By: Paul P. Jesep*/TRT Columnist—
Vampires have intrigued me since childhood. Maybe it’s because they can accumulate great libraries over the ages and have time to read, absorb and apply the knowledge. Of course, as the years accumulate in my life, the appeal of vampires increases. I’m getting old. As gravity slowly takes its toll, vanity rears its ugly head. Although it is not possible, one still dreams about stopping time and reversing the aging process.
Atmospheric vampire flicks go to the top of my entertainment list, but I don’t like gratuitous sex or violence. I want a good story surrounded by a gothic feel. I’ve been critiquing vamp movies for many years (if you’re looking for recommendations for Halloween, like gems long forgotten or little known, send me an e-mail).
There’s one flick that I find particularly haunting (pardon the pun). I mean haunting (though that might be a bit strong) as a wee bit spiritually unsettling.
“Vampires” (1998), featuring Maximilian Schell playing Cardinal Alba has a few lines in it that sometimes come to mind. The vampire slayer is supposed to keep a 14th century bloodsucker from acquiring a relic allowing him to walk in daylight.
Unbeknownst to the slayer, the cardinal cut a deal with the vampire. According to the cardinal, he has never witnessed a miracle, never had his prayers answered, never felt the presence of God. In short, he became intoxicated by the vampire’s perceived power and made the temporal nature of the creature his “living” god. [pullquote]According to the cardinal, he has never witnessed a miracle, never had his prayers answered, never felt the presence of God. In short, he became intoxicated by the vampire’s perceived power and made the temporal nature of the creature his “living” god.[/pullquote]
Rabbi Nachman of Bratislava said of prayer, “Even if many days and years pass, and it seems that you have accomplished nothing with your words, do not abandon the practice. Every word makes an impression.”
“It is written,” the Rabbi observed referring to the Book of Job, “Water wears away stone. It may seem that water dripping on stone cannot make any impression. Still, as we can actually see, after many years, it can wear a hole in the stone.”
“Our hearts,” he teaches “are like stone, and though it may seem your words of prayer make no impression at all on it, still, as the days and years pass, even a heart of stone can be penetrated.”
Go back 25 years. Marriage equality? People have been praying for LGBTQ civil and human rights for decades. Many thought it wouldn’t happen. Prayer added to the positive energy to make the dream come true.
Too often, like the cardinal in “Vampires” demonstrates, we seek false hope. He may have failed to see a miracle, but that didn’t mean they weren’t occurring. He thought his prayers weren’t being answered, but that didn’t mean a divine authority wasn’t listening.
Too often we want the mystical quick-fix or fast spiritual experience. If divine grace occurs, it is slow, steady, natural, simmering, discretionary, and challenges us in spiritual, intellectual, and emotional comfort zones. [pullquote]Engage. Believe. Ignore religious corporatism. [/pullquote]
LGBTQ people are inherently spiritual, though often harshly, and rightly so, anti-religious and distrustful of misguided executives who run religious corporations. Yet these fancy dressed executives are obstacles, not an excuse to avoid nurturing a personal faith journey.
Faith isn’t a light switch. It isn’t fast food or a microwavable meal. Faith takes time, care, commitment, and persistence. Considering the spiritual abuse LGBTQ children of the Creator have had and continue to experience, it can be an especially long process.
Engage. Believe. Ignore religious corporatism.
*Paul is an attorney, seminary trained priest and founder of CorporateChaplaincy.biz, a firm committed to the spiritual wellness of professionals. He also is author of “Lost Sense of Self & the Ethics Crisis: Learn to Live and Work Ethically” . Email Paul at Dilovod@aol.com.