Saturday, October 02, 2004

my sacred romance?

a couple years ago i was at a christian bookstore and they were having some kind of massive storewide sale. i love reading, but i hate how expensive books are. isn't it much more enjoyable to sit at barnes and nobles for hours reading books for free. and if you really can't get into it, then you can just put it back on the shelf, nothing lost. that's beside the point. the point would be this...i bought a bunch of books that day, including the sacred romance. i'd heard great things about it from sara, my roommate at the time. over the course of the two years that i've owned this book, it's sat on the bookshelf only to be picked up twice, both times being when i moved. i had great intentions of reading it, but i never made it to that point...until now. so i started into it. i'm only about 1/3 the way through it, but i wanted to post some stuff that i found very interesting before i forget.

i think to anyone, the thought of romance sounds appealing. i'm a romantic myself. not that i've had all these amazing relationships to deem myself a romantic, but i think for the sake of categorizing, i generally fall into that classification. the thought of having someone woo and pursue me, who wouldn't want that? it's every girl's dream, right?

there's a part where one of the authors talks about how over time, the ideas of our culture and where we find our own existence within over the years our culture has been losing its story or it's "sacred romance" if you will.

"In the Postmodern Era, all we have left is our small stories...Our role models are movie stars, and the biggest taste of transcendence is the opening of ski season. Our best expressions are on the level of "Have a nice day." The only reminder we have of a story is the evening news, an arbitrary collection of scenes and images without any bigger picture into which they fit, The central belief of our times is that there is no story, nothing hangs together, all we have are bits and pieces, the random days of our lives. Tragedy still brings us to tears and heroism still
lifts our hearts, but there is no context for any of it. Life is just a sequence of images and emotions without rhyme or reason."

he goes on to explain that we are so desperate to live our lives for something larger, although we usually have no idea what that even means. we have these "things" in our lives that try to give us substance. whether we invest in a good cause, music, another person, sports, or even...television.
he then explains some different kinds of stories that we can often lose ourselves in. i found this incredibly interesting, especially looking at it from the stand point of someone who loves media as much as i do. this reminded me somewhat of "our lives as a tv series" type of deal. anyway...the basic stories comprise what james mcclendon calls the "tournament of narratives" and in our culture, a clash of many small dramas all competing for our heart.

1. "why does everything go wrong for me" story. the plot of life is a tragedy and we are playing the role of the victim of cruel circumstances. this story relieves us of having to take any real responsibility for our lives. victims demand to be understood, but don't you dare require anything of them.

2. "the survivor" living the life where the plot is the seige the world is a dangerous and
unpredictable place, so i will hunker down and survive, taking little risk, doing what i can to protect myself even if it means cutting myself off from others and from my own dreams.

3. "romantic love" the idea that somewhere out there is that special someone who will sweep me off my feet, take my breath away, and whom life will be one idyllic adventure and sex an unending ecstacy. but it's mostly about trying to capture that evasive feeling again.

4. "sports story" while mostly appealing to men. the idea that we can pursue our longings for adventure through our own recreational activities or work or even lose ourselves by living vicariously through our favorite sports teams, or even our children's sports. it allows us to be something bigger than our small worlds allow.

5. "the religious man or woman" we try to reduce the wildness of life by constructing a system of promises and rewards, a contract that will obligate God to grant us exemption from the arrows life throws at us. taming God in order to tame life.

"Through baseball and politic and music and sex and even church, we are searching desperately for a larger story in which to live and find our role. all of these smaller stories offer a tast of meaning, adventure, or connectedness. but none of them offer the real thing; they aren't large enough. our loss of confidence in a larger story is the reason we demand immediate gratification. we need a sense of being alive now, for now is all we have. without a past that was planned for us
and a future that waits for us, we are trapped in the present. there's not enough room for our souls in the present. Our attempts to construct a story to live in eventually fail because, as robert jensen has said, 'human consciousness is too obscure a mystery to itself for us to script our own lives.' inevitably, we leave significant parts of our souls out of the story."

this whole concept is very interesting to me. it makes me think a whole lot about how i've been living my life. i think that we can find pieces of each of these "stories" that we try to implement into our own lives. even more importantly, how are we as christians, suppose to differ from these types of stories and what should our lives look like in comparison? where does God fit into each of these "stories" and can we make room in these "stories" for him?

i think that we're called to live different lives entirely, although it seems that most of us try to cram ourselves into one of these preplanned "stories" that only sets us up to be uncomfortable and to keep craving MORE. although, sometimes we don't even know what we want more of.

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