Stretching to the Light

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Take Two on Jesus and the Eschaton

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As good an artistic counterpoint as any to the view of Jesus and the last days expressed in the Bright Eyes song of yesterday’s posting might be found in the quirky, lovely music of Page France.
*Click here for “Chariot” and “Jesus” and two others
*The lyrics to “Chariot” and “Jesus
*An excellent article on Page France and other artists by Jeremy Huggins
*Mr. Peach’s excellent blog where I read of Jeremy’s article.

Juno: Quick Hit Review

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This review is a quick hit review because I did not get out of the theatre more than 20 minutes ago, and because I really don’t want to say too much. Here goes:
*Enjoyed it immensely.
*Great, quirky soundtrack.
*There are scenes that ambushed me.
*I have feelings that are too personal to blog.
*The movie is too good for me to lay my polemical mitts upon.
* 🙂

Intimations of Immortality – Arc of Time by Bright Eyes

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Courtesy of Pandora, whist listening to a Postal Service station, I heard “Arc of Time” by Bright Eyes. Fascinating. Here are the lyrics, followed by a couple of thoughts below. You can listen to the song here, but I recommend skipping the video portion, just listening, and following along with the lyrics.
You can make a plan
Carve it into stone
Like a feather falling
It is still unknown
Until the clock speaks up
Says it’s time to go
You could choose the high
Or the lower road
You might clinch your fist
You might fork your tongue
As you curse or praise
All the things you’ve done
And the faders move
And the music dies
As we pass over
On the arc of time
So you nurse your love
Like a wounded dove
In the covered cage of night
Every star is crossed
By phrenetic thoughts
That seperate and then collide
And they twist like sheets
Till you fall asleep
And they finally unwind
It’s a black balloon
It’s a dream you’ll soon deny
I hear if you make friends
With Jesus Christ
You will get right up
From that chalk outline
And then you’ll get dolled up
And you’ll dress in white
All to take your place
In his chorus line
And then in you’ll come
With those marching drums
In a saintly compromise
No more whiskey slurs
No more blonde haired girls
For your whole eternal life
And you’ll do the dance
That was choreographed
At the very dawn of time
Saying, I told you son
The day would come
You would die, you’d die, you’d die, you’d die
You would die, you’d die, you’d die, you’d die
You would die, you’d die, you’d die, you’d die
You would die, you’d die, you’d die
To the deepest part
Of the human heart
The fear of death expands
Till we crack the code
We have always known
But could never understand
On a circuit board
We will soon be born
Again, again, again, again
And again, again, again, again
And again, again, again, again
And again, again, again
This song has all sorts of interesting things going on in it and I am sure I will not allude to them all. The first verse manags to present two competing views of destiny, the preordained one and the one best captured by the opening sequence of Forrest Gump (presented here with a different score). Conor Oberst also reflects on the choice one makes vis a vis God concerning “All the things you’ve done,” repentance or fist clenching. Verse two is less straightforward, but seems to be talking about the process of dying.
Verse three is what really got me to write this post. Oberst presents a fairly disdainful view of Christianity, it seems. Some such reactions occur, I think, because of poor presentations of the truth of Christianity by Christians; some, though, are simply the choice that is at the core of all of our sin, the choice to not submit to God. Unfortunately, Oberst seems to see such submission as bland conformity. And there is a degree to which this is true; we are all clothed in white, the colorings of our sinfulness (which seem so multi-hued and interesting but eventually just blend to black black) must be covered in the white which symbolizes holiness.
Even as I type that, I feel the need to defend it. Well, I am not going to. It is simply one image, an important one, that describes what Christ does for us vis a vis clothing our sin, and if he chooses seemingly uniform white robes to symbolize that, so be it. The story does not end there, though, the problem comes because we, as Christians, have not fully articulated the truth that there will be a new heaven and a new earth, perhaps because we are not told much about how the new earth and our new bodies will exist.
This is where I think the role of the Christian artist can be very useful, indeed the role of any artist who wittingly or unwittingly captures a glimpse of truth, as so often happens in movies, sometimes without the director even realizing the implications of what he or she has made. I think art which points out the real blackness and horridness of sin is useful in this way. Art which points out the beauty of goodness is a much harder thing to achieve, but it also happens everywhere too. The Holy Spirit is a sneaky one. One of these places where I have appreciated both of these tasks being done well is in C. S. Lewis book Perelandra. It may may not be as artfully subtle as contemporary tastes would like, but it paints an amazing picture of the beauty and diversity and freedom that flows out of obedience. His chapter on “the Great Dance” puts to bed mocking notions such as that of Oberst’s in which obedience equals the bland conformity of a chorus line. Admittedly, unfortunately many Christians are often guilty of presenting just such a view of the implications of obedience.
The final verse of “Arc of Time” is also fascinating because Oberst seems to be positing an alternate form of eternity in a digital media. Judging from the tone of the verse, though, I am not sure if he is excited about that prospect either. The concept of digital immortality was the theme of this short story I wrote, and two others which are somewhere down the pipeline, which I hope to one day make into sort of a trilogy. This song seems to jive well with the theme of Oberst’s album name Digital Ash in a Digital Urn. I might have to check out the rest of it.