Emotions

Two weeks ago, our film group watched an old film that isn’t on anybody’s great list.  Equilibrium is a Matrix wanne-be starring Christian Bale who plays a bad-guy turned good guy in a world that’s decided the only answer to war is to get rid of all emotion.   Dumb movie, really, but it led us to talking about the role of emotional life in human beings, and what the Bible might have to say about it.  I was in Chicago last week, so last night was our first chance to dig into the Bible about all of it.  And one of the first comments was regarding something that puzzled me for a long time.   The Bible has very little to say about emotional life, at least directly.  Now before you take me to task, I know “Jesus wept” and everybody talks about his full humanity and that he laughed a lot and that he had lots of passion, which is emotion (think he was calm while he was throwing the buyers and sellers out of the temple?), but that’s not really what I mean.

We live in a world of romantic notions about emotion.  What we “feel” is paramount.  And “feeling”…well.  “Feel” covers a whole gamut of things from internal sensations that arise out of who knows where to tactile sensations to emotional reactions instinctual, instantaneous, or those that develop over time.  “Feel” also includes intuition, and even certain kinds of rational moves.  Last night we talked about what Eve felt as she stood pondering the fruit the serpent said wouldn’t kill her after all.  Pleasing to the eye, good for food, it would make her wise…hmmm.   No Greek-like description of passion, but a rather straight-forward list of things we know elevate heart-rate and respiration.  Sounds like she just flat wanted.  James says it’s our desire that entices us, and what desire doesn’t have emotional life wrapped up in it.   Then we talked about David and Bathesheba, and read II Samuel 11.  David’s lust for Bathesheba (and for that matter, her parading in front of the king–albeit from a distance–on a rooftop naked), then his panic over her pregnancy and the resulting madness of his action…lots of emotional life roiling there.

We talked about the centuries old debate about the basic dividedness of human beings.   Rational vs. emotional, right brain-left brain, head vs. heart–all of these trying to describe what we all feel (there’s that word again), the conflictedness when there are two things we want, and we must choose, navigating the treacherous water between thinking and feeling, both of which are glorious functions and experiences God gave us.   But rivers can quench thirsts and they can drown and break us on rocks, and the power of emotion is a bit the same way.

The Bible treats us as full human beings I think, and the stories are rife with the full gamut of human emotion, if you know how to imagine and read between the lines.  And while emotion is not the core of the human, I’m not sure there is a core if emotion is not there.

Just thinking…you’d think that passion would be on the list of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5), but no…

…but self-control is…

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  1. Premonition, Intuition, Prophesy, Inspiration… (is that always such a warm fuzzy thing?) or Feeling (which sort of *feeling*)

    Today, I woke up with a sense of dread. (did Jesus feel that emotion? an “oh no..or oh gee this is gonna/might be rough”) The feeling in me today originally was not acutely felt. There wasn’t a word for it. I went about readying myself for the day — without as much a thought — as anyone I suppose. It wasn’t until much later, say two or so hours later in the morning after having commuted among the masses in the early morning rush to work and then it dawned on me. A word matched itself in my mind to a sense or feeling I was having. One of dread. The last time I felt that was when driving early one morning while above me the Space Shuttle was streaking to earth overhead (literally) in pieces. {The feeling I recall having had that day was “I think something is wrong”. but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it}

    It wasn’t until much later, after having arrived at my desitination that the information for my feeling that day… became known or en-fleshed. The sadness I felt perhaps.. knowing without knowing, in the Malcom Gladwell sense… (or what’s the other guy.. The Gift of Fear Book dude?)… It was strange driving that moment looking upward at the sky and things not seeming “right” about it. And then discovering that yes indeed there was something wrong or sad in the sky that day.

    But this feeling arose today. This morning. Sparking even the old urge to call friends and love one’s and ask them “Are you Ok?” Is everyone you know Ok?” Prefaced of course by casual conversation so as to not appear alarmist or weird. Of course this would even cause a fellow to ask one’s self, “Are you ok? Is everything ok with you?”

    It baffles me Jeff, being human, utterly baffles me.

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