Saturday, March 07, 2009

Meg Ryan and Kierkegaard

There is a scene in the movie "You've Got Mail" where Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan are walking together and discussing what the screen name of Meg Ryan's AOL crush could mean. The screen name being discussed is NY152. I'll spare the details of the context in which the scene is played out. The main thing is that Meg Ryan surmises, in her heavenly adorable way, that the "152" in the screen name could refer to 152 insights into her soul. Of course, this could be considered rather euphemistic...let's be honest....anyone who has that many insights into my soul would probably make me feel awkward. But whatever, that verbose intro is all to say that while I was reading the "Works of Love" by Kierkegaard this morning, he once again pointed out one of those things that constantly bothers me about myself. Although, before I get to what he wrote, I should say that I'm not completely convinced I'm guilty of this yet. I do not want to dismiss my constant scrutiny and reflection as passive avoidance of declaring a truth that would immediately employ my convictions. Also, this is ironical coming from Kierkegaard, he is extremely analytical. Never the less, when I read it, it was fantastic.

"'What is love?' has ben asked out of curiosity, and frequently there has been an idle fellow who in answering has latched one to the curious fellow, and these two, curiosity and idleness, think so much of each other they almost never tire of each other or of asking and answering."

"But Christianity, which does not relate itself to apprehension but to action, has the characteristic of answering and in the answer imprisoning everyone in the task. For that reason, it was dangerous for the Pharisees and the sophists and the hairsplitters and the daydreamers to ask questions of Jesus. Indeed, the questioner always got an answer, but in the answer he also got to know, in a certain sense, much too much; he received an imprisoning answer which did not ingeniously indulge in prolix conversation about the question, but with divine authority grasped the questioner and obliged him to act accordingly; whereas the questioner perhaps only desired to remain at the vast distance of curiosity or inquisitiveness or definition from himself and from doing the truth"


Blogger AJ said...

I should be focused on writing monthly updates for my students...but, your mere mention of one of my favorite movies, "You've Got Mail," tugged at my procrastination cord! :)

Yes, the movie is chalked full of Pollyanna-ish statements like the one you referenced: "152 insights into my soul!" But, why else are we drawn to such exaggerated sentimentalization other than that it mirrors the real longing of all of our souls--to truly be known, to be understood, to be accepted with all of our unique idiosyncrasies, to be loved, and to love.

Is it really that we would feel awkward with someone knowing the depths of us or is it fear/pride that keeps us in the constant state of questioning/doubting/critiquing as a protective defense against being vulnerable to another? Yes, there is an element of safety in "remain[ing] at the vast distance of curiosity," but in that distance what truth, what hope, what love are we deferring?

2:08 PM

Blogger Melanie said...

Well, I for one, am glad you procrastinated AJ. SO very true.

Funny, I just couldn't help thinking of the trite saying, "Love is a verb when I read your citation, Zach. Not terribly profound, perhaps.

And I am keenly aware that asking a question of God means that I will most likely will receive some sort of answer, whether or not it is what I will want to hear is another matter, but it will be true. I think a lot of us struggle with the asking and answering (at least those of us who care) precisely for this reason -- sort of a variation of "be carful what you ask for" as if God was some cosmic trickster.

It was also dangerous for the Pharisees to ask because they didn't want an answer in the first place, they wanted to lay a trap, an in so doing trapped themselves. I think if you are seeking truth (and love) genuinely, it finding it sets you free to be who you want to be. If there is guile in your motivations, the result will be enslavement.

But I think the point is that one always had to do something with what Christ said. Passivity wasn't an option. I sometimes convict myself with my own words.

And I tend to ramble when I've had less than 5 hours of sleep. :(

2:43 PM


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