1. Monsters and grace
Over this past weekend I finally got around to watching the The Debt (2010). On a very basic level, The Debt is a monster movie. Set in the mid-1960s, the story follows three Israeli secret agents who are on mission in East Berlin attempting find and kidnap a man known as “The Surgeon of Birkenau” in order to bring him back to Israel so that he may stand on trial for his disgusting crimes against the Jewish people during the war.
I use the category “monster movie” because we witness glimpses of tension surrounding shared humanity between the one of the Israeli agents and a villain who has committed unspeakable evils, but at the end of the day is still a human being who is concerned about his wife, needs to eat and drink, and experiences pain.
Richard Beck writes in Unclean:
Monsters are often illicit hybrids, the transgressive mixture of the holy and the unclean … Monsters, by blurring the distinctions between man and animal, and the holy and vile, threaten the moral integrity of the community. Monsters signal the onset of the unholy and normative chaos. Monsters, in short, are dangerous.
A monster is not some grotesque looking mutant, but rather, one who is deeply human while at the same time an anti-human. Regardless of how evil the human monster is, they are still human and still resonate with our own beings on many levels. Beck’s text, focusing on the themes of hospitality and embrace, then asks, “Should we extend hospitality to monsters?”
This is a challenge and a threat to the limits of our grace.
2. Eucharist, Crucifixion, and Resurrection
I was reflecting on the crucifixion and the Eucharist yesterday and meditating on entering into the crucifixion so as to refuse to crucify anyone or anything else. As we participate in the Eucharist we enter into the broken body on the cross that sought to expose violence and hatred and commit ourselves to refusing to break anyone else. The ugliness of the cross becomes more grotesque when we see ourselves in its violence and in the ways that we participate in death through our actions and within our relationships and thoughts rather than participating in life and resurrection in every sphere of our lives.
What does it mean to crucify someone? When are we tempted to crucify someone for our gain? What are the ways in which I am prone to crucifying others and how can I move beyond that through Christ?
Practice leaving the cross behind and bringing about resurrection every day.