A Different Easter

In past years, Easter brought me to a quiet, more contemplative place. Last year, I posted a daily meditation on the days of Holy Week as recorded in Scripture, which was a great reflective experience for me (scroll to the bottom if you follow that link). I’ve always come to dwell, though, on Good Friday; that is, the crucifixion. Its as though I wanted to punish myself in a way, or at least to never permit myself to forget the physical anguish that our Lord experienced, the extent of which we can but imagine. I wanted to remember the price paid for my soul. I’ve always come out of that with some sense of guilt, and a determination to try harder. If you’ve ever done the same, you know it to be a self-defeating cycle.

This year, I went into it unplanned, and went through the weekend with a very celebratory attitude with my faith community. We are, after all, celebrating, right? As much as we may choose to dwell on His death experience (and I don’t want to minimize that), we’re ultimately celebrating the fact that He didn’t stay that way. In fact, the crux of Easter is the culmination of God’s salvific plan for humanity. Our faith wouldn’t be worth much were it not for the Resurrection, as Paul so enthusiastically claimed.

I found that, after celebrating (more than once…what a weekend!) with friends and family this weekend, being part of Communion and baptism, and appreciating the hints of vibrant color that are beginning to appear around the Southeast, that there is a sense of newness here, a newness that He accomplished. He accomplished it at great price, something I don’t ever want to dismiss or fail to appreciate. But I think He means it to be celebrated, because the abundant life He mentioned and provides doesn’t lend itself to morbidity of past reflections for me now.

Hope you’ve had a blessed Easter.

Looking in From the Outside

What would it feel like to be raped by America? To have all of your junk, some of your darkest moments, thrown onto the Internet and tossed casually about by the television news? Imagine making a decision in a crunch, perhaps because you really needed the money…one that you know most would see as unsavory at best, and perhaps even one that you yourself see as questionable. But you do it, because you’re human, and therefore not perfect by definition.

Now imagine that it all goes south, in a major way. Imagine confessing that you haven’t slept since it did. Imagine knowing that you will be branded and poked and prodded by an unforgiving media spotlight until it has had its satisfaction with you: knowing that, even if you do not offer a comment, that they will just speculate in your silence and put their speculations on the air. Imagine that you just “got involved in something much larger” than you are, and that now, no matter how much you regret it or wish it hadn’t happened, or possibly are still okay with your decision but just don’t want it plastered all over the world’s screens, you know it will always, always be there. Your photos of fun moments, embarassing moments…your photo of yourself in a bikini, perhaps, suddenly available for millions of vultures in all corners of the world to pour over at their leisure. Would you cling desperately to the statement that you love who you are? Would you weep? Would you assume that there’s no such thing as bad publicity for your aspirations as a musician? Would you want the heartfelt words of your Myspace page read casually and analytically on the air?

I wonder what despair and heartbreak might be going through Ashley Alexandra Dupre’s mind right now? I wonder what sort of sick feeling she might have in her chest, the knot in her stomach. I wonder how much she would give anything to make a mistake go away.

And I wonder who we think we are in all of our voyeuristic pleasure that we won’t permit her that break.

So much for grace.

Time Travel Theology

When I was a child, I was raised with PBS as a major source of media in our home. Being that I grew up in the north, PBS involved a great deal of British programming. I became well acquainted with British wit and drama at an early age, and have been forever grateful for it. My mother was also a Trekkie, and so it was a natural conclusion that I would become a science fiction fan. This love of sci-fi led to British programs such as The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and Dr. Who. I’ve found that appreciation for British culture in America is almost seen as some sort of higher literacy, somehow not for the average person, which a shame. When Hitchhiker’s Guide was released in its recent incarnation as a motion picture, I went with a close friend that is younger. She had several college friends with her. Out of a group of 8 or 9 of us, myself and one other person laughed. The rest just looked confused. That’s just tragic.

As happens frequently with great story concepts, BBC began a modern continuation of the saga of Dr. Who a few years ago. In today’s age, the special effects are present to do the epic story lines justice, but, as with most British media, the story is at the heart of the production…it doesn’t rely on eye-popping visuals. This is what I love about Dr. Who: the mind-bending plots steeped in time-travel theory, as characters pass themselves in the past and irrevocably alter the future…how an event that inexplicably occurs years from now is tied to the character’s actions during a trip 100 years into the past that in turn causes something to happen today…the paradox, the fact that the timeline melds into one big sphere instead of a linear progression.

While I could spend a lot of time writing about the Christological metaphors that saturate the current incarnation of Dr. Who, I really am fascinated by this transcendent view of time that is presented here, because I really think that it effects one of the oldest debates in the history of theology: how much of our existence is God’s sovereignty, and how much is our free choice?

Depending on where you fall in this continuum of perspectives, your worldview can be dramatically altered. Great harm ends up resulting from the debate, as everyone seems to come out with an “I’m right, you’re wrong” mentality…the tragic flaw of all theology. I think, though, that much of our misunderstanding of this (because, at the end of the day, I think we’re all wrong) is, at its core, a misunderstanding of time. Or, rather, a confined perception of it. As finite humans, we see time from a linear perspective: we’re born, we grow, we live, we die, we go to eternity. Now, if God gives us freedom when He creates us in His image, then He gives us the freedom to make choices. Yet, if He is omniscient, then He already knows the future and knows what choices we will make, so does that mean that they’re really our freedom of choice…you see how this gets complicated. But what if the issue at hand is, as Krista Tippett points out, simply that God views time differently than we do? After all, He created the concept, right? It stands to reason, then, that God stands outside of it, not seeing it as a linear creation as we do, but rather spherically, intertwining, everything dependent upon what precedes and follows it….just like good time-travel theory in sci-fi shows. That being the case, then God does see our future of decisions, just as He sees us pondering them now, and simultaneously in our pre-ponderance (is that a word?) of yesterday, all at once.

It either takes the wind out of the whole debate, or it confuses everything further, I’m not sure which. As headache-inducing as it is, though, I think its worth considering.