Friday, April 02, 2004
My heart is here,
Lord, take now what I cannot give.
My heart is here,
erase desires I hold so dear.
Free me, Lord, and please forgive
the captive life you've watched me live.
My heart is here.
When you get right down to brass tacks, there are certain things all Christians should give up, don't you think? I mean, I'm reading about the Eucharist and the Rite of Confession, and we're not really supposed to sin just because we know forgiveness is available, right? How can we release these things that hold us hostage? Is it gossip? Is it the occasional racy video? Is it love of money and things? Just what comes between a man and God besides doubt, besides pride.
I have read widely over the years because I have a love of poetry, and there is a famous book called "The Golden Bough." In that book, which was banned in America early in this century, James Frazier describes the history of the world's superstitions and religions. The whole book is online at the link I gave above. If you read it, you will see a section called "Eating the God" where Frazier describes many places and times throughout the history of Man which are similar to Christian communion. If you read another section, about Scapegoats you will see many times throughout history when people were treated like Jesus, where all the sins of the community are poured onto one man who is driven out.
For a long time, these things bothered me because Christians hold the Eucharist and the Crucifixion so dear it seems to undermine us to find out our events are not as unique as we thought. If you read Frazier, you'll even see a section on sacrificing the King's son, you'll see sections which describe the torture Jesus went through only described in other cultures, you'll see the ritual we know as releasing Barabbas... you'll read lots of things if you read the Golden Bough that bring the Bible into relief.
In the Methodist faith, we believe a thing called Prevenient Grace. It is what Catholics believe, too, that the Holy Spirit brings you to God. So I choose to believe that the Grace of God works, past, present and future, in all humanity and that these past rituals, so similar to our central mysteries, were merely foreshadowings of the coming Messiah, working in the minds of early Man.