I’ve realized that this blog has become something other than what I intended it to become when I started it. That’s fine. The problem is that, with most of what I want to post lately, I find myself torn between posting it here and posting it to my “personal” blog. They’ve both become personal. Therefore, I want to invite all of you to the other place. I’m not closing up shop here, and I’ll post when I write pieces and have thoughts that are more along the lines of my original ideas for this blog. But what I’m thinking and feeling lately belongs over there, not here. I’m on a journey, and I’d love it if you all came along with me.
Rather reluctantly, I’ve been watching through the Band of Brothers series with Dave. For those of you who don’t know, it’s a series that ran on HBO a few years ago. Produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, it follows an airborne company that happened to be at a lot of key places in WWII (D-Day, Operation Market Garden, Battle of the Bulge). “Airborne” means they jump out of airplanes, NOT that they fly them or believe in the fizzy illness reducer, both of which popped into my mind. This was a real company, and they recreated what happened based on in-depth interviews with the men who really lived through it.
I’ve been watching it reluctantly because war bothers me. You’re saying, “Right, Sarah, you’re a compassionate human being.” But I don’t mean it like that. I was blessed with an active imagination. It doesn’t need pictures to have some knowledge of exactly how awful war is. I’ve never seen Schindler’s List, nor Saving Private Ryan, or any of those Vietnam movies that are on a lot of people’s “must see” lists. As a kid, I read a lot of “saving the Jews from the Nazis” books, until I got to the point where they were just too much for me, and I’ve never felt the need to re-expose myself through the movies (I feel the same way about movies having to do with racial violence, by the way).
But this series is important to Dave. It moves him, deeply, and he has wanted to share it with me. He got the set for graduation, and we’ve been watching it.
Wow. It’s well done, and it’s disturbing. I won’t go into details here–I’m not sure I could. What’s notable are the scenes I find disturbing. The violence is hard to watch. Watching men watch their friends die is even harder. Watching the people who lived in these places have to make impossible choices and have their lives decimated over and over again is even harder.
But what hits me most is the craziness of it all. The Allied D-Day strategy? Basically, to get our men in faster than the Germans could kill them. And D-Day itself? I’m not sure how it worked. It had to have been God, because men, after having parachuted in, were literally wandering around the countryside because they lost their unit and their map (and sometimes their rifle), and couldn’t find anyone else. No one knew where the roads were or what the country looked like or how many German troops were actually there. And it just kind-of went on like that, through the other ops we’ve watched. In the one we watched last night, they parachuted in outside of a Belgian town where they expected to find German soldiers. Instead, they found happy Belgians who threw a parade so the soldiers couldn’t get through town. They were supposed to find some bridges. No one knew how to get there. The Belgians had to show them the way. And it went on like that.
In the end, I’m left wondering when it’s ok to exact that sort of price from other people. When is it worth asking (or demanding) that people donate their time, their energy, and possibly their sanity and their lives, for a country or a people? It seems such a huge price to pay–the confusion, the chaos, the violence, the pain. And yet, war seems to be a necessary evil in our world, because the “bad people” aren’t afraid to hurt the “good.” But the more I see, the higher the line is that bad people have to cross to make me think this is worth it.
This brings me to a question: Is war somehow inherently masculine? There’s something in Dave that is drawn to the idea of fighting for the good with his body as well as his soul. It seems easier for him to think that the dangers just sometimes have to be faced, somehow, and that that facing is better than the alternative. I don’t know if that’s the military training and his deep resonance with aspects of that sort of life vs. my total ignorance of it all, or if it’s because he’s a man. I’m not saying that he wouldn’t be scared to run through trenches with people shooting at him, but he seems to accept that necessity easier than I do and look at it with some…almost longing, but that’s not quite right. Some desire to have the chance to fight against something that obviously wrong?
Insight, as always, is very welcome.
And seriously, this is a point of personal growth for me. Paris is not just an airhead, or an airheaded celebrity, or even a pampered girl who needs to give up the celebrity act already. She’s a human being, and a human being who has been treated shabbily over the last week or so.
I don’t know if she should be in jail. I don’t really have an opinion on that. I hear the people who say that others who do what she did walk all the time, and that jails are too crowded, and that there are better consequences for violations like hers. I also hear those who say that someone needs to be made an example of, that everyone who does what she did ought to be in jail. I think they both have good arguments and I’m not sure there is a right answer.
What I am sure of is that she has walked a hard road recently. First, the deterioration of her mental condition in jail. People scoff, but that actually makes sense to me. She doesn’t strike me as someone who has a lot of inner structure. She’s had money and things and people and fame, and these things have held her up and told her who she is. In jail, she was stripped of those things, and this was done in a public manner. It doesn’t surprise me that she wasn’t holding up and that things were becoming serious.
Right or not, the LA County Sheriff (I believe) made the decision to let her go. This wasn’t her choice. It may have been something that, in her lostness, she asked for, but she had no say over whether she got it or not. People say that it shows how spoiled she is, but I don’t see how that works. Whining usually doesn’t move people to let you out of jail. This decision wasn’t in her hands.
Then, she was hauled before a judge (she couldn’t come on her own–she was under house arrest!) by a sheriff who didn’t want to bring her (they initially refused under arguments about jurisdiction) and sent back to jail. This was little more than a pissing match between the judge and the sheriff. It had very little to do with Paris. She was caught in the middle because she is high-profile, and they both wanted to make a statement.
So now she is back in jail. I’m thankful, for her, that someone had the wherewithall to put her somewhere (a hospital) where she could get some help before they threw her back. But I feel badly for her. She got caught in the middle of something bigger than herself, and that thing was then made even bigger because it involved her. She tried to do what was right–to go to jail and endure. She tried to endure, and got all of this awful publicity in return.
I feel for her, but I don’t want to make her entirely into a victim. Whether she knew she wasn’t supposed to drive or not (and I would actually say that she didn’t–she’s silly, but she doesn’t strike me as stupid…at least not stupid enough to drive where she knows she’s going to be photographed when doing that could have serious consequences), she did drink and drive initially. What I see, though, is that she was willing to correct that mistake. She was willing to spend the time in jail. And it was hard for her. So hard that people were concerned for her (and probably for their own reputations). And then she got caught up in the whirlwind.
To some extent, my response to the title of this post is, “Duh!” and to some extent it’s a skeptical, “Uh-huh, right.” Nod and smile at the crazy woman.
But I’ve had so many times over the last couple of years where God has specifically answered prayers in my life (my own prayers and those of others). There have been a couple times where an ongoing problem or concern that I haven’t shared with people because I’m a fairly private person or because I’m not sure it’s appropriate has improved within a day or so of sharing and asking people to pray. None of these things are the type where I can say, absolutely, that nothing would have happened without the prayer, but the lot of them together suggests that God really listens for us, and then listens to us.
It’s hard for me to believe that our actions influence Him. In fact, it’s hard for me to see him feeling about us much at all. Interacting with these incidences in prayer has shown me that I see God the Father as a grandfatherly figure who truly cares for his people, but prefers patting them on the head from his easy chair (or lecturing them from the same place) and then sending them on their way to do their thing to getting out of his chair, walking over to them, and helping them do their thing, either at their request or because it’s just so clear that they need it. The God I’ve always known is truly loving, but distant. He’s involved, but only when he wants to be, and then it’s usually about him and not about us.
Gaak! What a wretched God-image! And what an odd thing to come upon like this.
I’m afraid that’s as far as I’ve come processing it at this point.
This makes me so sad.
Maria – not her real name – is a young Malaysian woman who has lived a secret and sometimes fearful life since she converted from Islam to Christianity.
“I feel that I am all alone in this struggle,” she says, “and I am frightened because I am alone against the odds.”
The article also talks about how she and her boyfriend want to get married, but can’t because they are not Muslims. Her church has made her sign something saying that they did not cause her conversion (in case they are found out). And she can’t get close to people because she can’t risk being found out as a Christian. It’s been this way for 10 years.
For some reason, it’s easy for me to imagine her fear. I’m sure I can’t capture all of it, but it’s easy for me to understand her. It hurts me that I know people who would condemn her, who would say that, if she really trusted God, she would talk about her faith and not be afraid. I don’t know if that’s right or not, but I could not condemn her.
I don’t know her life. I don’t know what she faces and what she fears. I don’t know what it’s like to look around and wonder what these people would do if they really knew me, and to know that that’s a serious threat and not a claim of the false self.
What I do know? Is that I will pray for her, and for her friend Lina Joy.
If you can’t tell, I’m giving up on the series on evangelism and formation. I think it’s important, but my thought aren’t formed-enough on it, yet, to be able to do it justice. It’s simmering around back there, but it’s not yet ready to eat.
What I am thinking a lot about his this–I am only human. And God? He knows, more so than I do myself, what that means about me. He knows my limitations and my weaknesses, he knows what I’ll be able to do if I push myself and what I’ll never be able to do no matter how hard I try.
That used to frustrate me, but lately it’s been comforting.
He knows that I’ve been busy and stressed and growing a lot on the inside, and that that means I can’t connect as well with him and, sometimes, with other people. And he covers for that. In all of this, I’ve been able to be present as a spiritual director when I’ve depended on him. I’ve been able to walk with Dave through the first months of our marriage and some pretty stressful things that have happened (and are still not settled).
I can’t help but wonder how the world would change if we only expected ourselves to be human. I’m really talking to people like me now–those of us who push ourselves, who see what perfect could be and try to get as close to it as possible. I think there’s an opposite way to be, and that has it’s own traps and sins, but I haven’t walked there and so I don’t want to speak for it right now.
If I only expected myself to be human, then I wouldn’t expect myself to be able to give to all the people I want to give to this week (it’s graduation time and many of my friends are walking and moving on). If I only expected myself to be human, then I wouldn’t kick myself when I don’t make us dinner because I’m too tired again. If I only expected myself to be human, I would not feel so much anxiety about my life, and could relax back into the hands of God knowing that he would cover what I cannot.
And what if we let the people around us be human, or even encouraged them to be so?
What if we could really let it go when they don’t do the dishes, or when they forget to meet us, or when they break something of ours by accident, because they are also only human? What if we could give them the space they need without getting hurt and pulling away, even when we want more from them, when we know that they can’t give it?
I wonder if the world would be a better place, if we would all find it easier to find God, or if we would lose all sense of responsibility and find ourselves in chaos? I think there’s room to give ourselves and each other space without degenerating, but it might be hard to find the balance.
I’ve never before been a blocked creative, but that’s really how I feel lately. I try to think about writing, ideas, etc., and there’s nothing there. No, it’s not like that. It’s not like reaching into a pond, feeling around, and finding nothing. It’s more like reaching into a pond only to hit a wooden bottom about 2 feet in with a thunk and wonder what in the world is going on and how that got there because we all know that ponds don’t have wooden bottoms. Ideas seem to occasionally get through, but mostly I’m thunking lately.
thunk, thunk, thunk