Emotions are really terrible things to live with. I find that especially true since I was brought up in a church environment that places such a high premium on the awareness of my personal guilt as a sign of my human depravity that stands against the will of a holy God. That’s why there is always that lingering feeling of guilt on my part whenever I would say that I am a Christian. This statement is quite interesting and at the same time hypocritical as far as I feel, ultimately because for the past couple of years I’ve found myself detached to whatever semblance my Evangelical Christian heritage has prescribed as becoming of a follower of Christ.
I often find it strange that in my case theological constructs are derived out of my exposure to what many dub as juvenile entertainment, which includes graphic novels. Perhaps there is something that I hit upon as profound in the action-packed artworks that are situated in separate panels that represent individual scenes which make up a plot. After all, human experience unfolds in story and its meaning is fashioned from places, plots, and players fused in real-time.
In like fashion Biblical narratives function as vehicles of divine revelation that helps us makes sense (or better yet find) our place and meaning in this sizeable and ever changing storyline that we call life. That perhaps explains why we often find ourselves identifying with the characters in Bible stories because in a way they lay bare a part of ourselves that we exhibit we whenever we cope with the harsh realities of life as well as when we feel like we are brought face to face to the actuality of the divine in our midst.
In this reflection for this class on Christian anthropology I would like to turn our attention on the primordial creation narrative of The Fall, looked at from the vantage point of a graphic novel: Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s Batman: The Killing Joke, where I will attempt to find parallels between the two comic book storylines in relation to the fall of man and the predicament of human existence that follows it.
The Reformation is a religious movement that began in 1517 as a reaction to medieval Catholic doctrines and practices, which broke up the institutional unity of the church in Western Europe and established the third great branch of Christianity, called Protestantism, which can be distinguished for its emphasis on the absolute and sufficient authority of the Bible and on justification by faith alone.
Many factors such as feudalism, social, political, economic as well as religious life of several countries paved the way for the conditions that resulted in the Reformation. Furthermore, nationalistic fervour, rise of lay piety, theological awareness and humanism also contributed to the development of the Reformation which led to the renewal of morals, worship, liturgy, spirituality as well as study of Christian doctrines.
Several fundamental doctrines can be found in the four Solas that are stated in the Augsburg Confession of 1530 that was edited by Philipp Melanchthon, a professor at the University of Wittenberg and close friend of Martin Luther sums up the theological thrust of the Reformation movement.
Transcript of a talk that I gave as a Greenpeace activist at the Asian Theological Seminary’s event entitled The Green Life, organized by the Friends of Life Care Group.
The environment is among the most pressing concerns of this generation. In this bygone age of technology and consumerism, ministry to the natural world has taken a backseat in the teaching and preaching of many Christian churches. While most Christians appreciate the beauty of nature, many of us don’t realize the strong Biblical basis for creation care, in fact many ethical values, fundamental to the development of a peaceful and just society, are particularly relevant to the ecological question.
It is in the ordeal of living the whole of human existence that one comes into contact with this dynamic encounter with the God who transforms us via the agency of our lives, to which the experiences that our sensory faculties (like seeing, feeling, and hearing) functions as the arena where transformation takes place. In this case I would like to highlight the sense of hearing as an arena to which I discover God and His loving identification with people in the midst of human pain and anguish.
As it is no secret to those who know me that a lot has been going on in my mind lately. Life and all its complexities that come along with aging and varying circumstances leads one to question so many things and to lose hope –to despair, get angry, cry out to for and against God.
I would write of the details of this pain and struggle but I am at the same time afraid to lay bare my soul as well as space cannot be enough to put what I am feeling into words that would make sense. It is in the middle of these things that I find myself clinging once again, in consolation to the music of my adolescence –to punk rock.
Genesis 1:27 says that human beings, male and female, are created “in the image of God.” While, Colossians 1:15 convey that Jesus Christ is the “image of the invisible God.” Thus to say that we are created in the image of God is to say that we are created in Jesus Christ.
That is why over the course of our exploration of this belief in our spiritual formation we are always reminded over and again with the realization that to be spiritual is to be human and that life is the arena of the journey towards being more fully human and that our human existence finds its basis, origin, and form in Jesus. He is our prototype and fulfilment.
However, that in itself is but a portion of this greater reality as we have come also to learn that even now we are gradually being transformed and our lives and all its facets are being pieced together to re-orient us with the startling reality of God’s future that has been inaugurated by Jesus Christ, the kingdom that approaches even now and sets our present lives within the context of God’s reality –which culminates towards our transformation to Christlikeness: to becoming indeed fully human!
These words from the Apostle Paul scares me deeply.
After all, who wouldn’t be?
Personally, I find the prospect of my death and the idea of facing my mortality head a terrifying concept to grasp. Especially since the context of such speaks of Paul’s imprisonment, is something that is far-fetched from my complacent urban life, and to be totally honest I am far from ever becoming the person that Paul was. I am still well underway on my journey: I tend to stumble. I tend to fall into temptation. I tend to fail. I tend to look after myself first. I would always to fall short.
“Well, for one thing, the culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves. We’re teaching the wrong things. And you have to be strong enough to say if the culture doesn’t work, don’t buy it. Create your own.” – Morrie
We live in a lonely world in spite of the fact that recent communication technology boasts that loved ones can now be reached with a few clicks of a mouse or dial of a phone. The sad truth remains that it seems implausible that the number of solitary deaths have been on the rise in countries like the UK and Japan in recent years. Alienation, dubbed the “great emotional sickness of our era” by Italian filmmaker Michaelangelo Antonioni, remains a disease that even email, cell phones and online networking has been powerless to remedy.
I am and will always be thankful for the fact that mealtime in our household is a family affair. My parents never failed to see to it that we drop whatever it is that we’re doing in order to sit and eat dinner together –sharing a common meal, sharing our lives in the company of those whom we love.
It only just occurred to me that this common scene at our house is a theological-goldmine-of-sorts as this portrays a very vivid picture of God, salvation and the fullness of life that God intends in Christ, that only dawned to me after reflecting on it for a couple of days after listening to a lecture on the spirituality of sleeping, eating and drinking.
In order to better appreciate this theological construct we must first come to a realization that life in itself is already a gift.
Writing about the apparent meaninglessness of life in today’s commodified society Craig Gay proposes that: “indeed, the single most subversive and ultimately redemptive idea that we can set loose within the capitalist world today is the simple recognition that life is a gift.” For me this implies that life in all its facets and its utilization are to be conjured up on the things really matter in life –and that is life in the context of community –that can be found in the web of human relationships.
Over the weekend life along with all its apparent tragedies and unrealized triumphs happened, and shaped the way I see life and faith from a Filipino perspective differently – consequently forcing me to revise the reflection on the concept of, MABUHAY: Life considered from the innermost of the Filipino people as pondered in light of the Word.
I would spare you the intricate details of what transpired during the weekends but instead would like to focus my reflection on the realization that I had while renewing my passport.