This might seem like an unlikely topic for Lectio Divina (Phil 2:5) but it happened so I will pass it on.
I have had conversations in the past about spirituality and how it is not based on reality but on Faith and subjective belief. Did Jesus really live? Did he really say those things in the Gospels or were those all made up by over zealous disciples who wanted to believe that Jesus was God so much that they made up all the stuff about the Resurrection?
At a luncheon, an acquaintance of mine once told me I was crazy for believing in the words of a young carpenter kid who had a messiah complex and fixated on wanting to be God in order to fullfill the Jewish notion of a Messiah and please his mommy. She told me I was delusional just like his young kid’s followers who thought that he actually rose from the dead and is waiting for us in heaven. “There is no heaven,” she said. I told her, “That’s the Hell of it all.” We laughed and then finished lunch. It is all a matter of perspective. I am responsible for my reality not someone else’s.
Like with everything in my life, I try to use my reason as much as possible. I have reason for a reason. Faith takes over when reason does not make sense. Remember, I said that the spiritual universe is the opposite of what the world (reality) teaches. I can’t remember when I said it but it was something like having the polar caps reverse themselves, South is now North and vice versa. This actually has happened in our human history. Polar cap reversal is real whereas my notion of a spiritual cap reversal (the world’s values are not the same as the Kingdom of Heaven) is not grounded in science but of faith informed by reason. The “informed by reason” is important because it gives limited access to the whole universe of mystery and the Mystery of Faith. I don’t believe in blind faith, or faith without reason, because blind faith is still blind. We all have reason for a reason and whatever we view as real must run the gauntlet of disbelief, unbelief, and skepticism. The danger is getting stuck in a negative view of what reality is.
REALITY AND FANTASY
Call me a poor luncheon partner, but I can’t justify what is real with some of these movies I love to watch. I woke up at 2:00 a.m. the other night thinking of a movie, The Avengers, I just watched. One of my favorite scenes was when The Hulk responded to Loki’s taunt that he was not a god by thrashing him from side to side, leaving him moaning on the floor in a deep hole in the concrete. “Puny god,” The Hulk said to Loki. I love that scene. I love thinking about mythical creatures and how they live in our human experience and take on our human characteristics although more perfect. One thing I don’t do is think that these stories are real, they represent the mythical answer to why we are human and how we should act or not act. I don’t think that other movies that show Arnold Swartzenneger’s character of Conan fighting evil with the good that comes from Crom, is real, but it real in that it may give entertainmet and pleasure. So, what is real and what is fantasy. I have often thought of young children of today growing up believing that Dr. Strange’s world is real, and that The Witch Hunter, starring Vin Diesel, actually exists.. My previously-mentioned luncheon partner acttually brought up these mythical movies as proof that this is what happened to the early followers of Chrst. They believed that the myth was true, that a man could rise from the dead, that God would become man becaue of love, that living in the world alone will not get us to heaven. You and I both have the same choices. I based my choice on Faith informed by reason, that of the literary texture that fortells the coming of Christ and makes sense. There is a point where reason ends and Faith begins, but it is not the same as seeing the Devil as they do in movies of Rosemary’s Baby, and Constantine. Where my Faith begins and reason ends, I have Hope that the words spoken by Christ are real and not fantasy.
WHAT IS REAL FOR ME?
I am constantly being accused of being in La-La Land regarding my Lay Cistercian practices and having conversion of life to Christ as a purpose (Phil 2:5). Of course, my perspective is not the same as that of theirs. “I am not you; you are not me; God is not you; and you, most certainly, are not God. ” –Michael F. Conrad
I will set forth what I think is real. What is real is contain in my church of the mind and my church of the heart. I not only want to know something is true and believe it but use it to change both my faith and the faith of those around me.
Praise be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit now and Forever. The God who is, who was, and who is to come at the end of the ages. Amen and Amen. The Cistercian Doxology.