If your metier is tragedy, suffering will always be your muse.
The church lives in tragedy. In fact, tragedy is our birth.
No? Really? A perfectly innocent Man dies a horrendous death one day when the sun will not shine and the dead won't stay in the grave? It reads like tragedy to me, so suffering is our muse, if you accept my presupposition, anyway.
Christness is gritty, dirty, death in the middle of the afternoon stuff. Christness is flies buzzing around open wounds, dirt blowing on a denuded hill-top. This is the hardest of deaths, the kind you cannot explain to the children later because you do not get it yourself.
So, how, oh man, do you integrate a happy, wholesome life into the Founder as Victim metaphor of this Faith? Well, integrity will be required.
Reread Plato's Republic. The author thinks he has the essence of the man as that one who would build a social order on integrity. Big problem; there is so such omnibus word to that time. Integrity does not exist for integrity itself is the assimilation of essential virtues into one massive set of virtues called justice. Plato, if Plato he is, demands a place of justice, where goodness, compassion, decency, kindness and all things of virtue coalesce into one mighty organism, integrated into the body politic.
If, then, following Plato's virtue, we would actuate holistic living, politics must become more than a thirst for power and religion has to follow suit, that is, to become the scion of the self-sacrificing Masculine Symbol impaled on the Cross.
We started this discussion some time ago, months really, in another series, when it suddenly occurred to me the Church was like the Sacred Monster of the ancients, the Dragon.
In Western culture the dragon was almost always male, almost always a powerful symbol of danger, almost always something to be feared; rapacious, revengeful, ravaging. In the East, the Dragon was almost always female, a symbol of good; powerful, sophisticated, mercy bringing. For both, the Dragon was half eagle (power) and half serpent (intelligence). Fear or love the Dragon, one dare not touch it, in the West because he might breathe fire on you, in the East because she might demurely fly away and take her luck with her, perhaps finally and forever.
I think we may use the church that way and so manipulate God. That is, we may approach the church fearfully, if at all, lest he breathe destruction on us with his rigid rules, rules we can in no way keep. Or, we might approach the church as a token of good luck, wearing our crosses as the talisman of good fortune, as though God is the cosmic employment agent or the harbinger of rain-when-we-need-it.
What we do not do with the church and the reason we are so often disappointed with the church, is insist that it be an organism of integrity. What better people could there be to demonstrate a public embrace of great ideals?
A dear friend recently wrote me to say his church is growing dramatically but something is missing and, he fears, broken. I think he is too good a man to be gulled by the chimera of numerical expansion. He needs to see his church wrap its arms around the great ideals with integrity, the assimilation of all the virtues, as the Apostle Paul may have meant in his rhapsody to the Philippian church, 4:8.
Greek scholars tell me the Greek word we translate for pharmacology can mean medicine or poison, depending on how one uses it. Medicine can heal, you know that, but medicines also makes victim of that fellow who uses it without proper regard for dosage.
I think the Wayward Prince, the Bully, the Sacred Monster may be killing its adherents and so killing itself. I think we will have to make this stop soon.