Monday, February 27, 2012


I've probably had about eight interesting ideas yesterday, things that could be written about and examined and manipulated into meaning something. I remember none of them.

Except anger. I remember the one about anger.

I'm holding onto that one. It's the one where I identify the stuff I'm swimming in as anger. Others might identify the mess around them as the chaos of a messy world. Someone else, blessed with a happier temperament, might recognize love in the air and water that give life. But my default position is I'm mad. I'm mad that the world is the way it is, that people die and leave me, that there are constant struggles for power and ascendancy among the people I live with.

No news here, really. Everyone dies, we all know people who die. Some of those deaths are more outrageous and meaningless than others, but each one is a surprise to someone. Things fall apart despite how hard we work at holding them together, no matter how successful or unsuccessful are at asserting our own power. We must go on living.

I saw "Tree of Life" the other night. The opening voiceover is a meditation on Nature and Grace. I see a contradiction; my son says they're both God. Whatever they are, they were the ether of the movie, there in the damp green suburban grass, in the flames and water of creation. When they brush up against each other, Nature and Grace, there are flares of energy. What nature will do, grace will forgive.

Many years ago someone older and wiser introduced me to the idea of righteous anger, anger fully justified by the circumstances, anger that should not be hidden or extinguished, but put to use, because God is present in that anger. Up to that point the words that attached themselves to anger in my head were in sentences like "Anger gets you nowhere" or "Anger never did any good for anybody."

That would be faithless thinking, in the face of anger over deep and existential contradictions between death and life, brokenness and righteousness. God is at the dividing line between these things, reconciling them, making them one.

Monday, February 20, 2012


I went to see "The Artist" early this evening. I had heard it was a good movie, not to be missed. So I went by myself, so that I wouldn't be kicking myself later about missing it. Once upon a time I saw lots of movies every year and saw almost every movie nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. My sainted husband made sure of that. Sometimes he cared more that I saw all these films than I did, but I miss that now. "The Artist" is a silent movie about a silent movie star, with a score to manipulate your emotions, but no spoken dialogue. The lead character is stuck. He will not talk, he will not change what he does, even as his career falls into ruins, though a perky young starlet tries to help him. If you're having a quiet day, as I was, with no one around much to talk to, this is not going to be the movie that picks you up. At least not if you're me. Not if you go by yourself with no one to talk to. I like talking. The lack of it in this movie made the cold walk back to my car seem all the quieter. One can talk to oneself, if necessary. One can mug for the camera if you need to communicate in a performance without talking. But you can't mug for yourself, except in the bathroom. Got in my car, sneaked out of my parking place and went home to my knitting.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Blog Anniversary

Today more or less marks the sixth anniversary of The Perverse Lutheran. The first post is dated February 28, 2006, but it was Transfiguration Sunday, the last Sunday in the Epiphany season, the last Sunday before Lent. Easter is a bit earlier this year than in 2006, so Transfiguration is a bit earlier. It's today.

Here's how I began:

"Damn. I meant to start this blog with something clever and incisive. Something fun. Something smart.

"Instead, the pressing question of the day is visceral. Why do I weep when that darned Alleluia banner is carried out of church at the end of Transfiguration Sunday worship?"

Six years of blogging have shown me that blog posts that begin with a strong visceral image are easier to put together than ones that begin with the break in the image of things that prompts wit or humor. Those breaks flash by quickly, like buildings seen from a moving CTA train. The figurative punch in the gut or the tears and the lump in the throat last longer. They may color the rest of the day or even the rest of the week.

A look at the blog archive shows more posts in the ten months of blogging in 2006 than in any year since then. I came close in 2011, thanks to taking a stab at posting every day last November. My original goal was to post two or three times a week and to write quickly, without a lot of painful revision. In practice, this has meant no more than one round of painful revision. I sometimes suspect I am a better editor than writer. My writing is pretty ordinary, or yes, sloppy, until I go back and rework it.

Knowing that there are people who read my blog posts inhibits my blogging. I wish this were not so, because then I think I would write more often. But there it is. I don't come here to spill my frustrations, chronicle my depressions, or write about people who bug me. That would be self-indulgent, and I would hate to be described as self-indulgent. Also, the psalmist's prayer, "Set a watch before my mouth, O Lord, and guard the door of my lips" is one I take personally, but the guards set before my mouth are usually castigating me for remarks that have already escaped, rather than preventing them from getting out.

The fingers on the keyboard and the super-executive editor in my brain work more slowly, so they do keep watch. They are stern and they wield a six-foot spear that would pierce my heart if people thought I wasn't very nice. It's lot of work to please them, or to make friends with them so that the words can slide out easily.

Today again there was that catch in my chest during "Alleluia, Song of Gladness." It struck somewhere around the image of the new Jerusalem. It invokes memories of the dead, of those who have gone before, including, this weekend, a young man who died on Thursday who was a classmate of my daughter's. But what I am more interested in today is a stanza from another Transfiguration hymn, "How Good, Lord, to Be Here!":

"Before we taste of death, We see your kingdom come; We long to hold the vision bright And make this hill our home."

Not "pie in the sky by and by" but seeing the kingdom now. The hymn, of course, ends with leaving the mount and asking Christ to "come with us to the plain." I'm going to think for a while on that kingdom coming along to the plain, about the light and glory of the image of God we carry as God's creatures. It might burn away the gloom and cruddy questioning that flows over me when I think about writing and wanting to write something original, true, and perhaps edifying or enjoyable for others.

Blogging on. Thanks for reading!