Sunday, September 20, 2009

Coming Soon: Easter in the Meantime

As the Caravaggio painting above -- depicting the arrest of Christ -- suggests, this blog is getting a slight make-over. In fact, however, it is only preparing to do more explicitly what it was originally designed to do, and now, as T. S. Eliot put it, "under conditions that seem unpropitious."

The blog exists, as it has from the beginning, to reflect on the interaction of faith and culture in our day. What is becoming more recognizable every day is that beneath the surface of events, where the tectonic plates are grinding, what is taking place is what Hans Urs von Balthasar called the reciprocal intensification of the Yes and the No to Christianity and the moral revolution it awakened. René Girard has made essentially the same assessment on the strength of his anthropological analysis. In his own way, so did the brilliant religious nihilist, Friedrich Nietzsche. (He was brilliant inasmuch as he understood what a catastrophe would ensue upon the death of Christianity should such a thing ever happen, as he most solemnly hoped it would.)

The point is that the worldly No to the truth to which Christianity exists to say Yes is growing louder and more explicit all the while. In that sense, we are living in the "mean" time. Our challenge is to bear witness, in season and out, and to do so as best we can in an Easter spirit. This does not mean that we must not speak and act with the strength of our convictions, or that no one will be offended by our defense of the truth which the spirit of the age exploits and distorts. But it does mean that we should, as far as we can, bear witness in the spirit of Easter. “Take courage,” Jesus said in John’s Gospel, “I have conquered the world!” (John 16:33)

A reproduction of Caravaggio's painting has hung in my home for some years, and I have had many occasions to wonder at it. The most obvious thing about it, as I have said elsewhere, are the hands of Christ in the lower center of the painting. The hands depict what Christ's face also shows: his faith that the terrible events that are about to occur are not outside of the Father's providential love and that the very act of expelling the Father's love-in-person will serve only to reveal that love more powerfully than ever.

This, it seems to me, is Easter in the Meantime.

Thanks for checking in here from time to time.

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