Thursday, March 12, 2009

What I needed to realize today

I am going to post my (somewhat terrible) but interesting Parzival paper here. I needed this message today. And yes, it's only 9 AM. I need the true lover. Always.

Parzival and the True Lover
A Christological View of Parzival

In the Middle High German epic poem, Parzival, the theme of a true lover or a redeemer, prevails. It is only through the grace of this true lover, Jesus Christ, that mankind can be redeemed from the Fall of Adam and healed from the wounds associated with this Fall. In order to provide this healing, Christ himself is crucified, wounded and in this process that came to be known as the atonement, provides salvation for all mankind who take advantage of this atonement. As disciples of Jesus Christ, however, men must become disciples in imitatio Christi, becoming God’s servants to help others become redeemed through the true lover. Throughout the journey of the title character, Parzival, this redemption through Christ and his servants, disciples in imitation Christi, can be seen in the overall theme of the wounding of Abrahamic potential and in the specific example of the wounds of Amfortas being healed by the grail and Parzival’s question.

In Parzival, the Abrahamic covenant made manifest through the male reproductive organs plays a prominent role in the story of salvation through Jesus Christ. Before Parzival embarks on his journey, Wolfram tells of his birth. “He could not be other than fondled and cherished, for he was possessed of the organ of a man” (pg 63). A little later, when Parzival arrives at Gurnemanz’s castle, the women who bathe him would like to see “if something had happened to him down below” (pg 92), but they decide to leave the room in favor of modesty. These references to the male reproductive organs speak to an Abrahamic covenant of eternal posterity. With wounds in these organs, there is no possibility of eternal increase. Typically, this wounding results from sin, lack of care or simply the effects of the Fall of Adam. This covenant of eternal increase, first established with Abraham, cannot be fulfilled as long as the reproductive system is wounded. A kind of wound that cannot be healed by medicine alone, it must be healed by the wounding of another or the true lover, Jesus Christ. Thus, without someone to atone for this wounding, there is no way to overcome it.

The way the wounds are healed is seen through the story of Anfortas, a man wounded in the testicles, who seeks healing per the grail’s instructions. The grail requires that a question be asked in order for Anfortas to receive healing (pg. 130). Parzival, per the counsel of Gurnemanz (pg. 94), does not answer this question and thereby cannot offer healing to Anfortas. This speaks to the role of those who elect to follow God and their crucial role as God’s hands. Parzival, by refusing to ask the question of his fellow man, and offer an extension of help, retards the healing ability of the grail, the symbol of the true lover, to offer true healing to the wounded Anfortas. Parzival slacks his duty as a disciple in imitatio Christi. He takes the advice of Gurnemanz too far, refusing to ask any kind of question that could result in healing or comfort. In Parzival’s attempt to follow the societal rules, he fails to follow a higher, spiritual law. Gurnemanz’s rules about how to act as a knight seem to apply more to a “courteous” level of living rather than the ideal “templeous” (Keele). Those who desire to be redeemers of the men around them, must exhibit an understanding of the higher law of conduct and its implications for all of humanity.

In Parzival’s Christological story, Wolfram explores the implications of the wounding in the token of the Abrahamic covenant and the ultimate necessity for an atonement to be made. In addition to this atonement, however, there must be disciples of Jesus Christ who act as saviors in imitatio Christi in order to make this atonement more fully efficacious on behalf of the fallen race of Adam who desire to have the blessings promised to Abraham. Without these disciples in imitation Christi, the redemption is frustrated and the atonement of Christ cannot be extended as effectively.

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