Sunday, April 09, 2006

Blog Book for Lent: The Last Temptation of Christ

The season of lent has come, and I begin a little project for my own spiritual formation (oh yes, lawyers get a conscience attack once in a while).

I have with me a paperback edition of Nikos Kazantsakis's The Last Temptation of Christ. The book was originally published in 1952 in Greece. What I will attempt to do is blog my insights, impressions, and thoughts as I read the book during this Holy Week in between my preparations for the coming Iblog Conference, (in which I will deliver a talk on libel and blogging) and a family vacation in San Juan, Batangas, my wife's hometown.

The book has 33 chapters, about 496 pages and printed in 9 points with serifs font. I will have my Treo 650 in tow so I can email to this blog for updates. To be able to finish by Easter Sunday, the plan is to read about 5 to 6 chapters a day, and to post every morning before breakfast, after my left brain has processed the reading the previous day.

Why this book? Let me take you the author's prologue, in which he writes,

"My principal anguish, and the wellspring of all my joys and sorrows, has been the incessant merciless battle between the spirit and the flesh. . . . Every man partakes of the divine nature in both his spirit and his flesh. That is why the mystery of Christ is not simply a mystery for a particular creed; it is universal. . . . Struggle between the flesh and the spirit, rebellion and resistance, reconciliation and submission, and finally-the supreme purpose of the struggle-union with God: this was the ascent taken by Christ, the ascent which he invites us to take as well, following in his bloody tracks. . . . If we are to be able to follow him, we must have a profound knowledge of His conflict, we must relive his anguish. . . . In order to mount to the Cross, the summit of sacrifice, and to God, the summit of immateriality, Christ passed through all the stages which the man who struggles passes through. All-and that is why his suffering is so familiar to us; that is why we pity him, and why his final victory seems to us so much our own future victory. That part of Christ's nature which was profoundly human helps us to understand him and love him and to pursue his Passion as though it were our own. If he had not within him this warm human element, he would never be able to touch our hearts with such assurance and tenderness; he would not be able to become a model for our lives. We struggle, we see him struggle also, and we find strength. We see that we are not all alone in the world; he is fighting at our side. . . . This book was written because I wanted to offer a supreme model to the man who struggles; I wanted to show him that he must not fear pain, temptation, or death-because all three can be conquered, all three have already been conquered."

To write, read, and blog about reading this book all have the same end in mind, a deeper and richer understanding about the mystery of Christ, which is no less than the mystery of man. But as NVM Gonzalez, used to say, every reading is an opportunity for misreading. So don't take my word for it. Get a copy of the book, and let's blog on during this Holy Week.

No comments: