"The Kingdom is like the woman who set out on a journey with a jar of flour.
The handle on the jar broke, and the flour spilled out onto the road bit by bit, without her noticing. When she arrived home, her jar was empty".--
from the Gospel of Thomas
This week I've been struck by how much fire and heat can arise from the combination of traditional marketing, traditional ways of viewing disparate faiths, and traditional agitprop dissent about what other people believe and do. I'm rather a traditional person, so I cannot say I'm entirely disturbed when people find in celluloid imagery either reaffirmation or revulsion. I must confess that cinema rarely gives me a religious experience, even when the subject matter is religious.
I'd rather not wade into the controversy, as I cannot feel equipped to address it without having actually seen the product in question. When I was a boy, my grandfather had fireplace crystals that one dropped into the flames, which turned the flames vivid colors. The effect lasted for just a moment, and then it was gone.
I love retablos, but I'm not sure I need my experiences to be locked into one story or one film or one anything. I trust that grace, if it exists, is in the essence of the moment--not on the side of a bus, not in letter-perfect Aramaic, and certainly not in the opinion pages of the morning or alternative weekly newspaper.
I do remember, though, the bit when somebody said "teach us to pray", and it turned out that the prayer was simple, really an affirmation of a straightforward set of ideas, and easy to remember. Why must everything be so complicated? I do not believe that grace arises from understanding the gore and horrors alone, but instead in finding the right things to do today. I personally prefer to meet Samaritans on the road than those filled with faith or its lack who know all the answers, but don't stop to help. I have met enough learned people who have places to go and people to see. I'd take a seat in an SUV, for that matter, over being by-passed by the most environmentally pure vehicle imaginable.
I see prehistoric insects in amber, but I believe that holy books and holy notions do not belong in such green casing. I like to see insects on the wing, and not imprinted in limestone.
I reached out to grasp the Truth, but I found that I had mis-capitalized it, and it eluded me like fog on a cool February night. I could walk in amongst it, and see it around me, but I could not touch it, and it disappeared by morning.