The banality of the human god has deep roots in Christianity (the first depiction in art of God the Father as a human figure dates to the 4th century CE, around the time of the Nicene Creed). For most of my youth, I did not question why anyone would depict divinity this way. I didn’t understand religious metaphor.
Am I grieving? Is that what this is? Fiction that engages us deeply in the other can be “practice” for engagement with an actual other. It can also help us imagine love or practice grief. The Greeks, who invented Tragedy, obviously knew this. We need imaginary worlds to help us learn to live in the real one (and, perhaps, occasionally to transform it into one a little closer to what we imagine).
There have been few characters in recent film as unfortunate as Larry Gopnik, the middle-aged professor of quantum physics, whose life is falling apart around him: his wife has kicked him out of the house and filed for a gett — a ritual divorce — so that she can marry recently widowed family friend Sy Abelman (the “Serious Man” of the title)….[SPOILERS AHEAD]
I think I’m going to try to fix my bicycle today.
True story: After graduating college I set off with a dog-eared copy of Anna Karenina in my rucksack, inspired by the character of Kostya Levin, Tolstoy’s alter ego in the celebrated novel, to experience life as a migrant agricultural worker. Little did I know this would be the first stop on an incredible journey.
Perhaps best known to Americans as a common 19th century Biblical defense of slavery, the “Curse of Ham” not only resonates in white supremacist circles with deep connections to Christian denominations, but in conservative religious circles where interpretations emphasize the often vividly imagined sexual crimes of Canaan that justify violence against the LGBTQ community.
In a reversal of Anselm’s old equation, modern converts often come with understanding seeking faith. In the more established traditions, they will always be outsiders. Catholic, but with an asterisk.
Increasingly, the decoupling of “kinds of sexual predilection from degrees of masculinity and femininity” is being grounded in “biblical relationships” among rural white masculinist evangelicals.
Keep your bat signal, your blinking red phone. Dammit Jim! I’m no super hero!