29 March 2018

Death triumphs, or so it seems

Source (pdf).  
If you've been with me for a while, you'll recognize the graphic above as a page from Charles McCarthy's Stations of the Cross of Nonviolent Love, which I read every year during Lent.

A shroud from Assumption Monastery, Sviyazhsk.
(More information, in Russian, here.) Photo: V. Strelov.
In earlier years, when I mentioned McCarthy's stations in my blog, I usually provide a station a little before this one, number 13, which is (along with 14, "Jesus is laid in the sepulchre") the bleakest of all. But I'm still in a state of shock over two mass tragedies and the perverse backlashes that have followed those tragedies. I am not in a mood to avert my eyes from the evidences of bondage to violence and inhumanity represented by these incidents.

The first event was the shootings at Parkland, Florida, and the efficient killing made possible by an AR-15. The backlash: smear campaigns against the students speaking in favor of gun control.

My mini-shrine. A flower for Kemerovo's kids.
Screenshot from TV Rain's coverage of Moscow meetings.
The second incident happened since I last wrote here. Last Sunday, 64 people, at least, died in the Winter Cherry Shopping Center in Kemerovo, Russia, including 41 children. In some cases, parents were electronic witnesses to their children's last moments, thanks to mobile phones and social networks. The backlash: highly placed politicians charging those parents and other angry survivors with taking advantage of this tragedy for political gain.

(If for some reason you have a desire to throw up, just read senator Elena Mizulina's comments in this summary of Russian media coverage of the Kemerovo aftermath.)

In the hours and days after the Winter Cherry fire, I watched as much coverage as I could, including the huge meeting outside the city administration building, and then Tuesday's memorial meetings in Moscow. A reporter asked one of the participants in Moscow for his feelings about the fire, and he said something that I've come to expect to hear every time something like this happens in Russia: "Whatever 'they' do, we live in the kind of country where these things will keep happening." It was this hopelessness that reminded me of Station 13: "Death and the dark side of reality are always the final victors."

Which is it? Violence, racism, elitism, cynicism, and death are the victors? We know too much about what that looks like ... what that continues to look like two millennia after Jesus.

OR ...

Will we realize something completely different on Easter Sunday? How will the world know that things are different?

Last year's station from McCarthy's booklet. And 2016's station (scroll down).

Christian nationalism: a new theory of Trump's white evangelical support.

Reclaiming Jesus. An interesting statement, even if the verb "must" is overused. (We must, must we?) Note the resources at the bottom of the page, including a mercifully shortened version and a civil discourse curriculum.

Why immigration is first about families, not economics or security. (Thanks to David Dark for the reference.) (Caveat: I was imported into the USA as a young child by my parents.)

On The Bible for Normal People podcast: an interview with William Paul Young, author of The Shack.

Laura Lundgren on duty, desire and The Crown, season two.

GetReligion looks at NPR's story on Christian colleges and the evangelical culture wars.

Easter is coming. Blues, stay away from me! (Terry Evans, rest in peace.)


David H. Finke said...

I've probably neglected to say this previously, Johan, but I am always deeply and positively affected by your inclusion of music from our unique North American contribution to the musical heritage of this world, initially from our African-American brothers and sisters. It is so full of Soul and bespeaks a universal language. You are a wonderful ambassador of cultural exchange and enrichment.
Hearing this reminds me of the life-altering event I had as a high school student discovering, in the record collection of our public library in Aurora, Illinois, the collection of Negro prison work songs collected by Alan Lomax. There simply was nothing like that in my previous experience.
May all of our horizons continue to broaden, that we may be enriched by the music of this world.

Johan Maurer said...

Thank you, David! This music kept me sane in my coming-of-age years in a household ruled by the master-race mentality.

Somewhere I came across a used copy of Alan Lomax: Selected Writings 1934-1997, with its "free sample CD" intact, and (of course) bought it. Fascinating!