Recently I was reminded of the video ‘My name is John Daker’ and it got me thinking… Initially, I was a bit baffled by the medley of two songs, one a classic Christian hymn celebrating the resurrection and the other a 1950s hit song by Dean Martin celebrating romantic love. However, I now think John Daker was making a profound (though subtle) theological point in crafting his performance into a parable.
As Origen states (echoing St. Ignatius of Antioch), ‘my eros has been crucified’. However, it is because of the resurrection and ascension of Jesus and Pentecost that our eros may be redeemed and gathered up into agape and thus be directed towards the Lord in worship (a total repudiation of Nygren’s thesis in ‘Eros and Agape’ (with a h/t to Dante) doubtless both these works influence this parable). In our ‘now and not-yet’ reality none of us can give clear expression to this truth. We forget, falter and get things wrong (sometimes even embarrassing ourselves). The key is to persist under the grace of God and in the power of the Holy Spirit in allowing the resurrection power of Christ to sanctify all our loves. One of the key virtues in this spiritual warfare is the virtue of perseverance. This virtue is called to battle especially when it appears that what we are doing is futile, ridiculous or failing. As John Daker indicates through the clever use of his eyebrows, he gets all of this perfectly. Also, by recording his parable and stating his name at the outset he indicates that this ‘treasure’ is held in jars of clay and must be joyously incorporated into our witness. ‘God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness’.
“In any fairly large and talkative community such as a university, there is always the danger that those who think alike should gravitate together into ‘coteries’ where they will henceforth encounter opposition only in the emasculated form of rumor that the outsiders say thus and thus. The absent are easily refuted, complacent dogmatism thrives, and differences of opinion are embittered by group hostility. Each group hears not the best, but the worst, that the other groups can say.”
C.f. Josef Pieper on ‘the companions and peers of despair’ here.
* Definition of Hesychasm: “Hesychia or quiet, outer and esp. inner repose, eliminates passions and worries, not work or pastoral responsibility, though at times it tries to keep the latter at a distance. It is one of the aims of monastic renunciation, a condition of prayer. The motif, attested at the end of the 4th c. in Egypt and Cappadocia, grows in importance in Palestine and Sinai (Dorotheus, John Climacus). For the legislator Justinian, hesychast is synonymous with anchorite. Within Byzantine monasticism, hesychasm characterizes the tendency of Symeon the New Theologian, the of Gregory Palamas and, later, of the medieval Philokalia. The West has an analogous contemplative ideal, but less distinct from solitude and from the techniques of recollection” (Encyclopedia of Ancient Christianity, Angelo Di Berardino, General Editor).
“No one who believes, as the laws prescribe, in the existence of the gods has ever yet done an impious deed voluntarily, or uttered a lawless word: he that acts so is in one or other of these three conditions of mind—either he does not believe in what I have said [that gods exist]; or, secondly, he believes that the gods exist, but have no care for men; or, thirdly, he believes that they are easy to win over when bribed by offerings and prayers” (Laws, Book 10, section 885b)
C.f., “The Moral Law does not give us any grounds for thinking that God is “good” in the sense of being indulgent, or soft, or sympathetic. There is nothing indulgent about the Moral Law” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Book 1, Chapter 5).