A Sabbath Meditation: “It’s ugly and beautiful in turns”

Recently, Christianity Today’s Mark Moring interviewed Academy Award-nominated actor (and director) Mark Ruffalo about his new film Sympathy for Delicious. (For the record, not only have I not seen the film, but due to our not watching television, I had also never even heard of it before I read this interview. If you find yourself in that boat, I suggest you head on over to the website to watch the official trailer before continuing.)

The interview’s title, “Shaking One’s Fist at God,” stems from Ruffalo’s own recent experiences with loss, including the death of close friends and family members, his own treatment for a brain tumor, and more. Ruffalo says, during those moments, “You spend your time shaking your fist and being angry, but turning to God at the same time. Because the act of shaking your fist at him is a way of turning, a way of engaging, a way of acknowledging him.”

That’s a pretty powerful statement–that “the act of shaking your first is a way of turning”–wouldn’t you say?

Needless to say, you should read the entire interview yourself. And probably go see the movie.

When Ruffalo was asked about the Christian response to early film screenings (primarily positive, by the way), he said something that has really stuck with me, something I hope you’ll spend some time thinking about and then take with you into the upcoming week. He said,

Christ was not afraid of coarseness, and there are a lot of coarse things in the world today—and not all the magical thinking in the world is going to change that reality. This is the reality of a certain kind of street-level faith that is happening all around us—in Skid Row, in those places you want to see grace. You want to experience the essence of some of Christ’s teachings? That is where it’s happening. And it’s not pretty. It’s ugly. I mean it’s ugly and beautiful in turns.

In those places you want to see grace.

That is where it’s happening.

And it’s not pretty.

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2 comments on “A Sabbath Meditation: “It’s ugly and beautiful in turns”

  1. Elaine Wise says:

    Reminds me of something someone once said to me. She said that life is tough and you will get scars. But last time I checked, she said, Jesus left this earth with scars too. What makes us think we are any better?

  2. elizabeth says:

    Thanks for sharing, Elaine. I have heard something similar to this before–maybe from you!–and it’s a good reminder.

    I think growth, for me, might be a journey toward seeing those scars as beautiful. Know what I mean? It’s one thing to look back and say, “okay, there was pain and God got me through it.” It’s another thing to say, “There was beauty in that moment of pain,” and not just in my own life, but in the scars and pain of others. I’m not good at doing that (it’s hard to even talk in those terms without sounding insensitive). This is one of the many reasons why I don’t appreciate Flannery O’Connor’s writings! Smarter people than I sing her praises… but it is beyond me.

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