Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Just When America Seemed Lost to the Grouchs

America Again: Re-becoming the Greatness We Never Weren'tAmerica Again: Re-becoming the Greatness We Never Weren't by Stephen Colbert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Certainly any fan of the The Colbert Report is going to enjoy this book, a zany extension of the television show. But will it be funny to those who don't watch the program? I suppose that depends on how much the reader is comfortable with satire. More and more people seem to take everything literally (thank you arts cutting jerks and literature killing legislators!), so I can't be sure.

I can say that I thought the book was very funny. Perhaps not as hilarious as the show, but funny nonetheless. Chapters on Jobs, Healthcare, and Elections will have fans of the show rolling. But I also enjoyed the sections on Food, Wall Street, and the chapter that should have ended the book "Easy Solutions." (The hysterical "I Am Drunk" chapter, I think, should have been in the middle of the book instead of at the end.)

All in all, this was a fun read. If there is anything Americans really need, it's more laughter. America Again delivers plenty of that.

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Monday, November 19, 2012

Meditation XXV -- Weeping

Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled.

The resurrection of Lazarus is one of the most significant parts of the Gospel. Here we see the power of God to triumph over what seems final: death. Here the story of Christ's ministry turns as the chief priests and Pharisees no longer can abide with Him as a prophet and miracle worker, but now see Him as a credible threat to them and their "way of life." Here we see the God who took on our humanity and wept with grief.

We see something else: God who is troubled by our pain. Not only the pain of losing a loved one, but the pain that causes us to set a face to God as say "If only." If only God had done something else or been with us or handled things differently. Some of us don't want to question God, but our hearts betray us. We know God could have kept us and others from that pain, no matter what that pain was. Some of us will say, "Well, God has a plan in this tragedy," but that is little comfort to one who has lost so much or one who suffers so greatly.

Jesus knew what He was going to do (and not do) when He heard of the illness of his friend. Even as He tried to explain His actions to his disciples, he was met with confusion. Sweet Thomas, best known for doubting, even said, "Let us also go, that we may die with him!" Jesus knew that God would be glorified. Jesus knew that Lazarus would be restored to his sisters and the mourners would rejoice. This did not stop Him from being "deeply moved" and "greatly troubled" by the hurting hearts and soul crushing grief he saw around Him.

God understands everything. Nothing escapes His grasp or His notice or His plans for the future. The Scriptures are filled with stories where God took the worst people and situations and made things right. (And most Christians are testimony to this as well.) However, it is also comforting to know, at least for me, that He also hurts along with me, not because I need to see the Lord suffer, but because He cares about my suffering, even as I wait for His redemption.

Jesus, You endured humiliation I could never stand up to and torture I could never endure. You fought death and won, and continue to win over and over. Thank You for this, and also for standing with us as we grieve and as we question and as we look to You for answers it is not time for you to give. Remind us of your Presence as we await the glorious resurrection to new life. Amen.