This music is for my Serbian Orthodox family.
Klediments: The whole earth is a living icon of the face of God." St. John of Damascus
“My brother asked the birds to forgive him; that sounds senseless, but it is right; for all is like an ocean, all is flowing and blending; a touch in one place sets up movement at the other end of the earth. It may be senseless to beg forgiveness of the birds, but birds would be happier at your side – a little happier, anyway – and children and all animals, if you were nobler than you are now. It’s all like an ocean, I tell you. Then you would pray to the birds too, consumed by an all-embracing love, in a sort of transport, and pray that they too will forgive you your sin. Treasure this ecstasy, however senseless it my seem to men.” Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov.
Two things on the screen caught our attention when I was home with my wife because of a bad cold. One was the report of the public killing/culling of a young giraffe at a Danish zoo. “The young animal in question could not contribute to the future of its species” according to zookeepers. After a public execution and autopsy, the giraffe’s body was then fed to the zoo’s lions. There is such outrage (and my own ineffectual queezyness) over this event that death threats have been made to zoo personnel. In many of the articles and comments that I read about this “murder,” one phrase that recurred was that zoo officials had ‘no right to play god.‘ It seems to me though that much of what humans do could be spoken of as a kind of ‘playing god.‘ And that includes capturing animals and imprisoning, force breeding, displaying, and selectively killing them for entertainment and profit in the first place. But why is it that when humans are accused of ‘playing god‘ it’s always a negative thing, a pantomime of god’s apparent capriciously destructive and vengeful characteristics that we have imposed upon god? If someone sacrificed part or all of their life to save another person or other living creature (or planet) couldn’t we say that that person was also playing God? Don’t many religious traditions instruct human beings to do just that?
Anyway, the second thing was the documentary movie “Blood Brother” that I ardently recommend (with a few reservations). The documentary focuses on Rocky Braat, a quite ordinary young man from Pittsburgh (ordinary also in that like so many others he was abused, abandoned, neglected as a child). Rocky moves to India, encounters by accident and then takes up permanent residence with an orphanage full of children who are HIV positive. My nose and eyes were already watering from my cold, but my bouts of weeping as I watched this movie put me in need of I..V fluids by the time it ended. Not that there isn’t a great deal of humor and joy in the movie, but keep kleenex handy. Interestingly (and refreshingly) the movie virtually never mentions god(s), religion, theology, theodicy, or metaphysics, we just witness a person ‘playing god‘ so to speak to a bunch of outcast, sick, and dying children who their society has determined, 'could not contribute to the future of their species.' In one case Rocky ministers day and night to one small dying boy in the hospital for 40 days and nights, and the boy (miraculously?) recovers. Rocky’s friend who did the filming proclaims that it was a miracle from God, but all the Indian doctors agree that Rocky saved the boys life. I'm joyful either way, but I don’t know why it couldn’t be both? Can’t even God play God sometimes?
p.s. if the youtube plugin doesn't work here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bXOGNYwSkSY