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Monday, January 22, 2007

'Live to Tell': Ordinary Resurrections

I was honored this past week to have been part of a teaching series at the School of Theology at Drew University "Jan Term" on "The Global Church and AIDS."

It's being led by Don Messer, professor of Practical Theology and director of the Center for Global Pastoral Ministries at Iliff Scholl of Theology, Denver.


Don is teaching a whole new generation of future ministers - baptized and ordained - about the worldwide pandemic of AIDS. To do so, he is, in part, using all of the new technology which appeals to this generation. I must say, he is very, very effective.

If we're going to make any progress in stemming this genocide-by-pandemic,
training a new generation of ministers -baptized and ordained - to think
creatively and effectively as citizens of the global village of Christ is an
absolutely essential part of the strategy.

In one of his classes, he showed the controversial Madonna performance "LIVE TO TELL." You may know that it is controversial because she sings the song while hanging from a cross, wearing a crown of thorns.

I found her message about abuse and violence and the AIDS pandemic most
compelling, and I urge you to watch it. I am certainly planning to use this 5 minute video as part of my Confirmation curriculum, which includes components on Human Sexuality, Global Church, and Millennium Development Goals.

The first dancer, talking about the physical abuse he sustained from his
father, says something like, "My father hit me so hard, I fell to the floor, but I picked myself up. We all fall to the floor but to pick yourself up is the real challenge. Isn't it?"

I immediately thought of the quote by my colleague and fellow priest, Robert
Corbin Morris, quoted by Jonathan Kozol in his book, "Ordinary Resurrections," from whence the book title comes.

Kozol writes that Morris speaks of the commonplace and frequently unnoticed
ways that people rise above their loneliness and fears as "ordinary resurrections." He points out that the origin of "resurrection" is the Greek word anastasis, which, he notes means "standing up again," and, as he puts it
unpretentiously, "We all lie down. We all rise up. We do this every day."

The same word, as Morris notes, is used in Scripture: "I am the resurrection
and the life." But in an afternoon directed possibly at fellow members of
the clergy, he observes, "The Resurrection does not wait for Easter."

This, I think, is the same message this video tries to make about AIDS, and
gang bangers and child abuse. It ends with a quote from Matthew's Great Commission.

May this video also inspire you to consider the MDG's - particularly # 6:
"Combat HIV/ADIS, Malaria and other diseases."

You can find that video here:


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