According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

Monday, December 3, 2012

Kurt Vonnegut and the Sacred Solidarity of God with Humanity

 
 
 
As I hurriedly raced through Slate's article on Kurt Vonnegut telling of his assignment on how to critique fiction I suddenly found myself thinking about timequakes, fourth dimensional space, intersteller transport, issues of fate and free will, and whether life is most enjoyed because of its unknowingness, as I meandered from one Vonnegut epiphany to another. However, the topic at hand was one of listening and crafting appropriate responses to drafted public statements much as I have attempted to do these past 18 months here at Relevancy22 within the temperamental area of Christian theology.
 
I suppose the similarities to writing and reading good theology has a similar appeal to that of writing or reading a good novel or good fiction, because it causes me to think about things I'm not normally noticing if I were not to undertake this task. In essence, it lifts me beyond my frame of reference and causes me to apprehend life from another's viewpoint rather than from my own self-limiting definition that I would too comfortably prefer to wear like the old collection of clothes hanging in my closet.
 
Good theology could be thought of as rooted within the womb of biblical study which can - and will - produce many of the poetic forms and elements of life born from the birthing canal of insight and revelation to become great works of literature, art, human endeavor, forms of inspirational music, wonder, beauty and essence. Opposite to this undertaking can be the many misleading forms of religious fiction that we develop about ourselves, about God, and His plans and purposes, too frequently based upon our rather poor reading and misunderstanding of the Bible itself. Or of that of the Christian faith at large as espoused by self-elected figureheads of the church to all things mainstream, etiquette, and decorum. And not simply those figureheads within the church, but those self-imposed elected masses of academicians, scholars, and fools in general that time-and-again show their thorough ill-knowledge of biblically-rooted theology.

For it is here that Kurt Vonnegut may help us. When reading theology (a task which I suppose many of us don't especially like to do, though we seem to have opinions upon everything it touches). Or, let's say, when reading of anything smacking of religious statements, or pertaining to the broader charters of living human manifestos such as are contained in the civil laws, decrees, and judgments of our courts and bodies politic. Or even the common variety of ideological propaganda found as it were within the public newspaper, the bully pulpit, sports and media-based soap boxes, grandstands, magazines and news stands. That is, if one would wish to be a bit of a contemporary critic to the public parodies being played out on the stage of life. Not a cynical critic. But a constructivist critic formed in the daily habit of consistent, evaluated appeal (or non-appeal) to the adjudicated endeavors being proffered in the mainstreams of human consciousness purporting fey insight to the timeless questions and agonizing dilemmas of the human condition.

Too often we read, we listen, we hum tunes, without actually paying attention to the endless drone of humanity's limiting visions and works. Part of the appeal of postmodernism is that we task ourselves, our families, companies, churches and communities with the goals of a larger human vision affective for all the masses of mankind to participate within. Not just ourselves or our immediate localities. But to involve the many streams of humanity which is altogether different from ourselves by habit, training, background, belief, custom or tradition. And when we do, to begin breaking the ruthless molds that this world's very commercial, very pragmatic, beliefs, practices, and incessant me-mindedness, borne along like so much flotsam and jetsam upon the seas of myopic public opinion and self-interest. To learn to form strongly interactive communities based upon the inherent strengths of the group at large rather than select individuals and majority opinions.
 
Jesus was about looking at things from beyond the norm. Through glass prism's if you will bourne along by the many spectrum hue of diversity within the integrated light of profound revelation and dissettling public opinion. And if not, than through the eyeballs and mindsets of fellow human beings neglected, abused and forgotten by the religious and civil systems of their day. Nor was Jesus content to simply talk about changing the world. No, He went out and did that very thing without hesitation (but I trust with plenty of wisdom!). And so, we are today tasked by God to think through what it means to love one another. To live lives full of grace and truth. To willingly bear burdens and behold fuller visions of a better tomorrow (spiritually) than we have today. To do all things human in uncommonly human ways of doing things.

Accordingly, I might suggest the majestic themes of love, joy, and peace as our Christian banner for all things doctrinal or dogmatic. Or perhaps, seek to disciple future citizenry towards wisely bearing the laudable epithets of good humor and good will amid the sacred sacraments of conscientious solidarity, just governance, and equality of being, for all men everywhere present. Beginning with those downtrodden and neglected masses requiring assistance of education, transportation, food, shelter. Who bear the all-too-frail cloth of humanity upon their weary shoulders. For certainly we must begin today wherever life may find us. And for that fact, wherever God may find us in the spirit and advocated passion of His Son Jesus who came to redeem humanity from the oppression and cruelty of our sin and selfishness, our fears and timidity, to the tasks at hand.

Where Jesus wept so do we. We He has trod so must we. Where He beheld the glory of God then let us fall upon our knees and plead His God-filled vision. Let us weep no longer but pick up the Spirit's tools of patience, kindness, longsuffering, grace and peace. And learn to serve as our Savior did binding both the spiritual and physical wounds of our foes and enemies. Our neighbors and brothers. The Gospel of Jesus is a harsh burden to bear but when bourne along in tandem yoke with our Savior and Lord is made light to the tasks at hand. Go then and make disciples into all the world.

R.E. Slater
December 3, 2012
 
 
Postscript -
 
*I chose "God's Solidarity with Humanity" as an example of Jurgen's Moltmann's Atonement Theory, which is one of six popular views of atonement theology. As such, I attempted to write with this redemptive theme in mind. Other popular atonement theories would be the penal subtitutionary atonement view, union with God, ransom captive, moral exemplar, and Christus Victor atonement theologies. Tellingly, the latter is the more widely acclaimed orthodox view because of its vision of the Kingdom of God to come.

And if left to chose between either of the six atonement theologies I would not. For I do not find it necessary to chose one theology over the other as each brings something necessary to the burgeoning table of Christian theology. As such, it behooves us to live in tension with each aspiring claimant while keeping our hearts and minds open to the larger mosaic of God's fermenting redemption as it expands to fill all the world with His promise of renewal and reclamation.



 
 
 
Kurt Vonnegut’s Rules for Reading Fiction
 
A term paper assignment from the author of Slaughterhouse-Five.
 
Posted Friday, Nov. 30, 2012, at 11:21 PM ET

Suzanne McConnell, one of Kurt Vonnegut’s students in his “Form of Fiction” course at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, saved this assignment, explaining that Vonnegut “wrote his course assignments in the form of letters, as a way of speaking personally to each member of the class.” The result is part assignment, part letter, part guide to writing and life.
 
This assignment is reprinted from Kurt Vonnegut: Letters, edited by Dan Wakefield, out now from Delacorte Press.
 
Kurt Vonnegut. FORM OF FICTION TERM PAPER ASSIGNMENT
November 30, 1965
 
Beloved:
 
This course began as Form and Theory of Fiction, became Form of Fiction, then Form and Texture of Fiction, then Surface Criticism, or How to Talk out of the Corner of Your Mouth Like a Real Tough Pro. It will probably be Animal Husbandry 108 by the time Black February rolls around. As was said to me years ago by a dear, dear friend, “Keep your hat on. We may end up miles from here.”
 
As for your term papers, I should like them to be both cynical and religious. I want you to adore the Universe, to be easily delighted, but to be prompt as well with impatience with those artists who offend your own deep notions of what the Universe is or should be. “This above all ...”
 
I invite you to read the fifteen tales in Masters of the Modern Short Story (W. Havighurst, editor, 1955, Harcourt, Brace, $14.95 in paperback). Read them for pleasure and satisfaction, beginning each as though, only seven minutes before, you had swallowed two ounces of very good booze. “Except ye be as little children ...”
 
Then reproduce on a single sheet of clean, white paper the table of contents of the book, omitting the page numbers, and substituting for each number a grade from A to F. The grades should be childishly selfish and impudent measures of your own joy or lack of it. I don’t care what grades you give. I do insist that you like some stories better than others.
 
Proceed next to the hallucination that you are a minor but useful editor on a good literary magazine not connected with a university. Take three stories that please you most and three that please you least, six in all, and pretend that they have been offered for publication. Write a report on each to be submitted to a wise, respected, witty and world-weary superior.
 
Do not do so as an academic critic, nor as a person drunk on art, nor as a barbarian in the literary market place. Do so as a sensitive person who has a few practical hunches about how stories can succeed or fail. Praise or damn as you please, but do so rather flatly, pragmatically, with cunning attention to annoying or gratifying details. Be yourself. Be unique. Be a good editor. The Universe needs more good editors, God knows.
 
Since there are eighty of you, and since I do not wish to go blind or kill somebody, about twenty pages from each of you should do neatly. Do not bubble. Do not spin your wheels. Use words I know.
 
poloniøus
 
Kurt Vonnegut: Letters, edited by Dan Wakefield. Delacorte Press.
 
 
 
 
 
A Little About Slaughterhouse Five
from Wikipedia
 
The Story
 
Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death (1969) is a satirical novel by Kurt Vonnegut about World War II experiences and journeys through time of a soldier called Billy Pilgrim. Ranked the 18th greatest English language novel of the 20th century by Modern Library, it is generally recognized as Vonnegut's most influential and popular work.
 
Plot summary
 
Chaplain's Assistant Billy Pilgrim is a disoriented, fatalistic, and ill-trained American soldier. He does not like wars and is captured by the Germans during the Battle of the Bulge. The Germans put Billy and his fellow prisoners in a disused slaughterhouse (although there are animal carcasses hanging in the underground shelter) in Dresden. Their building is known as "Slaughterhouse number 5." During the bombing, the POWs and German guards alike hide in a deep cellar. Because of their safe hiding place, they are some of the few survivors of the city-destroying firestorm.
 
Billy has become "unstuck in time" and experiences past and future events out of sequence and repetitively, following a nonlinear narrative. He is kidnapped by extraterrestrial aliens from the planet Tralfamadore. They exhibit him in a zoo with B-movie starlet Montana Wildhack as his mate. The Tralfamadorians, who can see in four dimensions, have already seen every instant of their lives. They say they cannot choose to change anything about their fates, but can choose to concentrate upon any moment in their lives, and Billy becomes convinced of the veracity of their theories.
 
As Billy travels, or believes he travels, forward and backward in time, he relives occasions of his life, both real and fantasy. He spends time on Tralfamadore, in Dresden during the war, walking in deep snow before his German capture, in his mundane post-war married life in the United States during the 1950s and early 1960s, and in the moment of his murder by a petty thief named Paul Lazzaro.
 
Billy's death is the consequence of a string of events. Before the Germans capture Billy, he meets Roland Weary, a jingoist character and bully, just out of childhood like Billy, who constantly chastises him for his lack of enthusiasm for war. When captured, the Germans confiscate everything Weary has, including his boots, giving him hinged, wooden clogs to wear; Weary eventually dies of gangrene caused by the clogs. While dying in a railcar full of POWs, Weary manages to convince another soldier, Paul Lazzaro, that Billy is to blame. Lazzaro vows to avenge Weary's death by killing Billy, because revenge is "the sweetest thing in life." Lazzaro later shoots and kills Billy with a laser gun after his speech on flying saucers and the true nature of time before a large audience in Chicago, in a balkanized United States on February 13, 1976 (the future at the time of the book's writing).

 
 
Major themes
 
Slaughterhouse-Five explores fate, free will, and the illogical nature of human beings. Protagonist Billy Pilgrim is unstuck in time, randomly experiencing the events of his life, with no idea of what part he will next visit.
 
Billy Pilgrim says there is no free will, an assertion confirmed by a Tralfamadorian, who says, "I've visited thirty-one inhabited planets in the universe. Only on Earth is there any talk of free will." The story's central concept is that most of humanity is insignificant—they do what they do, because they must.
 
To the Tralfamadorians, everything simultaneously exists, therefore, everyone is always alive. They, too, have wars and suffer tragedies (they destroy the universe whilst testing spaceship fuels), but, when Billy asks what they do about wars, they reply that they simply ignore them. The Tralfamadorians counter Vonnegut's true theme: life, as a human being, is only enjoyable with unknowns. Tralfamadorians do not make choices about what they do, but have power only over what they think (the subject of Timequake). Vonnegut expounds his position in chapter one, "that writing an anti-war book is like writing an anti-glacier book," both being futile endeavours, since both phenomena are unstoppable.
 
Like much of Vonnegut's other works (e.g., The Sirens of Titan), Slaughterhouse-Five explores the concept of fatalism. The Tralfamadorians represent the belief in war as inevitable. In their hapless destruction of the universe, Vonnegut's characters do not sympathize with their philosophy. To human beings, Vonnegut says, ignoring a war is unacceptable when we have free will; however, he does not explicitly state that we actually have free will, leaving open the possibility that he is satirizing the concept of free will as a product of human irrationality.
 
This human senselessness appears in the climax that occurs, not with the Dresden fire bombing, but with the summary execution of a man who committed a petty theft. Amid all that horror, death, and destruction, time is taken to punish one man. Yet, the time is taken, and Vonnegut takes the outside opinion of the bird asking, "Poo-tee-weet?" The same birdsong ends the novel God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater.
 
Slaughterhouse-Five is framed with chapters in the author's voice, about his experience of war, indicating the novel is intimately connected with his life and convictions. That established, Vonnegut withdraws from the unfolding of Billy Pilgrim's story, despite continual appearances as a minor character: in the POW camp latrine, exiting the train at Dresden, the corpse mines of Dresden, when he mistakenly dials Billy’s telephone number. These authorial appearances anchor Billy Pilgrim’s life to reality, highlighting his existential struggle to fit in the human world.

Literary significance and reception

The reviews of Slaughterhouse-Five have been largely positive since the 31 March 1969 review in The New York Times newspaper that glowingly concedes: "you'll either love it, or push it back in the science-fiction corner."[3] In its publication year, Slaughterhouse-Five was nominated for a best-novel Nebula Award and for a best-novel Hugo Award, 1970. It lost both to The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K. Le Guin. In 1998, the Modern Library ranked Slaughterhouse-Five eighteenth on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. It also appeared in Time magazine's list of the 100 best English-language novels written since 1923.[4]

Literary techniques

The story continually employs the refrain "So it goes." when death, dying, and mortality occur, as a narrative transition to another subject, as a memento mori, as comic relief, and to explain the unexplained. It appears 106 times.
 
As a postmodern, metafictional novel, the first chapter of Slaughterhouse-Five is an author's preface about how he came to write Slaughterhouse-Five, apologizing, because the novel is "so short and jumbled and jangled," because "there is nothing intelligent to say about a massacre." As in Mother Night, but more extensively, Vonnegut manipulates fiction and reality. The first sentence says: "All this happened, more or less." (In 2010, that sentence was ranked No. 38 on the American Book Review's list of "100 Best First Lines from Novels.") The author later appears in Billy Pilgrim's World War II as another sick prisoner, which the narrator notes by saying: That was I. That was me. That was the author of this book.
 
The story repeatedly refers to real and fictional novels and fiction; Billy reads The Valley of the Dolls (1966), and skims a Tralfamadorian novel, and participates in a radio talk show, part of a literary-expert panel discussing "The Death of the Novel."
 
Form
 
The Narrator introduces Slaughterhouse-Five with the novel's genesis and ends discussing the beginning and the end of the Novel. The story itself begins in chapter two, although there is no reason to presume that the first chapter is not fictional. This is a technique common to postmodern meta-fiction.[5] The story purports to be a disjointed, discontinuous narrative, from Billy Pilgrim's point of view, of being unstuck in time. Vonnegut's writing usually contains such disorder.
 
The Narrator reports that Billy Pilgrim experiences his life discontinuously, wherein he randomly experiences (re-lives) his birth, youth, old age, and death, not in (normal) linear order. There are two narrative threads: Billy's experience of War (itself interrupted with experiences from elsewhere in his life), which is mostly linear; and his discontinuous pre-war and post-war lives. Billy's existential perspective was compromised in witnessing Dresden's destruction, although he had come unstuck in time before arriving to Dresden.[6] Slaughterhouse-Five is told in short, declarative sentences that impress the sense of reading a report of facts.[7]
 
 
Point of view and setting
 
The narrator begins the novel telling of his connection to the Dresden bombing, why he is recording it, a self-description (of self and book), and of the fact that he believes it is a desperate attempt at scholarly work. He then segues to the story of Billy Pilgrim: "Listen: Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time", thus, the transition from the writer's perspective to that of the third-person, omniscient Narrator.
 
Kilgore Trout, whom Billy Pilgrim meets operating a newspaper delivery business, can be seen as Vonnegut's alter ego, though the two differ in some respects. For example, Trout's career as a science-fiction novelist is checkered with thieving publishers, and the fictional author is unaware of his readership.
 
Censorship controversy
 
Slaughterhouse-Five has been the subject of many attempts at censorship, due to its irreverent tone and purportedly obscene content. In the novel, American soldiers use profanity; his language is irreverent; and the book depicts sex. It was one of the first literary acknowledgments that homosexual men, referred to in the novel as "fairies," were among the victims of the Nazi Holocaust.
 
In the USA it has at times been banned from literature classes, removed from school libraries, and struck from literary curricula;[8] however, it is still taught in some schools. The U.S. Supreme Court considered the First Amendment implications of the removal of the book, among others, from public school libraries in the case of Island Trees School District v. Pico, [457 U.S. 853 (1982)], and concluded that "local school boards may not remove books from school library shelves simply because they dislike the ideas contained in those books and seek by their removal to 'prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion.'" Slaughterhouse-Five is the sixty-seventh entry to the American Library Association's list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–1999.
 
Slaughterhouse-Five continues to be controversial. In August 2011, the novel was banned at the Republic High School in Missouri. The Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library countered by offering 150 free copies of the novel to Republic High School students on a first come, first served basis.[9]
 
Criticism
 
The bombing of Dresden in World War II is the central event mentally affecting Billy Pilgrim, the protagonist. Within, Vonnegut says the firebombing killed 135,000 German civilians; he cites The Destruction of Dresden, by David Irving. However, recent publications place the figure between 24,000 and 40,000 and question Irving's research.[10]
 
Critics have accused Slaughterhouse-Five of being a quietist work, because Billy Pilgrim believes that the notion of free will is a quaint Earthling illusion.[11] The problem, according to Robert Merrill and Peter A. Scholl, is that:
Vonnegut's critics seem to think that he is saying the same thing [as the Tralfamadorians]. For Anthony Burgess, “Slaughterhouse is a kind of evasion — in a sense, like J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan — in which we’re being told to carry the horror of the Dresden bombing, and everything it implies, up to a level of fantasy... ” For Charles Harris, “The main idea emerging from Slaughterhouse-Five seems to be that the proper response to life is one of resigned acceptance." For Alfred Kazin, “Vonnegut deprecates any attempt to see tragedy, that day, in Dresden... He likes to say, with arch fatalism, citing one horror after another, ‘So it goes’." For Tanner, “Vonnegut has... total sympathy with such quietistic impulses." And the same notion is found throughout The Vonnegut Statement, a book of original essays written and collected by Vonnegut’s most loyal academic “fans."[11]
 

Allusions and references

Allusions to other works

As in other novels, certain characters cross over from other stories, making cameo appearances, connecting the discrete novels as a greater opus. Science fiction novelist Kilgore Trout, often an important character in other novels, in Slaughterhouse-Five is a social commentator and a friend to Billy Pilgrim. In one case, he is the only non-optometrist at a party, therefore, he is the odd-man-out. He ridicules everything the Ideal American Family holds true, such as Heaven, Hell, and Sin. In Trout's opinion, people do not know if the things they do turn out to be good or bad, and if they turn out to be bad, they go to Hell, where "the burning never stops hurting".
 
Other crossover characters are Eliot Rosewater, from God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater; Howard W. Campbell, Jr., from Mother Night; and Bertram Copeland Rumfoord, relative of Winston Niles Rumfoord, from The Sirens of Titan. Mr Rosewater says that Fyodor Dostoevsky's novel, The Brothers Karamazov, contains "everything there was to know about life". Vonnegut references The Marriage of Heaven and Hell at one point when talking about William Blake, Billy's hospital mate's favourite poet.
 
It should be noted that while Vonnegut re-uses characters, the characters are frequently rebooted and do not necessarily maintain the same biographical details from appearance to appearance. Kilgore Trout in particular is palpably a different person (although with distinct, consistent character traits) in each of his appearances in Vonnegut's work.
 
In the Twayne's United States Authors series volume on Kurt Vonnegut, about the protagonist's name, Stanley Schatt says:
By naming the unheroic hero Billy Pilgrim, Vonnegut contrasts John Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress" with Billy's story. As Wilfrid Sheed has pointed out, Billy's solution to the problems of the modern world is to "invent a heaven, out of 20th century materials, where Good Technology triumphs over Bad Technology. His scripture is Science Fiction, Man's last, good fantasy".[12]
 
 
 
Allusions — historic, geographic, scientific

Slaughterhouse-Five speaks of the fire-bombing of Dresden in World War II, and refers to the Battle of the Bulge, the Vietnam War, and the Black anti-poverty racial riots in American cities during the 1960s. Billy's wife, Valencia, wears a Reagan for President! bumper sticker on her car, referring to Reagan's failed 1968 Republican presidential nomination campaign. The bumper sticker was edited out of a broadcast version of the film which aired on at least one cable channel during or after the Reagan administration. Another bumper sticker is mentioned that says "Impeach Earl Warren."[13]
 
The slaughterhouse in which Billy Pilgrim and the other POWs are kept is also a real building in Dresden. Vonnegut was beaten and imprisoned in this building during World War II, and it is because of the meat locker in the building's basement that he—and Billy—survived the fire-bombing. Today, the site is largely intact and protected. One can visit it and take a two-hour guided tour.
 
Adaptations
 
A film adaptation of the book, also called Slaughterhouse-Five, was made in 1972. Although critically praised, the film was a box office flop. It won the Prix du Jury at the 1972 Cannes Film Festival, as well as a Hugo Award, and Saturn Award. Vonnegut commended the film greatly. Guillermo del Toro has confirmed his intention to remake the 1972 film, originally hoping to release it in early 2011;[14] but due to his previous involvement with The Hobbit, the date of release for a film adaptation was pushed back. Although Guillermo del Toro has since dropped out of involvement with The Hobbit, the possibility of a new Slaughterhouse-Five adaptation remains in question since Del Toro is currently in pre-production on Pacific Rim.[15]
 
In 1989, a theatrical adaption premiered at The Everyman Theatre, Liverpool, in the UK. This was the first time the novel had been presented onstage. It was adapted by Vince Foxall, and directed by Paddy Cunneen. In 1996, a theatrical adaptation of the novel was premiered at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago, IL. The adaptation was written and directed by Eric Simonson and included actors Rick Snyder, Robert Breuler, and Deanna Dunagan.[16] The play has been performed in several other theaters including a January 2008 New York premiere production at the Godlight Theatre Company. The operatic adaptation by Hans-Jürgen von Bose,[17] premiered in July 1996 at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich. Billy Pilgrim II was sung by Uwe Schonbeck.[18]
 
In September 2009 BBC Radio 3 broadcast a feature length radio drama based on the book which was dramatised by Dave Sheasby and which starred Andrew Scott as Billy Pilgrim and was scored by the group 65daysofstatic.[19]

Appearances in popular culture

American psychedelic stoner rock band Nebula makes numerous references to Slaughterhouse-Five in their song "So It Goes", on the 2003 album Atomic Ritual.

British singer-songwriter Nick Lowe loosely references Vonnegut's repeated transition "So It Goes" in his 1976 single of the same name.

 

Celebrating Advent, It's Timeless Meaning and Discovery

 
 

People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived,
reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone- Anon
 
 
Advent season begins each year on the fourth Sunday before December 25. By its name "advent" means coming and refers to Christ's first coming (or First Advent) as the baby Jesus beheld by the church as God in Incarnate Deity. Advent then progresses towards Lent and Easter where Jesus becomes man's atoning sacrifice for our sins and God's sealing promise of redemption to all repentant through His resurrection.
 
Jesus' Second Advent (known as His Second Coming) will be at a day and an hour that no man knows when He shall return to rule and reign to establish His Kingdom among men. Until that time we live within the tension of the already/not yet (known as the upside-down Kingdom) empowered by the Holy Spirit to testify of Christ Jesus' redemption by hearts and tongues, through deeds and acts, until He returns in final deliverance and completing redemptive promise.

As such, Advent is held during the Christmas season and is similar to a mnemonic practice placed into the Christian liturgy of annualized observance and worship. It began in the early church under the Church Fathers and has progressed into a rich tapestry of Christian interpretative religious practice found throughout the branches of Eastern Orthodoxy, Catholicism, Scandinavian, German, Dutch, Latino, Hispanic, and and American churches, to name but a few.

Accordingly, each Christian faith has appealed to the Christmas story of the Gospel of Jesus in some manner to appropriate some element of faith, or practice of belief, that has become meaningful to the journey of the follower of Christ by liturgical observance or confessional creed, by hallowed deed or truant prayer. Why? To reflect the deeper meaning of Christ's birth and the preparedness of the God's people Israel for His coming (as evidenced by John the Baptist's parents found in Luke 1) to the long-awaited divine event of salvation that led to Jesus' Cross of Atonement and the empowerment of the Church for ministry in place of His abstinence (Acts 1-3). Hence, on the Day of Pentecost, 50 days after Christ's resurrection, came God's Holy Spirit to empower the Church to bear witness to Jesus' life, passion, death and resurrection until He returns in His Second Advent to rule and to reign as King and Lord over a new heavens and new earth (Rev 1-18; specifically, Rev 19-22).
 
Until that time, the church is to minister to all men everywhere - to reclaim faith to the lost; to help in works of grace and salutation; to seek a living faith that is found in the substance of works and deeds and not simply on the lips of merciless hearts and faithless men; to refuse sinful temptations; to deny the idolatrous practices of fleshly worship (as found in the extremes of self-denial on the one hand, and the excesses of hedonism on the other); to bind the wounds of the heart and body; to care for the needs of the sick, the dying, the impoverished, and despised; to preach a gospel of love and good will, peace and assurance that are founded on the promises and testimonies of God in both the Old and New Testaments. These are but some of the ministries of the church until Christ returns again.

Into the rich traditions of the Church has come the integration of the Jewish-Christian calendars of observance to the liturgical practices and observations of Christian churches. But rather than refuse our Jewish brethren's desire to behold their Lord and Savior within their own Jewish Calendar year (which is unlike the Gentile/Julian Calendar (*sic the Roman calendar we use today) of Advent-Lent-Easter), the orthodox Church is learning to embrace and appreciate its earlier Jewish roots that may enliven previously set practices and traditions perhaps become historically mundane or exhausted. Originally, because of its nearness to both time and location of the Middle East, the early Church followed the Hebrew calendar until it grew beyond its Jewishness into the Gentile practices of the Romans and then worldwide.

To God, the Christian practice of faith is transcultural, transnational, and transtemporal.  That is, Christianity does not need to be centralized within one cultural distinctive or another. It was ever meant to be global. To be all, and one, and more, as the nations worshipped God with one another. That is, there is no religious advantage (or biblical advantage) of worshipping God as a Jew or as a Gentile where all are one in Christ Jesus. True, Judaism has the advantage of prior OT customs and traditions, but as we know from reading the OT, they were little observed and oftentimes were desecrated by Israel in continuing cycles of failure and judgment. As well, were the early Church customs initially based in Jewish traditions but over time leavened out within the customs and traditions of other lands and cultures. But the gospel of Jesus allows this. Jesus saw it coming when speaking of wineskins, mustard seeds, and mountains. That all would change in Him.

Thus, the church is at liberty to revision and repurpose its faith in Jesus through a variety of worship styles, liturgies, calendars, practices of austerity or non-austerity (such is found at Lent), and on and on. It may adapt previous pagan practices and customs by Christianizing them (as we do in America with the idea of Christmas; or the Druids did in England; or the Scandinavians did with their Norse Mythologies). Or the church may backfill Jewish traditions within its practices where it might make sense to the land and people (sic, perhaps mid-Eastern cultures, for instance). These adaptations are allowable according to the Apostle Paul who preached the freedom of faith observance everywhere. Or the church may use some combination of the above. But whether by Jesus or by Paul, the church was understood to be free to create - that there is no wrong way to worship God nor His blessings of redemption. That all is sanctified in Christ Jesus.

And so, with the idea of "more" in mind, we are free in Christ to set forth any kind of Christianized version that comes to our hearts and souls. Ideally, it would hearken back to Scriptural precedent... but in hindsight, the only precedent the early church had in the New Testament was that of its Jewish precursors. Consequently, just as new wine requires new wineskins, so the Gospel of Jesus is free to transform and develop into variant traditions and customs meaningful to the receiving people group. Be it Hispanic or Latino, Asian or Indonesian, South Pacific or Korean, Muslim and African, or even within polyglot nations like America. The Gospel is wide enough - and deep enough - to embrace all the customs and traditions of mankind.

It is but left to us to root those same customs and traditions into the understanding of God's grace and redemption, and not necessarily towards the Jewish customs of the time (for they too were ever rooted in the grace and redemption of the Almighty God of Heaven and Earth!). This is the freedom that the Gospel brings with it. That the faith of Jesus can be trans-national, trans-cultural, and even trans-temporal, by which is meant "from age-to-age ever the same but ever changing, transforming, renewing, and enlivening." ... Not surprisingly, the gospel of Jesus does that you know.

As such, we might chose topics of hope, peace, joy, and love as pictured in the Advent candles of Christmas-time by some faiths. Or, we might seek releasing forms of worship, prayer, assembly and enactment together as practiced by other faiths. Or, we might take aspects of Jesus' life that epitomize His grace, mercy, ministry and sacrifice. As can be seen, there are many ways to regard this season of Advent. It may be in the spirit of Christmas which observes the spirit of our Lord wrapped around gifts of generosity, thoughtfulness, good will, and humor with one another. Or through the simple symbols of Santa Claus, elves, reindeer, Christmas trees, bright and coloured lights, singing and charitable giving.

It is a powerful statement that Christ Jesus has touched all things human - from our holidays, to our community life, to our governance with one another. There is no such thing as either secular or sacred in Christ. In God all are one lest we become too religious for our own good, and that of the world around us, whom we as Christians of faith should be ministering to and reaching out to. To debate a Christianized form of Christmas by saying we observe only its Advent form is to make a finer distinction that seems to be unwarranted within the spirit of the gospel (and of the Bible itself as we've shown). And perhaps in the statement discover its only appeal is to that of our flesh, our religious pride, and spirit of human insolence (for isn't the base of sin man's pride of legalism and refusal of Jesus' atoning provision?).

Consequently, every church is free to imagine its own customs and traditions according to its corresponding beliefs in the bible and of God Himself. And it is to this point that we would all do well to appreciate all the customs and traditions of the church, and in doing so learn to appreciate from one another the global beauty of this time of year. Be it in the form of the spirit of Christmas or of that of the Church's Advent observance. Much can be gained when listening to one another. This is the beauty of the gospel. Herein in wisdom.

However, the rhymes and rhythms of this holiday season can never be more poignantly expressed than through the opening lines of this article. That, "People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone." When centering on Jesus we soon discover that He centers all things in our lives around the Story of His birth, life, witness, and sacrifice. That it becomes our larger story of faith relinquishing us from ourselves and from life's haughty demands. That the essence of Christ's First Advent is found in the ideas of restoration to God, renewal in God, revival through God, reclamation by God, and redemption because of God. In all things is God our Redeemer. Our Savior. Our Immanuel come to bring eternal life that begins in our here-and-now. Not later. But today. Reveal in Christ's birth. It was for this reason He came.
 
And because Advent is a time of restoration, renewal, revival, reclamation, and redemption, we now know that it's time has come to us today. Not simply during the Advent season of Christmas, nor that of Lent and Easter, but each and every day of our living faith. This is the great, good joy of our Christian celebration. It is Jesus who is our own advent, epiphany, second coming, and Lord. No wonder the angels sang, and the shepherds rang out the bells on Christmas morn to one and all.

Ring out the Bells!
Ring out the Bells!
Let them Peal,
To One and All!
Sing Out in Hail,
Sing Out in Fellowship!
In Wonder and Awe,
In Beauty and Grace!
The Christ Child Comes,
Christ Comes this Day!

 ...And He has Come to the Heart of every man and woman and child in the swaddling cloths of divine humility and glorified grace. May God's peace be with you this day, as on every advent day of this coming new year. Amen.
 
R.E. Slater
December 3, 2012
 

(click to enlarge any picture)
 
 
 
Sampling Advent Customs & Traditions
 
The Christian Liturgical Calendar - Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Eastern Christians, and traditional Protestant communities frame worship around a liturgical calendar. This includes holy days, such as solemnities which commemorate an event in the life of Jesus or the saints, periods of fasting such as Lent, and other pious events such as memoria or lesser festivals commemorating saints. Christian groups that do not follow a liturgical tradition often retain certain celebrations, such as Christmas, Easter and Pentecost. A few churches make no use of a liturgical calendar. - Wikipedia
 
Catholic Understanding of Advent - http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01165a.htm
Antiochian (Eastern) Orthodoxy Customs - http://www.antiochian.org/1132082814
Greek Orthodoxy Calendar - http://www.goarch.org/chapel/calendar/
German Observance of Advent - http://www.german-way.com/christmasAdv.html
Reformed Church of America - https://www.rca.org/advent
Christian Reformed Advent Devotionals - http://www.crcna.org/pages/osj_adventdevotions.cfm

The Hebrew Calendar - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hebrew_calendar
Jewish Calendar (complete) - http://www.hebcal.com/holidays/2012-2013
Jewish Holidays Cheat Sheet (to understanding all things Jewish) - http://www.interfaithfamily.com/holidays/other_holidays/Jewish_Holidays_Cheat_Sheet.shtml


Comparison of Church Liturgical Calendars

 

Western

Eastern

The Jewish Calendar

Holiday
Hebrew Yr 5773
Description
Rosh HashanaSep 17-18, 2012The Jewish New Year
Yom KippurSep 26, 2012Day of Atonement
SukkotOct 1-2, 2012
Oct 3-7, 2012
Feast of Tabernacles
Shmini AtzeretOct 8, 2012Eighth Day of Assembly
Simchat TorahOct 9, 2012Day of Celebrating the Torah
ChanukahDec 9-16, 2012The Jewish festival of rededication, also known as the Festival of Lights
PurimFeb 24, 2013Purim is one of the most joyous and fun holidays on the Jewish calendar
PesachMar 26-27, 2013
Mar 28-31, 2013
Apr 1-2, 2013
Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread
ShavuotMay 15-16, 2013Festival of Weeks, commemorates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai
Tish'a B'AvJul 16, 2013The Ninth of Av, fast commemorating the destruction of the two Temples


The Origins of Advent
 
Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon
 
In the Roman Catholic Church and other Christian churches of the West, the several weeks prior to Christmas are known as Advent, a name from a Latin word meaning "coming." It happens that the beginning of Advent always falls on the Sunday closest to November 30, the ancient feast day (in both East and West) of the Apostle Andrew. Among Christians in the West, this preparatory season, which tends to be slightly less rigorous than Lent and often involves no special fasting at all, always begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. Thus, from year to year it will vary in length between 3 and 4 weeks, but always with four Sundays.
 
The observance of the season of Advent is fairly late. One finds no sermons for Advent, for instance, among the liturgical homilies of St. Leo the Great in the mid-fifth century. About that time, however, the season was already emerging in Spain and Gaul. A thousand years later, the time of the Reformation, Advent was preserved among the liturgical customs of the Anglicans and Lutherans; in more recent years, other Protestant groups have informally begun to restore it, pretty much as it had originally started--one congregation at a time.
 
In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the corresponding penitential season of preparation for Christmas always begins on November 15, the day after the Feast of the Apostle Philip. For this reason it is popularly known as St. Philip's Fast. A simple count of the days between November 15 and December 25 shows that this special period lasts exactly 40 days, the same as Lent.
 
More recently Christians of the Orthodox Church have begun to call this season by its Latin name, "Advent." One now finds the term standard in publications of the Antiochian Archdiocese, for instance. The adoption of the word "Advent" by Eastern Orthodox Christians is inspired by the same reason that prompted the adoption of other Latin theological terms, such "Sacraments," "Incarnation," and "Trinity." Very simply, these are the recognizable theological terms that have passed into Western languages. They also happen to be theologically accurate! If the Christian West can adopt Greek terms like "Christology," it seems only fair for the Christian East to adopt Latin terms like "Incarnation."
 
(On the other hand, one finds some Orthodox Christians, especially among recent, hyperactive converts from Western churches, who resist the adoption of the word "Advent," preferring to speak of "Winter Lent" or some such anomaly. One is hard pressed to explain this eccentric, lamentable preference for Anglo-Saxon over Latin on a point of theology.)
 
Several other features of Advent deserve some comment:
  • First, in the West the First Sunday of Advent is treated as the beginning of the liturgical year. (In the East, the liturgical year does not begin with Advent but on September 1, which bears the traditional title, "Crown of the Year." Its historical relationship to the Jewish feast of Rosh Hashana is obvious.)
  •  
  • Second, during the twentieth century there arose the lovely custom of the Advent wreath, both in church buildings and in homes. This wreath lies horizontal and is adorned with four candles. The latter, (symbolic of the four millennia covered in Old Testament history), are lit, one at a time, on each Saturday evening preceding the four Sundays of Advent, by way of marking the stages in the season until Christmas. This modern practice has already started in some Orthodox Christian homes, where the longer season requires six candles on the Advent wreath.
  •  
  • Third, because of its emphasis on repentance, Advent is a season of great seriousness, not a time proper for festivity, much less of partying and secular concerns. Advent is not part of the Christmas holidays, and Christians of earlier times would be shocked at the current habit of treating this as a period of jolly good times and "Christmas cheer," complete with office parties, the trimming of Christmas trees and other domestic adornments, the exchange of gifts, caroling, and even the singing of Christmas music in church.
 
All of these festive things are part of the celebration of Christmas itself, which lasts the 12 days from December 25 to January 6.
 
The seasons of the liturgical year involve more than liturgical services. The liturgical seasons is supposed to govern the lives of those who observe them. For this reason, anticipating these properly Christmas activities during Advent considerably lessens the chance of our being properly prepared, by repentance, for the grace of that greater season; it also heightens the likelihood that we will fall prey to the worldly spirit that the commercial world would encourage during this time.

Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon is pastor of All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Chicago, Illinois, and a Senior Editor of Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity.