March 23, 2016

Only in a Leap from the Lion's Head

I do not often talk about personal matters of faith on this blog. Why? I am not sure. Perhaps it is because I lean towards the introverted side of things, tending to swirl about in my own inner universe of thoughts and ideas and feelings. What comes with that is a certain predilection to the private life, and I tend to have few, but very strong, friends. Thus, I do not tend to talk openly with people I do not know intimately, and with whom I do not share a strong emotional connection.

However, I tend to express my feelings, for those than can guess, obliquely. I discuss music that is currently moving me, poetry, books, philosophy, theology, etc. And, those that know me know this is a reflection of my feelings. Therefore, in this post, I am going to share a few things that have moved me recently. Some of them are old (long favorites of mine). Some are newer discoveries, although they will usually not be "the latest thing." I warn you - this is no analysis  - only meandering "likes."

First, the book "Doors of the Sea" by David Bentley Hart, is an extremely concise, moving, and thoughtful discussion of theodicy - of the problem of evil. DBH wrote an article for First Things magazine after the pacific tsunami of 2004. The book grew out of the article, and I highly recommend a read of both. DBH has two very worthwhile considerations in that book. First, he rejects the idea that God has visited evils upon mankind for their benefit. He relates the complaint of Ivan Karamazov in Brothers Karamazov:
But what makes Ivan’s argument so disturbing is not that he accuses God of failing to save the innocent....He grants that one day there may be an eternal harmony established, one that we will discover somehow necessitated the suffering of children, and perhaps mothers will forgive the murderers of their babies, and all will praise God’s justice; but Ivan wants neither harmony”“for love of man I reject it,” “it is not worth the tears of that one tortured child””nor forgiveness
DBH goes on to say:
No less metaphysically incoherent "though immeasurably more vile" is the suggestion that God requires suffering and death to reveal certain of his attributes....It is precisely sin, suffering, and death that blind us to God’s true nature....It seems a strange thing to find peace in a universe rendered morally intelligible at the cost of a God rendered morally loathsome. 
DBH finishes as thus:
We can rejoice that we are saved not through the immanent mechanisms of history and nature, but by grace; that God will not unite all of history’s many strands in one great synthesis, but will judge much of history false and damnable; that He will not simply reveal the sublime logic of fallen nature, but will strike off the fetters in which creation languishes; and that, rather than showing us how the tears of a small girl suffering in the dark were necessary for the building of the Kingdom, He will instead raise her up and wipe away all tears from her eyes”and there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying, nor any more pain, for the former things will have passed away, and He that sits upon the throne will say, “Behold, I make all things new.”
I usually enjoy his writing, and this book and article are no exception. As I write this, I am listening to John Williams'  soundtrack from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (I bet you weren't expecting that leap). There is a particularly poignant scene in that move where Indiana Jones' father is dying from a gunshot wound, and Indiana must make it through a series of puzzles in order to achieve the Grail to save his father.

At the last test, Indiana is standing over a seemingly-bottomless and bridge-less chasm. In his guidebook, it states that he must make a leap from the lion's head...well, here is the scene.

In the latter part of the clip, the chasm is clearly shown to be bridged by a nearly-invisible spike of rock. However, Indiana does not know that, and the film does a wonderful job of showing his indecisiveness and final resolve to make the leap. John Williams' fantastic music only adds to the brilliant scene.

Another film scene (and music) which has been on my mind this morning is the "Labor of Love" section of the Star Trek "Zero" reboot. In this scene, as the hero is crashing his ship in a suicide run in order to save his crew (and pregnant wife), she goes into labor on the shuttle, and the....well, see below:

This scene is obviously beautiful. Why these particular thoughts are coming up today and this week, I do not know. But I continue to listen, and read, and think.

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