26 February 2008

some hopeful thoughts

Klimt: Sunflower (courtesy of Olga's gallery)
"Eucatastrophe is a term coined by J. R. R. Tolkien which refers to the sudden turn of events at the end of a story which result in the protagonist's well-being. He formed the word by affixing the Greek prefix eu, meaning good, to catastrophe, the word traditionally used in classically-inspired literary criticism to refer to the "unraveling" or conclusion of a drama's plot.

...Though Tolkien's interest is in myth, it is also connected to the gospels; Tolkien calls the Incarnation the eucatastrophe of "human history" and the Resurrection the eucatastrophe of the Incarnation."

Pretty cool, eh? The word becoming flesh is the sudden turn of events that changes everything, and the Resurrection is God's crazy answer that ties up all the seemingly loose ends...so that rather than everything coming undone, the solution for salvation for sinners, the satisfaction of God's justice and complete restoration of all things comes together in one event. Weee-hooo. Eucatastrophic.

Also, one of my professors was talking today about how at the core of each person there are deep longings—which come out at times in the literature, art, music, legends—that are echoes of Eden. It is the intrinsic sense of deep beauty, loveliness in creation and in human life. Sense of what we were made to be originally & what we still see glimpses of in that beauty. There is also sense of mourning, grief, loss--that we have lost our way—that we are exiles, that we have wandered away from the garden. The human heart has longings for redemption—for things to be set straight--and this is where we engage a broken and hurting world: by acknowledging the longing; by entering into the great pain and exile with hope of knowing how the story ends. By telling stories of it. By making music that aches with the beauty of it. By painting and drawing and creating things that remind us of it.

I felt this strongly this Christmas while reading all of the chronicles of Narnia. The Last Battle is raging and the noble but beaten down warriors are brought into the renewed Narnia...they see all their friends they thought they'd lost. It is a great reunion and everyone is running faster than they've ever run--together--and with so much joy. Man, what a great eucatastrophe!!

In another class we've been talking about how sin "vandalizes shalom"--the God intended wholeness, integrity, peace, faithfulness, justice, beauty, goodness, righteousness, holiness, health, etc. As we are in Christ we are made new, and as communities of people who once were enemies and vandalizers, we are now brought near by God's great mercy. That deep longing for integrity and shalom are what lead us into God's heart for healing. The Gospel buys back the hearts of vandals so that they are shalom seekers--by loving God (& obeying his laws--thus not vandalizing shalom) and loving our neighbors--this integrity, peace, healing and joy are brought to bear in the lives of others.


Blogger Heidi said...

You are in my prayers this week... Shalom.

11:36 AM  
Blogger Kat McRitchie said...

these are echoes of my heart of late. the coexistence of mourning and joy, breaking and restoration, despair and hope. this is a good place to be, i think. my heart is a bit closer to the surface than usual, and perhaps it will be easier for God to get His hands in it there than when i have it locked away.

6:43 PM  
Blogger Brent Anderson said...


this was great!

love the sunflower, tolkien term, and thinking about several of the concepts you've introduced: how sin vandalizes shalom and growing in wholeness, and eucatastrophe.

5:01 PM  

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