Get out your blenders. Pour in some Stan Hauerwas, William Willimon, Walter Wink, John H. Yoder, add some American and church history, and finish it off with some less technical language. Press blend and out comes...The Myth of a Christian Nation.
I received this at the bookstore yesterday. I put it down to go to sleep and class and that's it. Few times in my life have I so wholeheartedly agreed with anything. My only beef is that some of the 'filling in the lines' of what Biblical characters were thinking or feeling is a little too speculative. Other than that, yes yes yes.
Sometimes I think that all my beef with the America and God are buddies sentiment around me makes me crazy. Then I read some Yoder and Hauerwas & Willimon and Wink and I realized that I'm not crazy. I'm just not evangelical. Then Boyd came along and said, "Hey Ryan, it's okay to believe the Bible is totally true AND be a pacifist and think America is not God's nation. In fact, that's what you SHOULD believe if you think the Bible is true." So I guess maybe I still am an Evangelical. I don't know. The jury's still out on that one. Plus what is an evangelical anyway? I'm trying to figure that out and I'm not getting very far as there are loads of different opinions on this.
I especially liked...who am I kidding? I liked EVERYTHING. Perhaps my enthusiasm is clear in that I hate it when people use all caps for emphasis, and that's what I'm doing. My joy and exuberance have superceded my all caps reservations. It is very well informed on all points. Boyd did his research and it shows. Plus I think that it is super-balanced. He is not trying to tick people off or cause division as some people can do. He is trying to tell us what we should have known all along about not just our country, but countries in general and what Christians should be doing. What a guy. What a time. What a baseball game.
The first chance you get, read The Myth of a Christian Nation. If you're familiar with the guys I keep mentioning, parts of it will be either familiar or even redundant. Yet taken as a whole, I think this book is a great read. So read it. Buy it. Write in it. Underline it. And tell me how good it is, because it is that good. I will look forward to us talking about how it is completely right about everything.
I have two new favorite quotes. One is serious and one is not as serious. The first one is from Wisdom Ways by Elizabeth Schussler-Fiorenza. I was reading it in the library the other day and I started crying in the library. I cry too much. That's why my nickname was Cryin-Ryan in middle school. Anyway. She is talking about Brecht's method of 'defamiliarization' and applying each type of defamiliarization with the Beatitudes.
"Finally, one can defamiliarize the text by spelling out the situation in which the text is heard today:
Blessed are the poor--Never again Rwanda; Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice--Never again Auschwitz; Blessed are the peacemakers--Never again Baghdad and Kosovo."
I just started crying a bit again when I was typing this. I'm a putz. Anyway, I think that speaks for itself.
Now onto my other favorite quote. This is really self-indulgent, because I'm the one who said it. Yesterday we had to do inventory at work and my boss said, "I hope this doesn't take all night." Then I said,
"Hope only pays the bills in unicorn world."
Feel free to use that whenever you need to. I'm pretty proud of it. I guess that means I will get no props from God for it. Oh well, I probably wouldn't get Divine Props for something like that anyway.
My faith in American film has been renewed! (I only get two exclamation points in my life, so using one on this is pretty amazing) I don't watch that many American films anymore, because I'm trying to get through all the foreign films in the Criterion Collection (which if you are not familiar with it, contains about a thousand films...I have a long way to go). Yet two movies in the last week have made me glad for American film.
On Thursday, I went to the library and The Squid and the Whale was available for me. I was expecting it to be pretty fantastic, but what a beautiful piece of art. As I was watching it, I thought that it bore Wes Anderson's flair for subtle and beautiful characters and moments that point to life experience with ingenious charm. Then the film ended and it said: "Produced by Wes Anderson" Oh yes. I couldn't believe what a time it was. This is the kind of thing that puts America on par with the rest of the world in film-making.
I realize the Squid and the Whale has been out for awhile, but it takes a long time to get newer stuff from the library. So everybody should see it (except maybe Trevor because I think you hate Wes Anderson's work).
The second deal was Naked Lunch. I know I'm a huge jerk for not having seen this when I was in high school, but I didn't, leave me alone. I don't know what is so appealing to me about absurdist films, but I love them so bad. They make me very happy and enjoyable. I was reminded of such great films as Brazil, Breakfast of Champions, and of course Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (it's probably not coincidental that Vonnegut, Thompson, and Burroughs are three of my favorite authors).
All this is to say that you can't say that all American films are bad. Nobody would try to say this so my point is completely useless. Thank you for indulging me. Hoozah.
The other day I was driving in my car. I popped in the ole' Brand New's Deja Entendu. The combination of those tunes combined with the warm weather that has now come forth made me super-nostalgic for living on Himes St. in Huntington, hanging out with Caleb and Tim, complaining about things. Then the next day I started thinking about getting a full-time job after I graduate and how it might be pretty cool compared to now.
I now realize that for a good long while now I have been longing for days past and days to come. Of course, when I think more thoroughly on my times on Himes St. I was always looking forward to getting out of Huntington. At my brother's college baccaloureate (how the nutters is that spelled?) service, my dad spoke about how we need to learn to appreciate the present. At the time, I really took that message to heart, and I think that's why it keeps popping up in my life. I have the tendency to forget anything bad about the past. Plus, this is especially poignant for me as a spacio-temporal relativist. Longing for the future or past is like longing for a delicious unicorn steak. It's a waste of time.
So I am now enjoying how great it is to hang out with Erika a lot, live in my brother's backyard and learn about stuff.