Monthly Archives: September 2013

Existential Despair: The Problem And The Cure

Have you ever watched the 1953 movie, “The Robe?” IMBD summarizes:

“Marcellus is a tribune in the time of Christ. He is in charge of the group that is assigned to crucify Jesus. Drunk, he wins Jesus’ homespun robe after the crucifixion. **He is tormented by nightmares and delusions after the event.** Hoping to find a way to live with what he has done, and still not believing in Jesus, he returns to Palestine to try and learn what he can of the man he killed.”

Rotten Tomatoes says:

“After the Seven Last Words, the jaded Burton wins Christ’s robe in a dice game. Gradually, **the mystical influence of the holy garment transforms Burton from a roistering cynic into a True Believer**–at the cost of his own life, which he willingly gives up in the service of his Lord.”

Greg Boyd, in his newest book, “Benefit of the Doubt,” says this (which I love btw):

“Augustine spoke a profound truth when he said our hearts are restless until we rest in God. **So long as we try to meet our core needs with idols, we experience disappointment, frustration, and a host of other negative emotions.** Yet we find ourselves unable to discontinue our searching, for our hunger never dissipates. We may try to numb it with the novocaine of alcohol, drugs, or pornography. Or we may try to forget about it by distracting ourselves with work, television, movies, sports, politics, and the like. But the novocaine eventually wears off and the distractions are only momentary. Until we learn how to find our life from God, we are incurable idol addicts.”

Greg describes perfectly Burton’s tormented state without relief until he submits to Christ. Burton, I thought, played those scenes well. He was like a man in a desert searching to relieve his thirst but finding none. I imagined (as I was watching the movie) that if this was set in today’s world, Burton would have been thrown into a padded room in a straight jacket and given drugs to put him out of his misery. I’ve so connected emotionally with that aspect of the movie because I have been in my own “prisons” of emotional despair with no escape or relief in sight. THAT to me, is hell. A very scary place to be because part of the anguish is the feeling that it will never end and there is nothing you can do to end it.

Some people want to ignore this stuff. I just can’t. It weighs on me to heavily. I wish I could be like a lot of people who seem to “just forget about it.” But asking me to forget about it is like asking me not to breathe.