Sunday, October 09, 2005

Michael Jordan, Christ, and Being Young Again

In a recent issue of Touchstone, Ryan J. Jack McDermott compares the phenomenon of the Michael Jordan "discipleship" from not too long ago with that of the ever-present deification in Christ:

I woke to an epiphany in the middle of the night. I had been dreaming of Michael Jordan on the Wheaties box, coupled with the slogan, "Be like Mike." When I came out of the dream, I saw, as in a vision, that part of the Gatorade commercial where Jordan tilts his head back to slug a bottle as his body turns into a silhouette, and the yellow and orange electrolytes swim down to his toes, and I thought: Gregory of Nyssa!

The "Be like Mike" campaign is proof that the patristic doctrine of deification--of deep and intimate union with Christ--was never forgotten, just culturally transposed. The Gatorade commercial could just as easily have illustrated Gregory of Nyssa's explanation of how the body actually metabolizes the Eucharist to make the flesh incorruptible as it participates in Christ's divinity. While many Christians may need retraining to think in terms of union with Christ, of bodily sanctification, of physical imitatio Christi and Eucharistic reconstitution of the body, analogous cultural apotheoses obsess secular culture.

Touchstone publishes some articles on their website, but this one was not one of them. The magazine is worth the subscription for anyone interested in

a Christian journal, conservative in doctrine and eclectic in content, with editors and readers from each of the three great divisions of Christendom — Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox. The mission of the journal and its publisher, the Fellowship of St. James, is to provide a place where Christians of various backgrounds can speak with one another on the basis of shared belief in the fundamental doctrines of the faith as revealed in Holy Scripture and summarized in the ancient creeds of the Church.

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