Saturday, December 24, 2011

Person of Interest

This season, in addition to New Girl and Madmen, my friends and I are hooked on Person of Interest. We joke that this is the show with Jesus in it (Jim Caviezel from The Passion of the Christ), and boy is he a sexy Jesus - I mean ex-special forces guy who now stops crime in a truly criminal manner. His costars, Michael Emerson and Taraji Henson, are equally classy actors who play a computer genius and a detective respectively. It took me a few episodes to get into the show (Caviezel's acting was a bit lethargic, and the premise takes some getting used to), but now it's literally one of my favorite shows ever. It's not a simple crime drama. The episodes build on each other, and they contain an inner cat-and-mouse plot involving Detective Carter and Reese (Caviezel). One of the most sophisticated elements of the show is its cinematography. Instead of using cliched skyline shots and glamorous landmarks, all of the cityscapes are achieved with traffic-camera-style angles. Honestly, have you ever watched a scene set in the Bronx (stop right there), where you know you're oriented toward the south but can't actually see Manhattan? This is the real New York. And the soundtrack is excellent. Watch this show!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Regretting the Summer Palaces

We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.

~ T. S. Eliot, "Journey of the Magi"
I've gone too far to turn back. My world was a complex system of social, religious, and family rules. I started tinkering with it, asking questions, thinking that the final result would be a refined and polished version of the original. But I pulled out one loose brick, and then another, and a wall came down, and there was dry rot everywhere and before I knew it the whole building had fallen about my ears. I'm standing in the ruins, a big sky overhead, the world around me large enough for a human soul. But a little part of me is grieving the loss of something that wasn't all bad. People with good intentions built it. They wanted safety, comfort, tidiness, like in a Thomas Kinkade painting. I wanted all that, too, for a while.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Third Sunday of Advent

It's the day we light the rose candle, the symbol of joy, and the homily was about suffering. How strange, and yet, the more I think about it, how appropriate. For it's only as the question of suffering grows ever greater, a gaping hole in the universe, that we demand anything like a suitable answer. Have you ever peered into the abyss? Have you ever faced the chasms of fear, shame, and loneliness that live inside you, or gazed at the ugliness that surrounds you? Flee from these realities and a mere household idol will be enough for you. You will only need a god who satisfies small needs and petty questions. Admit your suffering and you will have to ask the agonizing question of whether a bigger God exists. The more I've come to terms with my pain, the more I've demanded a God who knows what to do about it. My worst fear was that He didn't exist. But He does - and He speaks an answer so infinite it shakes the earth and floods it with rivers of light.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Lighten Our Darkness

This evening, I ask my hands to say what my heart is too battered to believe. In the corner of my room between the windows is a small Christmas tree that I cut down myself, and around it I've wrapped a rope of gold-colored beads. So tonight I hang a few more of the ornaments from the pile of silver balls in different sizes and styles on the windowsill, next to the scrawny wire hooks. After I've turned out the lamp at that end of the room, the soft darkness of the tree harbors frail light. The silver balls turn into luminous half-spheres, the rope glimmers faintly, the gold tree skirt gives off a dull sheen and one or two sparkles. It's the only light we can find, but it's better than nothing.