Archive for April, 2008

for fans of the ‘saw’ and ‘hostel’ movies

You’ll get a real kick out of this.


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‘Between’ – a poem to be read slowly

Competing strands of gravity
swim within me.
Tensions like tides
pull and ply.

What would a scream do?
A little, lilting vibration in the air –
would that strengthen my pillars?
And it never has been.

All that is left-
to writhe.
To writhe and float
in the furnace of anxiety.
To bend and shake –
the audience will love the dance.

To buckle.

To buckle.
and quiver.
and go silent.

And then,
when the mourners have gladly dried their little tears,
and all have concluded –
‘he is dead’
‘he is gone’
‘our little man has left us’
‘but we can keep going,’ –
then, when silence has descended
upon the few passions that burned for me

I will unfold.
light and flowers.
and a child with sapphire eyes.

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kierkegaard’s sacrifice

Soren Kierkegaard is one of my favorite writers ever. His wit was razor sharp, he was painfully deep, and his passion for life was breathtaking. Though most people don’t really know who he is – mostly because his name has been carelessly lumped into the pile with other philosophers, something which he did not consider himself – every person living in the west believes certain things about religion, god, and faith because Kierkegaard believed it and wrote about it. He left a deep footprint in the terrain of humanity, even if most can’t tell whose footprint it is. In many ways, that footprint is so large we can’t even see it – we’re standing in it.

Another king of thinkers, Friedrich Nietzsche, called deep thinking wandering in the forbidden, and while Kierkegaard was making his trek through the dark, seductive woods of human existence, it became clear to him that the deepest personal attachment in his life to his fiance’, Regina Olsen, despite the happiness it brought him, was a fetter restraining him from his art of reforming and remaking the crumbling world around him. Upon this revelation, with fear and trembling, he broke the fetter and was freed, crying and bleeding, to leave those great footprints.

While some of us more than others will be faced with the fearsome opportunity to let go of what we love to seek we must – or otherwise live tiny, smiling, blase’ lives of happiness – Soren’s life can serve as a picture, from beginning to end, of that choice well-made. I’ve chosen to make similar choices, and often I’ve chosen the smaller, more palatable thing. For those of us who desire – or at least desire to desire – the greater thing, I think that Kierkegaard’s life can serve as an icon of the painful, beautiful, passionate, well-lived life of no regrets.


Here’s something

This is an email I got from a friend of mine who is living in India trying to set a light there by working with poor children. It presents an opportunity for you to really help a real deal person. These girls are solid people. I know them really well. Any help they get will really impact their kids, who are remarkably intelligent and eager to live meaningfully.


the school situation is not as easy in america as it is in india. we’ve got some dilemnas. this is a post that joy put on our facebook group page a few days ago. she explains the situation better than i do (and i’m tired of typing). please take the time to read it and remember our children. i’m stressed, and i can’t wait til april is over! but we know that God is making a way for our children. his heart is for them.

it’s back-to-school season here in india. …
and here in india, getting into school isn’t a simple matter of what city/township/district you reside in. there are innumerable public, private, or international schools in any given province. private schools are pretty much out of the question for our children: the amount of money and the number of identification documents necessary make these schools an impractical and unsustainable option. public schools are technically required to admit a certain quorom of dalit/slum/orphaned children per class (and offer them tuition concessions), but in reality they fill their seats with children from families who can afford to pay the monthly tuition fee in full.

which is why we so desperately hope that our children will gain admission into ryan international school, an institution distinguished by the progressive attitude of its leadership. ryan is known for its generous allowance for dalit kids, and has a warm relationship with the chhawla orphanage that jana and i love so fiercely. the catch: only the best and brightest make the cut. it’s been an infuriating game of tag with the leadership. all we want is an uninterrupted audience with the lady in charge and tell her that our kids need the right institution to bring out their full potential, that their learning capacities have actually accelerated under one-on-one instruction, and that the inroads we’ve made this year may be lost if they were handed over to a poorly staffed public school.

so that’s april for you. we’re kinda stressed about this. prem, the 14-year-old, asks us on a daily basis what’s up with the school situation. his parents only allowed him to come to asha mission under the condition that he would matriculate in a real school; if he’s unable to get in anywhere, there will be severe reprisals back home. but hope with us: hope that we will find favor with schools in our area; hope that we will find schools with bus stops in our village; hope that we will find administrators willing to offer generous tuition concessions for our children; hope that our children will break into the school system so that they can at least get that first vital document. once they get a school certificate, they’ll be qualified to try to transfer into ryan international next year.

we’ll update during the next few weeks as we continue to contact schools in the area. for now, public school monthly fees hover between 300 and 500 rupees, less than twelve bucks a month– if you’re interested in spotting a child and making a serious investment in their future, you should definitely consider this. thanks for reading and loving.


post note: good news today! we got our first admissions for 4 of our kids! prem, suseela, shehnaz, and ramlal are all going to pushbanjeli public school! we were dancing out of the office. the girls were giddy. and prem was just happy he wasn’t put in a class too far behind his age. hopefully we’ll have all the paperwork we need for this to be solidified. we’re still waiting on ryan int’l to call us. that’s gonna take a miracle, but there are several of our kids who we know could do exeedingly well there. pray!!! thank you!

jana quigley

c/o jana quigley
Asha Mission Childrens Home
Village– Bijwasan
Post Office–Bijwasan
near pinki furniture shop
Old Chowpal Road
New Delhi– 110061

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Yet another reason why Google rocks

These guys are really a paradigm of excellence in most every way. In my mind, Google (along with Starbucks) really sets the standard for excellence as a mega corporation. They haven’t compromised their vision, they have a relentless commitment to excellence, they’re passionate about what they do, and they care about people. Awesome.

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A thought on movies and the heart

People gravitate toward the objects of their desires. That statement in itself probably isn’t nuanced enough for our immediate adoption though. I’d refine it to say that people gravitate toward the fulfillment of their desires. This holds for art especially – it is the fault where the fields of desire and expression meet. Art also often centers on vicarious experiences, film especially. We watch movies most often because they are stories that we can step into and experience the events through the characters with which we identify. I think that, in light of this fact about people, knowing what genres of film a person gravitates toward can tell you a lot about them. People who love romance stories are those for whom the hope of romantic fulfillment is very important. People who love sci-fi love the mystery of the universe, and desire to find the extraordinary in it. The stories that we long to step into vicariously are most often the stories we wish were our real life stories.

In light of this, what can we say of the growing popularity of two relatively new genres: the end-of-the-world movie, and the gore-centered horror flick? Specifically, what can we say about the people who crave these stories? I’m not going to answer those questions for anyone, but there are some observations that I think are worth making:

-The Hostel an Saw movies, to my knowledge, have had more, and more quickly-produced sequels than any other franchise of film. Ever. Well, maybe excluding porn flicks. But that only serves to strengthen my point – everyone reading would probably agree that sexual stories are the most popular today, as far as being stories that people desire to step into. If movies centering on the torture of humans are a close second, what can we say?

– When the cold war had ended, it became apparent that the ubiquitous fear of an apocalyptic nuclear war would not be realized. Tons of sociologists and social psychologists noted, in puzzlement, that the general response to this was not relief and gladness, but increasing anxiety and depression.

– The explosive popularity of torture-centered horror movies was preceded by an even more explosive obsession with videos of people getting hurt. Jackass, worlds-funniest shows, and youtube are full of videos of people suffering that we have, quite disturbingly, learned to laugh at.

– Kierkegaard noticed that for something to be humorous and tantalizing to a person, it must be abnormal. No one craves the mundane. Have we so exhausted the world of its resources for gratification that everything but the absolutely heinous has become blase?

What do you think?


Help people soon?

As was probably apparent in the ‘gospel’ post down there, I (and a significant portion of the Church) am coming to see the call of Jesus as something more significant, and real-world effective than mere secluded religious expressions like going to church or holding bible studies. The teachings of Jesus and his Apostles aren’t an end in themselves, and have no life in them; only the person of Jesus Christ is live-giving and redemptive, and he exists in the world through his followers. We are called to be the primary redemptive force in the world. Sadly though, the organized church offers very few opportunities (in my experience) for actually bringing about that tangible, real-world redemption.

To that end, if anyone knows of opportunities that already exist to do some real good in our community, please let us know about them. I’ve realized that I talk a bigger game about the world-changing power of the gospel than I actually live out, and I imagine a lot of other people would say the same. A lot of it has to do with the lack of apparent opportunities to do anything real. So, if you know how to get involved in something real, bring it on.

If your experience is like mine though, you don’t know of any open opportunities that really need you. I mean, there are volunteer opportunities, but it seems like the ones I know about are doing fine. So, if we are all coming up short on opportunities to effect the world for good, let’s find some need that we can meet and go for it.

Over Christmas break some of us got together and put on a Christmas dinner for the homeless, and that turned out very well. I think it was a meaningful instance of God’s love for people and, in my mind, that is the most basic and significant fact of the gospel. I’m not pushing for anything specific regarding what we actually do. I would just like, at this point, to see if there is interest and availability for a group of us doing something meaningful.

So, if you are interested say so. And, if you know of some need that a group of ten or so could meet, say so and we’ll get on it.