Wednesday, 25 June 2008

And the Winner is...

Love bade me welcome, yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-ey'd Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lack'd anything.

from the Poem, Love, by George Herbert.

Summer is here once more, and along with it comes, for me at least, several visits to the cinema.
I, like many of my friends, enjoy the whole experience of going out to view the latest blockbuster or thought-provoking movie.
This summer promises to be a bumper season, with the new Batman movie (The Dark Knight) and the return of the X Files just around the corner, as well as The Happening (now on release) and Quantum of Solace (007) to keep us happy, but the season commenced with the return of an old favourite in the guise of Harrison Ford once more donning the famous hat to reprise his role as Indiana Jones in the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls.

Now the critics have written at length on how you have to 'suspend belief' for this one, but what's the headline there? Indy films have always been about good fantasy romp, and this one certainly follows suit, but like the others, this one does actually seek to say something a little deeper beneath the wrapping (actually, the wrapping in this one is fun - watch out for the fridge scene in particular).
The story really is asking what makes us wealthy. 'Mac' (Ray Winstone) - Indy's duplicitous cockney side-kick, spends most of the film seeking to wheel and deal himself into gaining riches, and meets a fairly predictable end as a result. Irina Spalko, a Russian agent played by Cate Blanchett, seeks power from the extra-dimensional element of the story through knowledge, and suffers an Icarus-like consequence. Indy, our hero, re-discovers that real wealth lies in reunion with Marion Ravenwood (played once again by Karen Allen) and all the 'bumps and blessings' that brings to life. The film then, at least in that sense, is asking us what do we think matters the most?

I often find myself wondering these days how much 'value' there is in the things I do or say - how can you really decide if this or that is truly meaningful?

When we love someone, we seek to act toward them for the best, even if that means sacrifice or suffering (often for ourselves) to achieve that end. Christianity truly seeks to unveil and express the underlying reason why we find this so important to life - it is a reflection of the relationship of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

A real clue here is when we stop and think for a moment about beauty.
Umberto Eco noted that something which is beautiful is something 'which would make us happy if it were ours but remains beautiful even if belonging to someone else'. Something beautiful, then, is something which can be enjoyed purely for what it is; the balm of the last few hours of a summer's day, the calming sound of a stream, the form and grace in the line of the human frame. The mere fact we can encounter these things is its own reward.
In a similar fashion, when we invest worth into another, we do so because we see the beauty of doing something which is valuable beyond a merely transitory or superficial value - we give of ourselves because we understand that doing so will enrich another and thereby confirm, even enforce a beauty that we understand is meant to endure, even past the darkness of death.
To 'glorify' life in such a fashion resonates with the truth that such an exchange is a currency of eternal value.

Christianity is focused and fueled by the eternal relationship between Father, Son and Spirit, each divine person adoring, delighting and deferring to the others. It is this union and communion, this exquisite fellowship of true significance, that God desires through grace to become the hallmark woven into all of creation. That is the purpose behind His giving and our receiving of Jesus Christ - the breaking out of a peace infused with all the wealth of such an amazing imperative.

As we seek to look upon, point to and share the beauty, let us pray that the Father, Son and Spirit may cause many to taste of this, and thereby know the reality of the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.


Sensuous Wife said...

When we love someone, we seek to act toward them for the best, even if that means sacrifice or suffering (often for ourselves) to achieve that end.
Oh my God.


God knew I needed to hear that tonight. Thank you, Howard. Rich blessings on you, friend.

Steve said...

I think you've described 'love' is the best possible way.

That 'love' is an eternal expression of caring and wanting the best for the other at the sake of ourselves, seems to me, to be the heart of it.

And to tie it all together around the person of Jesus and His love and sacrifice for us gives it purpose and meanining.

It would be easy to turn love into the selfish, emotional, etereal mass of mush, and it often is.

I've heard it said that love is not so much a feeling as it is a role that we pick up and play.

That we might play that role for the sake of the other is the greatest gift we can share.

May we endure the sufferings of this broken life and make it through to see Himself and the total expression of Love that is our Lord Jesus.

Howard said...

SW - He is able to rescue us and keep us to the uttermost!

Steve - Yes, it's so vital to understand love as much more than a feeling, but as the defining character of God towards us in our pityful, tarnished impoverishment.
Grace alone can adorn the broken, the ruined of this world and thereby furnish them with a beauty and joy - a foretaste of true godliness which will one day fill the whole earth.

Sola Christus.