In Georges Bernanos’ 1926 novel Under the Sun of Satan (Sous le soleil de Satan), Mr Malorthy is described as knowing “very little about that superior form of cheek which the clever call cynicism.” Today cynicism seems like just about the only stance left for anyone to take. There is very little room, it seems, for the sincere and the unironic.
I have a difficult time viewing safety as a virtue. Resilience perhaps, fortitude to be sure, but not just safety. I want my kids to be safe, of course. I want them to take reasonable precautions when doing dangerous or risky things. Safety serves the risk; it serves a life marked by danger. It is calculated and reasonably weighed out. But danger, why, danger is the stuff that makes life worth living. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “As soon as there is life, there is danger.” To elevate safety above engagement is a cowardly and timid way to engage this world.
Everyone is up in arms in some way. We all probably have friends on every side who have dug in their heals, marked out their enemy, and are hunkered down at war. Over what? Over whether this whole thing is a hoax or the Black Plague. Or we are up in arms about our neighbor biking without his mask or the government conspiring to rob us of all our rights. I get it.
Sweet song of heaven calls from above
Weighting freighting the glorious clouds
Soaring out pouring out she tastes the sky
Ambitiously swallowed that deep song of love
Every year on the Sunday after Easter, we read from John chapter 20 and hear again the appearance of our resurrected Lord to His disciples. Every year, whether it is in the midst of a pandemic and you are watching church from your living room or you are sitting in church with your family, we get caught up in the story of doubting Thomas and his desire to poke around in the holes of Jesus’ hands. It is a powerful text, from which we get perhaps the greatest confession of faith ever spoken.
After our last episode of Saints and Cinema, where we talked a little bit about movies for watching during a pandemic, one of our brothers commented that The Seventh Seal was the best plague movie. I had watched three or four Ingmar Bergman movies in the past year, but I had held out on The Seventh Seal.
Many have lamented the fact that Easter has fallen during this global pandemic. Plans have been ruined, celebrations are cancelled, and reunions get pushed off to a later date. I do not get to preach to your faces and miss seeing the reactions, the smiles, the tears, and the confusion at times, as I proclaim the Word of God.