I am imagining the soldier who drove the nails, clambering around or across the body, straddling and stretching to reach the hands, trying to avoid seeing the face and eyes, ignoring the eternal life line dividing the palms from fingers down to wrists, glimpsing the lips moving silently, mouthing words not meant for ears to hear; And I’m wondering how many keepers of reliquaries claim to own those nails, or perhaps even the letter home written by the nailer or some other soldier ordered later to do his duty and pull them out.
Time’s Visitor feels time upon his head. Tuesday of Holy Week. Sunday’s parade. Monday’s prophetic Temple escapade. And three days hence “beloved son” is dead. (This was the designation Mark had heard From Peter’s lips: “Christ said ‘beloved son.’”) Now, since his earthly race is nearly done, No calembour must cloud Messiah’s word. So we require no fancy exegesis, Creation’s gifts are here; the Covenant; Moses; the prophets; foul sin’s great affront; Pater absconditus, Father of Jesus. He knew the issue of these words, so clear, He even knew the time of chanticleer.
If there is a movie that can make you feel optimistic about the possibilities of forming community in America, Dave Chappelle’s Block Party is it. In September 2004 Chappelle, an African-American stand-up comic, celebrated his $50 million contract with Comedy Central by throwing a free hip-hop party in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
He rose again. His face was black and bruised. The underground famine had gnawed its gloss. Where I have been, you could not live to tell. First, his women returned, and then his friends. They reached to press their fingers to his scar. Do not touch me, he scolded crossly, cold as Christ. Instead, they stroked the air, feeling by degree for what had changed. But new moods bloomed from his skin and from his bristle. He spit upon the ground and then he cursed. He did not walk towards the light, he walked away. And the lock-jaw mouth of the grave stayed agape, misgiving. As if it did not know: Dead does not mean dead forever.
The British band Delirious has always been smart, drawing comparisons to U2, Radiohead and Blur. With the album The Mission Bell, the band shoots for added lyrical depth and force. “Our God Reigns,” a key-of-D dirge built around spare acoustic guitar, keyboards and thunderous percussion, may be the hardest-hitting piece, tacking issues like abortion and the AIDS pandemic. (“My Chinese take away/ Could pay for someone’s drugs.”) “Love Is a Miracle” alternates between smoldering, soulful verses and wide-open, gospel-flavored choruses, while “Paint the Town Red” rocks as hard as anything Delirious has ever cut.
We practiced at “The Decontam”— clumsy name for an ugly place—bare concrete rooms buried beneath a protective pyramid mound of soil, turf, and God knows what, designated sanctuary nonetheless for any unlucky enough “in the event of nuclear attack” to survive the initial blast and burn to reach this subterranean space of hollow refuge. The Station Decontamination Centre—to rhyme the place in full, an—as yet—unfrequented location (praises be . . .) where, Tuesday nights, an ill-assorted crew of horns and woodwinds—sackbuts, cornets, clarinets, even the occasional bassoon—would fumble-stumble along through “Colonel Bogey,” “The RAF March Past,” old favorites from Gilbert and Sullivan, “Chu Chin Chow,” and Noel Coward, rehearsing for the CO’s garden party, full-dress dinner evenings at the Mess. They echoed so, those naked rooms and sounding corridors, as if our music might drown out—yes, decontaminate—the cold, blind fury cradled tight beneath the wings of our sleek avenging bombers; full squadrons perched above in laden readiness, paying no heed to our hapless melodies and marches.
Philosopher Michael Ruse is an ardent evolutionist and unbeliever, but he often comes to the defense of believers who are under fire from militant atheists like Richard Dawkins. Ruse says his sympathetic stance toward religion is partly due to his Quaker upbringing. “I grew up surrounded by gentle, loving (and very intelligent) Christians. I never forget that,” said Ruse. He also objects to what he regards as bad atheist arguments. Evolution explains the existence of religion as an adaptive mechanism, but that doesn’t necessarily explain it away. “It is as plausible that my love of Mozart’s operas is a byproduct of adaptation, but it doesn’t make them any the less beautiful and meaningful,” Ruse said (New York Times interview, July 8).