Poll of a Billion Monkeys

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Road to the Past

The Exchange - The Road to the Past is Paved in the Mind

Tonight, while the wife and kids were away caroling for the shut-ins, and I was waiting on a call bout a case I sat and listened to Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd, and then cuts off of Abbey Road and the White Album. Listening like this made me realize some things. 1. If not overplayed, then some rock music is downright artistic. Like in High Art. 2. Some music is seasonal. That is to say, for some reason some music in my mind is associated with certain times of the year. I don't know if it is because the first time I heard a particular piece of music it was a particular time of year, and it stuck in my kraw that way, or if the music really does have a kind of "set" or sound, which psychologically associates itself with a particular time of year. Parsifal is like that to me. Everytime I hear that opera I think of the winter, it is winter music to me. Tonight is one of the first truly cold nights we've had all season, and it is rainy, and although Abbey Road is my favorite album by the Beatles I had a hard time listening to it because to me it is summer music, late in the evening, near sundown kinda music. No. 3, what I like best about some rock music is the sense of melancholy it can engender in me. To me melancholy is one of the most pleasant emotions I can feel, and it doesn't make me pessimistic, but rather wistful about my past, grateful for my present, and sort of anticipatory towards my future. It also makes me feel inspired, in a poetic sense. It reminds me of something I read Keats say once, about being melancholy. "That melancholy is the drug of the muses." I suspect he was right. And 4. I sure do miss vinyl. Records had scratches and pops and features that added character to a recording. It was almost like another shade or layer of the music. Near perfect reproduction and resolution of music sort of reminds me of a supermodel. A little imperfection goes a long way in making a real woman more beautiful, and a good song more truly sweet.

After that, and doing some work I went and watched Bishop Fulton Sheen on EWTN. He gave an absolutely brilliant expositionary talk and analogical comparison between Superman and Christ. The similarities and the differences. Now I have thought long and hard on this subject myself, even writing an extended essay on the Three Supermen of the Twentieth Century, the Nazi Ubermensch, the Stalin (Man of Steel - Communist superman), and the fictional American Superman, who is really a sort of Everyman American analogue of Christ. Our Superman, and our super-power is the only one which has survived by the way, because our Superman is the servant, also analogous to Christ, that is to say, our superman is not a conqueror who feels destined to use his abilities to subjugate others, nor is he a self-absorbed political power reducing everything to his planned and mechanical will, rather he is Truth, Justice, and the American Way. His powers obligate him to serve and his superiority lies not in his strength, but in his willingness to serve others. He is but a secular Christ figure, and by extension, what is best about Christianity gave birth to the American ideal of citizenship; equality, brotherhood, and liberty.

But Sheen in his exposition said some things that I suspect will really make me rewrite that essay, at least in part. He gave a fascinating comparison of Superman moving from weakness in Clark Kent to power in Superman, and of Christ moving from divine power to weakness and humility in the incarnation. But the best thing he said was in comparing superman as an immigrant from another world, to Christ "breaking through time" into our world. that is Superman broke through from his world to ours, but Christ broke through "time" into our world. And of Superman saving the "outer man," and of Christ saving the "inner man." It was a brilliant set of analogies.

When I was much younger I used to love watching Sheen talk (his books were fanatic too), I always thought he was miles ahead of most priests. Seeing him talk again tonight made me remember why I wanted to be a priest when younger, and why I want to be one after I retire. He was more like one of the Saints of old, like a Francis or Patrick than most modern priests. He reminded me a lot of John Paul too in some ways. The Catholic church, and Christianity in general could use a lot more like him. Hell, the whole world could use a lot more like him.

On good thing about modern technology, especially God technology, is this: with it we can sometimes break through time too.
The past can catch us again, if we'll let it.

1 comment:

The MIPB said...

Having read the previous essay on the 3 Supermen of the 20th Century, and being a writer also, I appreciate the comment "make me go back and rewrite some of it". This is not a mere editorial change; it is a change of heart and mind. Not necessarily a radical change like 180 degrees... but a change more like music. Taking Amazing Grace and putting it to "The House of the Rising Sun" sort of change. The words remain the same... but they are transformed through the difference in delivery.
Secondly, I appreciate the statement about breaking through time. When Eternal God the Father committed Himself to the Flesh and dwelt among us as the only begotten Son, time was changed and so was our reckoning of it - to two periods: Before Christ (BC) and Anno Domini (AD). The twisted knot of reckoning is thus divided, and even more profoundly than the Gordian knot when it lay sundered beneath Alexander's sword. Breaking through time is a phrase I have personally spent hours upon, literally, from other lectures I've attended in other places. And, curiously, on the same topic - Christ in our time. Re-read that, and enjoy the irony.