Sunday, December 17, 2006


First, let me start by saying that I love words. So, it is only fitting that this blog was conceived as a result of one of the many word games I play regularly, daily if not more often. The game this time is Rootonym, which I access at the AARP website (Games and Puzzles) This game provided the definition as a clue:

Deliverence from sin or atonement for guilt; rescue; act of buying or paying off.

And the answer, of course, was redemption.

What prompted this posting is what struck me about redemption. We frequently hear about religious redemption, deliverence from sin or atonement for guilt. At the Christmas time of the year, we hear about the coming of Christ who was sent to redeem us from our sins, and did so through the sacrifice of his own life. Is that the price he paid, or the price we paid?

As a Christian, I was taught the God sent his Son to "redeem the world." Did his Son want to come? Did his Son ask to come? Did his Son have any forshadowing of the physical pain and suffering to which he would be subjected? Did his Son have any idea the price he would pay would be torture and death? Did his Son know that that was the price of redemption?

If we are true believers of Christ, do we live our lives as if we have an appreciation for the sacrifice this one man made on our behalf. To we appreciate and express gratitude for the payment he made on our behalf...

I looked up the definition of Christ in Merriam Webster's Online Dictionary, and in addtion to Messiah and Jesus, there was the definition:

"an ideal type of humanity."

The "deal" that the Son of God made for us was his physical life after being tortured in exchange for our living "an ideal type of humanity." How many of us keep up our end of the deal. (I started to use the word "bargain," but for Jesus the man, this was no bargain, as we typically use the word today. However, Merriam Webster Online would say it might be, by their definition:

"an agreement between parties settling what each gives or receives in a transaction between them or what course of action or policy each pursues in respect to the other.")

When Mel Gibson's movie, "The Passion of the Christ" came out, I heard my supervisor comment that she was not sure she wanted to see the movie, because it would make her feel guiltier than she already does. My supervisor is a deeply thoughtful (as in caring and kind as well as introspective) woman who lives her Christianity as well as anyone and better than many. Her comment made me think about so many of us so called Christians who do not repent and atone for our sins, or who do not grieve at having been the source of torture and death of Jesus, the man and the Son of God. Catholicism, at the very least, if not the other Christian religions, teaches us WE are responsible for that torture and death as if we were the Roman soldiers wielding the instrutments of pain. Cahtolicism is a guilt based religion, but the guilt should not be to be punished because we are bad, but to acknowledge our part in the pain and suffering of others and change our behavior to diminsh the pain and suffering.

So, the price we pay for redemption is to acknowledge the pain and suffering of Christ, accept our guilt, and live our lives with that ideal type of humanity to minimize the pain and suffering of others. But, do we pay this price?

It gets confusing: Catholicism allowed penitents to buy "indulgences" for our sins, sort of a predeath investment to help us atone for our sins when we die. Indulgences: back to Merriam Webster Online:

"remission of part or all of the temporal and especially purgatorial punishment that according to Roman Catholicism is due for sins whose eternal punishment has been remitted and whose guilt has been pardoned (as through the sacrament of reconciliation)."

People could actually buy "indulgences" with money, although I doubt that was the original intention for how indulgences were supposed to work: Redemption.

I know, this is confabulated. So we have an indulgent God, one who gives us free rein (free will?) or to treats with excessive leniency, generosity, or consideration (again, Merriam Webster Online) but one who exacts the supreme sacrifice from his Son. Mmmmm. Not very indulgent, there, was He?

In my world, I do not hear the word "redemption" much unless it is in a religious context. Yet, when I think of redeeming something, Green Stamps come to mind. For the younger members of the audience, a rewards system involving stamps, not a credit account. You see, rewards with purchase is not a new concept. But, for many people, it felt like and still feels like "getting something for nothing" which is not true, because the rewards concepts are based on a promotional gimmick to get you to use one product in preference to another. Advertising. And, someone pays for the advertising, namely, ultimately, the consumer.

So, what does this have to do with Redemption. Well, I think it interesting that at this time of year, that word came up in a word game. Because this is one of the times of year that the Redemption of Sinners through the actions of Christ is greatly broadcast. "The Reason for the Season."

If you are paying attention, you know where I am going. Because a large part of the emphasis on this season is the commercialism of Christmas: the reports of how much consumers are spending, the advertising, the discounts, the shopping days, the extended shopping hours. I get caught up in it, as do most of us on some level.

So, we use Christmas as a time of Redemption (rewards with purchase, buying indulgences?): Maybe not for our souls but for ourselves. We give gifts as acts of love and kindness and thoughtfulness, but are we trying to redeem ourselves in God's eyes? Or in the eyes of the recipients for our shortcomings past and future? Do we truly give gifts as acts of caring and expressions of love? Do we give gifts because we should? Feel obligated to? Are we buying off relationships? Or truly expressing our feelings for others?

Honestly, I do some of both. Crass as I am, I do it.. It is part of the politics of being in a world with people and complying with certain expected social behaviors. I want to redeem myself with others as well as redeem my soul. I think this is not all bad: I know I am not perfect, and this gives me a "face saving" way to acknowledge that... And, complying with expected social behaviors helps to keep the world functioning smoothly. And heaven forbid, I upset the balance of the world anymore than I already do.

But, there is a great deal of public recognition for "The Reason for the Season" that comes out of this. So, maybe even the commercialism has some redemptive value.

So, Redemption in its many aspects is a key word at this time of year. Maybe we can practice at focussing on the more spritual aspects of redemption and less on the economic aspects. Because practice implies repetitive actions until we get it right. So, we have another year to practice..

Second, let me say this is why I do not blog. It takes me too long to say what I want to say.

Christmas is about spiritual redemption, not buying or paying off something or someone.

Labels: , , , ,