Thursday, May 13, 2004

The Mystery of Christ

In a refreshing and honest reflection, (translation; go read it!) Rachelle reminded me of a book by Robert Capon that I started but never finished. Capon is a gourmet chef who also happens to be an Episcopal priest. He proudly admits that he has been fired from every position he has ever held in the Church. My kind of guy. His writing is delightful, cutting through all the doubletalk found in most approaches to systematic theology, as well as inserting a bit of humor and a few recipes to ward off the feeling of heaviness that usually accompanies such topics. Personally, I think that Hunting the Divine Fox needs to be required reading for all theology students. The Third Peacock, which specifically addresses the problem of theodicy, is also a timely book. Here's Capon's imaginative view of the act of creation;

Let me tell you why God made the world.

One afternoon, before anything was made, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit sat around in the unity of their Godhead discussing one of the Father’s fixations. From all eternity, it seems, he had had this thing about being. He would keep thinking up all kinds of unnecessary things -- new ways of being and new kinds of beings to be. And as they talked, God the Son suddenly said, "Really, this is absolutely great stuff. Why don’t I go out and mix up a batch?" And God the Holy Spirit said, "Terrific! I’ll help you." So they all pitched in, and after supper that night, the Son and the Holy Spirit put on this tremendous show of being for the Father. It was full of water and light and frogs; pine cones kept dropping all over the place and crazy fish swam around in the wine glasses. There were mushrooms and mastodons, grapes and geese, tornadoes and tigers -- and men and women everywhere to taste them, to juggle them, to join them and to love them. And God the Father looked at the whole wild party and said, "Wonderful! Just what I had in mind! Tov! Tov! Tov!" And all God the Son and God the Holy Spirit could think of to say was the same thing, "Tov! Tov! Tov!" So they shouted together "Tov!" And they laughed for ages and ages, saying things like how great it was for beings to be and how clever of the Father to think of the idea, and how kind of the Son to go to all that trouble putting it together, and how considerate of the Spirit to spend so much time directing and choreographing, and for ever and ever they told old jokes, and the Father and the Son drank their wine in unitate Spiritus Sancti, and threw ripe olives and pickled mushrooms at each other per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.
- The Third Peacock
I finally found Capon's book that Rachelle mentioned underneath my bed, which is usually where I find books that seem to have disappeared. I have a haphazard pile on the floor. Inevitably, while leaping out of bed to find out why the fool dog is barking, or to shut off the dagnabbit alarm, I knock over the precarious pile, and the top volumes slide under the bed skirt, to rest forgotten in the dark until some comment motivates a search that quite frequently leads to foraging among the dust bunnies.

While browsing through my recovered copy of The Mystery of Christ, I stumbled across this passage;

The whole, reconciling work of God incarnate in Jesus, you see, is already in everybody and everything by the universal presence of the Mystery of Christ. Therefore, the church is 'catholic' not because it has the whole human race inside it (it never has had, and it probably never will) but because it is the sign (sacrament) to the world of the catholic reconciliation God has handed to every last human being from Adam to whomever. And do you see what 'that' means? It means that the Mystery of Christ is present not just in Christians or in good guys but present in sinners right in the midst of their sins. It means that the Mystery isn't something that picks up its lily-white skirts and runs away when somebody does a no-no. The Mystery just hangs around everywhere; it's in the murderer at the moment he puts the knife in the victim's chest; it's in the victim as the knife punctures her heart - and it's in the abuser and the abused, the torturer and the tortured, the violator and the violated. You don't earn it's presence by being a good egg, and you can't lose it by being a bad one.
- The Mystery of Christ, pp. 65, 66.
I don't know about you, but the news reports today give rise to a cacophony of emotions within me. I needed Capon's words this day, to help keep things in perspective.

He concludes the chapter from which the above quote was pulled with this statement;

You don't have to work for the relationship because you've got it already. Just trust Jesus and open your eyes.

The Mystery of Christ within me greets the Mystery of Christ within you.



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