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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Oscars, Charlie Sheen, and the power of images

Last night was the Oscars, the ceremony where the world's most creative image-makers and storytellers decide what images were "best." I watch some movies, even saw a few of the ones up for "Best Picture," but I did not see "King's Speech" which won the award. I was happy for that choice though. The story, which it seems to me is the same story in most of the movies nominated, is a bit trite: someone overcomes obstacles to achieve success. (This is Hollywood's favorite story.) But the image of the story this year seems compelling...Colin Firth struggling to speak clearly.

This morning I was treated to excerpts of an interview with Charlie Sheen. Same story as "King's Speech," whole different image...Charlie Sheen overcomes an obstacle (addicition to drugs and alcohol), but does not struggle to speak clearly...and while many of his major premises are debatable, the conclusions of his speech are rhetorically warranted. and crystal clear. But alas, his conclusions serve not to bring people together, but to separate them...which is the exact opposite of the King's speech...speaking clearly only has value if we are raised to our human highest as a collective...and that is always worth a "best!"

Jesus has the ability to tell stories and create images which raise humanity to its divinely-made stature. He might have struggled with clarity at times, frustated at his inability to convey what needed to be told...but in the end, on the cross, he presented an enduring image of love that has bound people together across cultures for centuries. No movie could be expected to do that...although we can talk after 2000 years if one survives...and certainly no celebrity can be expected to withstand the pressures of fame without a bit of delusion somewhere...

But I struggle between two images this evening: a King who stutters and brings people together and a celebrity who speaks so clearly as to divide humanity into camps of violence and anger...I love images, I love clarity of speech, and I love the passion evoked from them...but I don't like violence and I don't like anger...not because violence and anger killed Jesus of Nazareth, but because they stop me from being the person God created me to be...maybe we all should learn to stutter before we speak?

May your table be full, and your conversations be true.

PS: I so wanted to make a "crystal(-meth) clear" joke...so I did! Sorry, Charlie.

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