sometimes i think that the crucifixion must be purely metaphorical. here’s what i mean. i don’t mean that it didn’t happen. i believe in the historical crucifixion. but i also recognize that it’s really difficult for that brute historical fact to have much practical meaning for me. whatever it means it doesn’t mean that I seek crucifixion for myself. i need to follow jesus, even unto death, but seeking to imitate the pattern of that death has been wrong at least since ignatius of antioch.
so i think about the world that i live in. a world that exists without crucifixions except in the most bizarre of instances. and i think about what lead jesus to the cross. and i think that at least part of what lead jesus to the cross was a dogged determination to speak truth to power. and i think about the nature of that power then and the nature of that power now. and i think that that power is represented no more clearly than in the hubris of Standard and Poor’s who this week despite a 2 trillion dollar error in calculation downgraded the USA’s credit standing. this is the same Standard and Poor’s who choose not to downgrade the credit standing of all those companies who were burdened with tons of toxic debt in 2007. i count it as pure evil when you choose to play with reputation in this way. it could make a real difference in the lives of the poor if the USA finds itself financially encumbered. the country as a whole is in a real way the last resort for the financial system. if you want to protect the poor you should prop up their last resort as much as you can. when you choose not to do this right after you have protected the wealthy (i recognize the domino effect argument and stuff. but the USA has to always be the last domino, right??) you are evil.
so what does it mean to me, in the wake of the lunacy and evil in our financial system that jesus was crucified? well, since it seems pretty clear that jesus was crucified so that i don’t have to be, it doesn’t mean that i need to seek my own financial ruin in response to the evil of the system i happen to live in. i am freed, by the blood of Christ, to seek a different path, that is simultaneously a following of Christ just as it is it’s own liberated thing.
i think that anyone who takes the time to really care, in the midst of the evil i am trying to describe here, loses their happiness in cloud of despair. the poor die and the powerful find new ways to kill them. but i am freed from this despair, freed to what? to anesthetize myself against reality? this is a pretty good option and the prevalence of great new cable shows that have summer runs (i’m thinking in plain sight, white collar) work pretty well for this. i could play video games? this is an even better option, especially when it is, as jane mcgonigal writes, the way for me to discover a new better reality and to fix my world. more and more, though, i think that it must be the pursuit of beauty. i think that the transmutation of Christ’s suffering into the beauty of my freedom is the most heartbreaking and liberating reality that has ever existed. this is the metaphor of my salvation. it is not an easy path to follow when the ugliness of Standard and Poor’s is thrust in front of me every day. but that is the path that follows best jesus.