Living in Imaginary Worlds

Recently I discovered and fell in love with a podcast called Imaginary Worlds. Host Eric Molinsky explores many of the fictional worlds we know from pop culture, but often with a unique and very intelligent spin. It was his five-part series on Star Wars that hooked me (which will come as no surprise to anyone who knows my lifelong devotion to that franchise), and made me think about the movies and expanded universe in new ways. In one episode, historians and Star Wars scholars discussed the cultural/political factors in 1977 that led to the original movie becoming such a phenomenon. Subsequent episodes delved into the “Han shot first” controversy from an ethical standpoint, asked whether the Empire saw itself as evil or was taking what it saw as reasonable steps to bring order to a chaotic galaxy, featured a rabbi who compared the Star Wars expanded universe to the rabbinic commentary on the Torah called midrash, and debated whether “Slave Leia” could be seen as a symbol of female empowerment or was a misogynistic wrong turn in the character’s journey best left forgotten. I listened to those episodes multiple times, then went back and listened to every episode since the podcast began in 2014. It got me thinking about how much of my time is spent in imaginary worlds, not just when I lose myself in fiction, but when I do my job as a chaplain. Continue reading “Living in Imaginary Worlds”

Advent Conspiracy Week 3: Give More

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It sounds like a trick. Last week’s theme in Advent Conspiracy was Spend Less. Now we’re supposed to Give More? Wouldn’t that involve spending more?? True, the way we usually do it, with fancy things wrapped up in pretty boxes, it would mean shelling out more money, spending more time in the store or online. But the idea here is not to give more stuff; it’s to give more of ourselves. Where is your passion? What do you care most about? Continue reading “Advent Conspiracy Week 3: Give More”

Advent Conspiracy Week 2: Spend Less

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Oh, I’ve been dreading this one. Ever since I saw the posters for Advent Conspiracy going up at church a few weeks ago, and I saw that the second week’s theme was about money, I knew that would be the hardest one for me. I’ve never been good with money. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t go on crazy shopping sprees for Jimmy Choo shoes or plasma screen TVs bigger than me or beluga caviar or anything like that. But I do find myself often paraphrasing Captain Jack Sparrow and wondering, “Why is the money always gone?” Continue reading “Advent Conspiracy Week 2: Spend Less”

2014 With No Mistakes In It

It’s been awhile.  If you hadn’t noticed, my blogging has been lagging of late.  Even in the busyness of the holiday season, I had promised myself that I’d post at least once a week, and I was doing it.  The first three Sundays of Advent, I wrote something to go along with the theme of that week.  But the weekend of the fourth Sunday of Advent, I had to do a funeral, and I was traveling to Kentucky to visit my family for Christmas, and to make a long story short, it just didn’t happen.  But even before that, I was having some trouble.  A well-meaning friend had told me after my first few blog posts, “Wow, you are knocking it out of the park every time!”  And instead of being pleased, my first thought was, Well, shit.  Now I can’t write anything mediocre. Continue reading “2014 With No Mistakes In It”

The Subversive Power of Gratitude

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Although you would hardly know it judging by all the Christmas decorations that go up even before the first of November, there is another holiday to celebrate this time of year.  And it may be more important than we realize, especially in difficult times.  I remember having dinners with my cousin and his wife, who were both pretty hostile toward religion, but no meal could begin until she had said, “I’m so thankful for this food and these people.”  I was young and a recent convert to Christianity, so I was bewildered.  One day I finally asked her, “Who are you giving thanks to when you say that?”  She smiled patiently and answered, “I don’t know really, but I have to say it.”   I think she was right.  We all have a need to give thanks. Continue reading “The Subversive Power of Gratitude”