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Archive for April, 2013

Yesterday, I said I would bring some reflections on motherhood and womanhood as we draw closer to Mother’s Day. Thought I’d offer a little “preview” with this video, which features an interview for the History Channel’s recent miniseries “The Bible.”

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Happy Friday!

This marks the 100th post on “Into the Dance,” which seems to have garnered a small-to-modest following on WordPress.  I would be remiss if I didn’t express my gratitude to regular “Into the Dance” readers.  Thank you for your “likes,” comments, and above all for spending time with me as I share my modest thoughts on faith and culture.

Here are some of the topics I plan to cover in the near future:

1. Autism

autistic child

April is Autism Awareness Month.  Autism is a topic of special interest to me — in fact, I wrote a book on the subject a few years ago.  My intention is to write something about autism, disabilities in general, and/or both.

2. The Environment/Nature

forest

Earth Day also falls within the month of April, so expect to see something dealing with environmentalism, care for creation, and how this fits within the worldview of the Catholic Faith.

3. Motherhood and Womanhood

MotherI know, I know…you’re probably thinking: “This is a guy talking — what does he know about being a woman or a mother?”

I claim no “expertise” in this area.  But I thought it would be appropriate, in light of Pope Francis’ recent insightful comments on women as the first messengers of Jesus’ Resurrection, to reflect on the role of women in the life of humankind and in light of the Catholic Faith.  Look for something on this topic in the month of May, wherein falls Mother’s Day.

And finally, last but not least…

4. More Movies

ZeroDarkThirty2012Poster

Given that I set this blog up primarily as a forum for film reviews (though I did say I would be commenting on other topics as well), readers may be assured that more commentaries on films both recent and not-so-recent are on the way.

Again, thanks for your readership.  I will conclude with a final thought: The Christian story and the traditional Christian worldview are much deeper, richer, and relevant to the heart of every human person than most people realize.  If my posts have helped, if only in a very small way, to offer a glimpse into this…well, then I will consider my efforts blessed.

All images from Wikipedia

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There’s been a lot of buzz about MSNBC commentator Melissa Harris-Perry’s comment that children belong to the entire community, not just to their families.

Conservative critics have been quick to accuse Harris-Perry of undermining the crucial importance of the nuclear family, of advocating a socialist society in which parental rights are overturned by the societal aggregate.

Harris-Perry has since clarified her comments, indicating that she only meant that members of larger communities must acknowledge a certain shared responsibility for the wellbeing of the community’s children; in other words, while parental rights should always be respected, no one can disregard the good of children on the grounds that “they’re someone else’s kids, not mine.”

If this is in fact what she meant, then I would agree with her — at least broadly.  This interpretation of her comments leaves room for an essential truth about the family: The welfare of children is, in fact, first and foremost the responsibility of the parents — not the schools, not the community, and not even other relatives.

But this does not mean that communities don’t have a role to play.  Basically, it goes like this: Just as communities are important precisely because they are made up of unique individuals (rather than the individual getting his value from the collective), so also larger social units matter insofar as they affirm and uphold the domestic family.

The family is the foundational social unit; but for just this reason, it is important that families are embedded within social supports that encourage and aid their mission (including the primacy of parental authority in the education and upbringing of children).  Moreover, it is crucial that such supports are made up not merely of systems, but of a network of domestic families that can support one another.

It seems to me that there has been a reciprocal decline in both families and communities over the past half-century.  Many of my “elders” (and I use that term loosely, so please don’t anyone be offended) would probably attest to the fact that here in America, we had stronger communities when we had stronger families.  This was especially true of neighborhoods, where stay-at-home mothers would form familial networks while their husbands were off at work and their children were off at school.

It is true that we live in a society that is not the most conducive to the health of families.  From excessive and ubiquitous violence and sex in the media and entertainment industries to small town neighborhoods in which almost none of the neighbors know one another, we have a rather toxic environment in which family life and family values can thrive only with difficulty.

But I think the reverse is also true.  We, as a culture, have slacked off in our efforts to preserve the family because it has looked more and more like there is nothing to preserve.  As family life goes downhill (divorce, etc.), so does society’s sense of shared responsibility for the family.  And as society takes less responsibility for fostering family life, people are less motivated to pursue authentic family life…

…and on and on.  It’s one of those proverbial vicious circles.

Anyway, the Harris-Perry controversy just got me thinking about that.  When it comes to the family, I wish we would spend more time seriously and open-mindedly discussing these sorts of questions rather than getting into conversations that end with us labeling each other “narrow-minded right wing fanatics” and “radical left wing liberals.”

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Noel-coypel-the-resurrection-of-christ-1700“How is Jesus’ Resurrection different from the resurrection of Lazarus, or of others He raised from the dead?”

This question is more important than people realize.  If Jesus’ Resurrection were essentially no different, for example, from the resurrection he brought to Lazarus, then the Resurrection is not the breakthrough novelty in history that the Church claims it to be.

Even if Jesus Himself was the source of previous resurrections, the fact remains that people could still say of His own Resurrection, “It’s nothing we haven’t seen before.”

LazarusHere is the big point of departure: Lazarus, and the others whom Jesus raised from the dead during His three-year ministry, were raised in such a way that they would die again.  It was their mortal bodies, still prone to sin, weakness, illness, and the limits of time and space, that “got back up.”

In other words, Lazarus and his fellow resurrectees were able to resume their earthly lives more or less as before, though transformed by the life-changing experience of having encountered the Savior.

We see something very different in the resurrected body of Jesus Christ.  Having risen from the dead, He became free from the bonds of death.  Additionally, we read in the Gospels that He was able to walk through walls, be in one place in one instant and then in a completely different place in the next, and “appear(…) as he wishe(d): in the guise of a gardener or in other forms…” (CCC 645)

Short story: The resurrected body of Jesus Christ is unconstrained by the limits of time and space.  Similarly, our bodies will share in His glorious Resurrection at the end of time:

He will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body. (Philippians 3:21)

(The body) is sown corruptible; it is raised incorruptible. (1 Cor. 15:42)

So that’s the essential difference that the Resurrection of Christ makes.  If we consider this difference, we see that the fact of the Resurrection not only reaffirms God’s love for creation, but also gives us an elevated understanding of the glory to which it (mankind, in particular) is destined.

Images from Wikipedia

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I am hard at work on an article for the newspaper, so for tonight I’ll give you another video.

This one is from “Theater of the Word,” and it dramatizes an early debate between J.R.R. Tolkien (creator of Middle-Earth) and C.S. Lewis (creator of Narnia), back when Lewis was still an atheist.  I figured it would be apropos, given our recent reflections on fairy tales in contemporary culture.  Enjoy!

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I said last week that I’d soon revisit the vampire craze in popular media.  Well, here is my revisitation!

I hope I’m not overusing the Fr. Barron videos.  That’s not my intention — it’s just that Fr. Barron has a unique way of getting to the heart of these cultural trends and issues, and his $0.02 on vampires are probably worth more than mine.

Just a quick note: This video was made back in 2009; since then, Anne Rice’s views and literary pursuits have changed somewhat…

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ResurrectionNight is gone, morning has come.  The King was asleep in the earth, but is now alive forevermore!

Those of you who read “Into the Dance” regularly may remember my Christmas post, in which I said that the Christmas Season began, rather than ended, with the December 25th celebration.

Well, the same goes for Easter.  With Holy Saturday, we marked the end of the Season of Lent.  With yesterday’s celebration of the Lord’s Resurrection from the dead, we marked the beginning of the 40-day Easter Season.

Lent was a time of penance, but now the time for rejoicing has arrived.  For by His triumph over death, Jesus Christ has freed mankind — and, by extension, all creation — from bondage.  He has arrested the downward trajectory of creation and history toward death, entropy, and loss.  In raising His Son bodily from the dead, God has eminently reaffirmed the goodness of creation:

God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good. (Genesis 1:31)

And in spite of our sin, the glorious Resurrection of Our Lord reaffirms God’s top project — namely, humanity.  Humanity has lost faith in God many times throughout history, but God has never taken away His fidelity to humanity.

In fact, in assuming unto Himself a human nature, dying for our sins, and rising in His full divinity and full humanity from the dead, Jesus has offered us something abundantly more than we could ever ask or imagine.  He offers us a share in His very own life, the life of the Holy Trinity — the Divine Life.  He has risen from the dead never to die again, and He promises the same to all those who persevere in love for Him, even though in the meantime they continue to face many trials in this world that is “groaning in travail” (Romans 8:22).

And yes, this world is still a messed up place with a lot of problems.  But the birth pangs have begun.  And Christians are to bear witness to this by their witness to Christ, the only Savior, and live out their responsibility to the world in the spirit of the Resurrection.

A Happy Easter to everyone, and in the words of St. Paul:

Rejoice (in the Lord) always. (1 Thes. 5:16)

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