Thursday, April 23, 2009

Resurected Drunken Pirates: Reflections on Holy Week

This post shall be. . .monsterous.

Easter seems like it was forever ago, but in truth, it was only a little over a week ago.

This Easter season has been a very meaningful time for me, starting on Ash Wednesday all the way to this past week. This year, I had the privelege of portraying St. Thomas the Apostle in my church's Easter musical, I Will Follow Christ (Thankfully, not a singing role!).

The Easter Play is always a meaningful experience, obviously because of the ability it gives one to see the Gospel acted out in front of you, but also, for our church, because of the fact that is virtually the only time when all the church is gathered together and working towards a common goal, rather than split into seperate groups by age or gender. . . it is refreshing to be a church for once.

Everyone talks about community these days. . .from Rick Warren to Bono. . . but I must admit, I prefer communion to community. Because that's what we believe in, right? The Communion of Saints? This isn't just a bunch of people getting together and pretending to like each other. This ought to be people unified by the love of Christ. . . and the rest of the Trinity :)

In case y'all don't know this, I'm a fan of the old traditions of the Church . . . and of everything, really. The Easter play gave me a beautiful taste of what I sometimes miss at church . . . a certain weight that ritual and tradition give to human action. I know we sometimes treat the words "tradition" and "ritual" as nessecarily evil. . . but think about it. . . there's something about ceremony that we prefer to informality.

For example, why are weddings so special? If ceremony and ritual were really so horrid, everyone would get married in shorts and flip flops at a government office and then meet friends at MacDonald's afterwords.

Tradition and Ritual are good things. In their proper place, of course, but good nontheless. There is a beautiful weight and glory to ceremony, to doing things with infinite care, almost as if they mattered. . .

But I digress.

Speaking of weight and ceremony, it truly was a privelege to have a role in the Easter play. . . it is a weighty thing to portray a Saint.

I know protestants (which I suppose I must rank myself as, for the time being) are very wary of the idea of Saints, but I think it's a good idea to look to those who came before us, and to properly respect them. I feel like there is too much disrespect around today; especially towards the Apostles.

"The disciples were really stupid sometimes, they never understood what Jesus said"

"That Peter, he was always putting his foot in his mouth!"

"The twelve always had selfish motives that made Jesus mad"

I'll admit it. . .I'm tired of hearing this crap from pulpits. Yeah, the twelve were sometimes dense. . .can you say that if the living Word of God came and started speaking to you, you would understand everything he said? We have trouble understanding Jesus, and we've hav 2000+ years to figure it out. . .we've had great theologians spend their lives to help us understand this stuff. . .the disciples were the first to hear it. Yeah, the disciples were normal men. . . but they were not like us, any more than Kings are like us. . . I guess the only way of saying it is this : They were great men. They were heroes.

Honestly, the thing that makes me furious is when I hear pastors say "These were just stupid lower-class fishermen."

Ok, so just because people are poor and hardworking, you think they're stupid?

And you call me bourgeouis. . .

It's true that I believe that some men are greater than others, but I don't think this has anything to do with how much money they make or how much education they have, but rather, with how they live their lives. And the Twelve lived lives that we can only marvel at.

In the play, the disciple's were a bit of comic relief at times; mainly with our ridiculous dance we broke into after Jesus breaks up a scuffle between St. John and St. Andrew over who will be the greatest in the Heaven. For the funny scenes, we were told by the director to be a little more jolly and enthusiastic, but very masculine and rough.

"Drunken pirates. That's what you are"

Interesting. I'll admit, I got a kick out of shouting AAAARRR! when I was supposed to shout out Hosanna during practice. But perhaps meaningful: when we changed into shining white robes for the scenes in Heaven(except Judas, who for some reason seemed to be missing. . .), I joked that we were now "resurected drunken pirates". St. Simon said that sounded like a band name. But perhaps that's what Saints are: sinners like the rest of us, but raised to higher places, not by their own efforts, but by the grace of God.

But I digress again. On to my role:

St. Thomas is an interesting figure. I played him as the young, silly disciple (mainly because I was the only disciple under 23), and was given the liberty to change a few of my lines to reflect this.

It was an experience to play St. Thomas. . .mainly a pleasant one, but going for makeup everyday was not my favorite thing in the world, and my fake, painted on beard was. . . interesting. Still, it was an incredible experience, and there was such an amazing sense of communion and brotherhood among the disciples (the cast). . .I really miss those few weeks.

Because of my role, I read up on St. Thomas a bit (Did you know he is the patron Saint of Architects, and that spread Christianity to India, becoming the farthesst traveling disciple?).
There are only three times he is specifically mentioned in the Gospels (asides from when he is listed with all the others).

The first time, Jesus returns to Galilee to visit the tomb of his dead friend Lazarus. We've heard this story before, but if we actually read it rather than skipping ahead for the truly powerful story of Lazarus ressurection, we see another story almost as powerful. Jesus had left Galilee under threat of death, and he and the twelve faced death if he returned. Jesus decides to return and the disciples face a decision: possibly for the first time they face the reality of dying for Jesus. Is this really worth dying for?

"Let us go and die with him."

This was the answer given by St. Thomas; this is the unequalled boldness we hear from the one we are used to calling "the doubter".

The second time we hear about St. Thomas is at the Last Supper, when Christ says that he is going to depart. St. Thomas asks "How will we follow if we don't know where you are going?" If nothing else, we are given the picture of a disciple who is obsessed about following Jesus, so that he is ready to die and concerned with the need for precise directions. And just perhaps, obsessed about making sure it is Jesus he is following. . .not something else.

Which leads to the source of St. Thomas' infamy: The doubting episode. This I will. . .gloss over. Mainly because I want to go to sleep. Meaghan Henderson, if you made it this far, I'm very proud of you. Now, about the doubting: Yes, silly of St. Thomas. But truly, there are worse things than wanting to make sure Jesus is really alive and not dead. Maybe a lack of faith; but Jesus reproaches him gently, almost as if teasing him. Afterwords, what can he say?

"My Lord and my God!"

The Catholic Encyclopdia says that this is one of the boldest statements of faith in the New Testament. I think we should learn from St. Thomas' victories and his failure, to follow Christ passionately, and just perhaps, to have a little more faith.

There's a little more I have to share about Easter, but with this, I shall take my leave for now.

Go Under the Mercy.

-Jonathan Adriel Diaz

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Laus Deo

1Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 2So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him." 3 So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. 4Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. 6Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, 7and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. 8Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9 they did not understand the Scripture,for as yet that he must rise from the dead. 10Then the disciples went back to their homes.

11But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him." 14Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?" Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away." 16Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned and said to him in Aramaic, "Rabboni!" (which means Teacher). 17Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" 18Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord"—and that he had said these things to her.

19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." 20When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you." 22And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld."

24Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe."

26Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." 27Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe." 28Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" 29Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

-The Gospel of St. John, chapter 20

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Rachmaninov and Orlik: congrats on having been born!

It is Sergei Rachmaninov's Birthday today (For one more hour, anyway).

I feel distinctly like Schroeder from Peanuts (Who carried around signs to inform people of Bethoven's birthday a few months before the date).

Now, I'll admit that I'm not the biggest fan of classical music. . .I still find some of it boring, and most of it hard to listen to, though very rewarding. . .I realise that some of my impatience for classical music often reflects more poorly on me than on the music.

However, even given my wicked soul that sometimes prefers Underoath to Wagner, the most played song on my iPod is NOT writing on the walls, but Rachmaniov's Symphonic Dances. . .
I'll be honest, I do usually cheat and just listen to the last three minutes of it . . .that last three minutes is my favorite piece of music right now, and if there's something better, I'd like to hear it (seriously).

Believe me, he's that awesome. I am not fit, either as a "musician" or even a "listener" to even praise him. Just know that the greatest flaw of Rachmaninov's work is that the song must at some point end; because of this sinful world, the music can never do what it ought to, and break the barrier between the human and the timeless.

Speaking of Russian musicians born on April 1st, HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAVID PAVLOVICH ORLIK!

Some stuff for you:

Your Favorite Paratroooper Song:

And Modern Propaganda!

And more: This time, with romance!


- hi
- hello
- oh, how beautiful. but they're so expensive.
- it's ok. how it should be.
- i've missed you so much.
- me too.
- tell me, how are things in the army?
- everything's fine.

- (to barman) for all!
- why, maybe you shouldn't?
- my treat. don't worry, i can afford it.

"contract service - ticket to your future."

This one just scares me:

David, I'm now wondering if you're a part of a fifth-column. . .

Oh, well. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

С днем рождения, мой друг! Пожалуйста не убейте меня.