East Of Eden

"A curious mix of the relevant and reverential"


Lent- Day 19: Jackie and Jesus.

 

In one scene of Jackie, Natalie Portman, as Jackie Kennedy, seeks counsel from her priest played by the late Sir John Hurt. The setting is late November 1963, after her husband John F. Kennedy had been assassinated, but still in the midst of the funeral/ memorial/ national mourning period. Profoundly pained, Jackie shares her feelings of deep sadness, hurt and loneliness. The priest tells her the story of Jesus' healing of the blind man from John chapter 9:

 

1. As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth.

 

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Lent- Day 18: Brave new world?

(Image Source)

Jonathan Storment has a great series on the the theology of Stranger Things at his Patheos blog, and I want to focus on one post in particular, which discusses what the world has lost during our periods of progress, and ultimately, what has stayed the same: 

Back in the 40’s and 50’s, the Western views of progress were incredibly optimistic. Flipping through a few pages of Popular Mechanics from that era you’re reminded of how we ever put a man on the moon (and yet disappointed that you never got your flying car).


Watching predictions from these people who were on the cutting edge of one technological breakthrough after another makes us nostalgic for the days when we thought that the human condition was just one...

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Lent- Day 17: To rendezvous with Death.

(Image Source)

 

I was listening to the John F. Kennedy episode of The Washington Post's Presidential Podcast while chopping mushrooms to go with some leftover pasta for dinner a few hours ago, and the host, Lillian Cunningham, read excerpt from one of JFK's favorite poems. Like so much of his life, this poem is centered on death. From the Poetry Foundation:

I Have a Rendezvous with Death 
BY ALAN SEEGER

 

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Lent- Third Sunday: We are able.


(Image Source: Dancehall Hiphop)

 

We're a few weeks into Lent 2017, and things have gotten real for me. Making a blogpost EVERY day after an extremely lax non-writing schedule over the past year has been a real challenge.

I miss sugar, too. I gave up sweets (well, most sweets, because I'm still eating fruit), and I miss peanut M&Ms a whole lot. And brownies from Starbucks or those triple chocolate cupcakes from Barnes & Noble that even K loves and he's not a big chocolate-fan.

 

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Lent- Day 16: Heaven is a place on Earth.

Kelly, played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw, left, and Yorkie, played by Mackenzie Davis, in "San Junipero", episode 4, season 3 of "Black Mirror".( Image Source: Nerdist)

 

I cried when I watched the "San Junipero" episode of Netflix's "Black Mirror". Whenever someone tells me they're going to watch the series, I tell them to look out for it in the midst of their streaming binge. I can't quite articulate what gets to me so much about it, and I don't want to ramble on trying to here. So if I'd have to make a quick statement, it's the treatment of death and the afterlife... and the deepest hopes we have for it. I cry similarly at parts of "Inception", watching Marion Cotillard's Mal become so engrossed with the dream world- a place of love...

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Lent- Day 15: I wish I was a little bit taller.


Skee-lo, I wish I were taller, too. (Image Source: Genius)

 

While sipping my morning coffee, I caught this past Sunday's episode of "The Simpsons" entitled "22 for 30" (Incidentally, I'm a fan of ESPN's "30 for 30", which this spoofed. I'm a huge documentary nerd). In the opening minutes, we see a montage of Bart, stuck in detention, shooing crumpled wads of paper into a trash can, quickly gaining major shooting skills. Over the scene, Skee-lo's 1995 hit "I Wish" played. If you need a refresher, here you go:

 

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Lent- Day 14: You just call on me brother, when you need a hand.

Me receiving IVIG at home in 2012. I've been part of The Least of These for over five years now.

 

Despite (or maybe IN SPITE of) a number of Christians publically proclaiming the greatness of Ayn Rand, (I'm looking at you, Paul Ryan), I've been struggling for the last few years with how so many are so anti-ACA. I'm not talking about those who have issues with the contraception mandate, either. Or the ones who are struggling with newly-raised insurance premiums. No,I mean the ones who are against it because it will lead to dependency on government, as if that is the real public health crisis, right up there with heroin or crystal meth addiction.

 

Over at Religion News Service, Tom Krattenmaker questions the ethics of the...

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Lent- Day 13: Stay Weird.

Yup, we're weird. Maybe even Carrie just before getting that bucket of pig's blood dumped on her-type weird. Or maybe the after. Most definitely after if you're Pentecostal. (Sissy Spacek in "Carrie". Image Source: Memorable TV)

 

A few chapters into Rachel Held Evans' 2015 book "Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church", this passage just jumped out at me this morning:

Death and resurrection. It’s the impossibility around which every other impossibility of the Christian faith orbits. Baptism declares that God is in the business of bringing dead things back to life, so if you want in on God’s business, you better prepare to follow God to all the rock-bottom, scorched-earth, dead-on-arrival corners of this world—

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Lent- Day 12: Of "Feud" and deceit.


Jessica Lange as Joan Crawford and Susan Sarandon as Bette Davis in "Feud: Bette and Joan" (FX)

 

I have a thing for Classic Hollywood. "Singin' in The Rain", "North by Northwest", "Double Indemnity", "Carmen Jones", "The Seven Year Itch", "It's A Wonderful Life"- there is something so wonderful about the films of the 1940s and 50s.

There is also something to the films of the 60s and 70s, too, but something decidedly different. With the collapse of the Old Hollywood studio system and the massive changes in society concerning sex, civil rights and technology, the movies tended to be less polished formality and more... "The Graduate". Goodbye George Bailey, helloooo Mrs. Robinson.

And crammed right between the time of A-line crinoline...

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Lent- Day 11: For the love of money.

LAUREN GREENFIELD IMAGE FROM THE ANNENBERG SPACE FOR PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBITION LAUREN GREENFIELDS GENERATION WEALTH

 

"Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless." -Ecclesiastes 5:10

 

Check out this story by Priscilla Frank from the Huffington Post on photographer Lauren Greenfield, who has spent 25 years photographing our society-wide obsession with wealth, money and possessions.

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Lent- Second Sunday: Blessings.


(Image Source: Genius)

 

"If I ever took a loss, I learned a lesson"
"Blessings", Lecrae

 

I lost three followers from this blog's Facebook page over the past week and a half- you know, since I started these daily Lenten posts. Ha.

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Lent- Day 10: Happily Never After?

Chidi (William Jackson Harper) and Elanor (Kristen Bell), "soulmates" in NBC's The Good Place (Image Source: Vulture)

 

Alright, after yesterday's start in the 1990s before heading back to the 1690s, it's time we head back to the present, also known as "The Dumpster Fire That Started in 2016 But Has Not Been Extinguished Yet", or 2017 for short. I was talking to my friend Kiki a few hours ago (at this point, Kiki needs to be recognized for not just continually encouraging me to blog, but also providing me with topical material on which to do so), and we formed an instantaneous, mutual admiration society for The Good Place, the Kristen Bell-Ted Danson comedy that premiered on NBC last fall. If you haven't seen it, you...

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Lent- Day 9: I wonder if Heaven has a ghetto.


Tupac Shakur (Image: Flickr Zennie62/ Creative Commons)

 

Yesterday, I went back to 1997, and before I head Back to the Future, I want to stop off in October when Tupac's first posthumous single, "I Wonder if Heaven Got A Ghetto"" was released. 

My Mom shook her head at it incredulously. "Of course Heaven won't have a ghetto! If it did, it wouldn't be heaven!" I'd laugh at her repeated response, and actually the fact she was even listening to Tupac along with me at all. But something about the song simultaneously fascinated and frightened me. A segregated Heaven- even if filled with some of the best musicians and singers and chock full of very worldly pleasures- wasn't Heaven. Was it?

 

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Lent- Day 8: Ready to Die.


Christopher Wallace, A.K.A., Biggie Smalls (Image Source)

 

Today marks the twentieth anniversary of the death of rapper Biggie Smalls, the Notorious B.I.G. It's bizarre to me that it's been two decades already. Perhaps even more jarring is the fact I've outlived him by over a decade since he was only 24 when killed. His murder remains unsolved, and continues to generate controversy. From Complex:

 

The identity of the person who murdered Notorious B.I.G. is one of hip-hop’s greatest unsolved mysteries. Christopher Wallace was gunned down in a Los Angeles drive-by March 9, 1997 while sitting in a Chevy Suburban. He had performed earlier that night at the Soul Train Awards.

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Lent- Day 7: You say acquiescence, I say injustice.

One of Martin Luther King's mug shots. (Image source.)

 

I had IVIG infusion treatment, and my nurse Charlie shared with me about his time serving in the military in the early 60s. At one point, while stationed in Germany, he was detailed to secure President John F. Kennedy (the same trip during which he made his famous "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech). He even met the 35th POTUS, who asked, "So young man, from what part of the country are you?" I was amazed by this memory, although Charlie seemed blase about it. He liked Kennedy, and mourned his assasination a few months after their meeting. But the circumstances of that meeting was all a part of his duty to serve.

 

However, his tone changed when he discussed another incident...

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Lent- Day 6: For all are trolls.


The gang from "Trolls", from the Dreamworks site.

 

Admit it: At one point or another, you have probably said something unpleasant online that you later regretted—and that you wouldn’t have said in person. It might have seemed justified, but to someone else, it probably felt inappropriate, egregious or like a personal attack.


In other words, you were a troll.

 

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Lent- Day 5: Scandalous.

Mary Astor. Image via Public Domain.

 

"Extortion turns a wise person into a fool, and a bribe corrupts the heart."

- Ecclesiastes 7:7

 

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Lent- First Sunday.

(Image Source)

 

Happy Sunday. Today I'll just leave you with Hillsong UNITED's Billboard topping megahit, "Oceans (Where Feet My Fail)", and an invitation to send any prayer requests you may have to me confidentially at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or leave them in a comment. 

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Lent- Day 4: Missing.

(Podcast art for Missing Richard Simmons)

 

Have you heard about the new podcast Missing Richard Simmons? I listened to the first three installments this morning and am hooked. Not since the first season of Serial have I been so sucked into a podcast, glued to my iTunes the way I imagine Americans would gather around a shined-up wooden radio cabinet in the 1930s to listen to Our Gal Sunday or Amos 'n' Andy (without the latter's controversial racism).

Well, it's not that Missing is without some controversy of its own, though. Writing for Vulture, Nicholas Quah praises it, but hits hard at the potential ethical conundrum that is at the very core of the show:

 

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Lent- Day 3: Buy truth, don't sell it.

(Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz in "I Love Lucy", via Google Images)

 

I just finished the Audible version of "Lucy and Desi: The Legendary Love Story of Television's Most Famous Couple" (a great listen, even for casual fans of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz). One part that stuck out was Lucy's turn to the teachings of Norman Vincent Peale as "I Love Lucy" became a megahit in the early 1950s. 

According to the book, although Lucy had been in acting in Hollywood films since the 1930s, she was never a big star. Relegated to mostly B-films, she enjoyed pretty steady work, but never became a household name. That is until "I Love Lucy" aired and was a ratings smash on the nascent CBS television network. Ball began doubting her sudden...

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