Friday, February 20, 2009

Love in An Elevator

A few weeks ago I wrote about the emotion of "elevation" and how many in the secular world interprets its origin as, well, secular in nature. Whereas the more religiously inclined credit a higher power. The Night Writer picks up the theme in this excellent analysis, and provides a little elevation of his own:
Yes, I've felt and enjoyed "elevation" in watching certain movies or reading certain books or hearing certain speakers, but I've also felt it most profoundly when infused by a Trinity that's anything but pop. How ironic, it appears to me, that the learned experts can walk right up to the edge of revelation and stop themselves just short, as if it were a cliff they dare not let themselves go over.

Amazon's editorial synopsis of Keltner's book includes the following description (emphasis mine):

"A new examination of the surprising origins of human goodness. In Born to Be Good, Dacher Keltner demonstrates that humans are not hardwired to lead lives that are 'nasty, brutish, and short'— we are in fact born to be good. He investigates an old mystery of human evolution: why have we evolved positive emotions like gratitude, amusement, awe, and compassion that promote ethical action and are the fabric of cooperative societies?"

Evolved? Could, perhaps, those emotions have been implanted in us by God? Could they even be the essence of what "being created in the likeness and image of" means? That is, not so much a physical likeness but a spiritual harmonic that resonates in the presence of goodness? I have been suddenly "elevated" while singing praises to God, or in the midst of praying for someone, or when a revelation crystallizes suddenly in my half-alert mind. It doesn't happen every time I do these things; in fact it usually happens when I'm not expecting it to. In the middle of a song that we've sung dozens of times, for example, or in half-way through praying for someone when — whoosh elevation! (Actually, in our circles, we call it "anointing") It seems to wait for that split-second when I stop thinking about myself to manifest itself and I know that I've made a different kind of connection, or been a conduit for one.

It's not a self-congratulatory wave of emotion from taking pride in my doing something "good", either; in fact, that kind of thought quenches the feeling immediately. It's another demonstration of what St. Paul (the apostle, not Brian) wrote when he urged us not to be "conformed" to the world and all of its selfishness, but to be "transformed" by the "renewing of our minds" when we ever-so-briefly touch something larger than ourselves.
(Note, the title to this post was so bad, it had to be used).

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