Happy Easter! I am a bit late I know but I am on holiday in New Zealand. A rubbish excuse but there you are.
A short meditation then on the play of progress. This is one of the easier play rhetorics to understand and to align with. Play as a defined space in which you move towards a goal is comprehensible to anyone who has watched a football game, played chess or even better World of Warcraft. You begin at one level and by playing and defeating your enemies or overcoming puzzles and challenges you progress. It can also be a close companion of the play of power, power and progression hand in hand deliver you to an end result of winning or losing.
We easily grasp the rhetoric of winning and losing, of success and failure. We understand the rules, we know when we have failed and when we have succeeded. The world and everyone who relates with/to us understands these too. But there are 2 ways to play this game. And there is no consensus on who the winners really are. How often have we seen people who seem to have progressed very far, in their career, their social life, their creativity and who we would say understand the rhetoric of progress, but who are fundamentally dissatisfied, disconnected from themselves? Something else is happening here. The rules should work all the time if they are right, right? But they don’t.
Many of Jesus’s followers expected him to lead them into military victory, freedom from oppression and a new world of justice. But he was playing by entirely different rules. For him progression was not success by oppression, it was success by diminishment. This is one of the hardest aspects of Christianity to grasp. Death is preferable to life lived by the wrong rules of engagement.
Don’t get me wrong. Success in life doesn’t mean you will be unhappy, nor does it mean you are not a Christian, and nor is it something not to be worked for. But success based only on the world’s instinctive set of rules for progression, which mean that you are better if you have progressed, that you are somehow a higher being than others if you have more money, friends, power, status in life, that’s just a twisting of the spirituality of this rhetoric of play.
We have to try and look at Jesus’s example at Easter, and attempt to make that our blueprint. Progress based on humility and determination. Not on thrusting and politicing.