Redemption: Fucking Hooray (Spirituality of My Favorite Murder, Theme 4)

It did not take long for the hosts of My Favorite Murder to recognize that while many true crime stories had a moment in which the good triumphed over evil, others had no inherent redemptive qualities. They were just dark. The victims suffered horribly, and the killer got away with it. The capture and conviction of a criminal could at least be lauded for its fundamental justice. The escape of the last would-be victim and the heroism of some characters through bravery or perseverance provide a cause for celebration. When these positive aspects were absent the impulse to add something positive to end with, even if it were completely unrelated to the stories shared, could not be denied.

Eventually, finding something to celebrate or be thankful for became an intentional part of each episode. A name for the segment was needed, and like a nick name that just fit, “fucking hooray” it became. f-ing hooray cross stitchI was halfway through writing this essay on June 14, 2018 when, in the episode for that day, Karen wondered, “Maybe I should make my fucking hooray more spiritual.” What I want to tell you, Karen (and Georgia), is that what you are doing is already a religious discipline: you have committed yourselves to being thankful, to finding the “redemption, to recognizing joy.

Don’t apologize for praising yet another TV show or movie, Karen. Storytelling distinguishes humanity from the rest creation. Many religions fundamentally understand God as a creator, and the Jewish/Christian tradition tells us that we are made in the image of God. I believe that this is true, and that the creative impulse is a fundamental aspect of the image of God in each person. I would argue that this resonates with a biblical understanding of creativity. John 1 might support that argument:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”

Good story telling creates. Using words. It often shines a light on human nature – the good and the bad. Or it provides hope. Or it simply gives us a moment to laugh, to step out of our reality long enough to recharge and be able to avoid being overcome by the darkness in our world. Don’t apologize, Karen. Just recognize that storytelling, in all its forms, has endured because it matters to our being.

As I have alluded to in earlier posts in this series, the Hebrew Scriptures contain stories of violence. There are several points at which God’s people find themselves decimated, enslaved, or alone. But there is the promise of a remnant, the presence of God, and a cause for hope. God’s people are carried through a flood, walk through a deadly sea, make it through a desert, survive captivity… And they make altars and give thanks. In Christianity, Jesus suffers a torturous death and descends to the dead, but he rises again. And Christians, for centuries have gathered to hear the Hebrew and Christian stories, to remember a violent death, and to finally give thanks. Giving thanks is at the root of the word “Eucharist.” For me, the dynamic of MFM is like the dynamics of Jewish and Christian tradition: one delves into dark, scary things, survives violence, witnesses gruesome death, and comes back to present reality, always with the capacity to move forward, finding community and giving thanks in spite of it all. This is spiritual.

And that begs the question: is MFM Religious or Just Spiritual? In my next post about MFM, I’ll end this series by exploring that question.

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