Monday, December 28, 2015

Music to end (or start) a year with

Melissa Maricich with a beautiful cover of John Michael Talbot's arrangement of the Magnificat:

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Through a glass darkly with a Land Rover?

Taking cues from bible verses like Matthew 1:21, where Joseph is told what to name the baby that Mary will have and why, Christians believe that God became man to save His people from their sins. And while nothing ought to (or even could) cloud the glory of that primary purpose, I'm beginning to think that the Incarnation had some secondary purposes, too.

I think maybe one of the reasons that God became man was to show us how to be properly vulnerable.

I'm not educated enough to say who had that insight first, but it wouldn't surprise me to learn down the road that I've paraphrased Saint Ambrose of Milan or Saint John Chrysostem without knowing it. My own thought remains half-baked, so I'm blogging about it as an aid to memory.

Saint Paul wrote to the Corinthians that the Lord had said to him, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness." He (Paul) had a better understanding of that paradox than I ever will, yet I think it's in the same ballpark as the idea that there is such a thing as a "proper vulnerability." Generations before that, Mary the mother of Jesus had replied to the proposition relayed to her by the Angel Gabriel with the utterly accommodating "I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done to me according to your word."

What makes Mary an example of proper vulnerability rather than a victim of circumstance is, I think, that she chose freely for the Lord. Not being a slave to the compulsion for instant gratification also gave Mary the patience she needed to nip pridefulness in the bud, which worked to her advantage, because proud people hate their own vulnerability, but humble people understand and embrace it.

Amusingly, it's not just scripture and dimly-remembered snippets of theology that inspire thoughts like that. Everything in the foregoing paragraphs was reinforced for me by a TV commercial for the Land Rover Discovery Sport. Have you seen it? A pretty woman running sled dogs across a snowy landscape is ferried across a shallow river by a helpful man who just happens to be off-roading in his Land Rover when Little Red Mushing Hood meets the geographic obstacle that she and her dogs would not otherwise have crossed.

The commercial has continuity problems with things like seat positions in the Land Rover and a sled that magically moves from one side of the river to the other, but I don't care. The dogs are beautiful and well-behaved, the woman training for the Iditarod is ridiculously pretty, and the Good Samaritan driving a Land Rover looks appropriately rugged but non-threatening.

A model named Lauren Hastings plays the woman. The man is Ayden Gramm. The dogs are unnamed. Interestingly, most of the commercial is silent, and the man and the woman don't actually say anything to each other. Their interaction is shown exclusively through their facial expressions.

Had she not been willing to admit her need, she would not have taken the driver up on his offer for help crossing the river. I also think that although the woman was vulnerable, she was not defenseless. Her dogs (none of them purse-sized) would presumably have done what they could to keep the driver in line had he been less than a gentleman. And the driver for his part stopped his vehicle knowing that the woman could have rejected his offer for safe passage across the river. Ergo, proper vulnerability all around.

The ad is emphatically not Christian in any obvious way, but it seems to resonate with Christian themes.

Perhaps even unrequited love, painful as it is, helps us to be properly vulnerable.