Preached on June 2, 2011 at Redeemer Church in La Mirada, CA.
There are no floating angels in the Bible. The whole hovering angel with billowing skirts thing: it isn’t there. There are hardly any flying angels. They stand and sit and walk. They are often fairly easily mistaken for your good old everyday human being. They can sometimes be wrestled or given food. When they fly (if they fly) they fly with big, weird wings, often in clusters of six or covered with eyes. Or they are (you know) giant, spinning wheels hurling lightning. Monstrous beasts.
But mostly they just look like guys. Shiny guys, sometimes, yes, but guys. On the ground. Solidly on the ground. Read the rest of this entry »
I snatch a store-bought
‘Snack apple’ from the bowl,
Small, red, and tasteless
Like the ones on the tree I’d
Balance on a sloped sapling hand-rail
Stuck in cement stairs on
Our hill to pluck from, but
Without the dusty taste I loved,
Though, yes, so deeply hued.
A bite: brown veins cut
Through the meat.
Mud-soft craters to the stem.
For some reason, all my third grade classmates
Are watching, suddenly, at red lunch recess tables.
They scream and laugh, and the tallest kid
In class, a orange-haired girl who swoons for Spice Girls,
Standing on my picnic bench, grabs
My apple with an “Ew!” and throws it in a bush.
The classmates congratulate her and me
On our near escape from imperfection, mush, and shame
And eat their Cheetos, grinning broad.
Here, in great-grandma Marion’s
Pea-green creaky chair,
Looking at my yard, I grin
And keep on biting.
Sloppy thinking is not, no, not as good as good thinking, so far as thinking goes, but it’s often the same as saying, “I love you more than I do this thought,” and that, yes, that is good.
The credits started rolling and my roommate and I switched the lamplight on mechanically, under duress. We sat there nervously, both wanting the other to help us come to an understanding of the film, but feeling like anything that could be said would inevitably be crass, would be a violation. Josh made an attempt at talking, but I don’t think he managed a complete sentence before he tossed the conversational ball: “W-What did you think?” I just stood up and cleared away our dishes. Incomplete pass. Within a few minutes, we were sitting across from each other on the floor, crying, crying, crying.
I got in late for work the next morning. Josh and I – we hadn’t been able to stop talking. Bedumbed the night before, now we were bursting. We stuffed hours talking. My shower, my breakfast, exercise, devotions: gone. I did manage to get dressed. (Praise be.) The rout continued: within three days I found myself referring to The Thin Red Line as “my favorite film.” In three days it had supplanted a favorite of nine years. I was capsized. Overthrown. Demolished. Smitten. Trounced.
It feels like that experience is the best argument I can offer for this film’s sublimity. It is sublime. I felt it. In my gut. I have never reacted to a film like I reacted to this one. Not even close. I know, though, that we could bandy “I loved it”’s and “I hated it”’s forever (and that TRL has gotten plenty of the latter), so I’ll try recommending it with slightly more universal tools than my upturned innards.
I’m going to say two things here: that Line’s departure from genre norms is a good thing, and that its contemplative indeterminacy is timely and wholesome. If you don’t have much time to read right now, skip to the second section.
Never have I so immediately thought I would love a film as after I saw this trailer.
Here are a few of the major points from a talk I gave to two high school classes recently:
You don’t see the world very often.
– You identify things, but you don’t see things. In fact, you can’t see things; you see color, line, shape, tone: light.
– Likewise, artists don’t draw or paint things. They draw shapes and tones that are sometimes somehow similar to the particular sights we associate with things.
Visual beauty has to do with seeing and not with identifying.
– When you love a painting for its beauty, you are not loving it because of what it represents.
– Abstract art has just as much (or more!) possibility for the pure appreciation of its beauty as does representational art, because our identifier doesn’t get in the way of our ability to see.
Artists, before they are anything else, are masters of sight.
– They’re good at it, they love it, and they can command it.
Artists are also masters of their medium.
As a bare minimum, art appreciators need to be people who see well, too.
ONE MORE THING..
Art is not always meant to be beautiful.
– Some good art is ugly.
In fact, art can be made for many reasons.
– Some art is primarily meant to inspire thought, not aesthetic admiration.
– Some art is primarily meant to be a network of symbols.
– Some art is primarily meant to be the self-expression of an individual.
– Some art is primarily meant to be an effective optical illusion.
– Some art is primarily meant to be an exploration/presentation of the medium being used.
If you are going to correctly appreciate a piece of art, you need to first understand why it was made and judge it according to the standards of the category in which it is attempting to fit.