For people in the middle of some trouble, trauma, or grief, the light at the end of the tunnel can appear very dim or non-existent. On the other side of the hurricane, though the damage remains to one degree or another, it can be hard to remember the full reality of that particular time (at least until something triggers the emotions again in a similar way). In the midst of all the lingering effects of various degrees of trauma, healing is an open question. Can these wounds be healed? How and where? By whom? Those questions are at least part of what the films The Way Back and Driveways are exploring.

Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to James Madison (January 30, 1787), discussed the dangers of government and the balance of liberty and oppression. He warned against a government of wolves over sheep and famously said, “Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem,” which can be translated as, “I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.” Or as we hear it more often these days, “I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.”

By Rev. Dennis W. Matyas

Recently, Lutheran scholar John Bombaro wrote a powerful article for 1517.org here. Within, he argues that those who are justified in Christ have had their superficial and shallow identities replaced with the historical occurrence of their own baptisms and are free to love as Christ loves. Pursuits that aim to re-justify a self-image of virtue, therefore, are expressions of a Christian seeking to shackle themselves again to a law that does not fit and will not acquit. “The Christian is free from asinine, self-defined religion, of course, but also the dictates and pressures of every political, social, and ideological agenda the world has to offer.” Amen and amen.

I wondered: how do you get a word that means both the place from where something is mined—and the thing that is mined—as well as the prey that is pursued? Indeed, the word “quarry” has a dual etymology. The latter meaning is from the Latin word (via Anglo-French and Middle English) for the skin on which the entrails of an animal were left for the hounds that pursued it. The former meaning comes from the Latin (again by way of French and Middle English) for hewn (square) stone. Two different Middle English words converging in modern English, spelled the same.

I was able to go to church last Sunday. I do not get to do that very often. Not because of the Covid-19 terror which plagues our land or a lack of desire to attend, rather as a pastor I am usually presiding in the Divine Service, not participating as a worshipper. My “going to church” is marked as my vocation and there are only a handful of times a year where I just go to church and sit in the pew as a layperson.

It’s an absurd premise: a tennis coach kidnaps someone to train with his player in preparation for the French open, which isn’t going to happen. They practice and train in the middle of nowhere: on sand, in swampland, on a narrow strip of grass. Oh, and they don’t have any tennis balls, or strings in their racquets, or real nets. And they have to keep moving from place to place because there is an unknown threat from an unknown war.

It used to be that people shunned the use of a mask. Outside of Halloween or playing pranks on our friends, a mask was nothing to be proud of. Sure, we might praise the masked surgeon, fighter pilot, or hero running into danger to save others, but it is in the taking-off of the masks that we find cause for joy and celebration. For it is in the removal of the mask that we see their humanity, we see they are one of us. The fact that there remains a kinship between us and them offer us the promise and hope of potential glory.

There is a famous line from the movie “Usual Suspects” that goes like this: “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” To not see the Devil, to not believe in him, to disregard the warnings and the cautions concerning his work, is to give him free reign to work his chaos and destruction. Without the Devil we forget the true opposition to our faith. We forget there is indeed a battle going on, that evil is real and working to divide and destroy the children of God. The other day I was talking with my good friend and colleague, Tim Barkett, about everything going on in our country these past few months. He said that out of all of Satan’s attacks, all his manifestations, this is perhaps his most elegant one.