Worth Fighting For

What is it that causes us to love? To seek it, to crave it, to give it? Why do we have an innate need to connect with others? We are fiercely loyal to those we love.

Morgan Page created a song called Fight For You, that describes a love that is both baffling and compelling. “I’d fight for you. I never thought I’d feel this way,” are some of the lyrics. I think we all feel this way when we fall in love. Especially after we’ve been in love with that special someone for a while. At first, we may be surprised that we can become so attached to someone, but then it becomes something more. We begin to feel like we cannot be separated from that individual. We will fight for that person. Fight to keep the love alive.

It’s a powerful thing. I think sometimes we take it for granted. We shouldn’t. We all need it. Whether it be a romantic love or a friendship, it is something powerful and gets inside of us. It gives us value and worth.

Love can be a lot of things. It can hurt. It can sting sometimes. It can bring ecstasy and belonging. It is life-changing. For many, it is something ellusive; either because they are afraid of it or the right circumstances haven’t been met. But it is out there for us all. Others seem to find it easily, and perhaps too often. But the real kind of love changes everything.

Seek it. Give it. Cherish it. Protect it. Invest in it. Sacrifice for it. Find someone to give it to. We need it.

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‘Of Gods and Men’ weaves spiritual tale

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11098/1137760-120.stm

Movie review
Friday, April 08, 2011
By Barry Paris, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
From left, Lambert Wilson as Christian and Jean-Marie Frin as Paul in “Of Gods and Men.”

“Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully

as when they do it for religious conviction.”

— Pascal

The eight monks at the Cistercian monastery live in — if not the Garden — at least a little Oasis of Eden.


‘Of Gods and Men’

4 stars = Outstanding
Ratings explained
  • Starring: Lambert Wilson, Jean-Marie Frin, Michael Lonsdale.
  • Rating: PG-13 for subtitles and one violent scene.

They and “Of Gods and Men,” Xavier Beauvois’ wrenchingly beautiful film about them, are situated in an isolated mountain village in North Africa, where their community coexists quietly, contemplatively and peacefully with their Muslim brothers and sisters. Cistercians follow the seventh-century monastic order of St. Benedict and never proselytize or otherwise disturb the people among whom they live.

On the contrary, they serve them whenever and however they can. Old Brother Luc (Michael Lonsdale), for example, is a doctor, who treats the many villagers who come to him for help every day. Best evidence of harmony comes in a long, slow pan of faces at a Muslim prayer service: It ends on the face of Brother Luc — respectfully attending and listening to the imam’s prayers, along with the villagers.

But the tranquil rhythms of monastic life there — praying, farming, beekeeping — are seriously shaken when a crew of Croatian workers outside the village is massacred by al-Qaida-like Islamic radicals. They have issued an ultimatum ordering all foreigners to leave the country — including the monks.

Mr. Beauvois’ film is based on a shockingly true story: the 1996 kidnapping and disappearance of seven French Cistercian-Trappist monks in Tibkirine, Algeria. In that real event, and in this fictionalized rendering, the monks decline military protection and refuse to leave.

But there’s rare dissension in the monastic ranks about the security threat and decision to stay — the most painful decision they’ve ever had to make. Caught between the terrorists and the army, they must walk an increasingly dangerous tightrope between the two sets of men, and another fine line between God and themselves. To leave would be to surrender and walk away from their literal and figurative “mission” — not to mention their deep ties and love of the villagers.

Most agonizing, however, is the challenge to personal faith and commitment to the monks’ most basic Christian beliefs. How can you have an unseemly fear of death if you believe in Psalm 23, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,” and in Luke 17: “He who tries to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life will save it.”

In most films, music “accompanies” words and “scores” (as in underscores) the dialogue. In this one, it largely replaces dialogue. The monastery is, after all, a world of silence. The Psalms (literally, “songs”) are universally considered the most lyrically exquisite part of the Bible. Stripped of instruments, “naked” chant lets you tune in and gradually realize you don’t know these texts as well as you think you did. If you, like the monks, let yourself do it, you’ll be as transformed as they are by the strange tonality and the message that elevates and unites them. Singing is an integral part of their lives and the film; the Liturgy of the Hours happens seven times a day and is essential to their union and communion as a spiritual force. This semi-Gregorian chant, with its strangely modern, subtly dissonant melodic and harmonic variations, becomes the lingua franca of their debate and dialectic.

The film’s magnificent, excruciating, transcendent Last Supper scene employs the famous “Lac de Cygnes” (how’s your French?) score, and is perhaps the most powerful use of secular music for character and narrative purposes I’ve ever seen in a film.

If ever you (and I) regretted not taking that upper-level French course, it’ll be here. The subtitles are excellent, but English-speaking audiences are disadvantaged for relying on them. But it’s not a crippling disadvantage, thanks to the superb acting. Lambert Wilson as Brother Christian, the abbot, is a deeply loving, protective shepherd to his flock. And “Thou shalt not steal” applies unless thou art Michael Lonsdale, in which case you have special dispensation to steal all scenes in which you appear. For that matter, all the monks are riveting, each face and personality uniquely empathetic in response to the crisis.

This slow, contemplative tragedy — a best foreign film Oscar nominee — will powerfully affect Christians & non-Christians alike, but especially Catholics. (It could and should be screened at parochial schools, relevant and terribly timely as it is to the slaughter of UN workers in Afghanistan last week.) FYI, its sole scene of bloody violence occurs toward the beginning and does not involve the monks.

But it is emotionally rough. Of the Big Three — faith, hope and love — faith is the tricky one that can get so easily twisted from a virtue into a vice. What’s the real difference between radical Islam and Quran-burning Christians in the inflammatory ability of both to incite madness? Bible and Quran thumpers-and-burners are all alike. But there’s not one political or politicizing word in “Gods and Men.” The monks — and the movie — are about spirituality, not religion.

Closer

I was listening to the radio the other day and came across the song, Closer by Shawn McDonald. Not only did the music catch me, but the lyrics really hit my heart. I thought I would share this in hopes that it has the same effect on others. I’ve put a poll at the end of this post. Please check it out. I would love to hear what you think!

Closer by Shawn McDonald

Looking for a color in a shade of gray
Looking for love in a drop of rain
Trying to find change in the old mundane
Everything I do just feels the same
Spending my life out in the desert
Been gone so long feels like forever

I just want to be even closer to you
I just want to be even closer
I am yours
You can have all of me anything, everything
I just want to be even closer

A day without you is a thousand years
A day without you is a million tears
Tell me why do I run when I am in fear
Why do I run when you are so near
Spending my life out in the weather
Been gone so long and I need some shelter

I just want to be even closer to you
I just want to be even closer
I am yours
You can have all of me anything, everything
I just want to be even closer

Where ever you go
Where ever you are
I just want be there with you

I just want to be even closer to you
I just want to be even closer
I am yours
You can have all of me anything everything
I just want to be even closer

Looking for a color in a shade of gray
Looking for love in a drop of rain

Allergies…

I read this today from one of the blogs I read, Stuff Christians Like. I have been suffering from allergies terribly the last few days, and each spring and fall prior. I wanted to share it with you. It’s funny, but also has a bit of truth in place.

Wondering Why God Created Allergies http://www.jonacuff.com/stuffchristianslike/2011/03/4673/

Ahh, spring is upon us. Bluebirds are singing jaunty tunes. Pastel flowers are poking their heads out after long winter naps. Woodland creatures are dancing about.

And I am sneezing.

And sniffling.

And constantly looking like I’m crying from watching a particularly heart-wrenching Lifetime Channel Movie.

I have allergies and am discovering that in Nashville spring blooms like a big bowl of pollen covered frosted mini wheats.

I’m taking Claritin D. I’ve scheduled an appointment with an allergist. I’m drinking throat coat before I speak on stage because my voice kind of sounds like a smoky lounge singer right now. But why?

Why did God create allergies? Have you ever stopped to think about that? Why do they exist? Here are five possible explanations I came up with:

Reasons God Created Allergies

1. Keep me humble.

One Sunday at church, I was snorting so much that the lady next to me just handed me a tissue. She didn’t ask if I needed one, I didn’t ask her for one, she just thrust it in my hand, which is church aisle language for “Shut up, please shut up already with that nose of yours.” Maybe God created allergies to keep me humble. It’s my thorn in the flesh or thorn in the sinus if you will. Seems a little extreme that he would create a planet impacting form of pollen just to keep me humble, but me even thinking that probably proves why he needed to do it.

2. Support pharmacies and pharmacists

My sister in law Marci is studying to be a pharmacist. I have friends who are drug reps. I’m sure someone I know worked on one of the bajillion allergy commercials you see this time of year. There are tens of thousands of people with families and kids and lives supported by people who have allergies. Maybe that’s why God invented them.

3. Teach me patience.

Have you tried to buy allergy medicine lately? In order to prevent illegal purchases, you now have to fill out a form, show your driver’s license, buy one small box at a time, submit to a retinal scan and write a 300 word essay on why you feel you deserve the Claritin D. Maybe this is all just a lesson in patience.

4. Bees need pollen.

In the current issue of National Geographic there’s a story about pollen and bees. I didn’t read it because just looking at the photos made me sneeze and there was an article on kung fu that I found very distracting/awesome. I like honey. Maybe that’s the tradeoff. God created allergies because honey is so fantastic. I think I can get down with that.

5. In all things God works for the good

Is this a Romans 8:28 situation? “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Should I recite that verse every time I feel my itchy red eyes tearing up?

It has to be one of those reasons. Or maybe allergies are part of the fall? Was the Garden of Eden hypoallergenic and then when Adam and Eve got kicked out they were expelled to a pollen filled land of woe? Am I overthinking this? Probably.

Why do you think God created allergies?

Do you have any allergies?