|Sunny Days in Heaven
Spiritual/Political/Philosophical Blog on the Nature of Truth and Falsehood and Heaven
Wednesday, February 25, 2004 Truth is the cause
Whenever I meditate on Jesus' passion, I am moved to tears. It is not that the death of one man is so much greater than another's, but that not only is the death of Jesus a crying shame, but that it was also an attempt to murder Truth.
And that attempt gets put into practice everyday by all sorts of people.
There is nothing I love more than the Truth, and the continuous attempts by individuals and groups to try and destroy Truth always breaks my heart. For Truth is not something, but a person also. When people try to kill Truth, they are attempting to murder two people - themselves and God.
But there was a moment in time when there was a single human being, the best that ever lived, who ran toward Truth (himself) rather than away. And for that, he was brutally murdered.
And his death did not stop the madness of human life, but his resurrection made it possible to hope for and attain an end to misery and mortality.
Okay, I'm a sucker for the lost dog story, the child in jeopardy, the young wife who dies in childbirth, the loving husband who dies in battle -- but the death of Jesus seems to contain all that and more -- it contains all the sadness, pain, misery, injustice, cruelty people have suffered since the beginning and to come.
It is grief overwhelming, yet cleansing. Do we weep for Hamlet, Lear, Oedipus, The Trojan Women? Yes, but not like this. This is like every hurt we've ever known, and all those we've ever heard of blossoming in our chests with utter sympathy.
I am a little astonished at some reviews of Gibson's movie (which I have yet to see), which dismiss the crucifixion as unmoving. One reviewer, a believing Jew, could find nothing more in Jesus' death than in that of anyone else's. Just one more murdered Jew, was his take. Bad, of course, but no more important or special.
That's true, of course, if Jesus has nothing to tell anyone about Truth more than anyone else. Of course, I am a little startled how easily so many decide that Jesus knows nothing more about truth than anyone else. That so many can read the gospels and say, "That's interesting, but not compelling", will never cease to amaze me. For there is no greater or clearer exposition of Truth than in the New Testament except for a direct manifestation of the risen Jesus.
Now, that manifestation is fairly rare since it frightens and causes people to flee more than it helps. Thus, we have the more mediated form of God (Truth) presented in scripture. It is less frightening in fact, but no less terrifying in effect (since it demands change and repentance), and so people fly from that, too; or have so hardened their hearts as to be immune to grace.
I am always amazed at how much people hate Truth.
(I am thinking about making a movie about Truth. A documentary where I go around asking people about Truth. Anyone interested in such a project?)
In their coverage of The Passion, the predictably contrarian website Salon.com turned to the Rev. Mark Stanger, one of the pastors at the trendy Grace Cathedral, an Episcopal church in San Francisco. "100 percent Hollywood trash," is how he described it. What was his advice to moviegoers? "I'd say don't bother. I think it's a big bore. I think a 5-year-old who has to get cancer surgery and radiation and chemotherapy suffers more than Jesus suffered; I think that a kid in the Gaza Strip who steps on a land mine and loses two limbs suffers more; I think a battered wife with no resources suffers more; I think people without medical care dying of AIDS in Africa suffer more than Jesus did that day. I mean, I don't want to take away from that, but this preoccupation with the intensity of the suffering, I think, has no theological or spiritual value."
There is a fatal lackof imagination at work in such people as the minister above. It is not that Jesus necessarily suffered more, but that his suffering is of all. It puts everyone's suffering into a perfect context and meaning. To miss that is to miss everything (and to admit that the suffering of the boy in chemotherapy et al doesn't really mean anything to you other than as a ploy).
But Steve Beard adds:
I have been a Christian for 20 years and after seeing The Passion I wanted to sign up all over again.
That's how I felt after seeing The Gospel of John. posted by Mark Butterworth | 11:44 AM |