Ryan J. Jack McDermott on How Jesus Makes You Young Again
I woke to an epiphany in the middle of the night. I had been dreaming of Michael Jordan on the Wheaties box, coupled with the slogan, “Be like Mike.” When I came out of the dream, I saw, as in a vision, that part of the Gatorade commercial where Jordan tilts his head back to slug a bottle as his body turns into a silhouette, and the yellow and orange electrolytes swim down to his toes, and I thought: Gregory of Nyssa!
The “Be like Mike” campaign is proof that the patristic doctrine of deification—of deep and intimate union with Christ—was never forgotten, just culturally transposed. The Gatorade commercial could just as easily have illustrated Gregory of Nyssa’s explanation of how the body actually metabolizes the Eucharist to make the flesh incorruptible as it participates in Christ’s divinity. While many Christians may need retraining to think in terms of union with Christ, of bodily sanctification, of physical imitatio Christi and Eucharistic reconstitution of the body, analogous cultural apotheoses obsess secular culture.
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Ryan J. Jack McDermott is a doctoral student in English literature at the University of Virginia. He, his wife Darrah, and their first child, Augustine (born in April) are Episcopalians.
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