Tag Archives: Easter

What Is Love? (Baby, Don’t Hurt Me…)

Easter, Rick and Morty, Warm Bodies, and Asgard.
Just What IS Love, anyway?

Sometimes…what you really need is for someone else to pay a horrible price.

The clip above is from a Rick and Morty episode where Summer works for an independent business owner, at what is basically a vintage thrift store, “selling” items that grant the purchaser their deepest desires, while also cursing them. Needful Things.
Oh, and the shop owner is the Devil.
The idea is that Mr. Needful (the Devil) gives you what you truly want (or maybe…what you think you truly want), but makes you pay a horrible price for it.

The store’s only function and purpose is to curse people. And Summer, all the while aware of what’s truly going on and who Mr. Needful, her employer, truly is, is fine with it. Because, according to her logic, “Fast Food gives people diabetes and clothing stores have sweat shops. Is there a company hiring teenagers that isn’t evil? This is my first job and you’ve been nice to me. You respect me.

Well at the end of the episode, Summer discovers she’s just another con, and the Devil really doesn’t care about her. So feeling used, angry, hurt, sad, taken advantage of, and with no way of getting back at the one who hurt inflicted all this upon her, she turns to her grandpa Rick for help.
And do what it takes to physically punish the one who has it coming to them.

And then others.

“Because sometimes…what you really need is for someone else to pay a horrible price.”

Now you might’ve been a little incensed at the language or steroid use-the content, but admit it: Didn’t part of you relish in the physical pummeling of those who “have it coming”?

Don’t you wish defeating your enemies could be a task so easy as beating them up?

Don’t you wish those enemies could suffer? Don’t you wish those that deserve it, could suffer?
Even just a little bit?

Well anyway, it’s Easter. And last time I wrote about a spiritual holiday, it ultimately posed the question, “What do we do when we don’t know the end of the story?” When all we have is the beginning—the unknown.
When all we have is new life.
And Easter kinda has that air of the end of life. Or…at least when you continue that theme of not knowing or understanding the whole story. The end of all you knew. All you hoped for.
The death of dreams.
The death of hope.
The death of connection.

The death of life.

And it’s a funny year, this year, to talk about death like this, because of all that’s going on in the world.
It kinda feels like death is all around us. Knocking at our door. And all we have been doing is walling ourselves off to the inevitable. Death.

We fight. We hate. We fear.
And we struggle. Struggle to survive. And hold on to any bit of power and control that we can.
All in a bid to stave off death for that much longer.

It really is like being in the start of one of those apocalypse films.

All of them have similar themes: a fight for survival, warding off death, and extreme “othering.”
I have to admit, I love a lot of those films. Be they post-apocalypse, like Mad Max: Fury Road, or vampire apocalypse, like Daybreakers, or zombie apocalypse, like Warm Bodies.
In fact, those are actually my three favorite for each category (let alone in general).

For those that don’t know, Warm Bodies is like a zombie apocalypse Romeo and Juliet story. In fact, the protagonist of the film is a zombie named “R”, because he doesn’t remember his name, who falls in love with one of the living named, “Julie.” (See how close they’re riffing?)

But Warm Bodies isn’t like other zombie films. Sure, zombies pose a threat, they are the undead, and they feast on the brains of the living. But in Warm Bodies, zombies seem to be a metaphor for how society already is. Factioned. Divided.
Othered.
And with many now who already go through life like the living dead.

In Warm Bodies, zombies exist in this limbo state. Undead, but not yet all gone. You see, it seems the only fate for the undead in Warm Bodies is to become “bonies.” When they give up. And lose all hope.
Apollumi

But there’s another reason Warm Bodies is a different type of zombie film. You see, in Warm Bodies, the undead can come alive. Or rather, the living dead, become the living life. More alive than those that aren’t zombies in the first place.
In Warm Bodies, the dead come back to life. And not in the “Night of the Living Dead” sense, where the dead come back as undead.
No.
In Warm Bodies, the zombies hearts start beating once again. They’re…born again. So to speak.

And the old paradigms that had sustained society: walled off cities, social division, fighting to survive, othering; all of it dies with death.

At the end of the film, R bleeds. And he becomes fully alive. And he isn’t the only one.
The film ends with a summary of what happens in the aftermath. R comments that from one perspective, getting shot in the chest hurts him, like a lot. But ultimately, for him, it felt good to bleed, to feel pain.
To feel love.
To feel.
And for the rest of the zombies, they all learned how to live again. R comments that for a while, it seemed like everyone had forgotten what that meant: to live.
And the cure? The cure to death, to bring life?
Connection.
R goes on to say how scary it was at first, painful even. But that every great thing starts out a little scary, and might even hurt to begin.
The final shot is of the massive dividing wall being destroyed, and collapsing.
No more walls. No more divisions. No more others.
All are one. In a new life. A new world.
A kingdom that’s conquered death.

This is how the world was…exhumed.”

Many see Easter as the beginning of this new world. Or just like how they see Christmas through the lens of Easter, they view Easter through the lens of their dogma about a Second Coming.
A Reckoning.
Justice.

“X gon’ give it to ya!”

And yet…all too often, they miss the bigger meaning.
Sometimes when you stare at something massive, you actually run the risk of oversimplification, and of missing the actual scope of it all. Seeing only half the picture.
And so for Easter, this new life, this new world, has turned into one that is to come. It’s removed, distant. A hope for some kingdom to come. A promise at the end of a long bridge.
A place far away from here, that death seemingly can never get to; never reach, never touch. There are those on the inside, and those on the outside. And each “deserves” what they get. “Those bad people? They had it coming. And now we’re safe away from them, and from death.” It provides comfort. Stability. Perhaps even an assurance that you did right, did good, and that you’re right where you should be. (Maybe that’s why we need others to suffer. It’s easier to see we’re the good guys then…)

But…when faced with the whole picture, well then it very often feels like all hope is dead. Because the place that you hoped in, that you kept thinking was someplace else. Behind walls. Protected. Safe.
Well now it’s threatened.

To discover the whole picture can feel like Death has infiltrated the Kingdom; infested the place. Corroded it.
It may even make you feel powerless.
Broken.

Death is too strong.
And it can make you feel like nothing.

…Maybe the Cross makes you feel that way.

I would imagine it did for those in history, on that day. To see Him up on the Cross, it may have felt like Death itself had taken Heaven and…sundered it in two.

Asgard is not a place, it never was.
It’s a people.
Heaven (or the Kingdom of Heaven) is not a place, it’s a people.
And because it’s not a place, anywhere could be Heaven.
This could be Heaven. This could be the Kingdom.
But it might just take you being broken to see it.
A Kingdom here. Now. A new type of Kingdom.
A Kingdom of Life.
A Kingdom of Love.

It’s not a place. It’s people. And it’s here now. All around you.
Do you witness Heaven? Or do you fear Hell?

You see, it’s not the pain which ruins you, it’s what you do to avoid the pain.
If you’re afraid only of breaking, let yourself be broken.
BREAK.
Let spirit crack you open to discover (living) water springing forth like it did for Moses. Discover yourself being forged.
Transformed.
And discover that living water. Discover life.
Which can only come from the rock (of your hardened heart) being broken, its wall destroyed, collapsing.

I titled this message, “What is Love?” And I have to admit, I’m still trying to sort out a definition that sits well with me. What I can say is that I find myself in agreement with lyricists of the past as to what love is not.
Love is not some victory march.”
It’s not a cry that you hear at night
It’s not somebody who’s seen the light
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah.

True love is precisely this:
Forsaking the promise of eternity itself for an imperfect individual.

Love is something that breaks you.
But it’s a good break. It breaks you TO LIFE.

Jesus was broken by love.
And I think on a certain level, that is what we really needed: For someone else to pay a horrible price.
Perhaps this time away from each other, isolated and alone, is a lot like being in a tomb. But there’s the other thing Easter promises:
The stone rolls away. Walls fall.
And when that happens in your life, may it lead to so much more.
Instead of looking to break others in the name of “protecting” life, be broken.

Let love break you this Easter Sunday.

Discover life. Feel your heart beat. (Perhaps even for the first time.)

And see how glorious it is to hurt in your chest.
How good it feels to hurt, to be pained, to bleed (into one another, even).
What I mean is, see how good it is to feel love.

 

Ultimately…see how glorious it is, when everything is new.

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Filed under Celebrating, Celebrations, Easter, God stuff, Holiday, Uncategorized

I Gave Up Lent for Lent

(Written 3.March.2012)

Very few of us ever see the history of our own time happening. What more of our view of an event that happens outside of time? Of an event which—to us being in time is, at least, ever happening? What then?

I was outside my job a Wednesday morning not too long ago doing carpool—kid drop off for my school, when a number of parents brought to my attention the overwhelming amount of cars in our shared parking lot with the Catholic church next door. It was one of those overcast, grey days which you one can easily find all too uneventful, yet which is a prime environment for “an event” to happen.

“Why’s it so busy?” “I don’t know,” I responded, until—randomly, it hit me an instant later. “It’s Ash Wednesday.”

Then came the questions. Apparently, there’s this view out there that I am the “go-to” source of information on everything Theological.

To be frank, I had no clue what Ash Wednesday or Lent fully meant to Catholic parishioners until I took the time this last week to look it up. The most I ever knew was that Ash Wednesday the day Catholics put an ash cross on their heads to compete (so my mind made up) with the Hindu Bindi.

And as far as Lent was concerned, well, that was the time McDonalds brought back the McFish (Filet O’ Fish) so that it wouldn’t lose money during the 40 day period.

Beyond that, was only jokes I had made in High School to Catholic kids that they seemed to have a little smudge on their head, and need to go wash. And that Lent was where you gave up something you liked but could do without—something you liked, but not so much that it would be a real burden to go without it for 40 days.
So I’d joke about giving up Lent for Lent. I’d give up (in my eyes) the act of giving up.

But as I said, that day not too long ago, was a day ripe with historical significance—even if to me then and now, I cannot [fully] see it. The only thing I have the ability to do, is tell the story of what I saw; while all the while, something went on outside of my scope of view.

There’s a funny refrain which is sung in the background when your life is consumed with the thought of something else entirely. And it becomes quite clear (at least at some point in life or ultimately, in death) that it isn’t a song of refrain—as if life had suddenly been put on hold whilst you figured out what you needed to, but ultimately, that it in fact, kept going despite.

The nerve of such a thing.

I have been struggling personally, with the possibility that I may have Adult ADD. To some, this is a meaningless term shrouded in mumbo jumbo, psycho-babble which actually under all that “white-washing,” really just means that you have issues with self-discipline, or control, motivation.
It has also been assumed that someone of such a stature only wants an excuse and a prescription for stimulant and nootropic drugs, if only to experience a fictional life seen in films like, “Limitless.”

Within this struggle, my mind has been focused on nothing but what I’ve come to believe to be a sense of healing. Knowing that what I thought to be normal, a life personal to me, a struggle I must face, and then coming to a place where I found out it may not be the case; further coming to a place which stressed a proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, a treatment, I cannot seem to focus on anything else—not passions and pleasures, not hobbies, not anything.

My eye was too fixed on the hopeful light at the end of the tunnel, and my mind too focused on bringing that light into proximity, that I not only couldn’t see the tunnel itself, nor the things in it I’d stumble over, but that that light wasn’t something at the end of a journey, but something which surrounded that journey, if only seeming to be at its end.

While I’m stuck in a place of dying and rebirth (as the “light at the end of the tunnel” is consistently associated with), life—the light, itself is occurring outside my poorly constructed viewpoint.

So I found myself, waking one day (that’s today!), in to the middle of Lent. As I became aware after searching and studying, Lent is a time of preparation and penitence for the coming of Easter. And, Easter, as is understood in the West, is the time associated with the death and resurrection of Christ. I specify “the West,” because it is apparent that inconsequential of your belief in the mere (small) man known as Jesus, or the God (giant) who is known as the Christ, we are all too close in knowledge of Him to be unbiased in our opinions of Him. This has led to the formation of two great armies—battling not only about the man Jesus, but fighting to the end on the vital point of Easter; whether it fits into the celebration of Spring, or whether the celebration of Spring fits in to it.

I myself, am in the camp of stating that both are a symbol, and that neither do what they are symbolizing [complete] justice. Whatever you consider to be the myth, the error lay in the simple truth that the deliberation of the mythology something more mythical than the myth itself.

It has always seemed the case that ‘people of intellect’ have thought that religion and beliefs to be this way. That while they know the truth of all things, those that practice religions are not in on the truth. Let them believe in a symbol of what is actual and real, to be God.
The truth lay in that Jupiter is no God, but a mere planet. Neptune is no deity, but merely the ocean.
The coming of Spring is no return of a God, but a mere cycle of our planet’s rotation around the sun.

Quite plainly, of course, it is in fact the other way around. Jupiter is a representation of the planet, but the planet is a representation of something even greater. Neptune is a representation of the ocean, but the ocean is a representation of something even greater.

The celebration in that Spring represents the returning of the God, and the fertility in that homecoming; and the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead to life are, admittedly, both mere representations of something “no eye has yet seen, and no ear has yet heard.”

Jesus spoke of the coming of Easter—His death and resurrection as the Now. He spoke of it presently, before it even occurred historically. That that extra-temporal event which was occurring was “the time for judgment on this world;” that it was when “the prince of this world [Satan] will be driven out;” and a time when, “I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” [John 12: 30-33]

I know many to believe and preach that Judgment will occur at the end of time. These are also the same to believe that it’s at the end when evil—Satan, will be finally done away with. But what if this is already occurring? What if it’s an event that is outside of time and thus, taking place regardless and quite independent of what transpires in our lives?

Well then it would mean that it isn’t something which could occur in our lives—as if we choose it, but that our lives occur in, as it choosing us.

And those people that believe it happens at the end of time are at least partially correct, but genuinely miss the scope of it. They see the earth as flat, and that someday, we’ll fall off the end of it—when the timeline ends. But what they don’t see is that the universe—the space we fall in to is all around us, is holding us up, is occurring just outside our scope.

History in the making, outside of history itself.
An event which [seems to] make us; not us making it.
Ash Wednesday is a day of mourning and repentance to God, sacramental in the mythos and doctrine of a return of focus and contemplation of Christ’s sacrifice.
Yet frankly, that sacrifice occurs whether it’s observed or not.

I have not myself been in a state preparation for the coming of Easter. It’s truly been one of the last things on my mind—as it seems all holidays have been right up until their occurrence. Yet Easter has been occurring without my focus on it; and in a sense, my lack of preparation doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been preparing for me.

If Jesus’ words were true, every moment (the Now, and…now, and…now) is a moment where I am not only being judged, but drawn (the Greek word is helko—which is commonly associated with “romance,” thus, I’m being romanced) to Him.

And this which occurs, occurs without me even having the ability to perceive its occurrence.

So this year, I really am giving up Lent for Lent.
I’ve given up attempting to understand a mystery which—by all rights, wants to remain so.
A mystery that I cannot figure out, but seems to me, one that has figured me out.

By doing so, I’ve realized that it is not so much the mystery which I’ve given up, but myself.

And that, it seems, is the true heart of the observance of Lent.

(Part 2…of Sorts)

There will come a time when I—as we all will be, am faced with the Truth, that is, what is real. The funny thing about it will be that I feel it will turn out to be exactly what we all never could completely understand it to be. The mystery of Truth is that even when it will stare into our eyes, we will be no less astounded by its mystery; that is, even when it ought to no more be a mystery that is precisely what it will remain.
For it is not it (Him) who will change, but us.

Many under the impression (dogma) that when the Bible speaks of Justice, of Judgment, it refers to us “getting what we deserve.” Yet this view is inherently flawed for it is still based on our view of what Justice truly is. If this were the case, we would not be in reception of something wicked, but of nothing at all. For what we truly “deserve,” if you want to call it that, is not a bad something, but nothing. We are “deserving,” of neither good nor ill, Heaven nor Hell, paradise nor punishment, but merely non-existence at all. The opposite of God is not Satan, not Hell, but nothingness.

So what is Justice? And ipso facto, what is the “judgment” Jesus refers to? It plainly does not entail humanity, “getting what it deserves,” but must entail God getting what God deserves.

And what is God getting what God deserves? What about, “all glory and honor and praise?” Well what would give Him all glory and honor and praise short of a completion of what He started–namely, the Creation of Man in His image.

This is to say that, while scholars and theologians have got it right, God is good, and we are not (and further, they squabble over which point is more important to focus on); it is in them both which we see the “light.” For God is indeed good, and I indeed am not good–that is to say, my sinful nature “keeps me from Him,” but it is in the very heart of my sinful nature that I come to rightly see just how good God is.

As William James concluded, the only reason for God to create would be out of Love. So why create a man (me, and ipso-facto, mankind) destined to fall short? Why, if for nothing save for the revelation to that man–through falling short, through sin, through never being good enough, never earning it, that He (God) loves him (me, mankind) for no reason at all.
It is in this light which make my sinful nature something to be viewed not as a curse which keeps me from God (though it does, there should be no denying that fact–no remaining on that as the focus should also be avoided), but as a necessity–one in which, through I am able to truly see how much God loves me. And that, at the heart of it all, who and what I am is loved by God for no reason.

With this, the thought of being created with a sin nature, having a story of the “fall,” being set up to fail, fall, miss the mark (vastly) is for nothing but to prove the aforementioned to me (and by me, I mean to include all mankind).

In this, the “judgment” that Jesus refers to occurring “now,” is a revelation to all that we are created for no reason but love, and loved for no reason but being created.

Thus, that “judgment” which occurs can take many forms and even look like destruction. And perhaps it is. Perhaps I am being “destroyed,” but perhaps this only looks this way from my perspective. A slow and steady destruction of the me which—as I get older, there seems to be more and more of, to the point where even when all my mind can focus on is that me, destroyed to see a love of me completely outside of anything I can build up of myself that I deem lovable.

Maybe what is really happening is that I am actually being “created.”
Created in the image of God.
And what to me seems like a lifetime—my lifetime, is to God merely one day.

The ashes placed on the foreheads on Ash Wednesday come from the burnt palm leafs of last year’s Palm Sunday. Traditionally, the palms were a symbol that was laid down when Jesus entered Jerusalem to die; but more symbolically, a symbol of us laying down our lives for Jesus. As such, the act of burning the palms to create the ashes of next year’s observance of Lent can be taken as symbolic of us being burned to ash.

Many can point to the Jesus who said that there are those that God will utterly destroy, basing not only their views of others and their fate on this, but their views of God. Yet this is the same Jesus who says in other places (without distinction or specification as to whom) that he has come to save the sick, the lost—thedestroyed.

Perhaps this-destruction and salvation, is all part of God’s original intention to create mankind in “our [God’s] image.”

Maybe when Jesus said in the Book of Revelation that, “Behold, I am making ALL THINGS new!” This entailed them first being burned, being destroyed.
It is then feasible, that I (and all I’s in this world)—whether we observe it or not, are in Lent every day. Something that does not need to be observed, but something for us to be observed by; something far beyond a 40 day period of fasting and sobriety, but that life itself can be considered Lent. For we are all in lacking, we are all in a missing of what is real, what is true, what is good.

But Easter is coming. And whether I’m prepared for it or not is moot: for it is preparing me. And when it finally comes, ALL men will be drawn to being made new,
to being made [completion],
to celebration,
to thanksgiving,
to truth,
to Jesus.

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