to my friend Leon, who doesn’t really get the arts

You said, “I come at it from the angle of, ‘What is God teaching me through this?'” And that unsettled me a little bit, although I couldn’t understand it at the moment.

But I’ve figured it out: Sometimes the proper response to art, to beauty, and to God Himself is not “What does this mean?” but “Wow!” Awe. Wonder. And the thing about awe and wonder is that they take us outside of ourselves and make us forget ourselves.

I think that, in the Christian community, we want everything to have some sort of spiritual meaning. And sometimes it does, and that’s fine. But sometimes the thing itself is the point, and to try to understand it for what it means, or what it’s trying to say, is to reduce it from beauty to function.

And we do this with God sometimes: We relate to Him only by loving Him by what He can do for us, even when those things are good. And we should indeed praise and honor Him for those things. But some of the most interesting times I’ve ever had with God are when I understand who He is as it has nothing to do with me. He makes me forget myself. All I can do is be there in His presence and be filled with joy at Him, for who He is.

Not that the arts are God, obviously. But they are one of the means that He can use to teach us how to forget ourselves, and make us a more wonder-filled people.

miscellany.

1. We’re going through Genesis at church. Right now we’re looking at the life of Abraham. Considering how the past year or so of my life has gone, this feels appropriate.

2. Speaking of, this Sarah would like an Abraham to pack up and go with. Just saying, fellas.

3. As silly as this may feel, Jesus is going to redeem your paper cuts. Everything broken will be renewed.

4. So I started my new job at Half-Price Books. It is awesome. I can actually see myself staying with the company a while. I am almost (but not quite) sure that I am the only Christian there, so that’s all kinds of interesting, especially since at church we just went through a series on evangelism. (It’s like God just handed this to me and said “Here you go, kid.”)

5. For those of you unfamiliar with Houston, there’s an intersection here that has two Starbucks catacorner to one another. So the other night, I was sitting in Starbucks, staring across the street at another Starbucks. (There’s a Barnes and Noble with another Starbucks inside across the street, too. Ridiculous.)

6. I miss my friends from college.

7. If you haven’t heard the new Decemberists album, it is great. Go and get it soon if you haven’t already.

sarai.

I don’t know what’s gotten into him–

He’s heard the voice of some unknown
mysterious deity, a god we’ve heard
rumors of from the ancient days, but
He’s not one we know. This god shows
up like a stranger at our door,
and so we have to take him in, I guess.
But hospitality can only go so far,
and yet here we are,
packing up our house for him
to follow him out into nowhere.

But we go, we go, and I go because
of some strange sprout of hope in my heart,
a sprout that might just grow up into
some mighty tree,
because maybe, just maybe,
our name will live on,
and maybe, just maybe,
this promise, this Stranger,
will take us in to Himself instead.

the living room recommends…

Immersion reading
Pick a book of the Bible. Read the whole thing in one sitting. Do this every day for a month or so. After a while you might hit a wall, but keep going. It’s amazing.

The Sound of Young America
A really fun interview podcast with everyone from Elijah Wood to Simon Pegg to Hanson.

The Frames, Set List
Their live album, recorded in their home city of Dublin. If you’ve listened to their studio work at all, know that anything they do live is tons, tons better. They sneak in bits of Johnny Cash and Bob Marley, but I think my favorite part is listening to the crowd singing.

The Splendid Table
If you’re at all like me and are interested in not only making and eating food, but where it comes from (agriculturally and sociologically), I recommend this podcast. Lynne Rosetto Kaspar seems like this immensely wise and fun human being, and I’d listen to her talk about anything.