Tuesday, December 22, 2009

One Sided Identification - Advent 4

For part 3 click here, for part 2, click here and for part 1 click here

I have a tendency when reading books or watching movies to identify with the good guys, in fact I think a good story is crafted in such away to help emotionally attach you to the heroes. We find ourselves in their plight, their struggles are our struggles, their victories are ours. We have a cathartic reaction, the story on the screen helps us access parts of ourselves. Sometimes we all need a good cry, and a good movie or book can get us there.

The problem is our identification tends to be one sided, it's natural to do so. We identify with the hero because we want to be the hero.

When I read scripture I put myself in the 'heroes' shoes too.

I am the Israelites fleeing oppression.
I am the crowds cheering Jesus on Palm Sunday
I am the Shepherds kneeling at the Manger
I am the Wise Men following a star
(but I remove the whole 'Astrology' part because that is suspect)
I am the Prodigal Son who returns home.

Finding ourselves in scripture is a great thing, it brings the narratives alive to us. But we need to be willing to find ourselves in all the characters not just some.

I am the Egyptians oppressing people for my own ends.
I am the Pharisees who view Jesus as a threat.
I am King Herod who orders all male children 2 and under to be killed.
I am the older brother who is disgusted at the amount of grace shown to his sibling.

When I identify with the Hero it helps bring those traits in me more fully into the light, I have the opportunity to become more noble, loving, compassionate, forgiving etc.

When I identify with the Villain it helps bring my shadows into the light where I can honestly identify them and offer them to God for healing.

I read the Magnificat again this morning

And Mary said:
"My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
even as he said to our fathers."

Today I wondered:

Where am I Proud? Where in my life do I need to be scattered to get some humility? I can be rather arrogant with my opinions sometimes, I mistake my way, for the way.

What 'thrones' do I need to be dragged off of? Where am I defiantly declaring I know best, while all around me the kingdom of my life crumbles into ruins.

Where am I rich? Where have I taken God's abundance in my life and made it into a sense of entitlement?

Tough questions.

Maybe their toughness is why I chose to find myself in the heroes rather than the villains. But for me to become all that God desires for me to be, they are questions that need to be asked.

1 comment:

Ginger said...

I think you are right to say that most writing is crafted in a way that that leaves us identifying with the hero with the exception of everything my high school students have to read, the classical literary cannon. We tend to pick the tragedies - Macbeth, for example - where we try to get the students to identify with the flawed man. That gives us a platform on which we can talk about virtues and values, but even then there is a disconnect. In tragedies the minor characters are the good guys. In Macbeth, right before a Macduffs family is slaughtered on the order of Macbeth, one of the little boys says to his mother that (and I paraphrase) all of the liars and cheaters are idiots because if they realized their numbers, they could easily overtake the good men.

I tend to be steeped in "bad guy" mentality. It's hard for me to find the heroes sometimes.