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April 13th, 2006


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10:33 pm - Maundy Thurdsay musings
I just got back from the service at my church. It was fantastic. I've been going here for about 2 1/2 years, and never before tonight have I felt such a sense of family while in one of the large services (we have a few thousand members at least). There was the traditional foot-washing, which is really an astonishingly humbling thing to have done to you; and there was the Lord's Supper, not just individually but in groups (Presbyterian church, okay?), serving each other the body and blood of Christ. And there was music, and singing, and readings of the Word, and (because this is Hollywood and we have many actors in our congregation) a dramatic monologue.

It may not sound like much, summarized like that, but it has been a long time since I had that sense of being related to everybody in the room--not just as human beings, but as close blood relatives. "Sister" and "brother" seemed like they should be the natural address to each person there.

It was really awesome.

~~~~~

Also related to the day, I want to try and finish that series of midrash fics I started last year. I did one for Maundy Thursday, which I link to here: In the Grove, and I did one for Good Friday, which I think I need to tweak and repost tomorrow. Hopefully I can manage Holy Saturday and then Sunday itself this year, and have all four.

"Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet."
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Comments:


[User Picture]
From:jn_oscargrouch
Date:April 14th, 2006 06:11 am (UTC)
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It was very cool! I loved the choir singing "Messiah", which made me feel guilty for not being up there singing with them, because, well, I sang the Easter part of "Messiah" in my college choir.

Anyhow, the final hymn brought me to tears. It was nice, because most of the people in our small group were like, "What's Maundy Thursday," something I've done in church since I was a child...growing up Lutheran and all. It was very nice to be a part of it.
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:April 14th, 2006 04:22 pm (UTC)
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It was nice, because most of the people in our small group were like, "What's Maundy Thursday," something I've done in church since I was a child...growing up Lutheran and all. It was very nice to be a part of it.

Being raised charismatic-Protestant (Vineyard), I had to hear about such church holy days by reading Anglican and Catholic authors in high school. They've come to mean a lot to me, though, and I keep Lent and celebrate all of Holy Week now.
[User Picture]
From:lizamanynames
Date:April 14th, 2006 11:14 am (UTC)
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Oh, WOW.
[User Picture]
From:vertigozooropa
Date:April 14th, 2006 12:56 pm (UTC)
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I had to look up Maundy Thursday on Wikipedia. I'd never heard of it before, except on your LJ.

Now, what's a "midrash" fic?
[User Picture]
From:jd3000
Date:April 14th, 2006 04:12 pm (UTC)
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Bible fanfic, to put it abruptly. :-)

-JD
[User Picture]
From:vertigozooropa
Date:April 14th, 2006 05:25 pm (UTC)
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And, to put this abruptly, WTF?!

WHAT THE FLAMING F-WORD?!

I think you'll have to abruptly repeat that.
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:April 14th, 2006 04:28 pm (UTC)
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Wow, Dan, you have missed out on some good stuff if you haven't read anything that referenced the days of Holy Week. I'm really tempted to send you some essays by Madeleine L'Engle (who is Anglican)--she's half storyteller/half poet, and her works were the first place I really started to understand that there is something worth thinking about in the church holidays.

"Midrash" is a Hebrew term, I believe. Bascially, as JD says, it's stories that are not actual Bibilcal canon, but are told as if they might be. Extra-canonical stories...Bible fanfic, essentially.

The dramatic monologue in the service last night is actually a good example. It was from the point of view of a mother who had just seen her son die by crucifixtion--we think it's Mary, but it turns out to be the mother of the theif who asked Jesus to "remember me, when you come into your kingdom."
[User Picture]
From:vertigozooropa
Date:April 14th, 2006 05:27 pm (UTC)
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Umm...kay.

Think I'll tone down my overreaction one peg.

But only one.

It's a little weird.
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:April 14th, 2006 05:48 pm (UTC)
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*snerk*

Yes, I know it's a little weird. And it could, of course, be potentially heretical and so on and so forth. I don't blame any Christian who RUNS FAR AWAY from this idea (even though the Jews have been writing this kind of stuff for a while, long before fanfic).

However, I find it's also a really great way to get inside a Bible story and understand it a little more. Not to mention that coming at a story from a slightly different direction often gives the story more weight and brings it more alive in our minds and hearts than just hearing the same words over and over again.

So, yes, a little weird--but possibly rather neat, too.
[User Picture]
From:jd3000
Date:April 14th, 2006 05:54 pm (UTC)
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Actually, I sort of retract my comments of a minute ago, poor choice of words. Explanatory narrative, describing what a particular account says in different words doesn't bother me really, it's the getting inside of the characters' heads, exploring their motivations and thoughts by their dialogue and writing new thought processes. All we know of how people like Paul and David thought are their actions and writings, and that's considerable, but actually *writing* them as if they were fictional characters seems chintzy to me.

-JD
[User Picture]
From:jd3000
Date:April 14th, 2006 05:49 pm (UTC)
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I'm uneasy about it as well. I do believe scriptural accounts should be analyzed and meditated upon, but to try to create explanatory narrative of actual, literal Bible history...*shakes head* Sorry, Sare.

-JD
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:April 14th, 2006 06:03 pm (UTC)
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I seriously am not sure why you, of all people, would object to this. Biblical personages (Jesus excepted, perhaps) were just human beings like us--I mean, seriously, someone like King David proved it in spades from his writings, and from the actions that are reported of him. I don't see any seriously good reason why there shouldn't be attempts to use our imaginations as well as the rest of our minds to understand these stories as well as any others.

As long as we understand that it's only our interpretation (which is true in a sense of any thoughts we have about Scripture), I don't see a problem.

"This is also Thou, yet neither is this Thou," as one of my favorite fictional characters says about beautiful things in the physical world, reminding himself that they point towards God, but are not God.
[User Picture]
From:jd3000
Date:April 14th, 2006 06:19 pm (UTC)
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Biblical personages (Jesus excepted, perhaps) were just human beings like us--I mean, seriously, someone like King David proved it in spades from his writings, and from the actions that are reported of him.

Oh, absolutely. I'm not trying to hold them up to some sort of demigod status, where their motivations and actions can't be questioned, talked about, thought about. That would be the utmost folly if we are to use their examples as a guideline to show us how we should watch our actions and attitudes so as to serve God righteously and to keep from falling into deliberate sin.

I don't see any seriously good reason why there shouldn't be attempts to use our imaginations as well as the rest of our minds to understand these stories as well as any others. As long as we understand that it's only our interpretation (which is true in a sense of any thoughts we have about Scripture), I don't see a problem.

Now, I suppose there's an element of truth in what you say. We should meditate on the lessons of the Scriptures, and that includes allowing the trials and situations of Biblical personages to come alive to us, as it were. I suppose just the juxtaposition of writing stories about our own interpretation can seem to be sullied by association with the greater genre of fanfic writing. It seems to depict a sort of irreverence, not that I'm saying that's what's intended. I suppose what I mean is that I feel such personal depictions of Biblical events should be just that, individual and personal.

I'm sorry, I really didn't mean to have this discussion. :-) Discretion (and keeping one's opinions, when unimportant and unsolicited, to oneself) is the better part of valor.

-JD
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:April 14th, 2006 06:34 pm (UTC)
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Oh, absolutely. I'm not trying to hold them up to some sort of demigod status, where their motivations and actions can't be questioned, talked about, thought about.

Okay, just checking. ;-)

I suppose just the juxtaposition of writing stories about our own interpretation can seem to be sullied by association with the greater genre of fanfic writing. It seems to depict a sort of irreverence, not that I'm saying that's what's intended.

Yeah, I can see what you're saying. Part of my ready acceptance may be due to my double attitude towards fan fiction. On one hand, a lot of fic *is* irreverent, wrong, disgusting, or scary. On the other hand, some fic stays so true to the canon source, and is so true and so moving and so perfect even if I'd never thought of it quite that way, that I would call it one of the highest forms of respect a writer such as myself can pay to the source.

*shrug*

And don't apologize for your opinions! I wanted to know. :-)

Oh, btw, how do you feel about historical novels in general (aside from alt. hist., which is its own fun thing)?
[User Picture]
From:jd3000
Date:April 14th, 2006 07:03 pm (UTC)
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Oh, btw, how do you feel about historical novels in general (aside from alt. hist., which is its own fun thing)?

I think it's great. The volume of human history involves so much potential for engaging stories to come out, I'm amazed there the genre isn't as large and well-embraced as it could be.

I suppose when it starts relating to worship I adopt a more reserved attitude. :-D

-JD
From:(Anonymous)
Date:April 14th, 2006 08:06 pm (UTC)
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I suppose when it starts relating to worship I adopt a more reserved attitude. :-D

Well, *that's* not necessarily a bad thing, in this age where nothing is sacred.

And I do enjoy the occasional historical novel--have you ever read "Traveller", by Richard Adams? The Civil War, from the POV of Robert E. Lee's horse. It's fantastic. (This is the author who gave us Watership Down.)
[User Picture]
From:jd3000
Date:April 14th, 2006 08:21 pm (UTC)
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That sounds cool, I may have to look into that!

-JD
[User Picture]
From:vertigozooropa
Date:April 14th, 2006 07:03 pm (UTC)
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I'm not sure what my opinions are of this.

On the one hand, the idea of exploring the rest of Jesus' life intrigues me (I sometimes wonder when exactly it was that Jesus realized who he was. And what was going on inside of him at different points in his life?), yet on the other, it creeps me out in a way only religious controversies can.

I'm not a big fan of religion or religions. I despise religiosity.

And yet, I'm not sure I like it when people mess around with Bible stories. Maybe it's just my mood.

Have you read Anne Rice's Jesus novel? What about Walter Wangerin Jr.'s? Both of them are noted authors. Rice, I'm told, took as her source the apocryphal (heretical) gospels, and included some uncharacteristic stories about Jesus, such as the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, in which Jesus kills a bully with a miracle. Rice became a Christian in the last few years, and has devoted herself to writing Christian stories from now on. She seems to be acting somewhat careless, though.

And it's the carelessness that I object to. Why would I want to read a story about my Jesus, if it isn't true? Or at the very least theoreticaly possibly accurate?

I think stories about people who were there, reflecting on what they see (though this is a limited genre) are fine to write. It's when you start writing The Further Adventures of Elijah that....

Well, frankly, there's not a single thing separating that sort of thing from actual heretical apocrypha throughout history. Those were all fictional accounts, too. Maybe they were written as true, and maybe they were written as midrash.

Let's not forget that The Da Vinci Code was 100% tongue-in-cheek fiction, until Dan Brown realized he could tell people it was true and sell 100 times as many books.

It's a sticky subject, all around. It doesn't help to call it fanfic, though. Fanfic is a step away from slashfic, and Biblical slashfic is...

Well, The Da Vinci Code.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:April 14th, 2006 08:21 pm (UTC)
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Have you read Anne Rice's Jesus novel?

No, not yet. Although Rice, at least in the interview I saw with her, seems to have a pretty mature view of Christian artistic spirituality--the kind of view that I really wish some of the Act One people would get. The interviewer asked her if "her version was 'the right one'." Rice kind of laughed, and said, no, of course not. It's just the way she sees it, as a story, at this point in her journey to know Christ. She was very humble about it all, which I did not expect--she used to be notorious for not letting even editors "mess with" her work.

I think stories about people who were there, reflecting on what they see (though this is a limited genre) are fine to write. It's when you start writing The Further Adventures of Elijah that....

I can see making a distiction there. My midrash fics are more the first kind--the four days immediately preceeding and after the crucifixtion, from John(the disciple)'s point of view.

The Passion of the Christ is a tiny bit of both, imho.

Well, frankly, there's not a single thing separating that sort of thing from actual heretical apocrypha throughout history. Those were all fictional accounts, too. Maybe they were written as true, and maybe they were written as midrash.

We may never know. The point there is that people were trying to push them as historical and true in that sense, and the church had to step in and say, um, no--just as I might if someone insisted that, say, Sinclair/Delenn actually happened in Babylon 5.

Actually, intent may seperate them. Not that one can measure intent, but still....

It doesn't help to call it fanfic, though. Fanfic is a step away from slashfic,

Well, it's an analogy that some people might find helpful. I know that people online have been likening the Gospel of Judas to Harry/Draco fic (an comparision that made me laugh), so sometimes the comparison has really useful potential.

Also? I'm mildly offened that you can only speak of fanfic as being "a step away from slashfic." That's not quite accurate; slashfic is what happens (one of the things that happens) when fanfic gets corrupted. Fanfic itself need not go there, nor is it the reason for writing fanfic. Not for a lot of people I know, anyway.

and Biblical slashfic is... Well, The Da Vinci Code.

*dies laughing* Sometimes I really love you, Dan. That's awesome.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:April 14th, 2006 08:13 pm (UTC)
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Wow. Interesting conversation. And reminds me of many church dramas I've been involved with.

One of the very best was a play called "The Lower Room." It takes a look at what might have been going on with the women in the lower room while Jesus and The Twelve were in the Upper Room. I played Magdalena (since there were so many Marys involved, each Mary had a variation of the name, with Mary the Mother of Jesus being "Mary"). It was, of course, a "what might have happened," i.e., fiction, but the parts that dealt with Biblical accounts were solid. My monologue about the empty tomb was very accurate to Scripture (I checked to see where the playwright got her details from), and I learned so much about Mary Magdalene by doing this production. And as an actress and a Christian, one of the most awesome revelations was when I was practicing my monologue by myself and replaced Magdalena's name with my own, making the story personal.

I directed a one-act play called "Mountaintop," about Abraham's taking Isaac to Moriah to sacrifice. Toward the end of the play there's a wonderful little monologue in which Isaac describes a dream about a man who came to save him from sacrifice. Best line in the play is when this man tells Isaac, "You see, you and your Dad were the dress rehearsal. My Father and I . . . we have to go through with it." The dream, of course, isn't Biblical, but it's a moving dramatic device through which to convey the ultimate theme of the play.

In fact, my exposure to fic has actually improved my appreciation for Biblical narrative. The story of Jonathan and his shieldbearer should make any buddy-fic fan downright gleeful. David and Jonathan are an excellent example of a "buddy team." I think one of the things that bothers me most is that people who don't seem to be at all interested in the Bible will devour things like the gnostic gospels and The Da Vinci Code.

So, not that my opinion counts for a hill of beans but . . . yeah, "Biblical fanfic" sounds . . . odd, to say the least, and a little discomfitting. But Sarah, you know what a stickler I am for canon, so if a piece of fiction that's based on the Bible is canonically sound, with solid scholastic research, there's a lot that can be learned from such things.

Blessed Good Friday,
V.

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