If I should die

The church is completely beautiful. The central section of the nave has rounded arches, conceivably Norman, with those thick pillars. The west and east ends of the nave have Gothic arches. Unusually, the window above the altar is of clear glass; the whole is whitewashed; so it combines light and solidity. It feels strong and supportive, a womb of protection against the World, filled with Light to lift the heart.

I was there for a concert, the City of London Chamber Orchestra playing the Britten Sinfonietta, the Lark Ascending, the Siegfried Idyll and Mozart’s twentieth symphony. I could imagine myself there each Sunday morning, part of the church community, singing the Creed and the Gloria, kneeling for the consecration, my spirit lifted and grounded at the same time. My spiritual practice now is to open myself to life and experience, so I chose an open posture and paid full attention to the Wagner, and was rewarded by being moved to tears.

“They’re all hypocrites. No-one believes that” say more than one friend. Well. Certainly not the virgin birth, and possibly not the divinity of Christ, though God spoke in Him. My Christianity is stories and images which encourage me or help me make sense of the world; a link to a spiritual reality beyond the reality I can comprehend with my conscious, occasionally rational mind, or express in words. God is. I have a relationship with Jesus Christ, living in my heart.

Not all Christians feel this way. Evangelicals have a series of verbal formulations, which fit to the words of the King James Bible, to which they consciously assent, formulations like Christ died as a sacrifice for our sins provided by God yet the Sacrifice needed against God’s Wrath, which you must Accept, in order to be Saved from Hell- conceived by some as a state of perpetual conscious torment after earthly death. Well, not all people are as sensitive as I am, or have my emotional intelligence.

The Isaiah 53:5 project seems to know the weakness of the Evangelicals. He imagines women craving appreciation: “Do you see me? Do you delight in me?” He says “most husbands” do not even hear: perhaps because of the vilely narrow concept some Evangelicals have of what is a “real man”. I don’t like the idea that “all women” feel exactly the same- my femininity, the Evangelical ideal, is certainly not the experience of all women. With his heart in the right place, I53 demands that men show their appreciation. Some men and women are naturally like this.

Violet and her atheist chums had a good laugh at this. It seemed to me a wasted opportunity: deriding the others’ view, rather than using it as a chance for understanding.

My loveliest religious experience to date was on Monday 4 May. I had a heartfelt conviction of God’s love for me and my beauty as a created animal. And I still want to be appreciated, for someone to acknowledge that I can light up a room, that my drama and dance is Beautiful- by her words or her appreciative look.

Rossetti, Joan of Arc

7 thoughts on “If I should die

    • Welcome, and thank you for commenting.

      The more I think on it, the more troubling your post is. That it should be the norm in marriage that the wife needs more appreciation and the husband just does not see it horrifies me. “Most husbands”? Poor wives! Poor husbands!

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  1. I think your need to feel appreciated is completely natural. As you say in the comment above, you understand what was wrong with I35’s vision that questioning if you are seen or delighted in is normal and nice for married women. I have a need to criticise these views, I’ve seen people in marriages like that, and it shocks me that it is described as wonderful or beautiful. It’s painful insecurity, and people should know better before stepping into relationships like that.

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  2. I like your description of the Evangelical need to formulate the salvation experience, something that occurred to no one to put into formulaic terms before Luther. Not even St Anslem thought his logic of salvation was anything other than an approach. So much of pre-reformation Christianity was vital experience: sacraments, liturgy and and community. There is nothing wrong with trying to recover those lost aspects of the faith.
    I do think there is a trope among Christians of all stripes to put the full burden of marriage on men. Be a man! Then your wife will love you! Which is great and all, but the manliest Christian man can still be married to a shrew. And a-typical couples do exist.

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    • Perhaps the problem is that Christians seek a ready-made solution. St Paul said stuff about wives and husbands, others have interpreted it, you have a God-given model of how marriage should work. You could chuck in the Proverbs Good Wife if you like, add a touch of Modesty… the problem is that rather than seeing what really is, people see it through the prism of their beliefs.

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