Thursday, August 30, 2012

"Praying with Lior" - review

This was sitting in the draft status for some time now - I dusted it off changed a word or two and cleared it out of the queue.

Over the weekend I scored with Netflix, "Praying with Lior."  There is a large volume of items on Netflix and I have been chasing documentaries and enjoying about 80% of them.  The enjoyment I draw is from getting information, hearing someone's story, and then pondering those two items and their combination.

Lior is a boy with down syndrome in an Orthodox Jewish family.  As a toddler on his mother's knee, he sought songs of prayer over "Itsy-Bitsy Spider" or the ABCs. 

The film builds to his Bah mitzvah where he must lead a prayer.  Throughout there is interactions with Synagogue members, classmates at the Jewish school, and with his family. 

I'm about to ruin the documentary with some of the inner details.  I shouldn't say ruin but it will inoculate you or probably lead the emotional train down the tracks I'm about to lay out.  I thought this was well done and I felt for the people.

Synagogue folks seem to look on him with awe and admiration.  That there is some blessing that he has the inside track on.  They ask for his advice on spiritual matters.  To many he is a prodigy.  Later the documentary has the father working with Lior on his prayer.  In some of the basic questions it is very clear that Lior is parroting back things he has heard and isn't really processing them.

The classmate interactions are rough.  Lior leads them in a rousing prayer/song where I was amazed by the emotion and energy everyone was putting forward.  I can't imagine my middle school soccer team being that enthusiastic about anything.  Later some of the classmates talk about the difficult interactions with Lior.  He's the last pick at games; the social cliques seem nice out of pity or even one joke shy of ridicule.  An outsider.

The family is where the heart of this documentary rings out.  Lior laughs, teases and is teased by his siblings.  Lior plays video games and ignores his brother getting ready "yeah, you look great" which his brother rightly calls him out on.  Then Lior stops, fixes his brother's hair, and tells him "it is perfect, don't let anyone touch it".  There is also a special bond that Lior holds with his stepmother (his mom died when he was about 5) and she realizes (and so does he) that she isn't a replacement but a new mother to love him just as much.

Probably "No prophet (or prodigy) is welcome in his home town" and I'm also thinking "there is no welcoming home, like a home with a loving family". 

Monday, August 27, 2012

"Light for the Lost Boy" by Andrew Peterson - review

Saturday was a great day, we had a small birthday party for our youngest; 4 years flies by and I have the cutest kids in the world (it's true).

Also on Saturday the latest album from Andrew Peterson arrived at my doorstep - "Light for the Lost Boy" (LftLB) available at the Rabbitroom.

Shocker here - I love it.  I'm still unpacking it mentally.  It is more of a thematic album aimed directly at crossroads.  AP has written before about the joy of childhood (Little Boy Heart, Good Confession).  Wrapped in that emotional element is the joy in the life adventure before you (Canaan Bound, Nothing to Say).  LftLB is written at one of the next life stages - crossroads is the only word I can come up with.  Not that AP is in that lifestage or done with them, but it is directed at that lifestage.  Counting Stars (especially 'The Reckoning') touched on this theme that now has an entire album putting words to it.

This album touches on the same crossroad as the "coming of age" story.  I read The Yearling about 8 months ago and it is one of these stories, and so much more.  That point of moving from innocence into maturity.  I enjoy this album since this pain never ceases in life and defining it makes it easier to  process.  Maybe pain isn't the right word. 

I don't think we ever stop hitting those crossroads or feeling the heartbreak of people at them currently.  Recently I sat with my youngest as some dental work was done.  My heart broke for her and yet she did great.  It was the pain at seeing the cruel world where teeth rot and pain happens.  Dogs kill rabbits; winds shake bird nests from trees and the eggs break; infants get cancer.  I hate it and something about it is unfair.

Somehow LftLB walks into the mire of a broken world and exits the otherside without whitewashing the pain, dismissing the brokenness, or being trite.  It stands mud-caked on the far shore ready for the washing that will come.

Come Back Soon
This song wrecks me if I let my emotional guard down.  Two lines get me -
1) The boy grew up and the yearling was dead
2) and wept for the death of his little boy heart

The Cornerstone
There is much about this song I enjoy, but primarily it is touching on the paradox of Christian faith.  You never move, but I cannot seem to catch you.  This stone that can be a stumbling block, a true foundation or you spend effort to move to a better location for you and it remains a rock to build upon not move at my whims.

Rest Easy
This is the "radio song" from the album.  It may get some airplay and hopefully reaches people in a meaningful way over the FM waves.  It is lighter than the other songs on the album which still leaves room for it to be powerful.  There was a contest for user videos and this wonderful video won.  Warning! it may make you cry.  It pulls at the heart strings enough to get you and not so much that it is too sappy.  If a star would've twinkled back at the end I would have hated it, the mom pulls through and I'm a wreck.

The Voice of Jesus
This maybe my favorite song.  A message from a parent who knows the inevitable heartache that every child grows to experience, and where the answer is.

The Ballad of Jody Baxter
I read The Yearling so I knew the reference material for this song.  It is a great story of simple life and getting by.  For me it was especially touching as I related to the boy and the father in the story.  This song brought it all back and more.  It puts words to the real heartache of the story Is there anyway that we can change the ending of this tragedy?

Day by Day
I want to call this the bridge of the album, maybe it's more of the pre-bridge.  It transitions from one movement to the other.

Shine Your Light on Me
Another song of AP crafting his heart.  It captures so much of the mystery of hope, hope when things are hopeless.  They were singing out my song, when the song in me had died.

Carry the Fire
This is from the story The Road, which I have not read.  When I'm ready for another book to punch me in the gut it'll be at the top of the list.

You'll Find Your Way
This is a father's message to kids for the road that lies ahead.  It is a road that they must walk on there own and I hope/pray that I've prepared them.  That they remember lessons.

Don't you Want to Thank Someone
This song is long but it is the icing on the cake.  Maybe it's a better thing...../ To be more than merely innocent / But to be broken then redeemed by love 

So much reminds me of GK Chesterton -
The test of all happiness is gratitude; and I felt grateful, though I hardly knew to whom.
Children are grateful when Santa Claus puts in their stockings gifts of toys or sweets.  Could I not be grateful to Santa Claus when he put in my stockings the gift of two miraculous legs?  We thank people for birthday presents of cigars and slippers.
Can I thank no one for the birthday present of birth?  -Orthodoxy
It is a great closing to a very enjoyable album.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

"It is the nature of love to bind itself....' GKC

Today is our 14th Anniversary.  I figured I'd throw some GKC at the subject (since he threw himself at it first)

"The revolt against vows has been carried in our day even to the extent of a revolt against the typical vow of marriage. It is most amusing to listen to the opponents of marriage on this subject. They appear to imagine that the ideal of constancy was a yoke mysteriously imposed on mankind by the devil, instead of being, as it is, a yoke consistently imposed by all lovers on themselves. They have invented a phrase, a phrase that is a black and white contradiction in two words—'free-love'—as if a lover ever had been, or ever could be, free. It is the nature of love to bind itself, and the institution of marriage merely paid the average man the compliment of taking him at his word. Modern sages offer to the lover, with an ill-flavoured grin, the largest liberties and the fullest irresponsibility; but they do not respect him as the old Church respected him; they do not write his oath upon the heavens, as the record of his highest moment. They give him every liberty except the liberty to sell his liberty, which is the only one that he wants." -The Defendant
The Defendant is truly a great book presented as a line of defenses of common things that were fading or being attacked in Society in 1901.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Olympic Insight

With the Olympics over and the daily visual reminders of physical fitness gone, I thought I'd pass along an interesting statistic - 40% of wives think their ass is too big; 35% think it is too small; the remaining 25% love their husbands just as they are.

(I posted this on FB but wanted to preserve it here too)

But since I mentioned Olympics let me share this tremendously funny video too.