Thoughts on Oedipus Rex

March 18, 2010

I recently taught the Oedipus trilogy in my Ancient Composition and Literature class.  We’ve been studying Greek tragedies and have read about one dysfunctional family after another.  I closed out this section of our class with some observations:

  1. We learned that serious family problems aren’t new.
  2. We also learned that when we think our families are messed up, someone else’s family is more messed up than ours.
  3. Most of my students come from families that appear to be strong families.
  4. Teens from strong families tend to undervalue their family heritage as they often feel called to follow God-given drive to find out who they really are and to forge their own identity in the world.
  5. Our family heritage does play a role in who we are.  What I would deny is that it is deterministic.  As Christians, we do not operate in a closed system as the Greeks believed that they did.
  6. While we want to affirm the ability of the Lord to do above and beyond all that we can ask or imagine and the freedom of human choices, family background plays a huge role in who we are.
  7. The primary means of being blessed or cursed throughout human history has been intergenerational transfer.  We see this in the Scripture.  Our expectation of this is explicitly stated in the Second Commandment and the fulfillment of this is seen in the narrative of the history of Israel and the Church.  This is something that is generally overlooked by both the Church and the World today.
  8. It is possible to overcome the adverse effects of a dysfunctional family — not perfectly, but substantially.  The grace of Jesus Christ is powerful and effective in renewing our minds and cleansing our hearts.
  9. Greek tragedy has a healthy dose of realism.  It avoids both the the cynical worldview that nothing worthwhile ever happens in desperate situations and the romanticized idea of every character overcoming every adverse situation.  People do rise above circumstances rather than becoming prisoners of fate.

Coming soon . . .

March 18, 2010

will soon be up and running . . .  stay tuned!