IVP - Strangely Dim - The Cedar Journals

June 17, 2005

The Cedar Journals

by David A. Zimmerman

I spent a week recently at Cedar Campus, a camping facility associated with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. I was serving as staff for "Encountering God," a study track for college students. I drove there alone, and I drove home alone, but in between I ate, played and bunked with a bunch of people I'd never met. Being a neurotically social person, I found my transition into camp life difficult, and I caught myself journaling quite a lot. The journal is presented here, in chronological installments, for your own amusement.

Monday, May 16, 2005
I had a front row seat to an interpretive dance today. I was so close to her that I could see her muscles twitch as she moved, so close that I feared she might fall into me. And as close as I was to her makeshift stage, she brought her dance even closer, using every inch of space available to her. With burning candles on one side and dumbstruck people on all other sides, she danced back and forth, exploiting every part of her stage for her creative act.

I was not the audience, despite all evidence to the contrary. God was her audience; I was merely her witness. We didn't clap as she finished--quite frankly we didn't know what to do when she finished. This was her private moment with God, on full display to the rest of us.

How ought I respond? King Herod watched his daughter dance and was moved to offer her whatever she wanted; some speculate that her dance was erotic and his gift motivated by lust. But this dance was not that dance, and whereas Herod was undoubtedly his daughter's audience, for this dance I was merely a witness.

I'd imagine that Jesus' disciples found themselves in my uncomfortable position on many occasions. I think particularly of a time when a woman interrupted their dinner to wash Jesus' feet with her hair and her costly perfume. They couldn't not witness it; all eyes were on Jesus, and the smell of the nard filled the room. I played the part of one such disciple once, in an Easter remembrance at my church, and I suppose I played that part again today.

We're tempted to play the audience--to critique the dance, to question the motives, to challenge the propriety of the gift. In that moment, however, I elevate myself over my brother or sister in Christ not only by judging but by claiming the right to judge. Jesus will have nothing to do with such nonsense. To the disciples who complain about the money wasted on such demonstrative extravagance, Jesus counters that she shall be remembered forever for it. To the sister who complains that there's more important work to be done, Jesus says to settle down and join in. To the Pharisee who calls her a sinner, Jesus declares her a saint.


As I've previously reported, Batman Begins is wicked cool, and has given me the added pleasure of writing more broadly on superheroes than my book. PopMatters is currently running my article "Cape Fear" about the role of fear in the Batman mythology. I've been interviewed twice about the film (both times before I even saw it!), and I have one more article related to the film to be posted online in July. I've said it before, I'll say it again: God bless Batman.

In other news, my favorite feature of my favorite radio station, "Lin's Bin" on WXRT-Chicago, ran an audio essay on the use of the definite article in naming rock bands; it's now required listening for my interns at InterVarsity Press, and recommended listening for everyone else I know. It'll be posted soon for download as the 06/17/05 entry at XRT's website.

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at June 17, 2005 8:03 AM Bookmark and Share


I believe that's supposed to be "wickedly cool."

Comment by: Joice Gouw at June 28, 2005 3:31 PM

Everybody's an English major . . .

Comment by: dave at June 30, 2005 1:28 PM

Comments are closed for this entry.

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Behind the Strangeness

Lisa Rieck is a reader and writer who likes to discuss good ideas over hot drinks and gets inspired by the sky. She takes in all kinds of good ideas as a proofreader for InterVarsity Press.

Rebecca Larson is a writer/designer/creative type who has infiltrated IVP's web department, where she writes and edits online content. She enjoys a good pun and loves the smell of freshly printed books.

David A. Zimmerman is an editor for Likewise Books and a columnist for Burnside Writers Collective. He's written three books, most recently The Parable of the Unexpected Guest. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/unexpguest. Find his personal blog at loud-time.com.

Suanne Camfield is a publicist for InterVarsity Press and a freelance writer. She floats ungracefully between work, parenting and writing, and (much to her dismay) finds it impossible to read on a treadmill. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and blogs at The Rough Cut.

Likewise Books from InterVarsity Press explore a thoughtful, active faith lived out in real time in the midst of an emerging culture.

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