Saturday, January 30, 2010

Shaking the Foundations

I'm preaching on 1 Corinthians 13 tomorrow (lectionary) particularly 9-13 and so read a bit of Paul Tillich's The Shaking of the Foundations in order to do some study. I cam across the following paragraph in Ch. 13 that reminded me of the following clip from Being John Malkovich. I think it may be too weird for the church people tomorrow, so I wanted to share it somewhere.

Tillich, then Kaufman

Mankind has always tried to decipher the puzzling fragments of life. That attempt is not just a matter for the philosophers or priests or prophets or wise men in all periods of history. It is a matter for everyone. For every man is a fragment himself. He is a riddle to himself; and the individual life of everyone else is an enigma to him, dark, puzzling, embarrassing, exciting, and very being is a continuous asking for themeaning of our being, a continuous attempt to decipher the enigma of our world and our heart. Before children are adjusted to the conventional reactions of adults and have grown out of their creative individuality, they show the continuous asking, the urgent desire to decipher the riddles they see in the primitive mirror of their experience. The creative man, in all realms of life, is like a child, who dares to inquire beyond the limits of conventional answers. He discovers the fragmentary character of all these answers, a character darkly and subconsciously felt by all men. He may destroy, by means of one fundamental question, a whole, well-organized system of life and society, of ethics and religion. He may show that what people believed to be a whole is nothing but a fragment of a fragment. He may shake the certainty on which centuries lived, by unearthing a riddle or an enigma in its very foundation. The misery of man lies in the fragmentary character of his life and knowledge; the greatness of man lies in his ability to know that his being is fragmentary and enigmatic. For man is able to be puzzled and to ask, to go beyond the fragments, seeking the perfect. Yet, in being able to do so, he feels at the same time the tragedy implicit in his being, the tragedy of the riddle and the fragment. Man is subject, with all beings, to the law of vanity. But man alone is conscious of that law. He is therefore infinitely more miserable than all other beings in the servitude to that law; on the other hand, he is infinitely superior, because he alone knows that there is something beyond vanity and decay, beyond riddles and enigmas. This is felt by Paul, when he says that the creation itself shall be delivered from the bondage of decay into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.

Man is a fragment and a riddle to himself. The more he experiences and knows that fact, the more he is really man. Paul experienced the breakdown of a system of life and thought which he believed to be a whole, a perfect truth without riddle or gaps. He then found himself buried under the pieces of his knowledge and his morals. But Paul never tried again to build up a new, comfortable house out of the pieces. He dwelt with the pieces. He realized always that fragments remain fragments. even if one attempts to reorganize them. The unity to which they belong lies beyond them; it s grasped through hope, but not face to face.

This part of the film is where John Makovich goes through the portal into his own mind (which has been being exploited for profit by John Cusack and Cameron Diaz, and runs into the reality of the vanity about which Tillich speaks. I was surprised that HOllywoodJesus didn't even have a review of the film. Well, maybe I'll find the time to write one (laugh). If you haven't seen the film--find it and remedy that ASAP. The first from Charlie Kaufman, (Adaptation, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) and directed by Spike Jonze.

1 comment:

  1. I'm also tracking down movie quotes, only my movie of choice is Talladega Nights - ha. Ricky Bobby's preference for the baby Jesus who doesn't say anything and the Nazarenes' preference for an equally innocuous, inoffensive Jesus.