Sunday, July 31, 2011

Jesus' Fortitude Before the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes

Jesus’ altruism never fails to astonish me. Today’s Gospel reading from Matthew recounts the famous miracle of Jesus’ multiplication of the loaves and fishes. I have heard this story many times in my life, and it always strikes a chord and resonates with me. Usually the narrative focuses my attention on the Eucharistic mystery and its sacramental foreshadowing in Christ’s feeding of the five thousand. I have also wondered with exceeding wonder at the generous and gracious heart of our Lord and Savior. The perpetual kid in me sometimes dwells on the miraculous omnipotence of God to do so much with so little. This time, though, what caught my attention is Jesus’ fortitude and stark humanity.

At the outset of the reading, Jesus has just found out that John the Baptist has been executed, clearly an ominous portent of what is to come in his own life, and he withdraws to be by himself in the comfort of solitude. Jesus’ prayer and isolation are interrupted, no disrupted really, however, when the masses pursue him ravenous for his teaching. Can you imagine the emotional turmoil and inner conflict that Jesus must have felt? The reality of his terrible destiny at the cross is beginning to dawn on him with the death of the prophet. He must be feeling real fear and struggling to get a handle on it before he continues with his mission. Instead of rest and convalescence, Jesus finds a mob at his feet testing his mettle even further. And how does he respond? The only way he knows how to: with love and the breaking of the bread. You just gotta love this man! It is a real test of courage to put aside his own personal angst to shepherd his needy people and to satiate their spiritual and physical hunger. Jesus does so without complaint in the true spirit of charity. It is easy to put my faith in such a warm and hospitable savior.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Why I Love Zombie Fiction

For some, it’s vampires. For others, it’s witches. For still others, it’s ghosts. But for me, it’s all about the zombies. In the last few years, I have been ravenously gobbling up these stories like one of the living dead greedily slurping up a still bloody strip of man flesh. I cannot quite place my finger on exactly why I have such an uncanny interest in these spine-tingling narratives, but maybe it has something to do with their exploration of the dark side of humanity, like all occult subjects; or perhaps, it is, ironically, their curious spotlighting of man’s fundamental goodness that can never quite be snuffed out no matter how hopeless a post-apocalyptical world may seem; however, maybe it is the versatility of the zombie flick aesthetic or its seemingly universal applicability to the germane social issues of the time; finally, I wonder it if it is just one of those pesky “all of the above” answers that test-makers plant at the end of a sequence of multiple-choice questions to make test-takers question their gut instincts and ponder if this is a trick question or not. No trick questions here. It’s definitely all of the above.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Frakking & Fracking: Best Homophones Ever!

Growing up in a house with four brothers and then teaching at an all-boys high school, the crass culture of cussing has been with me all my life, but now that I am a teacher I have to watch my language. Enter Battlestar Galactica to save the day. By substituting frakking, frakked, or frak in place of that other very familiar four-letter word beginning with the letter f, I have been able to avoid blurting out a word that might jeopardize my job security or taint my character.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Playing Chicken With Our Economy

Playing chicken with our economic security is probably not the best or surest method of problem solving in a national crisis, nor is it a particularly exemplary model of leadership. Frankly, it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth and leads me to wonder if there is anyone out there not disillusioned with the political process yet. I’m sure there are a few idealists left, but there numbers are surely dwindling as representatives on both sides of the aisle prove obstinate in their unwillingness to budge on the issue and break the current partisan quagmire.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Are Graphic Novels Literature?

Incisive, germane, and avant-garde, graphic novels have hit full stride in the last two decades and deserve recognition as a fecund and vibrant art form, an art form at least occasionally worthy of the appellation of literature. The best examples of the graphic novel genre possess the key hallmarks of great works of literature: original plot lines, potent conflict, rich characterization, refined detail, meaningful dialogue, and complex themes that tackle the sophisticated concerns and sensibilities of the postmodern zeitgeist.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

On "Of Gods and Men"

Exploring the very heart of fortitude, “Of Gods and Men,” a stunning film by Xavier Beauvois that garnered the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival in 2010, examines the internal turmoil and spiritual angst of a group of Trappist monks in Algeria in the mid- 1990s who are torn between their commitment to serve as shepherds to the local community that depends upon them and their palpable fear of death at the hands of Islamic fundamentalists.