Tuesday, December 06, 2005

"Don't be Such a Martyr"

We're keeping E home from school today with the onset of a cold. I'm sure he could make it through the day, but I don't see the point of pushing him. Rest is the way to cure a cold. And I know when I get a cold, all I want to do is curl up for a while and do nothing. Isn't this what our body is telling us we need? Why teach E to ignore that? [Just to give you the proper context for this message, I'm writing it to the lovely sounds of E's cartoons, currently "The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy." Ugh.]

I need to get some good work done today. Have to head over to the University library yet another time. (It gets easier every time.) Then later this afternoon I'm heading in to church to work on worship planning for the rest of Advent (and looking ahead to Christmas, I'm sure). This morning I'd like to do some good thinking about these things, so I come with some particular ideas about how to journey through the rest of this season.

I'm also going to be preaching on January 1. The text is Luke 2:22-40. The story of Anna and Simeon.

I am drawn to the notion that Anna and Simeon both lived their lifetimes waiting--and after a season of Advent, we are rewarded with this text of two faithful people who have seen their hopes realized. I think I want to lift up something about the outsider status of the characters in this scene--including Mary & Joseph who make the less expensive offering that was permitted for the poor in the instructions for this particular ritual in the Hebrew Scriptures. But also Simeon, who is an outsider inasmuch as he is a Jew in Roman occupied Palestine. And Anna, who is a widow. Very quickly in the gospel of Luke it becomes evident who will be able to recognize God's saving presence in the world.

I have been working on a fascinating project recently as part of my research assistantship. A is writing a piece about Martyr imagery in U.S. films, concentrating on U.S. popular culture. I spent the past week trying to locate some good movies to suggest for her to write about. We have some of the obvious nonfiction films like Malcolm X, Gandhi, Cry Freedom (Stephen Biko). Interestingly, the latter two are non-U.S. films, but they were certainly a part of U.S. pop culture for a while. (I think. Am I wrong about that?)

For fiction, I highly recommended (believe it or not) the Terminator movies 1 & 2. In the first, a human dies willingly and in the second the cyborg dies--both in order to save the human race from the Machines. I recommended a few others, too. (Including Chronicles of Narnia, The Mission, Star Wars (IV), etc.) But I am really having a difficult time coming up with some good titles. We're using a working definition of a martyr as someone who suffers and dies for a cause in such a way that that person serves as an empowering witness to her/his community.

I also have been looking for some scholarly articles written on the same topic, but I am coming up emptyhanded! I have finally made the tentative conclusion that North Americans do not go for martry stories. We want heros, not martyrs. I think we'll even take a tragic hero, but not a martyr. We want our hero to survive, not die. This intrigues me a lot. I recommended to A that she take this tact in her article.

In the midst of doing the research, I've come across this film, Paradise Now, that looks like it would be excellent.

Better keep it here for now.

(Oh, one more thing. I was carded yesterday trying to buy wine at Trader Joes. I'll be 37 in less than a month. The clerk looked at me questioningly when he carded me, "So, 21? Not 21?" His manner of asking made me think that he wasn't even carding me because I look "30 or under", as the standard is here. But because he actually thinks I look less than 21. ARGH! Soon I'm going to be twice 21 and still getting carded.)

1 comment:

cyen said...

This topic may long be dead, but I've been thinking about it ever since and suggested to a friend of mine who is "Mr. Movie"... We came up with two more, I came up with "Independence day" - a secondary character (randy quiad) sacrifices himself to save the world from an alien invasion.
"Mr. Movie" came up with Armageddon (Bruce Willis) a main character who also stays behind to save the world. Mr. M thought of a few more but I forget them at the time of this posting. Interesting thought activity regarding movies and pop culture!