Oftentimes, books are the grease that lubricates the gears in my mind. When I get too busy or distracted to read, I notice that my creativity and mindfulness suffer, and so I return to the stack of books that keeps me interacting with the world around me.
Having accepted the falsehood that we must run the world, we seek to get hold of the mantle of power. Consequently, ‘discipleship’ gets transformed: “following Jesus,” rather than denoting a walking in the way of the humble Suffering Servant, denotes being ‘spiritual’ as we seek to wield power over our fellows… Christians become convinced that they are pursuing the purposes of God by pursuing the purposes of the empire.
Which seemed to make some sense of my long-term dis-ease with the term ‘spiritual,’ a term that seems to abstract something fundamental (namely, God) from our everyday interactions. This use of the term seems to prefer the status quo painted over with platitudes to the actual lived expression of the hopes and dreams of God in our time and space. In fact, Camp seems to suggest that the main problem with the church is that American Christians are more ‘American’ than ‘Christian,’ and that they placate their conscience with piety instead of practice.
Another unrelated book that somehow related was Steven King’s On Writing (the first and only King book I’ve read, and one that riveted me with its simple storytelling and direct style). At one point, he was breezing through some literary techniques, and mentioned the term ‘in medias res’ in passing. It means ‘from the midst of life’, and is a way of telling a story by beginning in the middle of that story (so, as Wikipedia helpfully points out, like the beginning of every Star Wars and Indiana Jones film).
What struck me about this term was just how simultaneously profound and obvious it is. Do we really need a fancy Latin term for something so commonplace? I mean, all of us are living in medias res, appearing in the middle of our own story, and trying to make sense of our history while heading toward the future. All of us are looking for God in the warp and woof of our lives. All of us are trying to write our stories in real time, interweaving elements of grace and love and joy to the larger themes of pain and disappointment which we all experience.
One of the reasons that The Wife pushed me to start this blog, in fact, was to explore this idea of embodied spirituality. To mark the God-sightings of one small life, and to chronicle the search for a Christianity that is not abstracted, but proven and practiced in medias res–right smack in the middle of my story.
Posted in: In Medias Res