My Completely Irrational, Unscientific, Orthodox, Fringe System of Belief (Parts 5-6)

Recently, a co-worker asked whether we’ve reached the place in American culture where Christianity is seen as a fringe system of belief. I rattled off nine reasons why, if we’re honest, Christianity should be considered a fringe system of belief to those in the world at large. This Advent season, I’m exploring these beliefs and offering a somewhat surprising conclusion. Today, I'll explore reasons 5-6. 

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MY COMPLETELY IRRATIONAL, UNSCIENTIFIC, ORTHODOX, FRINGE SYSTEM OF BELIEF

(Click the links for POINT 1, POINT 2POINT 3, and POINT 4.)

 

POINT 5-6: We believe that Jesus was (5) convicted of claiming to be God, and (6) murdered.

It's a country run amok, one in a violent and tempestuous historical moment. The police, the government--all ruling authorities--are at odds with the people, and they push back waive after waive of protestors. The brown-skinned babies born under an expansive empire are opportunity-stripped. Some die under the hand of an authoritative, fear-mongoring government; others are relegated to menial labor, to service of the wealthier classes. Any attempt to revolutionize the system or seize opportunity is beaten back by the system itself. It's a world of oppression and sickness for most, and opportunity for only the elect.

These are the days into which Jesus was born. Sound familiar?

In the midst of all that injustice, God swung low. He came pouring revolutionary wine. He healed the sick, restored community to the lepers and the hemorrhaging. He taught good news in the temple, and bucked a legal system that would condemn an adulteress to capital punishment in the street. He showed mercy to those in need of mercy. He fed the hungry (5,000 of them to boot!), drove out demons, and calmed the storms.

He was God-with-us and the powers did not recognize him. They closed their eyes to his God-with-us-ness, plugged their ears to the Spirit and sang "la la la la la la la." They hauled him before the powerful Yes Men, the men elected to keep the status quo.  "He claims to be God!" the rulers said, "let's crucify him." Producing no evidence warranting a conviction, and ignoring all evidence proving his deific nature, they rigged the trial and marched Jesus to a blasphemers slaughter.

This was humanity's darkest hour. The pinnacle of creation convicted the Creator, and then they murdered him.

The powers murdered God. And I fear they're murdering him still.

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Thank you for reading. Follow along this Advent season as I explore my Completely Irrational, Unscientific, Orthodox, Fringe System of Belief.

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*Photo by David Antis, Creative Commons via Flickr.

 

Sinking the Will

I've been working on another lengthy piece of writing. This, perhaps, is folly since I have not yet published my first lengthy piece of writing (a novel I scratched out last year). No matter; I have thrown caution to the wind and myself into words upon words upon words. (Because that's what we need. Right? More words?) This morning, I reflected on the act of putting the will to death. I'm not sure whether this excerpt will be helpful to anyone, but I rather enjoyed writing it and thought I'd share. Enjoy.

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"I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me." -the Bible

"...for it is God who works in you, both to will and work for his good pleasure" -the Bible again.

There are, of course, various responses to any voice, including the voice of the Still Small, the voice of the mystic whisper. I suppose the myriad potential responses mingle somewhere within the place we call the human will. The will—is this the part of humanity that must be mastered? Is this the “I” that must be “crucified with Christ," so that "[i]t is no longer I who live?” The will, though—isn’t it most persistent, most vicious, that dogged biting bitch?

As I see it, the crucifixion of the will feels less like a crucifixion and more like a drowning, or a sinking. Perhaps this is because I’ve never been crucified and don’t plan on being any time soon. I’ve never seen a crucifixion either (in fact, I avoided watching Mel Gibson's famous Christ flick, The Passion of the Christ, because I could not stand to watch such graphic torture). What's more, I don’t suppose I'll happen upon the infamous form of Roman torture anytime soon. My hands have never been pierced through, and I’ve never worn a crown of thorns. I have, however, been impaled by my fair share of Texan field stickers, but I don’t reckon this to be even the remotest of corollaries.

In any event, I’ve never been crucified, but I have been on a sinking ship. For the sake of honesty, I should confess that it was really more of a sinking canoe, but the principle holds. I was with my father when the canoe capsized, and though my feet could touch the bottom, the icy spring waters of the Buffalo River robbed me of any semblance of orientation.

Yes, I think that killing the worst part of the will feels less like a crucifixion and more like the sinking of your own ship.

Every time I consider releasing addictions—that infernal everyday occurrence—a familiar capsizing dread creeps in, and with it, the skin prickle of the cold Buffalo waters. These things steal breath, right?

Perhaps you might say, "Seth, you are creating similes for nothing more than common anxiety and mild panic." Allow me to respond: I find nothing common feeling about either anxiety or panic. You might tell me that anxiety and panic can be mastered by stopping, breathing, relaxing, and the like. Does such a thing work for the passengers of a sinking ship, though? Doesn't every well-meaning person panic when their Lusitanias are sinking? This capsizing of the will, after all, is the opening salvo that brings the internal War to End All Wars.

This is the analogy I'm going with. I'm sinking my own Lusitania, even if that luxury ship resurrects every day—ah, those familiar beautiful ghost ships! And if it should resurrect, I have the opportunity to let it float through the channel, or commit it to drowning again. And perhaps again. And perhaps again. Yes, it is a daily decision to sink the will, a decision that I'm often to pooped to make.

But just when I think I can no longer sink my ship for the umpteenth time, I call upon the Mightiest of Guns, and he comes roaring in. Ah, the Mightiest of Guns!

Lord, Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Drown my will and bring peace to the War to End All Wars.