Friday, July 29, 2011

Pretending in order to Get Real

If God exists, then He is real. In fact, He is that which is Most Real. He is Ultimate Reality. He is more real than we are, for our reality is a participation in His.

Indeed, every human being communicates with other human beings in an attempt to discover and to share That which is Real. If there is no Reality, then there can be nothing to talk about - except to hear our own words bounce around or to feel better about ourselves.

But only fools or scoundrels communicate for selfish or meaningless reasons. All authentic communication is predicated upon Reality, the attempt to discover and share with one another That which is Real.

Even atheists believe this. Atheists simply claim God is unreal, a comfortable illusion; but the good and thoughtful atheists share our devotion to That which is Real (the bad and thoughtless atheists tell you nothing is real) and the well-intentioned atheists still serve God in seeking what is Real, even without knowing it is Him they seek.

But look at us - even at us Christians - and look at our miserable and pathetic devotion to the Unreal.

In our economy, we blow bubbles and ride them until they pop.

In our personal lives, we have virtual relationships or barring that we simply get off with internet porn.

In our politics, we pretend as if marriage is whatever we say it is, life begins when we say it does, and man is what we want him to be.

And we fight to the death to maintain the illusions, the Unrealities that comfort us.

But the Unrealities don't comfort us. God made death, sin, and hell so that the world would be Real and our choices Real choices.

Think about the people you know whose lives are the most unreal, the old fools trying to act young, the addicts ignoring the destruction their addiction brings, the morally blind and deaf who continue to repeat the same behaviors in their lives over and over again despite the despair this breeds in themselves and others.

We want our sex sterile, our emotions numbed, our awareness fogged.

And we are lonely and miserable in our house of cards, our hall of mirrors.

But every now and then we read a good book, see a good play, watch a good movie, hear a moving song, and everything changes for just a moment and we remember that - thank God - we are not sufficient unto ourselves and the pretense we have built, the lie in which we live, the gauze in which we wrap ourselves, is not the country club prison we make it to be.

It's sad to say this rarely happens in church. But it often happens in a darkened theater.

Thus all artists, and actors in particular, can function as a kind of priesthood, for the function of a priest is to bridge the human to the divine, and in the case of good dramatic art to bring to the audience a glimpse of the truth that lies behind the scenery, the Reality illuminated by the gels of the footlights.

It is our job to communicate with good art, with well-written plays, and in our playing and our make-believe, to show forth That which is Real.

May we never forget this awesome responsibility that we, who ourselves are sinners devoted to the comfort of the Lie, bear. May we always serve what is real, what is True - that is to say, What is God.

St. Genesius, pray for us.

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