Saving the World: A Reflection on Germanwings Flight 9525

A couple of weeks ago, a German man decided to kill himself. There are thousands of such occurrences every day, except this time the man was a pilot, and in the process of his self-destruction, he also killed everyone on the plane along with him. Nobody seems to know why—he was depressed, disillusioned, etc.—but not to the degree that anyone thought him capable of such an act.

The black box of the smoldering wreck reveals the co-pilot’s pounding on the bolted cockpit door, and the screams of the 149 lives soon to be obliterated in a firebomb amongst the French Alps. Who knows what was racing through the mind of the man who had doomed the innocent along with himself. Was he lost to all sense, or was he impossibly indifferent? G.K. Chesterton considered the suicide a type of mass murderer: “The man who kills himself kills all men. As far as he is concerned, he wipes out the world.” [Read more...]

It Is Finished: Christ’s Words from the Cross

When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, “It is finished.” And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.

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It is finished. Of all Christ’s words from the cross, these move me most deeply. The words strike me as cryptic, charged with meaning. They trigger many questions in my mind. Jesus, what is finished? What exactly do you mean? What are you thinking as you speak?

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After the Killings in Chapel Hill

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It’s less than forty-eight hours since Craig Stephen Hicks shot and killed three Muslim students in Chapel Hill.

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It’s nearly four full days since Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha were shot in the head.

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When they are not your children, you can turn your attention to other matters: Sutra on the Four Establishments of Mindfulness.

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The Collision

deerAll I saw of the deer at first was the eye: domed, amber and pellucid, set in a pallid furry temple. I saw that, and the briefest flash of a muscled flank as the deer charged from the trees and straight into the front right fender of my car.

If this were a short story, or a scene in a movie, this would be the moment when time would suddenly lengthen, stretch into slow motion: I’d have some kind of clarifying and revelatory last-minute realization. That’s not merely a literary conceit: I have experienced those moments when experience seems literally toculminate, the universe to distill to a point.

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The Sublime and Beautiful

sublimeFrom antiquity to the Enlightenment, one of the great aesthetic dichotomies involved the sublime and the beautiful. If the contrast of those terms is any indication of meaning in Blake Robbins’s movie of the above-referenced title, the intention is extremely subtle. The film deals with unspeakable tragedy, and one would be hard-pressed to find any conventional definition of either term as fitting for what transpires.

However, if they are taken not as terms to be distinguished, but as terms that inform a third object—due to an important excision of the second article “the”—there is more of an argument. That is, if the terms are taken as adjectives modifying a particular person or state—“that which is sublime and beautiful”—then you can see what he is after. Still, it takes some convincing.

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