A couple of articles have prompted this reflection. The first one is here, a slightly typical Guardian article posted at the end of the Olympics and the start of the football season. It highlighted that the Olympics, and most sports apart from Football, and probably Cricket and Golf; there is the need for the Sport to educate, to reflect for us, the audience to be inspired by the journey of the athlete, for the athlete, usually still dripping with sweat to tell us their story;
“These days, fewer and fewer sporting moments are permitted not to be a learning experience, as though enjoying them purely sportingly, and for their own sake, would be a waste of time or a lesser experience. There must be hugging. There must be learning. Post‑event interviewers are always effectively asking the person who has provided the sporting moment what we’ve learned from it. We get the long view while the athlete is still out of breath.”
The need for the Olympian to be narrated into having a journey- or a back story- has become a priority for the broadcaster, the sport might not sell otherwise- unless it can be a personal narration. Life is a Journey- and individual sports – and even individual athletes in team sports ( like the womens hockey for example) are key to drawing us into that journey.
Did the phenomenon start with Big Brother? – In the broader sense of ‘Reality TV’ the journey of the individual became/is the story. Every Big Brother contestant was asked to reflect on their Journey, every X factor contestant gets asked the same. And if they dont get asked – then they’re told “what an amazing/incredible” journey theyve been on, by the presenter. Are we still interested about what people bake on bake off, or sew in the sewing bee – as much as their back story?
Life has to be a journey doesnt it.
Has to be ‘moving forward’ – has to be ongoing progression – and whilst there is always growth – is Journey always an appropriate way of thinking about life?
The second article i cant find, i did read it, it is somewhere on the excellent Threads website (www.threadsuk.com) and posed the question: ‘Whats wrong with thinking about life as a Journey?’ A race of sorts with a beginning, a middle and an end. Does Journey – do life a disservice?
Is it not easy then to think of speed when thinking of journey – of life ‘in a slow lane’ – or feeling like ‘life is passing you by’ – If we consider life to be a journey – then it would be easy to use the analogy to make those comparisons of others, and then naturally ourselves. What if we become motionless or stuck, or struck down by illness- how does this metaphor measure up? and does it promote winning and participating?
Maybe as Christians- we have the apostle Paul to thank – when on a number of occasions he uses the word ‘race’ as a metaphor for the Christian life –
You were running a good race. – Galatians 5:7,
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race- 2 Timothy 4:7
The Christian life as a race, as a physical movement, a Journey. Maybe this had something to do with the culture of the day, the pastimes of sport, of olympia, of shows of strength in battle, of winning, of achieving:
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. – 1 Corinthians 9:24.
Achievement does play its part, as rewards in heaven are described. But what does the grand race of life consist of? And the predominant narrative – via the media, and often becoming of the church, of life as a Journey, is it fitting for the purpose of conceiving our place in the world, our place as humans in discipleship, in relationship with God or is there a different way? Where is God in ‘our’ journey? in ‘our’ race?
In the beginning of existence a voice acted upon the empty space, a word broke the silence, a universe created ; the world dawned. The stage was set for the action to occur.
To be or not to be is not the question, it is not our choice. We are “thrown into existence” (Heidegger) We are Here on stage with many others (Vanhoozer, 2005). We need guidance to play parts, prompting as we grope for the next lines, being cast into a context to play a particular scene. But we are on the stage, principally actors with scenes to play.
Instead of the Journey – what of the scene?
For Shakespeare: “When we are born, we cry that we are come, To this great stage of fools” (King Lear)
It is difficult to conceive of every moment in life as part of a journey – but they are scenes in and of themselves, a scene in the home when washing up, a scene in a lift with business colleagues, a scene in the supermarket, a scene at Church, a scene in the youth club. Not only are we thrust into the scenes of the place, but we play alongside others too, in that same scene. Taking cues from the moments, combining them with our memories of actions, our emotions of actions, the voices, values and attitudes. Scenes that we thrust ourselves into, scenes that others are thrusted into by surprise – like the new person at the checkout, the visitor at the door.
But in the scene also contains the voice of God – known or unknown – prompting the action – God incarnate on the stage (John 1:14) drawing us into the action, The God who speaks in the Earthly space (Exodus 3:12-20), who prompts the action with Humanity (Genesis 18: 22-33), and who cues the action, and knowledge of action by the Spirit (Luke 4). These are scenes already enacted, yet it remains a relational drama that is played out – between the divine and the human.
In a way, it is less of our Drama that we continue to play as Christians, but Gods Drama – a Theodrama. This, it could be argued, is somewhat more of a conversational construct – than to see life as our Journey that we choose to involve God in- or that he is the destination. Does the Journey represent a monologue where we take the reigns – and Drama an ongoing conversational dialogue? (Vander Lugt, 2014) – I suppose it depends on who does the speaking and listening as the ongoing scenes are enacted. But collective drama, that involves God in the ongoing scenes that we are thrust into during our every day, every 10,000 scenes of every day are part of on overall Theo drama.
Being on a Journey – and Pilgrim and his Progress, the Chronicles of Narnia all narrate the importance of the journey – or at least they might do – but the journey would be nothing without the scenes. Not every day feels like a journey – but today , tomorrow and the next we are thrust into action upon the stage of the world – in Gods ongoing drama, and how do and should we play our parts?