The Last Temptation of Christ (Nikos Kazantzakis) was to come down from the cross, marry Mary Magdalene, and live an ordinary life as carpenter and see his children grow like olive branches around his table.
To live an ordinary life rather than a life of exaggeration and maudlin sacrifice—is this really a temptation?
Today, an ordinary life would mean having a house, a car, and an income that allows you to travel to Hawaii or the Bahamas. It would mean getting hooked on House of Cards or Downton Abby and shopping at Flabella’s. It would mean lovely luncheons in a garden shaded by a grape arbor and surrounded by your own carefully coddled roses. An ordinary life would be rejoicing in announcements of marriages and baptisms and First Communions—or 50th high school reunions. An ordinary life might include a new set of dentures, a face-lift or at least a monthly deep body massage.
But what is the alternative to an ordinary life? What are the invitations in these times to jump up on that Cross? Not having children because of the population explosion? Biking or walking rather than buying yet another new car? Not eating meat to save the forests? Growing your own lettuces and tomatoes and buying organic?
Getting up on that Cross would give a different perspective, all right. To think about it makes me dizzy.