Sunday, 29 March 2009

The E N L I G H T E N E D

"That's our motto here at the Tyrell Corporation - more human than human".
Dr Eldon Tyrell, in the Ridley Scott film, Blade Runner.

"See to it that you do not become a captive of empty and deceitful philosophy which detracts from the substance of the faith. Watch out for those who would woo you with such 'spiritual' teachings, for they would draw you away from the truth.

The whole fullness of the Godhead dwelt bodily in Christ, and He is within you, allowing you to put off the old and avoid the false, so that you can live in the faith...
So mark those who seek to pass judgment on you regarding what you eat and drink or your 'spiritual' activities, for these are nothing compared to the reality now yours in Christ....

No one must be allowed to disqualify or berate you because you are not an ascetic or dualistic about spiritual things. You are united to Christ, so reject submission to their taboos regarding what you shouldn't touch or taste which derives from their folly.
They may have an appearance of piety and godliness, but they are of no value to your faith".

Paul to the Colossians.

Ever have a moment in the theater or the cinema where you encounter a sense of wonder at something 'larger than life'? It usually happens for me when I'm engaged with Science Fiction, and, because I have a pretty vivid imagination, I've found it can and does occur when I'm reading a good novel or enjoying a piece of music or a work or art. There's nothing wrong with that - in fact, some aspects of creation are most certainly 'there' to assist us in elevating our thinking to a place of astonishment and reflection. There's a difference, however, between something that makes us truly engage with reality and a device which encourages us to totally escape from it.

I'm currently re-reading Umberto Eco's dazzling series of essays, 'Faith in Fakes', in which he reflects upon the growing popularity in our times of what he defines as 'hyper' reality - experiences or frames of reference which are deemed 'better' (more stimulating and engaging) than what they represent - a trend evidenced, for example, in museum exhibits, total immersion entertainment and holographic development. Whilst much of this is fascinating and intriguing, Eco raises the question as to why we are so enticed by the entirely false - devices which are deliberately engineered to deceive us.

Such a propensity has to be a consequence of our current condition.
"in some sense", notes C S Lewis, "as dark to the intellect as it is unendurable to the feelings,
we can be both banished from the presence of Him who is present everywhere and erased from the knowledge of Him who knows all - utterly and absolutely outside. On the other side, we can be called in, welcomed and received: we walk along that razor's edge between these two possibilities. Our longing is to be re-united with something in the universe from which we know we have been cut-off" (the weight of glory).

The deep need is for remedy, but the spoiling of nature - of the very fiber and propensity of each of us - means that the 'pull' is towards a fake rather than substance, to revel in the 'appearance' of wisdom rather than the astonishing and actual embodied appearance of THE reality.

Christianity leaves us with no confidence in our own abilities or activities.
If we fall prey to the conceit of self righteousness to any measure, the scriptures make it clear that
we have totally fallen prey to the illusion of being 'good' when whilst we avoid His explicit summation of what and where we are whilst so distanced from Him.
Salvation is not in ourselves - we must be found and rescued to be called and welcome.

Christ in the flesh - and the profound ramifications of this - is where the Gospel begins.

The same is true amidst the earthly church.

Deceit leads us to seek harbor in the perilous zone of our notions, dreams and aspirations, to view godliness as something we acquire by Gnosis or obtain by pious merit. Reality is something both far more troubling and truly correcting.

"We can truly become human because He became so - to conform us to life through His death and resurrection. We were never intended to become gods. That is the illusion".
(Deitrich Bonhoeffer - Ethics).

Longing has it's place. Dreams can allow us to look further and deeper, to remind ourselves there is more behind the daily grind, but such gifts must never bend us away from the true nature of life, or deeper still, the reality and nature of our redemption.

1 comment:

Hope said...


I was digging around trying to find an section I could comment under that wouldn't be entirely random, but I failed. Sorry.

I received your comment, and was actually intrigued by the fact that you live in the UK. I know a lot of people from out there and all of them are atheists. From their description, atheism is a hell of a lot more common out there than it is here, in the U.S.

So I was wondering, as a in the UK, what's it like?