Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Unsolicited Opinion: Worldwide Lent

I will preface this by sharing with you what I said to one of my friends last night: "This is America. Everyone's allowed to have an opinion, even if it is completely unfounded." Do I really believe this? No. Do I have an unfounded opinion that I believe it is my right to share? To quote another American: "You betcha!"

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm reading a book set in India. I once ran out of an Indian literature class. Of course, that was unrelated to the literature and more related to the fact that I thought I was going to throw up on my neighbor, but that class did make uncomfortable. We mostly read Salman Rushdie but our professor (Indian himself) also wisely informed us in Indian history and culture. We watched a movie called Earth that is a deeply disturbing, but beautiful movie about a group of friends affected by the partition of India in 1947. It is graphic enough to shock a room full of college students into caring about the subject matter they were studying. India is not only Bollywood. I will never, ever forget the image of a train filled with murdered people.

I know I'm getting a little heavy, but this class broadened my world. I had never thought of India much. Now? I have my unfounded opinions. I want to see with my own eyes this place with its sweeping landscapes, unusual beauty, and crowded cities. I have thought a lot about partition and neighbors dragging each other into their streets to kill them only because of a little matter of religion (there is never a little matter of religion, I think gravely). And every time I pick up a book set in India I am a little afraid, a little nervous as I get acquainted with the characters. There is much potential in these characters (as in all of us) to be both very likeable and frighteningly capable of disturbing acts. And there's also bound to be some magical realism, which is why I keep picking up the books. I like magical realism, especially in adult books.

Today is Ash Wednesday. It is the beginning of my favorite Christian season. I like the act of giving up something, of fasting for a while before you get to say "Alleluia" again.

So I think that India is not so far from any of us, really, and that our world is getting ever more connected and we are able to identify with each other now more than ever before. There is a wealth of information (and misinformation, we must be careful) out there for us, and with books and movies and personal blogs and websites to go through there is no excuse for us to be so isolated. We were not created to be isolated. We were created to delve deeper, to understand, and, eventually, to come to an Alleluia together.

(This is my magical realism: the repetition of the Christian seasons.)


1 comment:

MB said...

Of the same depth as the "You betcha," MB says "Wow!" Eloquent and profound. Liturgically enriching.