Tuesday, June 05, 2012

The Dailiness of Living, Life Cycles, and Groundhog Day


I have read that the point of the Bill Murray film Groundhog Day is Buddhism.  He relives the same day over and over again until he gets it right.  The movie is quite funny, but the idea that it might be propaganda for Buddhism takes some of the humor away.  Of course, his continual reliving of the same day has to have some theme behind it, and it definitely would not be a Christian theme.

Why?  Because while many religions are built on the idea of cycles and wheels, Christianity, as Augustine pointed out, is based on the idea of progression.  A movement toward, not a doubling back on itself of history.  We are moving toward something.  Of course, other metanarratives adopt this idea of progression also, but they are mostly Western world views.  So, while we often say, “history repeats itself” we are wrong in two ways.  History is not a thing or being to do anything, and the circumstances are not the same and are not really repeating themselves; they just appear to be. 

Peter addresses this idea when he says that those who deny the second coming say, “All things continue as they have since the fathers.”  In other words, the cycles keep repeating, endlessly, going nowhere. 

I thought about these ideas this morning in reading Piper.  See disclaimer below.  “It was a gloomy reality year after year that the priests in Israel had to offer animal sacrifices for their own sins and the sins of the people.  I don’t mean there was no forgiveness . . . But there was a dark side to it.  It had to be done over and over” (p.71).   And thus it was a constant reminder of their sins.

The idea of hope, to me, is that the continual patterns do not have to continue.  Hope is possible because change is possible (this is not reference to President Obama).  Christ stepped into history and broke the futility of continual patterns.  The cycles became a straight line up to an end result, as it were. 

Emily Dickinson asked, “Was it He that bore, and yesterday, or centuries before?”  Historically, centuries before, once for all.  But the reality is if it were yesterday.  We do not have to think of the cross as something historical but as something real today.

Now, some days are lives seem like Groundhog Day.  Every evening I take my two prescriptions and feel like I just did it a few minutes before.  I am off work now and the days are melding together, despite the fact that I am keeping busy and finishing projects.  My poor son is unemployed and I know he is feeling as if he is living his own pointless Groundhog Day.  That is a reality that we must struggle with and remind ourselves that this existence is not a cyclical, continual, unchanging and unchangeable pattern to which we are chained until we “get it right,” never knowing how to “get it right.”  We have the opportunity to connect ourselves to a larger purpose outside ourselves that is not cyclical but directioned.

Disclaimer:  I have only read one book of Piper.  Like all writers, he has his critiques.  So be it.  He is honest about his past and his struggle with racism.  He is trying to elevate marriage, which has fallen into disrepute and dishonor in our culture, and I’m not talking about same sex marriage in this context, at least not alone.  I am sure I would disagree with some of his writing.  That is how it should be.  If I were to find a writer with whom I agreed fully, I would be concerned.   

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