Visitations Amid Various Sundry

Friday was an interesting and faith-invigorating day. Although it was a bit chilly and rain-threatening here in the Chicago area, I saw an interesting and well-done movie, bought a book I thought I’d never own, and got some good news on my immediate job needs and Anna shared her own news of a potential lead on a job.

I go for an interview this morning for another part-time position at another college library in Evanstion. The job would entail, for the summer, essentially data input to bring a “old-fashioned” card catalog system online, then later, once school has started, turn into your basic circulation clerk. It seems enough of my experience matches their needs, but we’ll find out if my fall scheduling conflicts with their stated scheduling needs. I hope it can work out, since the other part-time position I’d been looking at fell through, and Anna and I need all the extra income I can bring in as we prepare for our baby’s arrival.

Anna also got a serendipitous lead on another job. The pay would be a few thousand more per annum, would allow her to go to the conferences she often misses out on due to zero-sum library finances, gain her some publishing experience, and allow her to continue working with children’s and young adult books. The main drawback: it would start 1 September, thus effectively eliminating maternity leave. NOT a good thing. Of course, Anna’s qualifications, while good, nonetheless do not make this opportunity a shoo-in for her. And God may have other plans. We’ll see.

I saw the movie “X2:X-Men United” Friday. Wow. The reviews are correct: much better than the first, which I thought was great too. I was extremely taken with the character of Nightcrawler (aka Kurt Wagner). His portrayal was among the most sensitive, sympathetic and realistc I’ve seen of a traditional catholic (and Roman Catholic) Christian. He gives Storm what-for by humbly yet confidently asserting that the Faith is the core of our lives. He’s shown praying the rosary twice, and also praying the Lord’s Prayer and Psalm 23 (22 in the LXX/Vulgate). Though it’s unclear whether his scarring is self-inflected or the mystical workings of angels, the message that what appears to be the ugliness of penance is actually the beauty of mercy and grace is thoroughly biblical. One might first be taken aback at his assertion that Christ is testing him by the tortuous control of Stryker, nonetheless it is the biblical precdent from Hebrews that in our sufferings God trains us as sons and daughters.

And all this from a script and story line that is hardly free of heresy. While I’ll not assert that the X-Men movies and mythos lack any resonances with Christian faith (because it’s not entirely true), nonetheless because it is based on the evolutionary faith’s worldview it conflicts directly with the Christian faith. And that is what makes the character of Nightcrawler in the movie so surprising and interesting. It was odd and refreshing to have such a real Christian character portrayed where one would least expect it.

After the movie, I had an hour to kill while waiting for my wife to pick me up to go run some errands with her. And here’s the capstone to a day filled with godly visitations. My original impulse was simply to cross the street from the theater and sip coffee at Borders and read. But for hardly conscious reasons, I decided not to. Instead, I thought I’d go to the library a few blocks away and read. But then I decided that would take away too much of my reading time to go there and walk back to our meeting spot. Barnes and Noble was a block closer, so I decided to hang out there, and I’d only be a block away from meeting Anna. But once inside Barnes and Noble, I didn’t head to drink coffee. Despite my having purchased far more books than I probably needed this semester, and in a mood to definitely NOT buy any books, I nonetheless ended up browsing the shelves. I looked over philosophy, gave a glance at Christianity, and went to the Bible section (to vainly look for a KJV with Apocrypha). Then, with no real interest, I headed back to Christianity. After just a few minutes, I noticed the title Not of this World. It struck a chord, but until I picked it up and looked at it, I didn’t know exactly why it seemed familiar. There it was: the out of print biography of Fr. Seraphim Rose.

One should understand that I couldn’t even purchase this book from the publisher, let alone order it from one of the online distributors. It should also be noted that this comes from a small press, and is not likely to be found at a major retailer. Nor could Barnes and Noble have ordered it. My best bet had been to try to order it used through an online service. Yet here it was, in brand new condition. And I had come to Barnes and Noble aimlessly, and hardly with any intention of looking for it.

It reminded me of how my patron, St. Benedict of Nursia found me. I was in a conservative, evangelical seminary bookstore in central Illinois in the spring of 1990. There on the clearance rack was a small paperback edition of The Rule. I have been, in the last month or so, asking the intercessions of Fr. Seraphim, haivng found an affinity with him from reading his biography and most of his written works. It may well be that Friday’s events, far from being merely fortuitous happenstance, was a confirmation that another patron had found me. Which means I’m either a very fortunate man, or a very great sinner.

Actually, I’m sure it means both.