April 2, 2009

the same mind

I haven't watched it in a while, but Dogma is probably still one of my top 10 favorite movies of all time.  The language in it is very, very dirty, but it is just so very good.  It points out some spectacular holes in organized relgion generally, Roman Catholicism specifically.

When I read Philippians lesson for Sunday (2.5-11) I can't help but be reminded of the scene when Bethany (the main character) is confronted with the fact that she is the rightful heir of the line of David and will at this time and in this place be the savior of the world.

She does what any thinking human being would do; she runs.  She runs and she hides, and tries to figure out what on earth she is going to do now that she knows her history, knows her place.

I can't remember if it is Chris Rock's character or another that finds her, but the conversation that follows is priceless.  I goes something like, "Why do you think there isn't much in the Bible about Jesus in those interim years.  He had to deal with being the Son of God."

Paul calls us to do that same work.  To have the same  mind as Christ is to come to understand that God has chosen us as his children.  He wants to be in relationship with us.  He wants to to, indeed is glad to, give us the kingdom.

Dealing with that can be hard.  It can be hard to imagine that God would care about me, much less love me.  It can be hard to be forgiven when the guilt is so very comfortable.  It can be almost impossible to come to terms with the new life that comes from the knowledge that God chose me.

But with time and practice and prayer, it is possible to have the same mind as Christ.  To find forgivness, to live no longer for self but to lay down my life so that God can give it back to me again.  It just might mean disappearing for while to think and to pray.  And that, well I think that's ok.


TallNBald said...

"But with time and practice and prayer, it is possible to have the same mind as Christ." This part of your blog caught my eye, probably because of an ongoing struggle that I have had.
I suppose what you are talking about would be called santification, but I need to go one layer deeper, that is to God through His Son Jesus choosing me to be a child of His.
Sice we both are in Sacramantal traditions, I wonder if becoming a child of God isn't a little different than I have been thinking about it. Luther probably would say that at our baptism Christ becomes part of us, or stated more accurately we become part of Christ.
If we are part of Christ then our actions will be the actions of Christ, except that in my case they are not.
HOw can time, practice and prayer make being a part of Christ differnt?
I think Luther tries to explain why when we are a part of Christ our actions sometimes do not reflect it by saying that we still have the old nature alongside of our Christness.
Sanctification then is putting down of our old nature so that our Christness can shine through.
When we focus on our activities, even when they are time,practice and prayer, it is us we are focusing on. In my case I cannot even pray sufficiently to let the Christness shine through.
My greatest hope and joy is that He has brought me into His body, and continues to every time I come to the Eucharist.
But how do I get out of the way of the Christ light shining in my life when I don't even know when I am blocking it?
I like your blog, very provoking. solid. Maybe I need to run and hide, maybe this time of not being able to work is a time to hide. But I have been seeing it as a time to do ministry without having to be responsible for a specific flock.

poetproph said...

Steve - I too like Dogma - need to look at it again (I always think of it when I'm teaching Milton in my "Scripture in Lit" class). But now for that class we're reading Christopher Moore's Lamb - which for all its raunchiness (not unlike Dogma) has some interesting insights, I think, about this "time, practice and patience" - suggesting that "Josh," the Jesus character, has to learn some things in order to discern how he's supposed to be the Messiah.

I think spiritual practice is about being available to what God is doing and getting past our own willfulness. The grace is always there. It's just that we're mostly too focused on our own agendas to receive it. Dogma makes that point nicely, in its irreverent way, by the image of the God who finally comes, who is a whole lot more compassionate than anyone thought.

I'd love to know your take on "Lamb" (not sure if I should be teaching it in seminary or not -- but hoping it will be formative in some way. . . . )

spankey said...

Thank you both for your responses.

TNB - I'm still working on my rebuttal - we'll have to talk over coffee.

PP - I actually used the story of Peter walking on water from "Lamb" in a sermon on too long ago. My caveat for people who asked afterwards was, "I can't recommend this book, it is too dirty, but it has some good theological insights."

You may actually have my response to TNB already written. I agree that spiritual practice is about moving our will out of the way so the will of God can take over. It is about learning to choose God over self every time. It happens in fits and starts, and is the reason why I say that I'm saved everyday. Everyday I choose to live for God and not me, and everyday I fail to do it. But even in my failings, God is there.