We move in this installment from the fear of others to the fear of what is actually in our own hearts.
Oprah had her last show the other day and, while I didn’t see it, my wife told me about it. She said she had to turn the show off because Oprah’s insistence that the answer to life’s problems lie within the human heart (or the “strength within”) was too grating and untrue to life to bear.
If you are taking a journey within yourself to find your strength, then you had better keep your eyes straight ahead and try not to poke around too much. Even if there is a movement in the corner of your eye, it is probably best not to turn your head and look. You might even want to put on a diver’s apparatus like Cartman did as he strolled through San Francisco in search of Stan in the “Smug” episode of South Park.
We took a look at Romans 3:10-18 the other day and were shocked by how direly it describes the human condition. We must now take the biggest leap of all and say it applies to us. Not just them, or those over there, but the beating heart in your chest and the thing located between your ears. It is a terrifying leap but one that is necessary to begin your life again. Movies about the living dead will help you.
One of the most poignant moments in the television series The Walking Dead is when Andrea’s sister (who we have grown to know) is bitten by a zombie and is reanimated (comes back as a zombie for all the lay people). She begins as a sympathetic person who you can identify with and ends up as one of the living dead with only havoc on her mind.
It becomes the uncanny in the sense that you can see uncontrollable impulses begin to manifest in your own life. The obvious place to start is addiction. You know you are an alcoholic and you know the devastation that will take place but the glass makes its way to your lips anyway. Perhaps there is something that just paralyzes you at work and the gap between the expectation of the employer and the quality of the work done reveals a consistently self-destructive streak. Or, as singer/songwriter Chris Knight sings; “I know the words that’ll bring you back/ but I don’t say nuthin’ as I watch you pack,” your capacity to sabotage love and relationships has left you alone for the foreseeable future. Workaholism, perhaps? Does “Cat’s in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin hit you where it hurts?
The key here is not to go into denial and pretend a little training from a life coach is going to help. It is not to look inside as Oprah advises (as well-intentioned as she is) because you are not going to find much that will help you. It is to come into accordance with our Romans passage and be crucified with Christ.
In our next (and final…. until reanimated….) entry we will find out what the Christian message is toward those of us who find ourselves with no other choice but to agree with St. Paul.