ARE WE WAITING FOR A SAVIOUR?
By Maryanne Pope
What if Jesus came back, as promised…but then turned around and left again because He was so disgusted with what he saw here?
It’s an interesting question…and one I inadvertently explored when I found myself on a real humdinger of a psychological, emotional and spiritual journey after the death of my husband, John.
Perhaps journey isn’t the best word to use. Plunging headfirst into a long, dark, seemingly bottomless pit of sorrow, anger, despair, confusion, denial and self-pity is a more apt description of that perilous first year of grief.
Speaking of plunging, John’s death was the result of a preventable fall at an unsafe workplace…your basic cause & effect stuff.
But in that first year as a young and terrified widow, reality wasn’t particularly palatable. So instead, I grabbed on to a belief that sounded pretty damn good at the time: that God has a Divine plan for all of us.
It worked. Believing this temporarily made me feel better.
But then I got to thinking (call me crazy) that since there is a plan, the logical next step would be to figure out what it is…at least the John and Maryanne portion of it.
Well, one thought led to another and I came up with the brilliant idea that since we all seem to be waiting around for The Saviour to return…maybe John was him. Maybe John was the long-awaited Second Coming of Christ!
Hilarious now, I know. But in my shattered state, I figured that would be an acceptable reason for John getting taken out of the game at 32…far more acceptable than something as mundane as a missing safety railing.
Again, reality wasn’t cutting it in terms of the feeling-good-again portion of the program.
Now, as a story-teller, my spectacular (albeit false) revelation made for some much-needed lighter moments in my book, A Widow’s Awakening.
However, now that more than a decade has past since John’s death, I’m realizing that as ridiculous as my idea was, perhaps this Saviour-belief warrants further examination.
For whether or not those of us in the West (and elsewhere in the world) are individual believers in Christianity or not, I suspect the underlying fundamental assumption that Christianity (and subsequently Western society) was founded on – Christ as the Saviour – is so deeply embedded in our individual and collective psyches, we aren’t even aware of it anymore.
If this is the case, then perhaps it wasn’t so strange that the shock of John’s sudden death dislodged, if you will, this Saviour-belief buried deep within me – and sent it bubbling it to the surface at a time when I so desperately wanted to be saved…from the hurt.
Hypothetically, let’s say Jesus did “come back,” what would he have to say about the state of our world?
A) “I love what you’ve done to the planet since I left…keep up the great work! A couple more decades and you’ll pretty much have trashed the joint – but I’ll still love you…and so will my Dad!”
B) “You IDIOTS! You’ve really mucked things up now…I can’t fix this mess! Nobody can! That’s it…I’m going back to the fluffy clouds to eat cream cheese and prance through a field of wild flowers.”
I’m betting on B) – and frankly, I wouldn’t blame Him. And I doubt he’d have used the word ‘mucked’ when the alternative would be far more appropriate.
But let’s say Jesus did stick around for the Saving part of The Plan. How exactly would He accomplish this feat?
Sweep a magic wand across all the bad stuff and see it magically go away?
Possibly – but not a lot of lessons would be learned by the worker bees (that’s us)…so then the poor guy would just have to come back again in another few years.
Not a particularly effective strategy for a Saviour.
That’s because it’s a myth.
And myths are not supposed to be taken literally. “Stories are tools to understand valuable human lessons,” wrote Northrop Frye, “not truths in themselves.”
Please click here to listen to an audio clip (45 sec) from A Widow’s Awakening (“Sam” is John).
I’m really beginning to wonder if, on some deeper level, many people are waiting for a Divine entity to swoop down and fix the many significant and overwhelming issues we face, such as climate change. For this would help explain our delay, as a sentient species, in taking deliberate action to significantly cut our greenhouse gas emissions.
But the reality is, the longer we wait – consciously or not – for someone else to rescue us from the perilous path we’re on, the less likely we’ll be able to save ourselves in time.
And I can safely say, from personal experience, we will have to.
So as not to end this article on a completely depressing note, here’s a thought by John O’Donohue, author of Anam Cara, a Book of Celtic Wisdom: “For too long we have believed that the divine is outside of us.”
In other words, what if we are the Saviour we are waiting for?
Food for thought
On a final note, I heard a man being interviewed on the radio the other day, in regards to the Alcoholics Anonymous program. Here’s what he said:
“Fantasy is what we use to avoid facing reality. Faith is what we use to give us the courage to face it.”
Now that’s an idea I can believe in…and more importantly, act on.
BOOK BY WIDOW OF GREEK ORTHODOX POLICE OFFICER RAISES UNCOMFORTABLE QUESTIONS ABOUT CHRISTIANITY
Wed Feb 1, 2012 – What if Jesus came back, as promised…but then turned around and left again because he was so disgusted with what he saw here?
“I think this is a fair question to ask,” says Maryanne Pope, widow of Const. John Petropoulos and author of the creative non-fiction book, A Widow’s Awakening, “particularly if one is a Christian.”
Pope explored this possibility when she found herself on a horrific psychological, emotional and spiritual journey after the sudden death of her police officer husband, Const. John Petropoulos, in Sept 2000.
John was searching a warehouse during the investigation of a suspected break-and-enter, when he stepped through an unmarked false ceiling. There was no safety railing to warn him – or anyone else – of the danger. There ended up being no intruder in the building. He was 32.
“In the end, John’s death was the result of a preventable fall at an unsafe workplace,” says Pope, “hence the public education efforts of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund.”
“But in that first year of grief,” Pope continues, “I kept thinking his death had to be part of some greater Divine plan, as that was the only way I could accept it. And somewhere in that shattered state of mind, I got to thinking that since we were waiting around for the Saviour to return, maybe John was him…the long-awaited Second Coming of Christ.”
“This,” Pope says, “actually made for some rather comical and much-needed lighter moments in the book.”
But now that more than a decade has past since John’s death, Pope realizes that as ridiculous as her ideas were, perhaps there are greater lessons to be learned. “At the very least,” she says, “we need to be asking ourselves some really tough questions about our beliefs, such as the concept of a Saviour.”
Please click here to listen to an audio clip (45 sec) from A Widow’s Awakening.
“I do wonder,” says Pope, “if on some deeper level, many people are waiting for a Divine Saviour to swoop down and fix the many significant and overwhelming issues we face, such as climate change.”
At any rate, Pope’s candid journey is a striking a chord with readers.
“I just finished A Widow’s Awakening,” wrote one person. “Thank you. I laughed, I cried…I laughed when I was crying, and I found a fellow Anglican who asks a lot of the same questions I ask.”
“I LOVED your book!” wrote another. “I cried, I laughed, felt your anger…and was willingly drawn into your opinions on Christianity, the transition from life to death, and your feelings about the environment.”
For additional information on A Widow’s Awakening, please click here.
To purchase a copy of the audio book, please click here.
To purchase a copy of the print version, click here. Bulk rates are also available.
For further inquiries, please contact:Sarah Hourihan
Public Relations, Pink Gazelle Productions Inc
(403) (403) 620-5440