Tuesday, June 19, 2007

World Premier: Retailing Jesus

So, we’ve moved from WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) to WDJLL: What Did Jesus Look Like? Apparently, some good folks from Holland have figured it out. Here’s the article that was e-mailed to me this week:

World premiere of 3-D holographic “images of Christ” at International Christian Retail Show.

At the International Christian Retail Show (July 8-12, 2007, in Atlanta) Grizzly Adams Productions (booth MS3) will present at Bridge-Logos booth 3039 “the world’s first scientific 3-D holographic images of Jesus Christ,” according to a company announcement. These five fragile glass holographic images were prepared by laser scientists in Amsterdam, Holland, and were extrapolated from the reputed burial cloth of Jesus Christ known as the Shroud of Turin. The five images include the face of Christ and the front and back images of His crucified body.

“Christian booksellers coming to the Bridge-Logos booth will be given three-dimensional viewing glasses to see these sacred images and informational handouts explaining the new scientific findings discovered in the holographic images,” says David Balsiger, senior producer of the new Grizzly Adams Productions documentary DVD and co-author of the book The Case for Christ’s Resurrection (Bridge-Logos). “Also, a world-renowned expert on the holographic images and the Shroud of Turin will be on hand to explain the images and to answer questions.

Now, I’m not trying to poo-poo on anybody’s holographic parade. Really, I’m not. It’s just that none of this impresses me. However, when I can see what Jesus looks like from the life of someone living about 2000 years later, who has not ever really seen the man, Jesus, and yet believes, now THAT impresses me.

I feel the same way about the whoopty-doo over having the Ten Commandments displayed in public places. Why don’t we just display them in our lives? Wouldn’t that be exponentially more effective? If people are just trying to one-up all the other religions in this country, then duking it out in the court system is probably the best way to go. But if bringing our community to a place of moral unity that exemplifies compassion and respect for one another is the goal, perhaps displaying those commandments in our daily lives is the better option. And let’s remember, all of the law, all that the prophets came to tell us, and all of the commandments really hinge on two commands: Love God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself.

If we all did that, would anybody even wonder what He looked like way back when? Or would we be content with the fact that we could see Him every single day? I think I’d be content.

I get e-mails and text messages that say, "If you claim to love Jesus, then forward this to 14,000 people. If you’re ashamed of Him, then delete this message." Yeah, I pretty much delete those. Sorry. I’m not a very good Internet Christian. I just don’t know what the cyber-Jesus looks like. Not sure I want to promote him.

I don’t have any catchy little Jesus bumper stickers on my car. When the e-mails say, “97% of people will delete this e-mail,” I’m in that 97%. I don’t have any desire to see the Ten Commandments down at the courthouse. And I’m not going to Holland to see Jesus.

I don’t follow after signs and wonders, but I can sure tell you signs and wonders follow after God’s people. And I’m not talking about the “Ten Commandments” signs. It is truly a wonder that God can take a broken life and create a wonderful, rich, abundant life where once there was no hope of ever really becoming anything. It is a sign of His mercy. All other “signs” pale pathetically in comparison. I should know. I was such a life.

The holographic images of Christ are not “The Case for Christ’s Resurrection.”

But I am.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

A Poem: Where I'm From

I've never accused myself of being a poet, and come to think of it, neither has anyone else. Here, though, is an attempt. This poem was written from a "template" of sorts. I was given a basic format, a formula to follow. Here is the result. I kinda like it. See what you think. If you're inspired, follow the format and tell me where YOU are from...

Where I’m From

I am from a cruelty that seems distant now.
From flying fists and fits of rage,
I am from indifference and isolation.
Loneliness, my salvation.
I am from the endless chores:
Cleaning dishes without water because it’s been shut off,
Caring for children who aren’t mine,
A mother who is herself a child,
And a man who is not my husband.

I am from a world that sits squarely on my shoulders,
But I don’t belong.
I’m from, “You think you’re better, don’t you?”
Gratefully, yes.

I’m from so long, farewell, to Hell with you, goodbye.
I’m from anything that’s better than this.
I’m from outside this place,
A higher place.

I’m from a husband who knows tenderness
And a child who has never known threat.
I am from large doses of daily, uninhibited laughter
that heals me.
I am from steak and king crab legs for no apparent reason
if that’s what I want,
And lights that come on when I flip the switch.
I am from a purpose that is defined
And a destiny that is uniquely mine.
I am from clarity.

I am from these moments--
A flower that has miraculously bloomed in a barren desert.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

The Beauty of Alaska

Well, folks, a happier blog this week, perhaps? Something lighter? Something pretty? OK. I wrote this piece during a writing class at UNLV. We were assigned a descriptive essay, and this is what I came up with, a snapshot moment of a quiet morning in Alaska. Sean-Martin took us on a three-day ferry excursion from Billingham, Washington up to where his friends from college still live in Sitka. What a phenomenal experience it was! I went whale watching every day. Geoff, then eleven, stood on the beach and pulled a huge salmon out of the ocean with a five-weight flyrod, making his Fa most proud. Sean-Martin got cornered on a rock by a grizzly bear who just thought Sean-Martin was nice enough to catch his lunch that day. The food was incredible. There's just something about pulling a fish out of the water and putting it in your mouth twenty minutes later. If you've never been to Alaska, you should definitely put it on your list of things to do. To the right is a portion of a video we took, so click away and get a tiny taste of what Alaska offers to sooth the soul. Here's the post for this week...

I couldn’t sleep. I’m not sure why. Southeast Alaska was the most peaceful place I’d ever been in my life. My husband wasn’t having any trouble sleeping. His face was turned toward me, his breathing deep and even in oblivious, uninhibited slumber. Look at his sweet face. He looks good even when he sleeps. How is that possible? I gently lifted his heavy hand from my waist and sneaked out of our bed to take a dip in the natural hot springs.
The air is chilly on Baranof Island, especially in the early morning before the sun has had a chance to take the edge off. I slipped into the bathhouse and out of my robe. The slightest smell of sulfur crinkled my nose as I put my cold toes in the hot water. Not too hot. I put my arms on the edge of the tub and lowered myself in. Goose bumps jumped out on every inch of my skin as I sat down in the warmth of the silky hot spring water. The bathhouse was a simple, wooden structure with huge, open windows on three sides, giving me a perfect, panoramic view of the woods and the bay just beyond.
The beauty of the place, and then the stillness struck me. Southeast Alaska is a rain forest, and the most vibrantly thick, jungle-like greenery I’ve ever seen surrounded me. The ocean lay just a hundred yards ahead, but with no sandy beach to greet it. Instead the water was met with lush trees and long grass, unintimidated by the tides. Like me, they preferred to be as close to the water as possible.
The mountains enjoyed their proximity to the waves as well and towered over the entire area with authority. They boasted the tallest trees that brushed the sky with their tips. A bald eagle, clenching tightly a salmon breakfast for her babies, floated overhead and quietly disappeared beyond their branches. Her family would be eating in private this morning.
The thundering sound of the waterfall called for my attention. Stunningly beautiful, powerful and impressive it was. The mountains relinquished its water to the ocean in a fit, making space for more water that the rain would inevitably bring that day and every day. That rain faithfully began to fall with the precision of music, creating a symphony more beautiful than any earthly composer could create.
A sea otter peeked out of the brush and contemplated the journey down the waterfall to the ocean where his unsuspecting breakfast would surely be. He seemed unsure and waited at his station for a long time. Finally, hunger took over and he cautiously ventured out to slide down the falls. In a second, he was swept away and disappeared underneath the wall of white water. It took a few seconds before he appeared at the bottom, stunned and hurt. He made it to the bank, but his hind leg was broken. He dragged it behind him as he, too, disappeared into the green forest, leaving me to contemplate my own fragility in a world no less civil.
I propped myself up on my knees with my arms over the edge of the tub, leaning as far as I could over the edge. The rain came down harder and I put my hand out of the bathhouse window to catch it. I caught my husband’s eye as he walked up the deck toward the bathhouse, towel in hand. He smiled at me.
“Has anyone seen my wife?” his voice interrupted a moment later. He spoke softly, in perfect meter with the rain.
“I think she’s taking a bath,” I smiled and kept my eyes fixed on the horizon as he set his towel aside and settled down into the tub. His arms came tightly around my waist, and he held me close as he gently kissed my shoulder and then my neck just below my ear.
“Good morning,” he whispered.
It was.