Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN


October 9, 2012

Lion and the Lamb: Music in the middle of rubble

CROSSVILLE — We live in a difficult, destructive, discouraging time. We have enough "natural" problems with forest fires and tornadoes without having to endure the horrible senseless numbers of deaths by bullets and bombs.

Amidst our agony are there any examples of hope?  I have one for your reflection.

It is hard to imagine a bleaker place than Bosnia in 1992. Ethnic tensions, centuries old, had flared again.  Protestant Serbs, Orthodox Croats, and Sunni Muslims battled for political control. Detention camps specializing in torture arose everywhere as each group tried to contain the others. Neighborhoods that had been integrated for years became ground zero for ethnic cleansing. A history of bitterness long thought gone raged again. It was a bloody, seemingly hopeless, time.  

Vedran Smailovic was a Bosinian born in 1956 in Sarajevo. He became a professional cellist who played in the Sarajevo Opera Theater. Describing 1992 and that period of war, Smailovic said Sarajevo was "the capital of hell." The Opera Theater was in ruins. The economy was in shambles. The prospect of ever reuniting the country dwindled day by day.

Then, at four in the afternoon on May 22, 1992, a long line of starving people were shelled as they waited in front of the only bakery left in Sarajevo. Twenty-two people died.

The next day, as more hungry people lined up again to beg for bread, Vedran Smailovic, dressed in the black suit and tie in which he had played every night until the Opera Theater was incinerated, arrived carrying his cello and a chair.

Smailovic sat down in the middle of the rubble and, surrounded by the debris of war, the stench of death and the despair of those still living, he began to play Albinoni's "Adagio." And, no matter rhe continuing danger, he came back to the same place for 21 days after that to do the same thing, to honor each life that had been lost in the bakery line.

Today there is, in the spot where Smailiovic sat, a monunument of a man in a chair playing a cello.  The monument is to his refusal to surrender to evil.  It is to the hope that  beauty and joy can rise up and be reborn in the midst of a living hell.  It is about being open to the God of surprising newness.  It is about living the resurrection in our time.

• • •

This column is sponsored by Cumberland Countians for Peace and Justice and dedicated by the local writers to the theme that the lion and the lamb can and must learn to live together and grow in their relationship toward one another to ensure a better world. Opinions expressed in “Lion and the Lamb” columns are not necessarily those of the Crossville Chronicle publisher, editor or staff. For more information, contact Ted Braun, editor, at 277-5135.

Text Only
  • LION AND THE LAMB: Four ways to demonstrate opposition

    Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan mention in their book, “The Last Week,” that Roman-occupied Palestine during the first century was under the control of Pontius Pilate who lived in the coastal city of Caesarea. Each year at the beginning of the Passover observance when Jews celebrated their liberation from Egypt, Pilate feared that they might be getting ideas about revolting from Rome, so he would come with additional soldiers on horses to beef up the Roman garrison in Jerusalem. 

    April 15, 2014

  • WE THE PEOPLE: Is it (new) party time?

    The Democratic and Republican parties are toast, according to Joe Trippi. The Republican Party is coming apart at its Tea Party seam. Democratic candidates struggle to celebrate President Obama’s health care successes, while responding to criticism of his failed promises, e.g., government transparency.

    April 15, 2014

  • TIDBITS: I found it at the library

    I have such fond memories of going to my local library as a child, searching through shelf after shelf and finding a book that would make me a Little Princess in World War II England, or bring me along as Nancy Drew solved the Secret in the Old Attic.

    April 14, 2014

  • STUMPTALK: The reason words have meaning

    If words did not have accepted meanings we would not be able to communicate effectively and civilized society would not exist.

    April 14, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Do we really believe in democracy?

    The recent Supreme Court decision, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, is in a long line of debates about power in a democracy. Should power be in the hands of all the citizens or should it be in hands of those who have greater wealth and social position?

    April 8, 2014

  • We the People: Public education or business opportunity?

    A month ago, we followed the money trail left by a ‘think tank’ to the major sources funding an attack on our traditional, locally controlled public schools. We saw that a handful of billionaires provide major support to many organizations lobbying for change.

    April 8, 2014

  • Stumptalk: Just another government lie?

    There is a vault located in Fort Knox, Kentucky. It was built in 1936 and encased in 16 cubic feet of granite and 4200 feet of cement. The door is made of 20-inch thick material that is immune to drills, torches and explosives.

    April 7, 2014

  • GARY'S WORLD: The chance to speak your mind

    Are you tired of hearing people complain about the way things are run in Cumberland County? Or, do you like the way the county government is run and operated in our beautiful county?
    Are you happy with the way things are, or would you like some change?

    April 3, 2014

  • LION AND THE LAMB: Digging beneath the headlines

    Our media have been focusing on two important events that have taken place overseas during the last several weeks.

    April 1, 2014

  • WE THE PEOPLE: SNAP, health and work

    A recent letter from Representative Diane Black to me states that she voted for the farm bill (with $8 million in Food Stamp (SNAP) benefit cuts) because she, like me, is a supporter of food stamp benefits for Tennessee families who qualify. That’s a lot of families, as most recipients are families with children and the elderly. Now, recall that there was already a major cut to the food stamp program back in the fall. But for some Republicans, that was not enough.

    April 1, 2014

Marketplace Marquee
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Weather Radar
2014 Readers' Choice