Saturday, April 23, 2011

Heaven on Their Minds

These days, whenever Easter completes its calendar roving and suddenly is upon us, my thoughts go to 2007.  Tim's last Easter...the one after the terminal diagnosis...the one that had children and grandchildren gathered around for what we knew was the last Easter.

Having shared the Catholic kid experience, our conversations often delved into spiritual questions and dilemnas - his well-developed and thought out, mine predictably impressionistic.  Left brain/right brain activation, trying to find the bridge.

Sharing the catechist's experience, we could speak in catholic shorthand.  So today, I want to drop some of Tim here with two samplings from his last Easter season blogs.  By this point, the oxygen wasn't flowing to his brain adequately, typing his blogs was difficult, (the thick, heavy finger effects) and the frustrations of trying to express himself  were acknowledged, shared, and then he moved on. 

Tim did not meditate on the Good Friday or Easter themes - the day that took him far into thought and sometimes was the hardest was Holy Thursday...particularly the story of Jesus alone in the Garden of Gethsemene wrestling with the soul and the demons.  I wish he had been able to write it out before he got ill.  What follows is a brief glimpse...what he shared with me were the thoughts about dualities, self-doubt and an assortment of deeper topics that continually challenged me to keep up.  

From his last few of the Garden and Jerusalem's East Wall from a trip to the Middle East in the 70's.  Miss him.  Still trying to Witness.  Keep on keeping on.  The youtube the one he selected for his Crucifixion by Cop blog.  Sprinkling Chagall's White Crucifixion as my top page picture.

Doubt and Suffering in the Garden ~ April 4, 2007

I wanted so badly to express the importance, scripturally, of the role and necessity of Jesus's doubt in the Garden of Gethsemane on the Thursday night before his crucifixion. Sadly, my brain is too oxygen-starved for anything very extensive. So I'll have to leave it at the following:
It could only have been human nature that would be subject to that kind of suffering and doubt, rather than the comforting omniscience of an unquestioning divinity. If Jesus was not a human, the covenant of atonement could not have been accomplished. Those who deny Jesus's human nature on this Holy Thursday also repudiate the authenticity of the sacrifice.

Crucifixion:  Suicide by Cop? ~ April 10, 2007
Virtually all Christian theology is based upon the idea that God's part of the covenant for the atonement for Adam and Eve's sin and for the opening of the gates of heaven required Him to provide a human son who would suffer and then die on the cross, loving Man enough to self-sacrifice himself to expiate Man's sin.

In order to create the circumstances that would fulfill the prophesies, making Him the all-powerful Messiah after His planned resurrection, Jesus held back no showmanship in his entry to Jerusalem, despite the controversy he knew he had aroused, and rode atop a donkey amid great fanfare. He was a splash - a hit! Politically, the mood of the Jews in the streets towards Jesus was changed in a radical fashion between Palm Sunday and Holy Thursday (the night of the Last Supper when Jesus was officially, criminally arrested). By Friday, five days after Jesus entered Jerusalem triumphantly, The Jews gathered to scream and beg for the Romans to kill him. 

To cut to the chase, Christians believe that Jesus Christ, the son of God - The Creator, came to Earth, was born and lived as a Man, and ultimately died for our (Adams and Eve's - I still don't get why it's my sin if I didn't even get to taste the apples) sins on a Roman cross. The idea is that if we accept Jesus' death on the cross as a replacement, a sublimation, for our own sins, then His path to Heaven is open to us. through the fulfillment of the prophecies, the most important being to die on the cross to atone for Man's sinful nature, first enacted by Adam and Eve (And set up by God). In addition to the deliberate manipulations leading to the crucifixion during those few days of Passover Week ... since it was the most essential part of the plan ... It's not that it can't be debated; it's that those who believe it need to be clear what they are agreeing to when they touch upon any religious discussion. Of course, everyone does.

Was the crucifixion actually suicide by Cop ? Isn't it true that Jesus set out to die by crucifixion to fulfill the prophecies? What if Pontius Pilate didn't feel like playing ball with the Sanherdrin and called their bluff, knowing they couldn't conduct executions? Would God's Master Plan, as assumed by so many, have been thwarted? Either way, that it might have been thwarted for the more dogmatic, God's Plan Is Never Thwarted, one is still left with the fully valid, if not self-evident, argument that the crucifixion was a deliberate suicide by cop.

And what about how suspicious the crucifixion was? Read all four versions of the same, brief story in the four gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. There came a point when Jesus called out "God, why hast thou forsaken me? (again, showing doubt)" In all four gospels, this call leads someone to get some "vinegar" (in one version) or "sour wine" (in another version) and give it to Jesus to drink and then die immediately.

Pilate is quoted repeatedly as perplexed, if not suspicious, that Jesus died in a few hours from a method of execution that was expected to take days. The whole point of crucifixion is that is takes so long, is so public and so frightening to others who might bring such a death to themselves.


  1. Damn; I miss Tim.

    He was right, of course - the Gospels don't provide a clear picture; there are a LOT of holes, and the explanations they do provide create more questions than answers.

    In a way, they're a lot like a good David Lynch movie....

  2. I didn't know Tim but I love his mind, the way he thinks, oxygen-starved or not. These provocative questions and theories (Crucifix by perfect is that?!) piqued his interest the same way they do mine. I think we would have gotten along splendidly.

    A great and worthy post and your commentary above is as beautifully rendered and heartfelt as anything you write. It seems you lost a very essential man and that's a hard one, my friend. Not sure how you traverse that rocky road but apparently you're doing it. I admire you.

    I hope your Easter is warm and lovely.


  3. Helloo! Well, that was a lot to think about. I couldn't think of a damn thing to say about politics to Tim being that I'm such an incredible lightweight and he was the opposite. But when it comes to Jesus, I do now and then opine with the greatest cynics. Of course, there is religion the idea, the ideal, the dogma and then there is experience. The final is one you can't argue with and you can make an argument out of. I believe that there is no no no way we can understand the ways of God. The bible explicitly says that His ways are not our ways and that we cannot comprehend Him. Everyone still tries and fails terrifically which is one reason we're so interesting. And the other, "Love thy neighbor as thyself" well, I must say, I can't tell that people are really trying all that hard on this matter.
    Somehow I lost my train of thought?
    Anyway, Tim's words sure do have a life through you. It gives me insight into those long drive conversations up to Oregon - you must not have had time for silence with all the thoughts swirling about. That would make a wonderful play, Cris. Have you considered that? Easy set as well - I'd go. Love you friend.