Monday, February 05, 2018

Sermon last Sunday talks about openness to sacrifice in relation to common resilience


Sunday, Feb. 4, a visiting pastor Tracy Hartman gave a somewhat challenging message at the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC. , “Mixed Messages”.

The sermon used Matthew 2:22-24 as a reference, where the boy Jesus is presented to the temple for a “purification” ritual where doves are sacrificed.  The mention of “purification” seems double-edged. Later in life it might mean initiation, or running some sort of gauntlet, or some sort of ritual meaning risking you old sense of self (possibly in the context of accepting hazing in the past).
Early in the 20-minute address she spoke up for both refugees and asylum seekers.

But later she told the story of a young man who had been a popular athlete.  After a what seemed like a slight leg injury, he was diagnosed with a bone sarcoma and had a leg amputated, very suddenly, above the knee. 

He went downhill, with drinking and drugs.  His life turned around when he met a young woman who was a double amputee, when they fell in love and got married.

I don’t know if undergoing such an insult to bodily sanctity is the “sacrifice” (like in Stravinksy's "Rite of Spring"). I’ve never been willing to accept such an idea personally, although I know intellectually that in a group of people this capacity is very important for the group’s resilience (from enemies, for example, as many tribal Bible stories show). That’s why someone who flaunts a “dangerous” (Milo, indeed) difference can be disruptive to the group. We could get into a discussion of what I would call “motivational integrity”. 

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