Sunday, December 16, 2012

Narrative, Newtown, CT, and Compassion in Particular

And...I'm back. Hopefully to post here again more often. Lots of contradictory emotions today: giddy from being done with a semester of teaching and on to a month of writing before another begins, while at the same time U2's Psalm 40 keeps going through my head. Have been thinking a lot about all the suffering that's always going on throughout the world, some of which doesn't get reported in the news as much as the recent Newtown, CT tragedy--perhaps involving people in more urban areas with different kinds of people where maybe violence isn't as surprising. Or in other countries that seem more distant where it's harder for us to understand the situation.

And yet I'm remembering John Durham Peters' reminder (in his book Speaking into the Air) that we are called to have compassion universally but that ultimately our humanness involves a need to love only in particular. And juxtaposing that next to Jerome Bruner's words (in Making Stories: Law, Literature, Life) about how the narratives a culture repeats and worries at interpreting and retelling often tell us so much about the dialectic between precedent and what we believe to be the unexpected. And of course, because that brings it back to my area of study, all connecting it to our societal need to detect the answers to criminal acts involving mortality as a way to deal with our own mortality in a society that doesn't like to admit we die. While coming back from abstraction into grief and grief. A day, then, of wrestling with paradoxes and with a large variety of world and individual griefs and what they entail, mixed, strangely enough, with giddiness and more opportunity to write soon, all of which draws us to the big mysteries: birth and death and pain and tragedy and compassion and beginnings and endings. Light and darkness indeed. The Advent waiting continues.

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