The mysteries contemplated for the Rosary on Fridays are the Sorrowful ones, covering Jesus’ Passion and death, which seemed mismatched to the day, today. As I looked through the links I’ve put aside for writing, a non-spoiler essay reflecting on the Star Wars movie by Andrew Klavan pointed me toward a resolution of the clash:
… In fantasy films, the fighter pilot whoops and cheers when he blasts the alien craft to smithereens — and so do we. The watching crowd celebrates when the super-villain is finally defeated by the super hero — and so do we. The hero is honored and elevated and lifted up as an example. The fight is seen as an unfortunate and dangerous necessity, but the fight having come, it’s engaged in without moral dithering and backward glances. Victory is recognized as an absolute good.
In fantasy films like Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, Captain America and so on, evil is acknowledged as real and physical heroism is recognized as the virtue without which no other virtue is possible.
Why then, in real life, are we weighed down with wartime leaders who seem to dither and hesitate in a pale moral melancholy, completely lacking the warrior ethos?
Exiting churchinto spring-like weather this morning reminded me that, ultimately, Christianity is more about Easter than Christmas. The latter is more of a prelude to the former. Christmas does, however, make for simpler theology for children, which may explain its ascendancy even in a secularized culture.
On its own, Christmas is triumph without the effort, without the suffering. If Christmas is the salvation, Christ didn’t really have to do anything but be born, and our salvation is a straightforward gift, such as children plucked from beneath their families’ Christmas trees, this morning.
If that’s our vision of salvation, it makes sense that we’d have more of a Christmas culture than an Easter one, and it makes sense that we’d approach battle in “a pale moral melancholy.” If the birth of our Savior is our salvation, then struggle is tragic and ought to be unnecessary. There’s no real joy in the victory, because the fight shouldn’t have happened. The popularity of the movies that Klavan mentions, as well as modern ailments of anxiety, stress, and depression, suggests that this view of life doesn’t match well with our nature.
The joy of Christmas, then, should be that there is a Light in the darkness, a Hope in the adversity — not that the war against evil is over, but that we can win it and that we have the opportunity of fighting it.