Sunday, February 21, 2016

Freedom and the Predestination of Mankind

Christ promises to bring Life and it abundantly. What does this mean? In my estimation, this is to say that life is a progressive concept, one that people can participate more and more in. I'm sure most people understand what the expression "feeling alive" means, even if they can't philosophically dissect it and understand it.

Life in abundance is the essence of freedom, the unhindered access of the Human person to draw more and more into Life, that is to say become more and more what they are intended to be. This is an incredibly intoxicating vision. It's why Walter White, Don Draper, and, yes, even Deadpool are characters that make your head spin. They are detached from ideological commitments and burn a mark across the sky. Yet, Walter and Don are utterly miserable and disturbing characters, even as viewers are in awe of their bizarre, and mostly destructive, quests at self-realization.

Deadpool is a slightly different story, being both a parody and comic-instantiated "freak-nation anthem", which I'll explain. Deadpool, as a character, is self-conscious of his status as a comic-book character. Hence why he is a parody. He breaks fourth-wall all the time. Perhaps one might call him a puppet who can see his strings, but this feeds the hilarity of his character. At times he "manipulates" and insults the writers. Deadpool, because he knows what he is and how his world "works", is able to transcend over it.

Of course, he is still a written character. But what this allows him to do is make a kind of cult around himself, where he is trying to collect followers who also want to jump over the boundaries that society lays down. This is what I mean by "freak-nation anthem", he's collecting up rejects for himself. His lack of commitment or conviction is itself a paradoxical commitment to freedom. He's a selfish and narcissistic character, but again, this is what allows him to lead. If this sounds confusing, it's supposed to be.

Christians must bring forth a freedom that is equally intoxicating, and I think the "new wine" Christ creates ought to be a hint that the leader we're following intends the same thing. Life in the Spirit is supposed to be freedom. But what does this freedom entail?

Well firstly, we have the promise of Life. Namely, this means that in the Resurrection, Christ has stamped God's Yes on Human life. We have a promise of an everlasting life, where the fear of death and loss is faded and gone. In this there will be reunion with all friends lost. There will be rejoicing for all the times never spent. There will be no more sighs and all tears will be dried up.

But beyond this, there is the promise of Life Abundantly. St. Gregory of Nyssa framed the concept of epekstasis, a word pulled from St. Paul's letters, which implies a literal stretching forth of the hand. It's the idea of always going forth, moving closer and closer to the Infinite God. Yet it is even in this distance that God can meet us. In simpler terms, it means life never gets boring and God is always with us in His fullness. What does it mean for God to be with us in fullness? This too is apart of the Human predestination, a goal of bearing God in the flesh, to be His Image, imprinted with His Spirit. This is the Vocation of the Son, and we are, in fact, images of the Image. While the logoi, all the created virtues and ideas (e.g. beauty, good, truth etc.), are natural to Him and dwell within Him, we can participate in them as they become apart of us. Our faces will light up with the Light of Christ, we will bear Beauty, Good, Truth, Life, Peace, Justice in our bodies, in this life, and more and more in the next.

In more tangible terms, it means in this life, in Christ, Man is set free to be the little-creator God made him to be. No amount of oppression, slavery, horror can completely erase this. No amount of sin can completely deform it until this calling is so warped as to no longer be Human. So go, take time this day, and consider your passions and hobbies. Look upon these small things, and let them carry the fire of God's presence in the World. This might open up paths for your to pursue, and it might close down pathways that lead towards crushing and killing your neighbor.

Become translucent so the Uncreated Light and Life of God may shine through you and your works. Chains will melt away, for yourself and others. Kiss the Earth and the creatures upon it. Smile towards the Heavens and all the birds of the air. Imitate Christ and  know that you are Man, and your destiny is to be a lord of Earth.

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