I just finished watching Wall Street for the first time. (see what I did with the title – I know, the titles are getting to be the best bit of these posts…) Anyway, it’s an exciting, if slightly clunky, 80s morality fable that looks at the ethics and spirituality of play quite closely. Bud Fox wants to play with the big boys, and is taught the rules of winning by Gordon Gecko – but the rules of winning mean cheating, insider trading and screwing over your friends by putting money ahead of everything else.
One off the rhetorics of play is Progression. You advance through the levels, you develop skills gain powers. You play to progress. Just what Bud does. It’s what society tells us we’re supposed to do from SATs onwards.
And let’s be clear, being successful is not wrong. It’s not going to automatically turn you into an idiot or strip you of all morality.
But it seems from reading what Jesus has to say on the subject that his rhetoric of play is the exact opposite of the common rhetoric – you lower yourself, you humble yourself, others are more important and recognition is irrelevant. It feels odd and yet it works. I have been a lot more relaxed whilst giving up any ideas of social media “progression” or status since I’ve been on maternity leave. And having a baby is hardly the least stressful thing to do in your life!
So what if we are playing a game in which you win by losing yourself? And even in not losing yourself, even in only attempting to do that, you can still win? Because we aren’t the judge and the rules aren’t our rules. And the first shall be last and the last shall be first.