Sunday, December 27, 2009

"Up in the Air"

David and I saw the movie "Up in the Air" this afternoon. Both of us left the theater saying it was a great film, and we talked about it most of the way home.

George Clooney plays a man whose life seems as barren as his one-bedroom, blank-white-walled apartment --which he rarely occupies since he's on the road 342 days a year. His goal in life is to earn 10 million frequent flyer miles. (Really, every time they showed his apartment, my heart contracted in deep sadness, or perhaps horror. Blank. White. Walls. An ugly, cheap kitchen table from Wal-Mart. "Famine of the soul" is a phrase that seems to fit.)

I won't go into the story, but it's a sophisticated film, an intelligent film about relationships and life and what really matters.

Vera Farmiga plays a woman he meets on the road, and she is stunning in this role. An intriguing character, she's the one in this film that surprised me the most.

David read somewhere that the people in the film --the ones who are reacting to being fired from their jobs -- are not actors, not all of them are actors, anyway. The director advertised in Detroit and someplace else for folks who had recently lost their jobs -- he asked them to come in and filmed them talking about how they reacted to the news. Powerful stuff.

And there's a wedding scene that MUST have been filmed in an authentic little Lutheran church in northern Wisconsin. It was too real to have been thought up by Hollywood set designers!

And I loved the opening sequence...It was one city after another being filmed from the air. And the earth just looks so different from 30,000 ft up! I was totally engaged, and I can't say that for most opening sequences of movies!

If you can, go see it. Let me know what you think.

A "good word" about Jesus Christ

I'm preaching this morning. On Jesus. My homiletics professor used to say: "Say a good word about Jesus Christ." Included in the sermon is the story of my own coming to terms with Jesus as the God-Human and the difficulty I had with that whole idea until I entered seminary and read John Cobb's Christ in a Pluralistic Age. As I wrote the sermon I realized how much Jesus means to me. Here's the last of the sermon:
I said that when I left the businessworld and entered seminary, I knew my heart's desire lay in a search for meaning and for a sense of purpose. I've known for a while now that my heart's desire is Jesus. Jesus provides the meaning and purpose for my life, evening while remaining so mysterious. There's not just a whole heckuva lot I can say with absolute certainty about the paradox, the Mystery, of the God-Human Jesus.

There is a way, though, that I can say with integrity that "Jesus saves." That's because, for me, the vision of this divine Mystery is overflowing with the most joyful, dancing and vibrant colors, a vision that can trigger a new reality. The music of Mystery transports me--transports me to a sublime place where everythng I am suddenly moves into alignment, gets "centered," and there is no fear, only the authentic me. And the fragrance of divine Mystery places me always in the present moment, when regrets for the past and worries about the future just dissolve, and I am truly alive, utterly grateful, and enveloped in the saving grace that is my Savior Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ.

May it be so for you, in your own unique way, as well. Amen.

As I wrote those words I realized just how true they were. It's the Mystery of Jesus that draws me--the Mystery of embodying Love, and all those other attributes of the divine. --The Mystery of how the divine does indeed intersect with the human, bringing about creativity, goodness, justice, peace. --The Mystery of death. --And the Hope that it's not the last word about Life. That's Jesus, for me.