Thursday, January 31, 2008

Why "head and heart"?

Everyone who's ever seen Braveheart no doubt remembers William Wallace's signature challenge to the grumbling Scottish factions. He draws them into a battle force by appealing to their hearts, hearts broken by injustice and fear at the hands of the English. Basically, he tells them that it would be better to die a free man today than live a slave to old age. Wallace goes right to the heart,

the center of our life from which all the forces and functions of our life arise,

that which is like a freshwater spring, out of which bubbles up our desires, passions, emotions, decisions, understanding, beliefs, loyalties, strength, direction, and worship

where the real self is made visible and known, your identity,

the connecting place, the meeting place, the place of communion where God comes and speaks and breathes our identity into us.

So, Braveheart, as he becomes named, is always associated with passion both then and now. He lived it and he called it forth in others. We long for passion like this today. I know I do.

But there's another scene later in the movie that may be just as important to our understanding of William Wallace. . . and maybe ourselves. The Queen-to-be of England, who happens to be from another country and speaks French, is in Wallace's presence. A subject comes up about which it is felt that discretion may be needed, and so an exchange happens in which the Queen and an assistant speak in French. To which Wallace answers in French. To this point in the movie everyone has either ignored or forgotten that William Wallace has been trained abroad, speaks multiple languages, and is intellectually the equal if not the teacher of them all. Braveheart, we find out, is a thinking man. His passion is directed and focused like a laser beam. . . by his mind.

"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." (Romans 12:2 NASB) That which can only happen, the English Puritans said, by receiving the Word of God through the mind, through which it has the potential to penetrate and inflame our hearts; then, and only then, by the impassioned heart can the mind actually be renewed itself.

This is the great distinguishing mark of the most revolutionary spiritual awakenings in the history of the world. Head and heart together. The power of passion that can only come from the heart of God, informed and shaped by the mind of Christ.

One day I was hiking to the Upper Blue Lakes, just behind the great bulk of Mt. Sneffles, which is the picture on this blog. I was alone and in my glory. At the end of a summer of hiking and climbing, I was in top form, and I flew up towards Blue Lakes Pass. The Upper Lakes looked similar that day to those in the Scottish Highlands, surrounded by meadow grasses and coated in thick clouds. Braveheart was on my mind, and I cried out to God that I might bear something akin to his courage. To which I believe God brought to my mind another great Scottish warrior, Dr. Gordon Fee, he of fiery red hair and Scottish descent, one of the world's greatest textual scholars in New Testament studies, a man who cannot teach in seminary classes without preaching from a heart of passion, with tears. And I think God said to me, "You, too - head and heart."