JR. Forasteros - October 29, 2017
Sitting with Grief
From Series: "Good Grief"
We avoid pain and grief as much as possible. When faced with someone else's grief, we avoid or offer platitudes. But the book of Lamentations invites us to sit with grief, to enter into the prophetic process of Lament. In this series, we'll explore how to grieve and how to be a friend to the grieving. Ultimately, we'll see how the process of lament invites us to be agents of healing in the larger world.
More From "Good Grief"
One of my favorite movies of all time is John Carpenter’s 1982 sci-fi horror film THE THING, starring Kurt Russel. It’s actually a remake (see, Hollywood doing remakes isn’t new!) of a 1950s movie, which is, in turn, based on a short story by sci-fi author John Campbell. Campbell is a huge name in the science fiction community. He was the editor for the famous Astounding Science Fiction magazine that discovered such notable talents as Isaac Asimov. It’s not an exaggeration to call Campbell the grandfather of modern science-fiction.
If you’re a science fiction geek, you’ve probably heard of the Hugo Awards – they’re sci-fi literature’s version of the Oscars. And it’s probably not a big surprise that the Hugo Award for Best New Writer is called the John W Campbell Award.
Or at least it was until last year.
Last year, a Chinese-British woman named Jeannette Ng won the award. When she got up to give her acceptance speech, she was gracious and grateful. Then she pointed out something the science fiction community has long known and has been wrestling with: John Campbell was deeply, virulently and unapologetically racist. You can see it in his fiction, in his personal correspondents and in the way he edited his magazines – who he let in, who he kept out.
Ng’s speech sent shockwaves through the science-fiction community. Not because she was saying anything new, but because she was saying out loud, in public, at an awards ceremony, what everyone had been saying in private:
The way this community continued to revere one of its founders was wrong.
For all the good Campbell did, he did more wrong. The very stories that are celebrated today would never have made it past his desk.
So the team in charge of the Hugo awards changed the name of the award. This year, they awarded the Astounding Award, after the magazine, rather than the author.
This is no small thing. The John W Campbell award was designed to celebrate the best new authors of science fiction. But because so many of those authors are persons Campbell himself openly derided as less human than him, the award was tainted. It was an artefact of the worst parts of the sci-fi community, one that they were glad to shed.
Renaming the award was a movement toward justice. It was a step to change the artefacts that comprise their culture.
We’re going to talk about the physical components of our culture today. And we’re going to talk about them specifically with regards to race. Because, believe it or not, God cares deeply about the material stuff of our faith. Those material markers, the artefacts of our faith, are how we tell the story of who we are, and where we’re headed.