Monday, November 23, 2015
What I Learned From Ronda Rousey About Palm Sunday...
To be honest, I have always felt that the transition in Scriptures from Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem, to his rejection on Good Friday, was a little bit clunky and forced (at least on the narrative level). The whole thing just feels a little too "Deus ex machina" (or perhaps, in this case, Diabolis ex machina). Jesus enters Jerusalem and the natives are restless in the best possible sense; "Hosanna to the son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" In point of fact, they seem to waving their palm branches in the air like just don't care.
The point is they were filled with a kind of holy enthusiasm that seemed unconquerable. They had been waiting their whole lives (and perhaps even centuries), for the Messiah's reign, and now, apparently, they seemed to see it being fulfilled in Jesus, both as a result of what he had done (i.e. the miracles), and as a result of what he was doing (i.e. riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, with a foal beside him). This behavior would have clearly indicated to those present that he was declaring, like some sort of Messianic general, that he was about to take Jerusalem.
So how do we get from that moment, which was so uplifting and inspiring, to utter condemnation only a few days later. This seems unlikely, and if read in a certain light, almost appears as if it is inserted into the narrative just to make the story come out a certain way. However, there is one thing about these events that seems profoundly atypical. It is one thing to force a happy ending into a story that is predictable, and quite another to force something miserable into the story which seems incongruent, especially when that event seems to have undeniably occurred.
All the same, how can one make sense out of this set of polarities. Until recently I would have found it more than a little difficult to explain such a turnabout, but then I experienced such a bizarre turnabout myself in the world of sports fan-dom (or at least I became more keenly aware of it). For example, my football team is about as up and down as any in the league. One day there is all the potential in the world for success, and the next we are cellar dwellers. One minute we are playoff contenders, and the next we "paper bag" awful.
Yet what is most bizarre about all this drama is not that it could happen in football, but that it can/does happen from week to week. At Sun Life stadium in Miami they can go from shouting the head coaches name in triumph one week "Dan, Dan, Dan", to calling for his head the next. Hence, the profound fickleness of man goes right to the heart of the matter, or rather right to the heart of the Gospels. The allegiance of men can sometimes be gained quickly, but it might just as easily disappear the next minute. What seems indestructible at one moment, turns completely precarious the next.
I know very little about Ronda Rousey, or MMA, but what I do know (other than the unmitigated brutality of the sport she plays), is that, prior to her recent bout, she was adored by many as some kind of modern day Gladiator. Indeed, many have celebrated Ms. Rousey as some kind of sexy barbarian. Sure she's obnoxious, and perhaps filled with a little bit of bravado, but she's also kind of "hot". So it's all for the good, no? And then something happened which changed the narrative, the "hot" bully got bullied…
Commence the insults, the morbid laughter, the mocking, the "I never liked her anyway", the twitter thrashings, the insults that sound like a com-box in hell. The agents of despair are always waiting to spit on someones grave, waiting in the shadows for the right opportunity to emerge and unleash their Id, if only to declare that they "knew it all along."
I am in no way attempting to turn Ronda Rousey into some kind of strange gladiatorial martyr (as if the one who slays is pitiable merely because they happened to have gotten slayed), though unlike many on Twitter and elsewhere, I do hope she gets off the canvas and lives to fight another day (if in a different way). What I am suggesting, however, is that after observing the stunning fickleness of mankind, as embodied in the above set of circumstances, I can now see how it is possible- in less than a week- to go from being a victor to a victim, to go from absolute triumph to tragedy. After all, basking in the warmth of another man's glory is generally quite appealing to mankind, while standing beside a man (or woman) who is still fresh with the stench of failure and humiliation, is quite another matter, whether that "loser" happens to be Ronda Rousey, or the Savior of the world.