Monday, May 28, 2012

Dance, Ballerina, Dance

 Ballet, Baptism, Bafflement, and Body

Dance. Having attended two ballet recitals this spring, I am convinced that some things are best left unchristianized. Unlike so many of his transformationalist followers, Kuyper thought the dance beyond redemption. I just don’t think it needs to be brought into the Messianic Kingdom. I prefer to take my ballet straight, if at all, unmixed with contemporary Christian music and unadulterated by ballerinas portraying our Lord crucified. My favorite moment of the recitals I attended was when a certain unnamed ballerina I love gave the elbow to a ballerina encroaching on the space my ballerina had been assigned.

Baptistmal Liturgy. A baptismal liturgy began, “Before we jump into the sacrament of baptism…” Had it been a Baptist service, it would have been entirely appropriate. But Presbyterian? 

Christian Experience. God Moves in a Mysterious Way sung to Dundee is a favorite hymn of mine. However, when I sing it, I am reminded that William Cowper not only suffered from what we now call mental illness but that, despite all the wonderful things of which he wrote in his poems, he died in despair. Then there is Horatio Spafford, who during the several years following the loss of four daughters at sea, wrote It Is Well with My Soul. Yet, it did not remain well with his soul. He too presumably experienced mental illness. His life closed in Jerusalem awaiting the Second Coming and thinking himself some kind of Messiah. Yet, while the stories of these men are told in truncated form in worship services and their songs lustily sung, poor Nevin is discredited in because of his depression and suicidal urges. This is just to say that the Christian life in general, and Christian experience in particular, are no so simple and uncomplicated as we are often told and was we migh like to think.

Heavenly Minded? We often are told that true spirituality involves detachment, not only from our sinful flesh, but from our flesh in the sense of our present mode of soul-body existence. Here is a comment from Ed Dobson, who has suffered from ALS for 11 years, himself commenting on the blog of person battling cancer: “Newlen wondered if she would miss seeing her daughter walk down the aisle. That spoke to me. After I was diagnosed with ALS, people would say, ‘I bet you're thinking a lot about heaven.’ Actually, not really. I discovered how attached I am to my wife and kids down here. I want to be here as long as I can. When I was first diagnosed I thought, I want to at least walk my daughter down the aisle. I want to watch my first grandkid grow up. I want to grow old with my wife. After 11 years with the disease, I have walked my daughter down the aisle, seen four grandkids born, and am still hoping to grow old with my wife. The more time I have, the greedier I become. I want more and more time with my family.” This does not seem “unspiritual” to me. God created us body and soul, and this is the way we are meant to be. Most of us can barely imagine a life apart from the body. And we are destined to glory in wholeness, body and soul, perfected, inseparable, and in complete harmony forever.


Anonymous said...


Ken Pierce said...

I don't fault Nevin for his despair.

I fault him because his supposed ecumenical Catholic Calvinism, along with that of Schaff, pretty much destroyed the German Reformed Church.

The Christian Curmudgeon said...

That's a lot to lay on poor Nevin. No wonder he was depressed.

mozart said...

Jeepers, Ken, give Nevin a break. At least he got the Lord's Supper and the plague of Finneyism right.

The Christian Curmudgeon said...

Ken loves Finney and he is a memorialist!