New (Church) Year’s Eve, New Blog Directions & Adventures with Moana

I’m enjoying a quiet Thanksgiving weekend and it seems like a good time to pause and write. In many ways, it’s the calm before the storm – midterms begin for us on 14 December and there are too few school days and too much content for me to teach between now and then. And we get an unexpected day off as our football team is playing (for the second year in a row) for the Ohio state title next Friday. Awesome (yet one less teaching day.)

Have you noticed a somewhat different direction for this blog? Yes, the mission and the writers have shifted. The original purpose (see the “About” for details) was to share ideas and insights about technology – especially as it can be used to support the work educators do in their classrooms. This focus, over time, expanded to include internet resources which could make us smile, think, and pray.

After taking a hiatus from writing here over the summer and enjoying time reading many novels and other books, I returned in the fall with a new focus. Every school day since mid-August, I’ve created and posted a presentation about the Saint O’the Day. This is a labor of love as I’ve grown in devotion to the saints and I desire to share what I’m learning about “our extended family in Heaven” with my students and others.

The writers of this blog have shifted too. Initially it was a trio of us creating this site. But time commitments and interests change. Tera, my Religion colleague, is now our Campus Ministry Director and our excellent retreat program (plus the day to day of teaching) takes much of her focus. And Rachel, my colleague who teaches Spanish, has become the publisher of our weekly faculty/staff newsletter (and is doing a great job with it).

So, that leaves me (Rick) – freshman and sophomore Religion teacher, husband of a fellow Religion teacher and school colleague, dad of a teen and near-teen, aficionado of technology, music, wine, walking, and life in general!

And Happy New (Church) Year’s Eve. On this very last day of CY2016, the lectionary reading has Christ assuring St. John and us: “‘Behold, I am coming soon.’ Blessed is the one who keeps the prophetic message of this book.” Furthermore, we pray in the Responsorial Psalm: “Marana tha! Come, Lord Jesus!”

Yes, 2017 begins for us tomorrow with the changing of the colors and the lighting of the advent wreath. As I wonder about what adventures this coming church year will hold, I’m listening to the main song from the wonderful new film (which I saw on Thanksgiving): Moana. It’s all about hearing one’s calling and discovering strength to courageously pursue it.

I’ll be back to share more during Advent. Until then, may you hear the voice of God, see the light of Christ, and be drawn this church year towards the horizon “where the water meets the sky.”

Friday FaithPost 2: “The Passion” This Palm Sunday Night (March 20th)

As I was searching around earlier for links to use in the first FaithPost today, I discovered that FOX is broadcasting “The Passion” this Sunday night at 8 pm EDT. The home page has clips which are intriguing. Filmed around and broadcast (live?) from New Orleans, at first glance, it looks like it could be a “Jesus Christ Superstar” or “Godspell” for the early 21st century.

It’s getting a bit of buzz, especially in light of the growing trend of live musicals on TV.

Jesus Sings Pop Songs? 10 Things to Know About FOX’s Musical “Passion” which includes these tidbits:

5. Hundreds of people are expected to help carry a 20-foot-high illuminated cross from the Superdome to the park over the course of the show.

6. Not every street in New Orleans will be shut down, so the procession may at times be stopped by traffic, or even a passing fire truck. In which case Perry’s plan, he told reporters in January, is to say, “Jesus, call an ambulance.”

7. The music isn’t new. “We are using big hit songs that everybody knows, and we are putting them completely in a new context,” said Anders, suggesting viewers might not immediately recognize them.

“It’s incredible, when we start looking through the U.S. pop catalog, how many spiritual undertones there are, because most artists have a spirituality to them, and the songs are written from those moments in their lives,” he said.

Sounds intriguing. It’s on my calendar for Sunday night (when it’s laundry-folding night). I’ll likely be posting on my Twitter account – @hartleyrkrelig , following @thepassionlive and watching/posting at #thepassion.

And, I’ll let you know here on Monday what I thought about it…

 

Friday FaithPost: Scapegoating, Mimetic Theory and Another View of Atonement

OK, so the title of this post doesn’t roll off of the tongue very well. And you may be asking: Why should I read about atonement? How does it relate to scapegoating? Or even “What is atonement?

From a Christian theological perspective, atonement refers to how Jesus’ life, death and resurrection reconciled our sins. The “bumper sticker” version of this is “Jesus saves.” Many, if not nearly all, Christians, when thinking about how Jesus saves, adopt a transactional or legalistic view of this process.

Substitutionary Atonement is a general term for this view. The logic supporting it can be summarized:

+ Human sin, both Original Sin and the myriad individual sin flowing from it, offends God’s sense of justice.

+ This justice demands payment or punishment commensurate with the offense committed against God.

+ Since human sin is so massive, there is no amount punishment or ransom humans can endure or offer which can appease God’s justice.

+ Only God’s son – both human and divine – can take upon himself human sin. When he endures the violence of brutal punishment and sacrificially sheds his blood as a stand-in for humans (a substitute) God’s justice is served. And through this sacrifice, God and humanity are reconciled.

A very popular narrative representation of this view of atonement is in C.S. Lewis’ beloved and allegorical “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.” Edmond betrays his siblings to the evil character. Even though he is forgiven for this by the Christ-like Aslan, the satanic witch cites the foundational justice of the land which requires traitors to become subject to destruction at her hands.Instead,  Aslan takes the witch’s violence himself, thus saving Edmond. And in doing so, an even “deeper magic” come into effect to restore him to life and energize all to defeat evil.

Another bumper sticker sized statement flows from this view of the mechanics of atonement – “Jesus Died For Your Sins.” Adherents of this perspective often emphasize how much Jesus suffered before and on the cross. A correlation is drawn between the magnitude of sin committed by humanity and the amount of pain Jesus endured as a direct consequence. The not infrequently stated: “Your sins drove a nail in to Jesus” is the harsh conclusion of this belief.

The question at the heart of this view of atonement is: “Did God the Father need (or want) Jesus to die in order to save humanity from sin and death?” Certainly Jesus died a violent death at the hands of the Romans. But, did God want/need this? If the answer is “yes,” then violence and the resulting salvation proclaimed by Christianity is sanctified and glorified. The implications cut right to the heart of Christian ethics. Although Jesus lived a life proclaiming peace, if God the Father needs/wants the blood of his son for appeasement, then violence trumps peace as the core characteristic of God’s nature. And consequently, Christians may be justified in similarly using “righteous” violence.

A growing number of theologians are showing how the exact opposite is true – Jesus died as a result of sin, specifically the foundational human sin of scapegoating.  God didn’t need/desire this violence, but allowed it, in order to turn it inside out through the resurrection of the innocent, scapegoated victim.

Perhaps the most prominent American Catholic theologian, Bishop Robert Barron, has  been speaking more and more about the theology of non-violent atonement. Read or watch below Bishop Barron’s high praise for recently deceased sociologist and theologian Rene Girard who wrote extensively about mimetic theory and scapegoating.

Bishop Barron concludes about Girard:

There are some thinkers that offer intriguing ideas and proposals, and there is a tiny handful of thinkers that manage to shake your world. Girard was in this second camp. In a series of books and articles, written across several decades, he proposed a social theory of extraordinary explanatory power.

Girard also informs the excellent work of The Raven Foundation who offer this video mission statement:

I appreciate the dedicated work of the Raven team who frequently post commentary pointing out the many ways scapegoating happens all around us. Two thought-provoking, recent posts to check out are:

“Zootopia” How to Make the World a Better Place

“Spotlight” on Children

A bonus third post, my favorite one, also referencing a movie:

My Daughter, the Star Wars myth and Jesus – How to Defeat Evil

So, why did I spend time with this long post today? First of all, a week from now, on Good Friday, I hope this post and Girard’s powerful way of re-understanding how atonement happens allow you to experience the cross in a deeper, more profound way.  Next, as the violence, especially religiously justified acts, increases in the world, Christians must look at the root of our theology to critique how it may support God-ordained violence. Finally,  a deeper understanding of mimetic dynamics, the subsequent scapegoating and its ancient social power should lead all people of faith to prophetically expose this mechanism in order to defuse its seductive power.

 

 

 

Sun(Fun)day Night (BONUS): Amazing Movie Mash-up

This time last Sunday night, I (and you too?) was watching the Oscars. If you haven’t done so yet, check out my post on where you can watch the nominated films.

Have you ever wished your favorite movie characters could be in the same film – TOGETHER? Now, thanks to editing and production so amazing I don’t even want to begin to figure it out, you can see this:

The tone does shift towards violence about halfway through when the Aliens show up. Until that point, it’s pretty fun to see how such a great range of favorite actors and characters (check out where at least four James Bonds connect) come together in one place within a story:

03-06-16-K

Friday FaithPost (Part 2): Psalm 35 and Colbert’s Journey

Tuesday morning, as I was unloading the dishwasher at 5:30 am, I discovered a clip from Colbert’s show the night before. Apparently starting a Leap Day tradition (which won’t have a “2nd Quadrennial” version until February 29, 2020), Colbert’s guest, director Spike Jonze shot a moving opening segment for the show. Before you view it below, read these verses from Psalm 35:

But at my stumbling they gathered in glee,

they gathered together against me;

ruffians whom I did not know

tore at me without ceasing;

they impiously mocked more and more,

gnashing at me with their teeth…

Do not let my treacherous enemies rejoice over me,

or those who hate me without cause wink the eye.

You have seen, O LORD; do not be silent!

O LORD, do not be far from me!

 

Here’s the video. I particularly like the re-imagined version of the show’s theme.

Do you see the “ruffians?” How about the God-figure who frees him and leads him to paradise?

Sun(Fun)day Night Post: How to Watch the Oscar Nominated Films and Who Should Have Won Best Picture

Since you and I may be watching the 88th Academy Awards tomorrow evening, I thought I’d get this post completed early. Plus, you’ll find a link below which both ranks all of the films nominated this year and tells you how/where to watch them now!

Or perhaps, you feel like me and may very well #boycottoscars because this year it’s blatantly #oscarssowhite . It may be useful to watch just to see how Chris Rock handles this reality.

If you’re not too busy planning what to teach in next week’s classes, you may want to hustle and watch some of the nominees between now and about 8pm Sunday night.

 Vox (pictured above) has a very cool article in which their film critic both ranks all of the nominees across the categories and lists where/how to view each one right now. For even more fun(ctionality), you can filter the films various ways and reconfigure the list as you wish.

If you like speculating on the Best Picture Oscar woulda, coulda, shoulda’s  check out this fun post from the Washington Post.  Two film critics go through the Best Picture nominees and winner for each of the last 40 years. They then speculate on who should have won each year. A few times they believe the actual best picture of the year won the Best Picture Oscar, but more often than not, this is not the case.

Here’s one year with which I really agree with their conclusion:

Oscars 1981

Can you guess which film my eleven year old self LOVED in 1981 (and my 46 year old self still loves) and which one I couldn’t even sit through today – 35 years later!

And who starred in Chariots of Fire anyway?  Oh yeah, Ben Cross, Ian Charleston and Nigel Havers.

2015 – Best Things – An Amazing Calendar and More

I’d planned to make this post before 2015 ended, but it obviously didn’t happen. These links, especially to the calendar pictured above are too good to miss. So, let’s pretend it’s a few days ago and we’re looking back at 2015 before (and not after) 2016 has begun.

This calendar from Slate is pretty amazing. Certainly horrible things happened in 2015 – some (the Paris and San Bernadino terrorist attacks) in the final few weeks. Yet, there were far more good things – in fact at least one per day in 2015.

Do check out the calendar. Click on a day and you’ll get more info on what happened that is deemed “good” (at least by the creators at Slate). What if you don’t think something is good on a certain date? Well, you can rate the event on a scale from “Great!” to “meh.”

Here’s, for your perusal, some other “best of lists” and “looks back” from 2015:

The Year in Review in Catholicism (from Crux)

The Best Books We Read in 2015 (from The Week)

The Best Songs We Heard in 2015 (from the Week)

These 14 Characters Stole the Show in 2015 Movies (from the Washington Post)

The Crux 2015 Christmas Book and DVD List

The 13 Funniest TV Shows of 2015

I have some more lists from 2015 to share, but I’ll do so in another post…

 

 

Friday FunLink – Trio of Funny Star Wars Videos Edition

Today’s the day we’ve all been waiting for – my daughter’s 12th birthday!

OK, so if you don’t live in my home, you’ve likely been counting down to this day as the first time in a decade we’ve had a brand new “Star Wars” film. Maybe you’ve already seen it by now?

I have my tickets in hand (on my phone actually) for the 9:05 pm showing this evening. VERY excited that just 12 hours from now my son (who was four years old when “Revenge of the Sith” was released) and I will be back in the fun and fantasy of this beloved film universe.

While there’s no shortage of funny “Star Wars” videos in cyberspace (in fact I posted one here last week), I discovered these three which I find pretty funny:

Steven Colbert (yes, I’m a fanboy) makes no secret of his mad love for “Star Wars” and “The Lord of the Rings.” But until the other night, no one knew of his personal involvement in the casting of “The Force Awakens”

 

He’s also begun a Twitter campaign to muddy the waters of the spoilers flooding the internet:

 

Here’s a clever variation on a theme from a rival late night show:

 

And speaking of clever, here’s a panoply of puns from across the pond:

 

Finally, for some non-video inspiration, here’s “57 Inspirational Quotes from George Lucas and Star Wars” One of my favorites, since it relates to mindfulness:

16. “A Jedi must have the deepest commitment, the most serious mind…. All his life has he looked away…to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. Hmm? What he was doing. Hmph. Adventure. Heh. Excitement. Heh. A Jedi craves not these things. You are reckless.”

“-Yoda notes how Luke simply cannot keep himself focused on the present moment, but is instead always looking to run before he can walk. (Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back)”

Friday FunLink – Hilarious “Darth Trump” Star Wars Parody

Unlike last Friday, my midterms are finally at the copy machine, so I have a moment to share a truly astounding Friday FunLink video.

As I’ve posted previously, I’m a big Star Wars fan. I’m counting down the days until a week from today when finally, finally, finally I can see Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens.”

Until then, I need to settle for this extremely well-done video which combines something I really like with someone I really don’t. So, thanks to Slate, take a 7 minute break to refresh your memory about Star Wars IV, V, and VI and also about some of the always interesting things The Donald has said. Be sure to watch while in a place where you can laugh out loud!

 

And be sure to watch until the end (or just forward to there) as the Trumpization of the final scene of Return of the Jedi is priceless – and it showcases the last sequential image we saw in the Star Wars universe.

Sun(Fun)day Noon – Congrats to Hawks & Supercut of Motivational Coaches from Movies

It’s early on this Sunday, but I have a few fun posts in mind for today. So, I thought I’d get an early start (and I’m not quite ready to settle in to my grading/planning for the day).

Congrats and kudos to the @hartleyfootball team for winning last night and making it to the semi-finals for their division in the state of Ohio.

Hawks Football

Coach Birchfield is exceptionally skilled at motivating his players, students and colleagues. But just in case he needs some inspiration from legendary movie coaches, here’s a great supercut of all-stars:

In case you’d like some more movie coach fun, check out the results of this recent “tournament” determining which coach is the most motivational of all time.