Monday, August 11, 2008
He is watching.
Amid all the undeniable beauty at every compass point of the opening ceremony of the Olympics in Beijing I felt, as I watched, a very uncomfortable tugging within my heart and my senses that had nothing to do with the well-publicized critiques of China's political status quo in the world community.
As I watched those 15,000 Chinese souls and countless others involved in the production of the ceremony and the games, I couldn't forget that this is all brought to us by a regime and legacy of rulers that do not recognize the Divine Hand and Heart that is Creator and creation. And I wondered if underneath the spectacle, whether articulated specifically or in general, is the prevailing notion that we, humanity, can be our own gods. We can manufactor "shock and awe" or "something from nothing" and "joy and sorrow" quite well on our own, thank you. We can feng shui, if you will. I'm not condemning anyone in particular by unveiling my inner turmoil over this truly beautiful event; but what need have we of a Divine Liturgy when we can distract ourselves with this "other" ritual that is immediate, touchable, obvious, yet has all the trappings of the divine masked in its technology? I kept thinking "Wow, western pomp and circumstance in all its various ritual forms, whether incense and bells, CGI and stupid film scripts, the World Series, NCAA Final Four and the Superbowl, or even the ultrasecretive machinations of biogenetics, cannot sway the eyes of the world away from this really new testament of what a people can DO when they put their COLLECTIVE mind and muscle to the given task. China clearly means to replace I AM with WE ARE.
Speaking of CGI-finally caught "The Dark Knight." Even with the infinite litany of previews that effectively says Hal Lindsay was right, TDK was so unsettling an experience because its effect also seems to move humanity away from the notion that "God is working His purpose out." Some combox authors at "InsideCatholic" have found a miniscule glimpse of redemption in a child-character's innocent assessment at the film's conclusion. And we all see echoes there in our children and grandchildren that help us keep impetus and hope daily. But TDK is a summation of absolute desolation and despair, where both good and evil and their personifications human and divine cannot possibly reside. Disconsolation is omnipresent. It wasn't hard for me to imagine that if the extenuating premise of TDK suggests a quantum physics universe and existentialism that is random and chaotic, then the only consolation would be laughably found along the lines of "A Hitch-Hiker's Guide..."
Speaking of echoes- from yesterday's Gospel to JPII's mantra, "Be not afraid" has become a reverberating trinitarian prayer to me over the last few years. That we resolve to keep coming home to that truth is still as difficult on many levels of daily life through the generations, that the onslaughts we suffer in this era, no matter how they compare or contrast with other epochs, must compel us to adhere to the command and promise in those three simple words. Unlike Peter in this gospel moment, we Christians are already "drowned." We have already accepted death in baptism. We must continue to accept and put behind us the reality and imagination of "meaningless" suffering and obliteration and step off the edge of the boat into the abyss whenever He calls, despite knowing we will ever do this in both hope and doubt, with doubt winning by a nose. Humility is all we have ultimately.
While we're grasping towards those words "Be not afraid," we might also have in our minds another phrase "His eye is on the sparrow."
Sorry, Lucifer, you are; you're still there as well. You can taste it, can't you?
Not buying it. I'm sure you'll continue to bring it on.
I am, only because I AM.