Part IV: The MegaMan Effect
Aesthetically Displeasing to the Eye)
"Altered States" is a dumb movie (and it could have been full of awesomeness). The director, Ken Russell, who gave us perhaps the most bizarrely sublime portrait of religious experience in the cult classic "The Devils", delivers a film that starts much in the same manner as "A Beautiful Mind" does, with a rogue theorist desperately mining for the big unifying theory of life. Both films try to haphazardly convince us that the answer to the world's most primal questions is to love your wife real good like.
The problem is that while these characters devout themselves to intense theory and argument and genius, when they pronounce that their love is the answer that they've long been seeking, they give us no evidence as to why this is a sufficient answer. Love may be great, but it doesn't answer the questions they were asking in the beginning. It's an answer that simply says, "You don't need an answer to your big question... this is enough for you." Well that's all find and dandy, but it's not really the point now, is it?
For "A Beautiful Mind"s John Nash, the question is, "What's the one original thought that has not yet been discovered?"
For "Altered States"s Edward Jessup (played adequately by William Hurt), he begins by assuming that there is another world as real as this one. He seeks to enter this other world to find out, "What is the origin of mankind all about?"
I am infuriated not that their answers are both "love". No, my anger stems from the fact that this love is from the finite, momentarily affection of a woman. They found answers to their infinite questions in the
It's a cheat. A question concerning the infinite requires an answer based in the infinite. Cheaters never prosper.
I have a few assumptions of my own, and a place I'd like to reach.
1) There is a God.
2) That God has revealed Himself in the Holy Bible, and that which the Bible speaks of is true.
-I want to be in intimate, immediate, constant relationship with God while I am here in this life. By its nature, this relationship would mean a ceasing of all doubt of my assumptions.
-Can this place be reached?
"Altered States" lays out one theory for how progress in such matters can be reached. It starts with a sensory deprivation chamber. Our protagonist dips his brains in a weightless tank and observes his thoughts flutter away from him into the land of hallucinations. That's step one. Step two: hang out with some Indians and trip out on their blood-hallucinogen mixture. Step three: Mix hallucinogen with weightless chamber.
Step four: Repeat until your body chemistry devolves into some sort of fetusy thing.
I call this procedure the MegaMan Effect. Once upon a time I asked some smart people (and some not-so-smart folk as well) as to how spiritual gifts work. Responses tended to speak of sanctification.
For those God foreknew
he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son,
that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
And those he predestined, he also called;
those he called, he also justified;
those he justified, he also glorified.
Looks like a process, smells like a process.
In the game MegaMen (I think I was familiar with MegaMan X for Nintendo), MegaMan runs around defeating 9 bosses. The cool thing was, that after every boss conquered, MegaMan than received said boss's power. If he killed the IceMan, well whadayaknow! -- MegaMan can now shoot ice balls from his gun! By the time you reach the final boss, MegaMan's got a whole list of awesome powers to illicit to eviscerate the final evil doer.
Does relationship with God work on the same level? What distinguishes the Abrahams, the great men of faith, from the Sauls and Solomons?
Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.
How did Enoch do that?
Soren Kierkegaard, writing as "John the Silent One" in his book "Fear and Trembling" appeared to have come up with a three step process. The first step I assume as 'conversion', or submission to the Lord God, Jesus Christ.
Step Two: Become the 'Knight of Resignation'. Here, the believer must relinquish everything he has. He must empty himself (perhaps this is linked to Philipians 2:7?). For the sake of God, he must give up everything, his ambition included.
Step Three: Once all is given up, it appears the sinner now has acquired the right disposition to be honored as the 'Knight of Faith'. Kierkegaard said that he knew of no man that has reached such a place. At this miraculous height, the individual can freely act in absurd manners that are pleasing to God (case in point: Abraham being willing to murder Isaac for God -- a most vile sin if committed in any other context).
O God, how can I reach you? You have promised your Holy Spirit of comfort to me. Holy Spirit, become real to me.
We protestants are big grace alone folk. But do I not still have responsibility? Are my actions forcing God closer or further away from me? Can my desire be realized based on God's promises combined with my actions?
Still --- though Paul's writings to the Romans (under my assumption) must by necessity be accurate and true, and though Kierkegaard speaks with astute reasoning, I find the idea of the MegaMan Effect as intuitively absurd. I say this because I am always either hungry or full. Sure, I can be at places where I say, "I shouldn't eat any more..." but this is my mind adding a moral constitution to an otherwise black or white occasion. My body wants to process food, or it doesn't. There is no half-way hungry. I can't be put in a sensory deprivation chamber and find that I am half-way to being not hungry. Even while I eat, I keep eating because I still long for that which is in front of me.
What component parts lead to intimacy with God?
- Do I need to prayer more,
- fast more,
- be happier,
- be sadder,
- be quiet,
- repent more,
- tell more people about Jesus,
- condemn demons in the name of Jesus,
- never watch movies,
- say no more bad words,
- refuse to get tattoos,
- fill my body with inked art?
- ... I am so weak, I know not what to do.
Now I come to the end of this undisciplined essay. My mind bounces around from here to there, rarely holding a thought long enough to get it exercised and articulated accurately enough for transmission. And now I admit my cheat: my questions will find their own answers... I don't need to write them all out on this electronic paper. But I wonder, has everyone else found their wives, so that they are content without answers?
Whether you are a Christian or an atheist, does it not bother you that there are still so many answers left out there?
Love from the Divine, from God alone will satisfy me. That's the infinite answer to the infinite question. Either that, or I need an answer to every solitary question that exists. Until then, how can I claim satisfaction with my soul?
How can you?