Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My Life as Story...

Was something Peter Kreeft said in a seminar for Act One's workshop a year or two ago in Hollywood. (Act One is a screenwriting program to turn Christian keeners, intent on saving Hollywood, into excellent writers. And Peter Kreeft is a preeminent Catholic thinker who's written about 50 books, and has his feet planted firmly on the ground.)

He said that if we think of our life as story, and understand that like all characters we have the power to resist good and embrace evil, just as much as the other way around, then we will also understand that we can only be overcome by a beauty more powerful than our choice of evil. Looking at our lives as such, also makes for less remorse over lost years, regarding them as part of the narrative arc in a journey, as long as that journey is gradually inching towards good. It allows me to see (sometimes, at least, when I'm not overcome by anger and resentment), that the things that have happened to me over the past 12 years, have also opened me up to God's grace in a way that being sheltered probably could not have. By looking at our lives as story, we are also able to see truth, because it lies there in the concrete. And goodness, he says, depends on truth -- that is, without being truthful, we can never really be good. That's why some beautiful movies can never be good, because they don't impart truth, and also why some primitive movies are good because they do. And it lies in the story, not in the costumes, sets, and special effects, though sometimes excellent goodness is seen through those things too. As flawed as Mel Gibson's personal life is, and as much as it's not always a witness for Christ, his movie The Passion of the Christ, affected people -- Christians and atheists and Jews and Muslims -- in a profound way that has led many to truth.

Another thing Kreeft said that struck home was the need to "exchange efficiency for delight." Joy is something I have either avoided, or it's avoided me, until the past few years when I have recognized the need, actually the desire, for joy.

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