Angilbert (fl. ca. 840/50), On the Battle Which was Fought at Fontenoy

The Law of Christians is broken,
Blood by the hands of hell profusely shed like rain,
And the throat of Cerberus bellows songs of joy.

Angelbertus, Versus de Bella que fuit acta Fontaneto

Fracta est lex christianorum
Sanguinis proluvio, unde manus inferorum,
gaudet gula Cerberi.

Monday, June 11, 2012

God's Glory Appears: Second Triad

THE SECOND TRIAD THAT VON BALTHASAR identifies in the dramatic form is one of presentation, horizon, and audience. These three aspects are part of the "dramatic realization."  These are features which distinguish the dramatic form from other forms of communication.  Presentation refers to the fact that dramas are performed for someone or some group.  Audience refers to the fact that dramas are observed by individuals, and that this observance is not simply passive observance, but some sort of expectative, active, participative observance.  Finally, horizon refers to the fact that there is a larger "horizon" or picture that ties together all the characters of the plot and in which the audience itself participates.

The theodrama of the Christ-event may be viewed under these three aspects: presentation, horizon, and audience.

The dramatic form is something that is fundamentally human.  Man has had a penchant for acting things out, and so the dramatic form seems to be a response to, or an expression of a fundamental human need.  What is this need? Why this form? 

Man has a need that is satisfied by the dramatic form, and so we find the dramatic form everywhere man has flourished.  Most fundamentally, the dramatic form seems to provide men and women with a means to communicate truths about human existence.  For this to happen, there has to be a participation between the audience and the play.  There must be a blurring between the play and audience so that the audience in some way internalizes the play and is able to recognize the events being acted out as "patterns of possibility" in its own life.  There is therefore a communication, a shared participation, in some sort of truth of human existence.  It takes the audience out of its mundane life and introduces it into the life of the play.

Presentation is of course the "address" of the play to the audience.  In the theodrama of the Christ event, this is the divine address.  Philosophy has no such divine address, and so it is unable to accomplish what drama is able to accomplish.  "God's dealing with the world provides, in dramatic form, the ultimate horizon for judging values and goods, and ultimately ourselves as moral agents." Steck, 57. 

The Christ-drama also draws us into itself.  We are able to enter into the Christ-drama because we recognize our own individual drama, our own life, in the life of Christ.  He is, after all, human, and it is this common bond which allows us to recognize and to relate to it.  The "divine play invites us to see our play in its light."  But it also adds an element of hope, as it suggests to us that we are not heirs to a "pitiless destiny," to some fatalistic, deterministic fate.  Rather, we are furnished with the hope that the world--both the world of Christ and our world--is governed by grace, by forgiveness, and, ultimately, with meaning.

"Through Christ and in him, the Christian is given a 'stage' on which to act and a story to give that acting a coherent form."  Steck, 57.  God's narrative--the story, the drama of Christ--becomes our narrative.  This not only in the manner that we can identify similarities between our narrative and Christ's (suffering injustice, pain, tribulation, etc.) but also in a manner that we can supersede or perhaps better correct our own (repentance, forgiveness, etc.).  The imitatio Christi becomes a means by which our narrative may be better fitted into the divine Narrative. This is the horizon of the dramatic event of Christ. 

The response called for by the Christ-drama is, of course, unique to this theodrama.  It calls for a response in faith.  "The faith that it awakens leads [the spectator] out of his spectator seat in the ardent hope that this narrative can be his own, that his identity can be one of it."  Steck, 58. 

The Holy Spirit is a participant in this.  "The voices and responses of human creatures can be included in God's life," and in his drama, "because that life," or that drama, "is already a communion of voices absolutely united in the Spirit."  The Holy Spirit takes the weak human word and amplifies it, as it were, so that it may in some way work it into the divine drama.  The Spirit does this by incorporating us into Christ, the person who is the "divine-human interchange."

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