Thursday, May 25, 2006

Feast of the Ascension

Today is the Feast of the Ascension on the Roman calendar. The Ascension always bothered me, it seems to me the spookiest part of the life of Christ. Virgin birth: no problem. Resurrection: what's the big deal. This is small change for God. But the Ascension just seems *weird*. "And He was taken up and covered by a cloud"? Give me a break.

I was thinking about this on the Feast of the Ascension about four years ago and I had this thought: What are the alternatives? It seems that the following map gives the relevant options. He could 1. Be seen to depart or 2. Not be seen to depart. If he is seen to depart then He must depart 1a. statically, "fade away" so to speak, or 1b. dynamically, be "transported" away (i.e. move from sight in some direction). If he is moved in a direction then it must be either 1b' a major point of the compass, or 1b'' an oblique angle.

Not being seen to depart would be the least spooky, but also the least educative. If He were just never seen nor heard from again, if He'd just disappeared, I think I would be even more disturbed actually. At any rate it would have left open-ended where the heck He went. Is he still out there, like Sasquatch, lurking in the forests eating berries? No, that's no good.

I also don't think the fade away would be any less spooky. The point of being transported "up" is to convey that He's going "up" to be with the Father. I don't know (or particularly care) whether the Apostles thought God was physical and lived in a castle in the air. I suspect they did not. However, I also suspect they had the same natural associations as we have and "the heavens" are, after all, a metaphor for Heaven. So why not up?

None of the other points of the compass convey much. Up is the only real "loaded" direction (I suppose "down" is loaded, but unsuitable for obvious reasons!). So I think it's a contest between the Fade and the Ascension. Can you imagine celebrating the Feast of the Fade?


Blogger Christine Ansorge said...

I can imagine almost anything. We'd have invented the transporter before the airplane. It's kind of sad. I think transporting ala Star Trek sounds like a lot of fun. Of course, we'd be hoping to end up in heaven with our transporter. Wouldn't that be lovely. Completely useless spiritually, but perhaps the engineers would be our high priests. We'd build the Transporter of Babble.
OK, now I'm giggling uncontrollably about a very serious thing. Don't ask me to imagine things rhetorically, because I will.

Friday, May 26, 2006 10:27:00 AM  

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