Wednesday, June 2, 2010


I've been thinking about what "Terabithia" means and its significance, not just in the book by Katherine Paterson, but more broadly in life. In the meantime, a meaningful quote:

"It ain't beautiful," May Belle broke in. "It's scary. Nailing holes right through somebody's hand."
"May Belle's right." Jess reach down in to the deepest pit of his mind. "It's because we're all vile sinners God made Jesus die."
"Do you think that' true?"
He was shocked. "It's in the Bible, Leslie."
She looked at him as if she were going to argue, then seemed to changer her mind. "It's crazy, isn't it?" She shook her head. "You have to believe it, but you hate it. I don't have to believe it, and I think it's beautiful." She shook her head again. "It's crazy."

In Spiritual Depression, Loyd-Jones writes about the dismal attitude of many Christians. Here, as the character Leslie describes it, I'm not sure which is worse. The passage says more about human nature I think than it does about the nature of faith. There are many people, perhaps in this country many more people, who stand in Leslie's position, on the outside looking in at a beautiful story or set of teachings rather than under the compulsion of cultural religion. But who can stand both in the beauty and the fear of this story, a God made sacrifice?

Later in the story, after the tragic death of Leslie, Jess discusses the loss with her father:

Finally his father said, "Hell, ain't it?" It was the kind of thing Jess could hear his father saying to another man. He found it strangely comforting, and it made him bold. 
"Do you believe people go to hell, really go to hell, I mean?"
"You ain't worrying about Leslie Burke?"
It did seem peculiar, but still- "Well, May Belle said..."
"May Belle? May Belle ain't God."
"Yeah, but how do you know what God does?"
"Lord, boy, don't be a fool. God ain't gonna send any little girls to hell." 

Would he? It does indeed seem rather foolish to think so. The power of literature is that it can take something that may have thus far been an abstract issue in life and make it a bit real, even if only to the imagination. 

Jess doesn't take any chances, at any rate. Maybe that's what the bridge is all about. A bridge to Terabithia -salvation wrought with human hands.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Fact or Fiction

It was only the second day into our trip and we didn’t have the battle scars to prove much of anything. Just three scrawny kids, obviously brothers, riding bikes rescued from Goodwill.  Of course people wouldn’t believe us.

We fell asleep to the patter of rain which had mercifully held off long enough for us to discover that our untested camp stove didn’t work. We got dinner at the gas station instead and then headed back down the road and into some woods where our tent was. Three teenage boys in a two person dome tent would take some getting used to, but for the moment, we were sufficiently exhausted.

When we got back to the gas station the next morning one brother started doing Tai Chi in the middle of the parking lot while the other washed up in the bathroom around the back of the snack shop. I ate two Hostess fruit pies, staving off any chance of a caloric deficit with breakfast alone.

That’s when we got that question for the first time, “You guys are biking where?” We explained that we had started in Atlantic City, NJ – yesterday actually –but we were headed to the Pacific Ocean. Maybe our own incredulity was what inspired a lack of confidence. But it had to have been our otherwise absolute appearance of earnestness that made up their minds. “You are definitely smoking something. Well, good luck!”

Journalistic Restraint

Bonnie Berkowitz writes in the Washington Post "In Louisiana, damage from the oil spill can be deceiving"

In the article, Berkowitz describes how at first glance, the Louisiana coast doesn't appear all that damaged. The oil is not obviously devastating, but perniciously present -everywhere. The slow choke will be much more terrible than the flash of flames that began it all.
As I read, I was refreshed to be reading an honest REPORT of someone's experience rather than a sensational GLOSS. This is journalistic restraint. As a journalist, it is so tempting to tell a story with the way you want your reader to think of it at the forefront. Because you think the oil spill is a tragedy, you want to make it seem as tragic as possible. Because you think people should be outraged, you are tempted to report only the outrageous. It is a subtle form of professional arrogance that perpetuates this idea that the reader needs to be schooled in what to think rather than simply given the facts to think about.

The Gulf oil spill is indeed a tragedy. It needs no gloss.