Monday, January 19, 2009

Stakes and Salvation

When I began writing my thesis, the professor of my honors seminar, Carolyn Allen, asked us to write a page or two on what our "stakes" would be in writing this paper and how we could carry the topic for the long months of writing and research on which we would be embarking. In my response, I cleverly made the connection between my emotional and psychological stakes in writing the paper and the "stakes" used to dispatch vampires in Buffy The Vampire Slayer, the basis for my thesis in the first place. At least I thought it was a pretty clever match-I figured I would be the only one able to say that my stakes of my paper were actual stakes.

I write:
I feel a certain responsibility to myself and the creative product that is Buffy to defend my emotional ties, the incredible writing of the show, and the effects that Buffy has had in modern culture.

KJ and I talked about our stakes as we began the process of writing our conference paper this past fall. We decided the paper would become a burden or be not worth writing at all if we we did not possess a substantial investment in the material. We needed to figure out our stakes. As I've said earlier, the paper just works for us on several levels. There's definitely a personal investment for us on both of our parts. I knew I wanted my writing and research to be a journey of truth-seeking and it is this that I aspire to in all my creative endeavours.

Last week, another friend of mine paraphrased for me my horoscope from Free Will Astrology-a syndicated column that appears in Seattle's weekly Stranger publication. Thereafter, I went to find it for myself.

Jan 8, 2009
If you're an artist and you want to get steadily better at your craft, you need to continually refine your approach to telling the truth. The novelist Willa Cather said that. Now I'm here to invite you to adopt that strategy in 2009, whether you're an artist or simply a person who wants to live your life artfully. The coming months will be one of the best times ever for you to penetrate to the heart of the truths you aspire to live by and become highly skilled at expressing them in every little thing you do.

I don't read my horoscope regularly, but once in awhile I'll glance at one and it will inspire something in me-which, even if you don't take too much stock in them, is a worthwhile use of them. I took it as a good omen for the paper and my truth-seeking therein.

Needless to say, in writing a paper that deals with fundamentalism, theology, salvation and pastorship (not to mention science fiction), I think a lot. Yesterday, I had the beginnings of somewhat of a revelation brought on by reading the book introduced in this clip:

The book is called The Great Emergence and chronicles the shifts in Christianity that tend to happen every 500 years. We are in such a shift now.

The author, Phyllis Tickle, writes, "Christianity may be being re-written as more Jewish, more paradoxical, more narrative, and more mystical than anything the church has had for the last 17 or 1800 years" (162)

My response:
It's interesting-I've always had a fascination with Judaism, with the history involved with it, the tradition and particularly the mysticism of it. It just always seemed so much more involved and all-encompassing than Christianity. Like Christianity wasn't as "real" of religion or lifestyle as Judaism-as if Christianity were "too easy" or "too straightforward" to be legit. I always have had to speak about Judaism in abstract, large terms as I don't know a whole lot about it, but I've always had a respect for it.

There's something to say about the mystery, doubt and "story arc"-if you can call it that-of Judaism. I don't like "knowing everything" as Christian fundamentalism would have me believe. Knowing the whole story. Genesis. The Old Testament. Jesus. Salvation. Fiery pit. Satan dies. Heaven. Thinking about it-the linearity of it-drives me crazy actually. It's where that obsession to evangelize must come from in the fundamentalism article-"Bible Says: The Psychology of Christian Fundamentalism" by Walter Davis from Psychoanalytic Review, because people have to figure out "Okay, I'm saved. I know what's coming. I know the end. Hum-de-dum. What do I do until then?"

Brought to you my caffeine-driven, theological musings.

There's a satisfaction to be had in querying and thinking about what the characters I'm writing about might be asking themselves. It lets me know that I'm in a good place of writing and intellectual investigation. And it's enjoyable too, by writing about other people, even fictional ones-or especially fictional ones, perhaps-it's unavoidable learning more about yourself.

Scoping human truth.

And those are my stakes.


Ryan said...

You and I need to have a theological tête-à-tête someday. You are Christian, yes? As an agnostic atheist, it would be very interesting to discuss theology with someone as intelligent as yourself.

Ian said...

We should definitely discuss. Christian-yes, though even that nomenclature is discussion worthy as far as I'm concerned. =)