Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Lucifer and Cold Vice

In his article, Pornography and Acedia (First Things, April 2012), Dr. Reinhardt Hütter describes lust of the eyes as a "'cold' vice", one that "freezes the soul and the heart in a cold indifference".
"What is to be learned from the testimonies of pornography’s users is the important fact that, contrary to prevailing cultural assumptions, the lust of the eyes is not a “hot” but rather a “cold” vice. It arises from the roaming unrest of the spirit rooted in a spiritual apathy that, again, despairs of and eventually comes to resent the very transcendence in which the dignity of the human person has its roots. The lust of the eyes that feeds on Internet pornography does not inflame but rather freezes the soul and the heart in a cold indifference to the human dignity of others and of oneself." (emphasis mine)

On reading that, I was reminded of something Lucifer says in Supernatural:

"Sorry if it's a bit chilly. Most people think I burn hot. It's actually quite the opposite." (s5, e22)

In general, our imagery of the devil is often fiery--red suit and horns, fiery pitchfork, etc. Yet it is our God that appears as a burning bush and pillar of fire. It is Jesus who is the light of the world. It is the Holy Spirit that descends as tongues of flame. "Our God is a consuming fire", St. Paul writes. (Heb 12:29)

The closer you get to God, the closer you get to that fire and that light. When you turn away, you turn away from the fire. When you walk away, you walk into the darkness and into the cold.

Sin doesn't heat you up, it cools you down. It "freezes the soul and the heart", as Dr. Hütter put it. Of course Lucifer, the 'light bearer' would run cold. He's long since put down that light and walked away from the fire of God.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

No Greater Love

Coming back from watching Avengers 2: Age of Ultron, I kept thinking back to one scene. Or rather, to one thought. Maybe it's the MI in me, but I saw an eastern European take the place of a family man about to die.

I'm talking about Quicksilver stepping (running) in and taking the bullets meant for Hawkeye.

And I'm talking about St. Maximilian Kolbe stepping out of line in Auschwitz and taking the place of Franciszek Gajowniczek.

Quicksilver's homeland was invaded, as was Kolbe's. To some fans, Quicksilver has more potential in the Marvel Cinematic Universe than Hawkeye. He could do more. He has greater powers, greater potential. Yet, he's the one to die, and leave behind a more ordinary man. Likewise, I know of no great work that Gajowniczek did. Kolbe reached so many people. He built centers and spread the Gospel. He changed lives. How much more could he have done, had the "ordinary man" gone to his death and Kolbe survived?

I am certain St. Kolbe doesn't see it that way. He would tell us, I think, that there are no ordinary men. There are no lives that aren't worth saving. There is no small life, if that life is lived in God's will.  Quicksilver, like Kolbe, saw something worth saving, and he stepped in.

Jesus is our example. He is not the exception to humanity, rather he is the model for humanity. What he did is what we are to do.  As John puts it, in John 15:13, "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends."  Kolbe modeled that for us in his martyrdom. Quicksilver laid down his life as well.

Does that mean that Quicksilver saw Hawkeye as a friend? Perhaps, or at least someone worthy of being a friend (and worthiness is another central topic to the movie). If nothing else, he became Christ's friend. "You are my friends if you do what I command you," he says. (John 15:14) And what is the command? To love one another. (John 15:17)

What is the greatest expression of that love? To lay down your life. It has nothing to do with who can do greater things, with who's life is more worthy. It is about love -- for family, for life, for the world, for the good. That is why we fight, and that is why we die, if we must.