Saturday 29 March 2008

More Resurrection

An interesting viewpoint article in The Guardian on the Resurrection theme. Here is one view that I rather agree with, and a particular interest in this passage:

Disillusioned, confused and frightened, the disciples seem to have returned north to Galilee to resume their fishing. As they reminisced, possibly over many months, recalling their extraordinary experiences with Jesus, links began to form between their mental images of him and then-current messianic expectations. Possibly a part of that imagining was the idea, wholly feasible in their minds, that God had raised Jesus into his presence.

This needs some fleshing out. The key is the expectation still pregnant, and the closeness of the Kingdom of God. So death is not final, especially if the general resurrection is believed to be close. There are two points to make. First of all, the did not just go back fishing: they continued with Jewish festivals and the intense world view they had. Related to this, then, is not just an idea and imagining, but a reality given by that narrative world: stories that become real.

My mother is visiting. She has multi-infarct dementia, that is caused by a succession of transient ischaemic attacks, otherwise called mini-strokes. In my mother's case, it has affected sequencing and space, not (yet) short or long term memory, and after nearly two days of reasonable conversation (she knew about Joyce Grenfell and Tony Hancock) she had a nap and last evening and through to today she was convinced she was in another house, and not the one she owns. No matter that I mentioned the computers here, the paintings on the wall, and even my sister on the telephone telling her that she was in New Holland. The porch, though, was hers, and she recognised the car. Yesterday she wanted to go in the car to go to New Holland. This morning she was sure she was in New Holland, but after an odd half-awake night and looking around the house, and thinking she could not go downstairs, a trip out in the car has led to her laughing off ideas that this is not her house.

Now, don't get this wrong: I am not saying the disciples had dementia! What I am saying is that within a world view we are solidly anchored, and my mother spoke perfectly logically too. She had a kind of world view. We are very fixed to reality, and it comes to us like a solid brick. The disciples lived in that world - and we would find it crazy. The idea that liberation was coming, brought in by God, that the three decker universe was having its upper deck coming ever lower, would be nonsense to us, and so would the reality that flows out of words and is represented in food, rituals and the history of the Jewish world. Nor do we die because of demons transmitting sin and its presence and their reality felt in rotten, short lives - lives which a certain Jesus, also part of this world view, went around healing.

These days post-Enlightenment people turn resurrection into a kind of isolated miracle, a sort of good thing, and theologise it into something that happened at the crucifixion. They cannot possibly inhabit some basic assumptions of Jesus, the disciples and even Paul the more cosmopolitan organiser with his crucifixion-resurrection salvation scheme, able to use language of the body even though he claimed what for all intents and purposes was a spiritual encounter of some sort - and that was linked to his continued intense rejection of having Law and Messiah, except that he switched sides.

I am postmodernist but reality bites us and claims us, wherever we are. It does to us, because reality as we have it works. We know truth is transient, with paradigms and plausibility structures that can shift. But the truth we have works, and it grips. It did to the homo-sapiens of that earlier Middle East culture too.

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