Saturday, April 28, 2007

Blood Diamond

Last night I watched the movie Blood Diamond, a story about conflict diamonds in Africa. The story follows the lives of a diamond smuggler from Zimbabwe and a fisherman from Sierra Leone that weave together over a giant pink diamond found in the mines. It was an excellent movie with a social and political message as well as a story of personal redemption.

The movie centers on the civil war raging in Sierra Leone… there are scenes of villages being overtaken, the rebels taking the capital city, captives in the mining camps, children forced into the army, a refugee camp of over a million people, and a foreign corporation that is profiting from it all. I remember thinking how grateful I was that I don’t live in that world. I can’t imagine being dragged out of my home and forced to flee with nothing but the clothes on my back. Living with the constant threat of violence.

Two things came to mind… first, could that sort of violence one day make its way here to the United States. What makes me think that this country or my home is immune to such a possibility? Perhaps it won’t be the violence of war. Perhaps it will be a natural disaster or an economic crash. Some in this country have lived with this reality. Would my life be different if I lived with the reality that all of this is transitory?

Second, how is it that this country has avoided civil war and/or genocide for so long? We are so often the ones that profit from the wars taking place overseas. How do I contribute to these wars by demanding an unlimited supply of oil, diamonds, or other natural resources? By refusing to carpool or take public transportation. By not recycling. By wanting everything new, fast, and convenient. Like having a DVD delivered to my home each week by mail so I can watch a movie such as Blood Diamond.

Will watching this movie change my life? Not as much as it should. But perhaps it will nudge me a little.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Personally, I prefer Lent...

I've decided that I am more of a Lent person than an Advent person. Advent involves anxious expectation, hope, blessing, joy, babies and families. I feel like most of this country lives an Advent life. Expecting blessing, assuming fulfillment, striving for an abundantly life (defined by our consumer culture, of course...) I am much more of a Lent person. Living in the unexpected, awaiting the impossible, unsure, doubtful, at times full of pain and suffering, a waiting that often fears the outcome rather that hopes for it.

Some of this has to do with my spiritual journey. I have lived with waiting that has moved beyond hope to the need for the miraculous. I have seen prayers go unanswered. I have been left wondering about God's presence. I have walked with those who may have never come to know Christ. I have walked with those who strive for faith but feel that they can never believe.

Some of this has to do with theological convictions. I believe that I live in a culture that remains in Advent and Christmas... perhaps not quite as God intended. One a bit more focused on hope and answered prayer. On blessing, gifts, and the presence of God. I believe, though, that there are so many in the world who live in the midst of Lent. Always waiting, always wondering. Living in the midst of suffering and violence. Living in faith amidst a world where we all question God's presence. Lent reminds me to walk alongside those who are suffering in this world. And to seek God's presence in those places.

And, I must be honest, much of this has to do with my personality. Some of us are just more Lenten, more melancholy, always lonely, always questioning, always a bit fearful. Much of my family has a Lenten streak. And so I feel much more at home in the midst of Lent. Not just because it allows me to live in the depths, but because it gives me language for Christ's presence there. In the darkest of hours, Christ was present, walking towards the cross. In the midst of the deepest emptiness, Christ's death. And on the otherside... the resurrection.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

A few more pictures from Copenhagen

Following our day in Vaxholm, we spent a final day wandering in Stockholm before flying west to Copenhagen. Our first day we wandered the Stroget, the main walking street, through shopping district, along the wharves at Nyhavn, and onto Amalienborg.

Bicycles everywhere! The major mode of transportation Copenhagen seems to be the bicycle. These filled the major square, Amagertov, surrounding the famous pelican fountain that sits in the center.

There are two major palaces in Copenhagen... this is Amalienborg. At the end of the plaza you can see Frederiks Church, the state Lutheran Church.

The guards, dressed in blue but with the same tall fuzzy black hats as in England, line up in the central plaza of Amalienborg and then march through the city to another palace. Unfortunately, I stepped into the Royal Copenhagen store minutes before they passed through Amagertov! Phillis said they procession was led by musicians and filled the square.

The following day we wandered in the other direction, towards the lights and industry of Copenhagen. Neon signs, more industrial looking buildings, just like any other downtown. We checked out a few stores before returning to the historic district.

In the midst of the city is Rundetarn, a tower that looms over the city providing spectacular views. There are no stairs up the tower, rather it is a sloped circular walkway to the top.

I had actually come to Copenhagen for a specific reason. Two years earlier on our flight back from Stockholm, five of us had been bumped from our flight on a layover in Copenhagen. We spent one night in the city... arriving at our beautiful hotel just as the sun was setting... unfortunately we spent a few hours trying to settle in, call home, and get dinner before wandering out on the streets of the city. It was a bit of a magical night... and my hope was to return to some of the sights we had seen that night. I remembered the Pelican Fountain in Amagertov, but I hadn't yet found the palace we had wandered through... that would wait until the last morning in Copenhagen... and my next blog.