3 October 2017
Two names I rarely mention in my blog, Jesus and God, make an appearance today. The reason I rarely mention them is because they can be divisive, problematic, too laden with prejudice - none of which I want to invite into my wee corner of Blogland.
The truth is, throughout my lifelong on-off relationship with the Church, my connection to Jesus of Nazareth has never waivered. Certainly, when I was little, he occupied my thoughts pretty much like all the heroes of my childhood imagination - Jason, Aeneas, Hector, Achilles, Theseus - as I read this book most nights before bed 😊
The tales of his turning water into wine, feeding the 5000, stilling the storm were no more or less believable than Jason and the Argonauts, Theseus and the Minotaur, and the Trojan Horse - powerful myths* rooted in reality.
But the fact I chose to study Theology, rather than Classics, at university, probably cemented Jesus' central role in my thinking. And the fact I choose to follow, and seek to emulate, Jesus rather than Buddha or Muhammad or the Tao, is what makes me a Christian, rather than Buddhist, Muslim or Taoist.
Christian words and imagery 'make sense' to me. The visions of the Christian mystics are part of my personal history. The words of Jesus are deeply embedded in my memory, his encounters, retold in the Gospels, are timeless, archetypal, and are as relevant today as they were 2000 years ago.
The fact that many in the Church distort and misrepresent his words and teachings is a constant grief to me, and I despair often, and cling more tightly to his example of how to live a human life. His pattern of turning outward to help and heal, yet often withdrawing to pray and restore his spirit, is what I try and follow.
For a long time now, I've received daily emails from Abbey of the Arts, and this was yesterday's:
The season calls me to let go of false assumptions, wrests my too-small images of God from me as I enter the Mystery of dying and rising. Autumn demands that I release what I think is important to do and returns me to the only thing which matters that I remember—to love and to allow love to sculpt me, even as it breaks my heart.
This is what I seek in my quiet heart - 'to love and to allow love to sculpt me, even as it breaks my heart'. This is what I see embodied in Jesus of Nazareth each and every day.
* 'myth' itself is a misunderstood term. Joseph Campbell defines it well:
“Myth basically serves four functions. The first is the mystical function,... realizing what a wonder the universe is, and what a wonder you are, and experiencing awe before this mystery....The second is a cosmological dimension, the dimension with which science is concerned – showing you what shape the universe is, but showing it in such a way that the mystery again comes through.... The third function is the sociological one – supporting and validating a certain social order.... It is the sociological function of myth that has taken over in our world – and it is out of date.... But there is a fourth function of myth, and this is the one that I think everyone must try today to relate to – and that is the pedagogical function, of how to live a human lifetime under any circumstances” ― Joseph Campbell,