DCC News


Weekly e-newsletter for members and friends of the Dublin Community Church


November 29, 2006



A Maddening Dash


There is a wonderful moment in the movie, “Castaway” starring Tom Hanks.


He has been marooned on a tiny Pacific island for 3 years after a plane crash. Early on he worked for days and days trying to build a fire. He tried everything he could to rub together in the hopes of getting a spark and starting a blaze. He worked tirelessly and when he finally started that fire for food, even the audience members were exhausted from his hard work.


After three years on the island he is rescued and returned to America and his colleagues and co-workers give him a big party as a welcome home. When they all leave the banquet hall, Tom Hanks is alone amidst platter after platter of food that is left from the party. Tom looks at the food and then, absentmindedly picks up a butane match and clicks it and the little flame lights right up. He looks at it. Shuts off the flame. Starts the flame. Shuts off the flame. And then he just sits there looking at the little butane torch and ponders the ease with which it starts. The movie viewing audience is in on the irony and sadness of how easily the flame starts. Hanks and the audience remember how difficult and life threatening it was when he spent days making that first spark.


How strange it is when two things come up against one another and reveal the irony and oft-times the sadness of the situation. We then, see the differences so clearly.


I remember a few years ago when I was traveling in India. Indeed, most of what I encountered each day was puzzling to the eye and to the mind, but one time I was walking down a street and on the side was a pile of garbage. In the pile of garbage was a poor man sleeping. Standing in front of the pile and the sleeping man was a businessman dressed in the finest of business suits…talking on his cell phone.


Last week I walked out my driveway to get the morning newspaper. I came back inside and sat down at the table with my coffee and opened up the paper to the headlines. In   typical huge newspaper headlines I read, “Mad dash for discounts.” Beneath the headline was a large color photo of a hassled and harried shopper with arms piled high with Christmas gifts. The shopper had a look of almost desperation; but she had her gifts and was, I assume, actually making a “mad dash for discounts.”


I glanced at the headline and photo and then read a bit of the article. It seemed like an innocent enough articles concerning the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. It was then that my eyes moved across the page just to the right of the “Mad dash for discounts” headline and saw the other headline.


Sunnis burn as Shiites takes revenge in Baghdad.” The story went on to tell of the escalating violence between the Sunni and Shiite Muslims in Baghdad and the article contained such words and phrases as “revenge-seeking”,  “prayers,” “doused them with kerosene,” and “burned alive.”


After those words and phrases the article became even more intense.


No, I have no pro or anti-war comments here in this article. I certainly have nothing light or air-y to say either. It’s just that I pay close attention to the world around me and sometimes the craziness of the world is almost more than I can bear. One person in Columbus is stressed with mad dashes for discounts while a world away we have people who are mad and dousing and burning others with kerosene. And it is all recorded for us within a few inches of headlines in the newspapers.





We seem to lose touch with one another sometimes. I certainly love this season of Advent and Christmas and have no problems with the shopping aspect of it all. It is what we do here in America; we shop, we connect with others through shopping. Many would say that we connect with others and ourselves through shopping only because we cannot connect in any other way. Maybe so. Maybe not.


If you turned to page 4 of that newspaper you could read more about the bargain hunters who were shopping on the day after Thanksgiving. And…right beside it was the continuing story of the conflict in Baghdad.


According to those two side-by-side articles in the newspaper…There were X number of shoppers and stores that were crowded on Friday in Ohio. There were X number of deaths of Muslims fighting Muslims in Iraq. There were X number of people who lined up for the big stores to shop in Columbus. There was one mosque in Iraq that was destroyed. There were X number of police officers sent to the outlet mall in Jeffersonville to handle the crowds. There was one soldier from Canton, Ohio who was killed in Iraq.


There really never is any way to sugar coat war and all that happens; it’s just that at this particular time of year when we hear songs and see signs that declare “Peace on Earth, Good Will to All,” it jolts us. It jolts us to realize that we are espousing such declarations in a world that is so dangerous. It jolts us to realize that most people in Iraq are just trying to live a normal life but cannot do so. It jolts us to realize that our soldiers are caught in the midst of civil strife as well as combat. We want people of Iraq safe. We want our soldiers safe. And yet our Christmas Carols and good wishes go against the realities of modern life.


I have no words of wisdom or scripture passages to make it all go away or make it all go the way we want it to go. But I do know that in the movie, “Castaway,” Tom Hanks is rescued by fashioning sails for his raft. Finally he rows out against the incoming waves until he exhausts himself.


That seems to hold true for both shopping and war too.




Rev. Robert Tussing