Friday, December 28, 2012

Comfort and Confrontation for us Les Miserables Snobs

This is not the review I've been unable to write yet. It is simply thoughts from a selfish person. 

My initial reaction to news of the movie was horror and panic. None of the actors were right and I was sure none of them could possibly sing and everything would be ruined and destroyed. But as I continued to see more and more information on the movie, I started to become fearfully hopeful, or at least less fatally pessimistic.

It was the same for many hardcore Les Miserables fans--the movie was terrifying. So many things could go wrong. Some things would obviously have to be sacrificed and new things would be added. Also, it would be in the hands of the common man to critique, under-appreciate, misunderstand, or, worst of all, paste on fashion journals and Claire's jewelry. It was something we cherished and hoarded, something we wanted to share with a select few and could only be adored after careful study and loving care.

Eventually it was brought to my attention my attitude reeked and, after almost a week of butterflies and in trembling, almost hysteric anticipation, I went to the theater Christmas evening. I couldn't process it to begin with. I couldn't talk about what had just happened and I certainly couldn't discuss anything else. I went home and sat in the middle of my floor and stared at the wall. 

I'm still mostly speechless and haven't been able to formulate a true review even with many attempts. If it wasn't for my family, I might still be leaning my head against a theater chair and rocking back and forth with occasional groans and gasps. 

Les Miserables will be treated lightly by many, laughed at by others, and offensive to some, but I think most will emerge from the dark movie theater into the world, shaken up and a little uncomfortable, with a new sense of awe and wonder. Such is my case. 

The story is sure to be talked about, discussed, seen, appreciated, and yes, under-appreciated too. But the important thing is it's getting shared and spoken and screamed and played out in front of people's eyes and in people's souls. Perhaps our hesitation or inability to discuss or share it with one another is because it's akin to becoming stripped of everything we have and shown the true story of our own selves--hopeless, angry, alone, sinful, black. This is who we were, with rotten teeth or a pressed inspector uniform, and then something bigger--mercy, love, grace, light--the painful, tireless, devastating love of God. Yes. It means misery and death, but it also assures us that even the darkest night--the sin of our own souls--will end, crucified to a cross, and the Sun will rise. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

December 15, 2012

What do we do in times like these?
What did we do yesterday and the day before?
We sat and talked of hope and lived in comfort,
Waiting for the Christ Child to be born.

Today tragedy woke us in gunfire.
We stare broken and confused,
And tomorrow, again, children will be swallowed in death,
Waiting for the Christ Child to be born.

We sit behind closed doors and chafe,
Or walk along the street and feebly cry hope.
We ask each other how all this could happen,
Waiting for the Christ Child to be born.

What do we do in times like these?
Nothing. Just like yesterday when we were free.
Hope has turned to talk and flight.
When will our Christ Child come?

Open our doors and hearts,
Bring us to our knees and tears.
Send us out to a foreign world,
Fill us with warrior love.

Comfort, comfort your people, Lord,
But only with the comfort that fights.
Give us hope reborn that lives
Declaring the Christ Child is born.

Give us faith that carries sickness, loneliness, and death.
Make us hear the singing host
And ring the bell of peace.
Joy will conquer every ill.

Our Christ Child is among us still.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Underlining - Word Love

The next chapter was my mountainous internal struggle with underlining. I am a purist and I also believe authors are frequently treated like dirt. Reading the end of the book is judging without a hearing. Singing music while you read is yelling while someone is trying to talk to you. And underlining is making something stand out the writer chose not to put in all caps, bold, or italic. Marring the pages with your own notes is distracting and doesn't allow you to hear the author's whole thought. You know, these sorts of convictions. So my reading system for several years was reading a book straight through then going back a second time to write out quotes and notes. If a book was worth reading once, it was worth reading twice.

My first leap of conscious occurred in desperation. I'm a painfully slow reader and had about seven books lined up for notes and several shelves full of books that hadn't been cracked yet. I started a book I needed to complete, start to finish, in a week. I should have, but I didn't have any respect for the particular author and so I closed my eyes and made the first incision. I began to underline with a big, bold pen. I realized it made me pay attention to word arrangement and train of thought in new ways. Taking notes became entirely different somehow and suddenly I was aware of the author's word choice and order, both in areas that were aggravating and thrilling.

There are still some books that should be committed to memory and untouched, others where post-it tabs are vital, but many books are best served and used with respectful, careful underlining. Sometimes I even write questions and notes in the margins.
I wonder how much more I would have learned if I'd given in sooner... Most of the time being a purest and perfectionist is an excuse not to learn or use something for its proper purpose.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Poetry - Word Love

I started a post a long time ago about words and how much I'd been learning about our mutual feelings for one another. Now I feel like the relationship has become far more serious. In fact, I think it will be a love affair that will take a lifetime, and even at the end (or will it be the beginning?), we might not really know each other.

I used to think I loved writing and books. It was true, but in a quest to make myself fall in love with poetry, I realized I'd really enjoyed the stories and ideas. I hadn't actually been listening all that closely. Poetry was a discipline at first, but soon it became a rampant obsession. Perhaps the quickest way to become intimate with words is through analyzing, editing, and writing poetry. And so I took the leap. :-)

John Donne shoulders great responsibility for my quick spiral in the last four years...but he led to other discoveries. I'm not sure how interesting or helpful it will be, but for the next bit I hope to post some of what people have been patiently teaching me about words. Please feel free to contribute and comment on things you've learned or wisdom that comes to mind.