Monday 3 December 2012

Bruce Almighty

The concept of God as somehow separate from creation and only standing outside as some kind of all powerful being either occasionally intervening in or on the other hand ignoring the passing events on earth does not accord with the words ascribed to St Paul. Quite the opposite, as Paul says, "For in him we live and move and have our being".  Here we are given a certain flavour of the proximity of God in our lives, a proximity so close we can scarcely imagine it.  It is reminiscent of the fish that wanted to see the ocean so badly but didn't know she was already in it.  We too are in that ocean; enveloped in that loving, pulsating consciousness where even the hairs on your head are numbered for in God, there is nothing that is not known. 

Jesus gave us a glimpse of our own potential to become truly the children of God and sometimes we may see in another, the flowering of that potential, a glimpse of that divine goodness that for a time may guide and inspire us. I recently enjoyed the comedy film, Bruce Almighty, featuring Jim Carey as Bruce Nolan, an egotistic and disaffected television reporter who temporarily becomes Bruce Almighty, while God has a holiday. In this production, God played by Morgan Freeman, is depicted as appearing as a wise, world weary God, a God who is very much the creator God, but a God also who knows only too well the weakness and failings of humanity.  He is a compassionate God with a sense of humour and he is a God with a filing cabinet who knows everything about Bruce Nolan. Importantly, Freeman helps us to glimpse that divine goodness that exists in others.   

Because Bruce had complained about being ignored by God, that God was not doing his job properly, God taking his holiday hands over his powers to Bruce for a while with the rule that Bruce must observe the right of all human beings to have "free will".  Bruce Nolan therefore becomes Bruce Almighty. Hilariously the whole episode ends in near disaster, with thousands of people, for example, all winning the same lottery draw and rioting, until God takes over again but in the process, Bruce learns some major life lessons.  Through his own suffering, Bruce realises that real success cannot be achieved through selfish egotism; you have to be there for other people if you want them to be there for you.  Secondly, that we do not inhabit a world that is indifferent to our existence but a world that needs us to become compassionately aware of our interdependency that we all have a role to play. 

This God of love calls us into the fullness of the one life and knows our weakness and our potentialities so God says to Bruce Nolan, "Bruce, you have the divine spark, you have the gift for bringing joy and laughter to the world - I know, I created you".  Jack Kornfield, teacher, psychologist and Buddhist tells a story of the Buddha who shortly after achieving enlightenment was approached by a man who had noticed that there was something special about him.  The Buddha seemed to exude a remarkable energy.  The man wondered if he was a god, a wizard or a magician.  The Buddha simply replied that he was 'awake'.  In the same way, Jesus exhorted the crowds to wake up, he said, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God then all things will be added".  On our own journey, we may sometimes be given insight and moments of inspiration. Our spiritual path if we choose to take it is a journey not an end.  However, it is the only response to despair and cynicism as Bruce Nolan discovered. May you take your journey with courage and faith.

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