Pendulum

A few weeks ago, in May, I typed up the following. Rereading it in June I decide, perhaps foolishly, I will post it. If anybody wishes to come over to my house and engage regarding my subjects, I'll fix tea and toast. (You may wish to come by and egg our front window instead, and I wouldn't blame you, but we won't have tea. Just toast. Well, maybe some Oregon Chai.)





It is Ascension, and I am observing my philosophy.

What I mean by that sentence’s first part is that today Orthodox Christians remember Christ’s leaving-taking of His apostles by rising from where they stood, with a cloud hiding Him from their sight. A couple of beings appeared as this happened and told the apostles that Jesus, who was taken up from them into heaven, would “return in like manner as you saw Him go.”

Stumble into St. John’s today and you’ll hear people saying, “Christ is ascended!” Others respond, “From earth to heaven.”

Along with Christians everywhere, I’ve long been familiar with this piece of the biblical narrative. I’ve categorized it as pretty straightforward. Today, because of the unfamiliar, two-part greeting I just mentioned, I pause and consider it further. If I weren’t a Christian, I suppose to me this would be another facet of an ancient myth. I’d see the role of this ascension chapter in the story as explaining why Jesus Christ, having risen from death and being understood as now living an eternal life, is not seen. He is somewhere else, the narrative explains.

This isn’t the story of an invisible creature kept in shirt pockets or a genie’s lamp. There is no “tending” necessary of this Being. Whatever He is doing, so the story goes, it isn’t up to the ones who know Him to make sure He is comfortable or happy. The followers, from the biblical account, have roles to play in the spread of the message about this One, who was on earth but rose into heaven.

I find, in my continuing immersion into Orthodox Christianity, numerous additional tools for understanding the context of that time around the Ascension, which I believe, in my Bible-as-true mindset, is a true historical happening. Of course I have the option to accept or reject the new/old things I learn from Orthodoxy as being myth or history. I’m definitely in a credulous state at this point. I mean, I’ve investigated other stories from other Christianity-related groups. The ones I studied before had a certain defensive sheen to them, a particular packaged feel. My conclusions about those groups’ accounts were that they made up things about Jesus/faith/practice and then invented narratives or additions to Scripture to go with them, to enhance their credibility among adherents.

All I can say about the Orthodox Christian accounts so far is they’re darn consistent, internally and with the Bible as I have understood it. These tools/interpretations/aids to context get shared mainly in the church services, each of which continues to be an amazing journey whenever I venture in.

Which, I know, might mean I am experiencing an emotional high, an infatuation with liturgical situations. Or it could mean there’s something so real going on I have overcome my natural allergy to ritual in order to get at it. An analogy might be the picture of disciples following Somebody who spoke and interacted with people they were naturally allergic to, such as “sinners” and Samaritans, even the odd Roman official. It must have made their families wonder if they had always secretly wished to convert to paganism.

But, ugh. You can hear my defensive sheen, can’t you? I do not rise to the quality and consistency — nowhere near — that I’ve been finding in the Orthodox services. I’m a poor choice to keep listening to about this way. Yet I keep talking about it.

The other, related aspect of today for me is stated in my opening sentence: I’m observing my philosophy. Having stepped back, or made a pendulum swing, from viewpoints I had lived in, I’ve been working with the idea of argument as my standard. I feel the need to sell and to persuade — is such a trait peculiar to Western thinking? This is what I wonder. Involved would be the idea that even a desire for stirring up gentle intrigue in people is a form of salesmanship.

Yet the Apostle Paul did that, my understanding says. He stood up in Athens to speak to the crowd, using ideas with which they were familiar. The unknown god. The quest for something new. Paul had truly experienced something new. Maybe more significantly, he had been sent with a message about it. Not a performance, study, workshop, or self-help infomercial. An experience he believed had happened with a Person. He couldn’t help but speak.

Comments

Beth Westmark said…
I would love to come by your house to share Oregon chai, toast, ruminations and reflections, and admiration for that beautiful Passion flower. Thanks for sharing your journey, deanna rebekah.
Beth Westmark said…
p.s. The thematic design of your blog is wonderful. I've never seen one where you can presto-chango the organization to emphasize words, images, or a combination. As a reader, I find it very engaging.
deanna rebekah said…
Thank you, Beth. Perhaps one day you and Buck will make it this far west, and we'll have a great tea time. :o) I like this Blogger feature, as well. Here's hoping readers can play, as an offset (compliment?) to the seriousness! Nice to have you stop by.