toy or a prop. He looks like a traditional puppet of some kind. (In most cultures other than ours, puppet theater is a serious traditional storytelling form for adults as well as children.) And here’s my real embarrassment: I wrote my final paper for graduation with honors in college on the religious frameworks underpinning various East Asian puppet theater traditions…and I had no idea what this guy is.
He looks Indian or Hindu, perhaps, and preliminary image Googling reveals a resemblance to the string puppets of a tradition called Bommalattam, but those marionettes are described as being about 3 feet tall, and this one is only just over a foot, and also more detailed and ornate. I dug out a copy of my paper to skim through, but he doesn’t fit the description of anything that I studied.
It’s past my bedtime, but I’m a little obsessed now with figuring out more about him. I’ll have to resume research in the morning, though if anyone else is geek enough to have any idea, I would be thankful to know.
April 7, 2013
Really happy to see an update from the Out of Order team this week. Seeing this film get made is a wish very dear to me. It will come as no surprise to anyone, probably, that I treasure stories of people being told that they’re not supposed to exist, and then doing it anyway.
And also because I’ve had people who are not allies to the cause of equality tell me that they’re really and truly trying to understand the position of people who consider themselves both faithful Christians, and avowedly queer. Being able to point them to this film would be a great place to start, but it has to get made first.
Earlier this year I shared the first trailer for this documentary project. I know that everything and everyone is asking for your time or money for something, and I know that queer Presbyterian aspiring clergy might seem an obscure or marginally important topic for a documentary, but the filmmakers have this to say:
This important film is about people making a stand for what they believe in. It’s not merely about Christians or gay and transgender people. It’s about wider humanity and doing what’s right, despite institutions telling you you’re wrong, broken and don’t belong.
I know that’s something that probably a majority of my followers can identify with in some way.