Friday, November 11, 2005

Odysseus Vs Jason

Please don't be put off by the fact that this story contains figures from Greek Mythology, i think, (and much more importantly, so does Sam Storms) that this point of it is wholly biblical. This is a reproduction more or less, of a story in One Thing, a very excellent book written by the aforementioned Storms. The only real difference is that Storms calls the first protagonist Ulysees, whereas I, as a Greekofile, call him Odysseus.

As a teenager at school i (thats me, Ed, not Sam Storms for a minute) was lucky enough to study Classics. One of the myths we read was The Odyssey, a story of how Odysseus travelled home to Ithaca after the Trojan War. Along the way they faced many problems and troubles, but one of the best know stories of this, is the story of the Sirens. The Sirens are, as Storms describes them 'full of outward beauty, and sing beautifully seductive songs to lure unwitting sailors to come closer to their island, where their boats sink in the hidden rocks, and the Sirens waste little time hungrily devouring their flesh.' Odysseus knew of this of course, and had his sailors ears plugged with wax, and told them to look neither left nor right, but to keep on rowing until the boat had cleared the island. The man himself had different ideas though. He was to be tied to the mast, with open ears, as he wanted to hear the sirens song, he wanted to stay there until the songs were out of earshot. Of course, the songs were more than his otherwise strong will could resist. He was tempted beyond measure by their seductive promises of instant gratification. One siren even took on the from of his wife, Penelope, in an effort to persuade him he was home. The ropes held strong though, and he resisted the call of the sirens. Although his heart and soul said yes, his body was restrained by the ropes. His 'no' was not the result of revulsion at the temptation, but the product of an external shackle.

Jason had another idea. He had to deal with the sirens as Odysseus did. he was faced with the same temptations, the same weakness of will, the same problems. He knew this. Jason had another way of dealing with the Sirens. He bought with him on his voyage Orpheus, a man renowned throught the ancient world for his musical ability. When the time came for the boat to pass the Sirens, Jason did not orders his men's ears to be plugged, neither did he strap himself to the mast of the ship to deny himself whatever lustful yearnings might make his mind their playground. He simply ordered Orpheus to strike up a tune. The Sirens didn't stand a chnace. They had gronw no less attractive, their song no less sweeter, but the minds of their targets were focussed on something else. The sweeter, sublime soud of Orpheus had caputred their ears and hearts. Jason and his men did not say no because they were physically restrained, but because they had tasted something far sweeter, far more noble. Their body, soul and heart all said no to the sirens, and yes to Orpheus.

Do you see? Do I see?

Christianity is not Odysseus. Christianity is Jason. I can imagine nothing more heart breakingly soul deadening than to spend my life, (and if we follow this argument through to its natural conclusion my eternity) denying myself what my heart and soul desire most, as Odysseus did. I can imagibe nothing more fulfilling and awakening than to spend my life and my eternity following the desires of my heart. Notice, that both Jason and Odysseus avoided the lure of the sirens. Odysseus, because he was restrained, resisting the desires that were overrunning him, hating every second that he was tied to the restaining mast, wishing for a taste of what he was being denied. To many this is what Christianity is all about. Jason resisted because he imerssed himself in something different, he found the way to triumph over the sirens rather than just avoid them. He was captivated by something far more beautiful, far far more worthy of our attention, as to make the sirens look worthless. This is what Christianity is.

So where do you stand, where do I stand? Far far too often, i am Odysseus, clinging to this man made, Christ insulting 'christianity' of do nots, of rules, longing for a taste of what i am denied. Sometimes, some sweet awe inspiring times, i am Jason, drawn away from sin by the beauty of our Lord, triumphing over temptation in Him. I long to be more Jason. I long to see sin as it really is next to the beauty of the Lord. I was made to worship Him, i will spend my sternity worshipping Him. I love to worship Him. It is only in Christ we can have freedom, and triumph over sin. I urge you to go and buy One Thing. It is a great book.


roy harper said...

It's a long time since I've had the misfortune to read such absolute rubbish. Perhaps I would have to go back to my days reading the Beano. I realize that you are trying to make some kind of an analogy to proseletize 'modern' christianity, but using Bronze age Greece to do so can hardly be apposite. Both stories you mention are equally full of Bronze Age rape, murder and pillage. I suppose that it has escaped your notice that Jason was advised to employ Orpheus by another GODDESS, Circe. In fact, there's no distinct line, in many cases, in either story, as to who is a god and who isn't. In fact, most of the characters are, or become, gods. This is much more like it should be. The one god, or to give it its correct nomenclature, monotheism, is a political structure employed by the original 'church' fathers in an effort to keep some learning, and a lot of the organizational structure of the old Empire together when it fell at the beginning of the sixth century. Good news for the continuation of written language, but bad news in terms of the rise of institutionalized abuse, which has carried on unchecked through crusades, serfdom, oppression, Inquisition, financial bubbles, torture, succeeding empires, tyranny, unnecessary invasions, more torture, 2 huge banking collapses and a 'credit crunch'. And will continue to do so. The mental reflex towards thought or meditation, which some regard as 'human spirituality' can perhaps be interpreted in many cases as the will/desire (of a fairly intelligent ape that happens to have proliferated beyond its means on this planet) to prolong human personal mortality beyond its present natural physiological boundaries. After all, an imaginary eternal life is a wonderful excuse to carry on as normal. 'For how long' doesn't have to come into it. Ever. Does it? It's really useless to say "Wake up!" That'll never happen.. will it?

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