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Luther’s Wife and Beer

Posted by Remy on March 18, 2010

To my kind, dear lord, Lady Catherine von Bora, Mrs. Doctor Luther, at Wittenberg. Grace and peace in Christ! Dear Sir Katie!

Yesterday I drank something which did not agree with me, so that I had to sing: If I don’t drink well I have to suffer, and yet I do like to do it. I said to myself what good wine and beer I have at home, and also what a pretty lady or (should I say) lord. You would do well to ship the whole cellar full of my wine and a bottle of your beer to me here, as soon as you are able; otherwise I will not be able to return home because of the new beer.

-Martin Luther in a letter to his wife

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Thoughts on the Movie “Once”

Posted by Remy on February 25, 2010

from 2008

The movie “Once”, an unassuming and underplayed musical that does without Hollywood glitz and even Hollywood actors, fits into a new category of romance that avoids the worn, warmed-over dregs of sentimental adultery. Like many of the short segments of “Paris je ‘taime”, “Once” sees the landscape and decides to mine the untapped narrative potential. We’ve been trained to root for two people to “hook-up” for no other reason than the camera lingers on the two of them the longest, we’ve been taught that adultery can be beautiful and is beautiful if the husband is a jerk or the wife is a shrew, but John Carney, the writer and director, avoids cliche and ultimately foils this bland desire and challenges the viewer to see the wisdom in avoiding throw-away sex.


We all know that it is natural to break into song when working and that music reveals emotions better than words, but for some reason when we watch musicals we find that they are too fantastic for us. Yet I think the thing that draws people to musicals is that there is something hyper-realistic about breaking into song. Part of the problem is that breaking seamlessly into song is somewhat comedic and therefore even the dramatic parts are undercut by the comedy of it. “Once” solves this by weaving the songs into the story rather than dropping them into its lap.

Singing is glorified speech and by consequence, a more intimate form of communicating. Typically we think that the higher on the formal ladder we go the more distance, the more separation between the parties there is -and in some sense that’s true. But there is also greater weight added to the situation. Nobody wants to be married in the common tongue (You love her? Yup. You love him? Yup. Then a’guess yer married, go on n’kiss her).

The striking thing about “Once” is that while it is certainly a love story it is not a love story between the two main characters. They both have fractured relationships, they gather and sing, and at the end are renewed with their absent lover. They get the strength and confidence to do this by worship, if I may categorize it so, and worship that takes much sacrifice and practicing. Once the music is perfected they find their loves and romance them with song.

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what does little Ernest croon?

Posted by Remy on August 26, 2009

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “The Psalm of Life”:

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not the goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

E. E. Cummings, 26 from No Thanks:

what does little Ernest croon
in his death at afternoon?
(kow dow r 2 bul retoinis
wus de woids uf lil Oinis

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My New Favorite Simile

Posted by Remy on May 21, 2009

“as ardent and measured as a thoughtful husband’s annual trips to the lingerie shop.”

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On Humor

Posted by Remy on May 20, 2009

Humor is a dangerous, yet valuable thing, indispensable really. Valuable because it teaches submission and humility and dangerous because even foolish laughter feels good. If you do not train yourself to laugh wisely you must either live as a pessimist in the face of all jokes or be blown about by every wind of comedy.

The problem of treating all jokes skeptically before laughing, doing the moral calculus after each delivery, is that it treats humor as a pathogen rather than good for you. Humor is healthy. The Christian life should be characterized by joy and not a “pietistic” frown. We’ve been designed to be happy, something we can clearly see in how our memories work. Nobody breaks into tears upon remembering pain, but we still laugh when we remember the funny things, we sometimes laugh when remembering certain injuries.

All jokes come embedded in a particular view of the world that must be embraced before one can enjoy the joke. My constant example is the Prayer of Bart Simpson: “Dear Lord, we paid for this food ourselves so thanks for nothing.” You might not think this is very funny, but only Christians can laugh at this joke because it assumes a Christian world, it assumes that there is a God, that He provides you with all things and that you owe Him gratitude for it. To laugh at this acknowledges that this isn’t the right response to God. 

Humor is communal and, if properly understood, humor is good practice in humility. This is because the Christian hope is to laugh with people and not at people. We are called to see ourselves in the absurdities of caricatures, to identify with the deficiencies of others, and to think of ourselves lightly.  

As the joyful people we should be quick to laugh and slow to sombreness, fast to smile and slow to scowl.

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God Shuffled His Feet : Crash Test Dummies

Posted by Remy on May 13, 2009

One of my alltime favorite songs, very apocalyptic. I love how the chorus shifts in meaning. At first the shuffling seems to be God’s discomfort at the question. He responds in parable confusing them and then breaking out into dancing. Listen to the song here, lyrics below:

After seven days He was quite tired so God said:
“Let there be a day just for picnics, with wine and bread”
He gathered up some people he had made
Created blankets and laid back in the shade

The people sipped their wine
And what with God there, they asked him questions
Like: do you have to eat Or get your hair cut in heaven?
And if your eye got poked out in this life
Would it be waiting up in heaven with your wife?

God shuffled his feet and glanced around at them;
The people cleared their throats and stared right back at him

So he said:”Once there was a boy who woke up with blue hair
To him it was a joy until he ran out into the warm air
He thought of how his friends would come to see;
And would they laugh, or had he got some strange disease?

God shuffled his feet and glanced around at them;
The people cleared their throats and stared right back at him

The people sat waiting out on their blankets in the garden
But God said nothing so someone asked him: “I beg your pardon:
I’m not quite clear about what you just spoke
Was that a parable, or a very subtle joke?”

God shuffled his feet and glanced around at them;
The people cleared their throats and stared right back at him

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The Potent Table

Posted by Remy on May 8, 2009

We implicitly believe that our table is more powerful than the Lord’s table.

We might not say that, but when we draw a circle within the body of Christ, marking out exclusive believers who are allowed to eat the Eucharist, yet still allow fellowship to our own tables we in effect are saying, “my table is able to draw us together, to bridge our divisions, when the Lord’s table cannot.”

We know that as a body of believers to disallow fellowship at social gatherings would be to treat them as enemies. We can’t have that. The only way to bring people into the true body, into the hardcore Christians, is to win them with our tables, before bringing them to God’s. God’s table isn’t equipped to win anybody, we have to achieve unity through our tables.

God’s table is the reward for the Worthy Christians.

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In Defense of the Platypus

Posted by Remy on April 19, 2009

[ancient doggerel from 2003]

In Defense of the Platypus

With nothing by the straightest face
created He the platypus,
but when He made a joke for them
–“A kick they’ll get of this” He said–
and made the monkeys humanlike,
mankind missed the jest,
and through colossal dot to dots
connected man to all the rest.
Amoebas and fleas were easy jumps
once past whales, camels, and crocodiles
and all the while the platypus,
in disgust, was written off
—an aberration or joke at best.
But He’ll insist that though we’ll list
together man, monkeys, and mice
in a giant convoluted tree,
that the platypus will but be a good design
(considering terrain and His eternal plan).
Time will come when we’ll see
that monkeys monkey us with their hands,
laughing at our foolishness.
Apes, orangutans, and all–they’ll roll their eyes
and waddle behind our backs
while we make science of knock-knock jokes

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Real Presence without Confusion

Posted by Remy on April 16, 2009

Last time I said that a tran/con substantial blueprint for the Eucharist was the reincarnation of Christ. Upon further thought it is an inpanation of Christ.

But before getting into the nitty of this let me state the groundrules. All Christians believe that the Sacrament isn’t dependant on the sanctity of the officiator. Meaning he could be a left-handed goat-loving atheist and the Supper will still be the Lord’s.  Unfortunately, the Romans and the Constantinians believe that all those outside their respective churches can’t do the magic trick and therefore don’t get Jesus. Thankfully it is not their table, but the Lord’s. Also, because partaking of the Supper does not mean “having a right understanding of the Supper”, because Christianity is not intellectual assent, Jesus does not withhold Himself from feeding His people just because they get the math wrong; so transubstantial, consubstantial, insubstantial, whateversubstantial if Christ is at the head of the table it is His real presence. However faulty blueprints make a difference, whether it be to a superstitious view or a nostalgic view of the Supper, and hence my poking.

Read the rest of this entry »

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You Must Read Poetry

Posted by Remy on April 15, 2009

We do what?  We are involved in space,
We do what?  We are involved in space,
are silent, we let the dead sleep on.
We cut down trees, fence off compost,
pry open traps in which mice have come to grief.
Evenings, we take our dinner out to the garden,
bring brushwood back into the room.
We return it yellowed to the bonfire, 
its sweet smoke billowing through our wardrobes.
In the twilight we look out at the wall
and speak so as not to wake the dead.
Amidst the furniture we make love
with bodies, which are not the opposite of space.
— Petr Borkovec
translated from the Czech by Justin Quinn

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