Archive for September, 2011

400th Anniversary

Did you know that 2011 was the 400th anniversary of the King James version of the bible? Yeah, me neither until my lovely father-in-law informed me of the occasion. Not only did he inform me, he asked me to make a cake to celebrate! So, for their visit back at the beginning of August, we ate chocolate cake and took a quiz about the history of the King James bible. It seems that one of Bill’s favorite past-times is celebrating random holidays and occasions that the rest of the world overlooks (such as flag day, for example). But I’m not complaining. Any excuse to make a cake : )


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What a weird day comprised of a mixture of sentimental memory, incoherent media drivel on ‘the proper way to remember’, and this odd inclination to assess the last 10 years of my own life because that seems to be what everyone else is doing. I’m doing everything in my power to resist this virtual ceremony that the forces of an imaginary collective ‘we’ are telling me to participate and ¬†remember only in the ‘safe’ way that they want me to. Does a memory wrapped up in the constantly deployed slogans of ‘an attack on freedom’ or ‘those people died for all of us’ really help us to make sense of the last 10 years? Does it really honor the departed to find some way to make death itself (of course only ‘our’ deaths) meaningful?

I’m trying to resist. And I’m trying to remember truthfully. I’m trying to remember that 9/11/01 really changed nothing in a world where state and cultural power function so that enemies necessarily exist and war is a never-ending reality. (Perhaps the only thing it really changed is that these power concentrations were exasperated.) I’m trying to remember that we are all complicit in the conditions that led a group of nihilistic murderers to kill 3000 people on that day. I’m trying to remember that in the wake of that event, thousands of American troops have been meaninglessly killed in wars in which hundreds of thousands of innocent people have died at the hands of an imperialistic force fueled by the idolatrous and blind support of handing over to Demigods the rights to protect us and our ‘right to shop’ (thanks George W.!) ‘by any means necessary’. I’m trying to remember that 10 years ago today I was already in the thick of guilt.

Perhaps the only way to remember on this day is to, in a sense, not remember, but to look ahead into the future and see it as being opened up by God’s disruptive and surprising action that rips apart the idea that we have the ability to bring God’s Kingdom to ourselves and to others. This is not to forget that horrible day 10 years ago, but to see it in the light of Christ’s future that breaks into the past, that reveals history as residing under his Lordship and uncovers the grace that frees us from being locked into a past that tells us that the way things have turned out is the way things have to be.

As Franz Fanon observes, true freedom resides in the ability to resist the chains of a history that has been written for us: “I am not a prisoner of History. I must not look for the meaning of my destiny in that direction. I must constantly remind myself that the real leap consists of introducing invention into life. In the world I am heading for, I am endlessly creating myself.” The forces that are trying to write our history for us seem to be uncharacteristically visible today (they usually try to remain deceptively hidden). On this day, though it seems almost impossible as I sit here writing, interrupted every few minutes by a stupid inclination to check Facebook in order to see who’s remembering and who’s not, I am trying to remember that my very existence (past, present, and future) is continuously being invented anew by Christ, and that in him we are not prisoners of History but captives set free to live into a future that is gracefully disrupting our efforts to secure history for ourselves and contain it (and remember it) for our own distorted desires and purposes.



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