August 5th, 2007

Over The Rhine

Personal/Theological Notebook: Dissertating without Liz; Linford's Dirty Word

Plodding work, this last part of the chapter one draft writing/editing for the dissertation. As ever, there's more involved than I'd bargined for, but I'm still pushing for my Monday mail date. I'd had to pull back from plans with Liz to go out, when she made a counter-suggestion of just taking our computers over to Rochambo and writing together this evening, as she's got a few stories she's really trying to finish for the Journal-Sentinal. Then she had to bail on that as the earlier cancelled plans she had were suddenly resurrected. I typed on.

I don't read enough poetry to participate (by way of contribution or much comment) in the regular LJ "Friday Is Poetry Day" that so many of my LJ-friends observe. For all my lyrics work, I don't think it's an art I have a very good grasp of, but during a stretch break a little while ago, this one came up and I was pleased. I've expressed my admiration of Over The Rhine, the Cincinnati husband-and-wife songwriting team of Linford Detweiler and Karin Berquist, many times in these pages. One thing that many critics have pointed out in their writing is a kind of determination to artistically recover sexuality from the utilitarianization and commodification to which it's been reduced in recent decades. In light of the conversation we were having Thursday night, this poem then particularly struck me.
Hey You
by Linford Detweiler

Fuck me, she says,
And it’s not an exclamation
It’s a plea

Fuck me feels different
In the marriage bed
It’s not like it’s forbidden

Fuck can be such a hateful word
But she’s in love
Trying on the name wife for size

Fuck me sort of suits her
She loves to laugh
And she wants something carefree and crude

Fuck me and all of a sudden it’s a playful prayer
We both still want to do something good for the world
We both believe in miracles

Fuck me and there are better words for it
We both know
But the way she says it makes you wonder

Fuck me please I’m soppy and smooth
The world is disappearing
And it’s not so much the please it’s the possibility:

It’s the possibility
That this life is going to break us into pieces
Knock us reeling and silly with painful joy

And the word fuck is suddenly a tiny praise chorus
A slap happy swing at a tipsy God
The joke’s on us

And this is our sweet redeemer
Looking down on a tangle of man and wife
A happily shipwrecked bed

It’s not like he hasn’t seen it before
But he’s even blessed a dirty word
Thank you Lord

© 2000, Linford Detweiler
Chagall/White Crucifixion

Theological Notebook: Jean-Marie Cardinal Lustiger has died

Off to Mass. Just saw this notice, and so obviously Lustiger is on my mind. He was one I'd always admired and was impressed by what I read of his, or heard reported of him, and we were much of a mind on the question of Judaism and Christianity. I'd thought it would have been an interesting turn of events for that dialogue if he'd been elected in the last conclave. It certainly might have been the sort of event that would get people to move past the silly things that are usually said because people haven't closely enough looked at and thought about the matter.

French Cardinal Lustiger Dies at 80
Aug 5, 6:32 PM (ET)


PARIS (AP) - Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, a Jew who converted to Catholicism and rose through church hierarchy to become one of the most influential Roman Catholic figures in France, died Sunday, the Paris archbishop's office said. He was 80.

Lustiger - whose Polish immigrant mother died in the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz - was archbishop of Paris for 24 years before stepping down in 2005 at the age of 78. He died in a medical center in Paris, the archbishop's office said.

A cause of death was not immediately provided, but Lustiger had said in April that he was being treated for a "grave illness" at a hospice.

For years, Lustiger was the public face of the church in mainly Roman Catholic France, speaking out on critical issues and serving as a voice of calm in tumultuous times. He appeared to have perfectly synthesized his Jewish heritage with his chosen faith.

"Christianity is the fruit of Judaism," he once said.

"For me, it was never for an instant a question of denying my Jewish identity. On the contrary," he said in "Le Choix de Dieu" (The Choice of God), conversations published in 1987.

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