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Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Chris Hemsworth’s Limitless Highlights the Great thing about the Incarnation

Infinity is God’s enterprise, not ours. Which is why Chris Hemsworth is the right topic for the Nationwide Geographic sequence Limitless. Our minds instantly affiliate Hemsworth with Thor, god of thunder and ruler of Asgard, who is comparatively immortal and invincible in comparison with us common, transitory people. To look at Limitless, then, is to look at the thunder god grow to be human and battle towards the constraints of his humanity, bodily, psychological, and emotional. All through the six-episode sequence, Hemsworth is on a quest to transcend his humanity by finishing challenges, that are crafted and shot to look extra Marvel than mundane, that push his physique and thoughts past his (and our) perceived limitations.

At first, Limitless is equal elements well being class documentary, coaching montage, and excuse to movie Chris Hemsworth shirtless. However because the sequence progresses, one thing deeper emerges that I used to be not anticipating: meditations on getting old and dying. Hemsworth’s acknowledged aim is to stay an extended, wholesome life, to have the ability to play along with his grandchildren for so long as doable. However the darkish aspect of a quest for longevity is the fact that an extended life nonetheless ends.

In one of many sequence’ extra emotional scenes, Hemsworth finds out about his genetic predisposition for Alzheimer’s and we watch him course of the potential for his future decline and dying. We don’t usually take into account it, however even the oldest trendy people nonetheless die lengthy earlier than many turtles, timber, homes, and cans of Coca-Cola. Demise is the ultimate restrict that can’t be breached, the occasion horizon past which we can’t move after which return. It looms for every of us far within the distance, however by no means far sufficient.

That is the paradox of Limitless and of life: we wish to have a good time getting old and, sure, even dying, however we additionally worry each and attempt to stave them off as a lot as doable.

I’ve thought rather a lot about my Nana since she died after a downturn by way of two years of COVID isolation. My youngsters by no means knew my Nana the best way I knew her, because the forty-year volleyball coach who swam seventy laps within the faculty pool on her seventieth birthday. They solely noticed her after we visited her within the nursing house, the place at first she walked slowly and sat whereas we did puzzles within the frequent room, after which she wanted the assistance of a walker, after which we might solely see her by way of the window of her room or a make-shift wall of plexiglass with floppy armholes for sanitized hugging.

A number of months earlier than she died, we visited Nana after the house lastly reopened, and he or she didn’t acknowledge us in any respect. As a substitute, she charged across the room whereas we tried to persuade her to sit down and discuss with us. Not lengthy after, my mother flew in to say goodbye and he or she and my aunt sat for hours with Nana, who breathed quietly till she didn’t breathe anymore. It was lovely, and it was horrible. Whereas I’m pleased that my oldest youngsters will bear in mind their great-grandmother, I want they might bear in mind her the best way I do, educating me methods to serve a volleyball, strolling with me on the golf course, and taking me to Dairy Queen.

That is the paradox of Limitless and of life: we wish to have a good time getting old and, sure, even dying, however we additionally worry each and attempt to stave them off as a lot as doable. And so myths concerning the fountain of youth persist, solely now, they’ve mutated right into a growth of well being documentaries, fringe-science food regimen books, and, for the proper worth, unusual experiments like blood transfusions along with your son. Any science fiction author can see the folly in attempting to keep away from dying in any respect prices, in attempting to avoid the pure order of issues.

Demise is a reality of life. The earlier accepted, the simpler it’s to benefit from our restricted time. Because the Psalmist writes, “Train us to quantity our days that we might get a coronary heart of knowledge” (Psalm 90:12). Even so, we should acknowledge that it’s not dying or the decay of our our bodies that deserves celebration, however quite, our response to them. As with a sonnet or haiku, the restrictions spotlight the sweetness. A lot creativity can slot in so small a poem… and so small a life. Getting older turns into lovely as a result of annually, every new scar or line is proof of life, and life is gorgeous.

Within the Limitless finale, Hemsworth lives for 3 days in an elaborately staged nursing house and practices his personal dying. His information for the episode, a palliative care physician and speaker named BJ Miller, says, “We are likely to deal with life as this proper that we have now. And that by advantage of being born, we have now a proper to life, we have now a proper to a tomorrow. No. Life is a present. One other day is a present. A full life is one that features dying, consists of ache.” Miller reframes dying as a part of the reward of life.

Life is actually a present within the Christian story, however dying is a curse. Athanasius’ well-known treatise On the Incarnation offers with the complexity of this subject. He writes that people are logically mortal, and since they have been created from nothing, they naturally may have a tendency again towards nothingness. All created issues, aside from God’s sustaining energy, are finite. But it surely was by no means the intention of God for humanity to move away, for we have been created within the picture of God, and being in relationship with the everlasting One, we obtain the overflow of his immortality. However sin has now marred that picture, damaged the movement of eternity, and returned us to corruptibility. We should endure a quick eighty-year slide into non-being and, on the finish, Demise all the time guidelines like a dictator. Mud to mud.

After all, Athanasius argues, God couldn’t enable this to occur to his creation. Due to this fact, he despatched Jesus, the incorruptible Phrase, to placed on a corruptible human physique, severely restricted and topic to getting old and dying, in an effort to rewrite the story. Athanasius goes on to clarify it this manner:

For being above all, the Phrase of God consequently, by providing his personal temple and his bodily instrument as an alternative choice to all, fulfilled in dying that which was required; and, being with all by way of the like physique, the incorruptible Son of God consequently clothed all with incorruptibility within the promise regarding the resurrection. And now the very corruption of dying not holds floor towards human beings due to the indwelling Phrase, in them by way of the one physique.

The incarnation and crucifixion of God are essentially the most surprising doctrines in Christianity. A God with limits; a God who dies. To aim an in depth rationalization of such issues is to tiptoe the strains of heresy. But, in addition they include the sweetness and wondrous thriller of the Christian story. God in Jesus entered into even essentially the most disgraceful, terrible elements of our humanity and granted the divine dignity to humanness, even to our bodies that break down and hearts that cease beating and lungs that cease respiratory, to not stay in dying, however quite, to defeat it, upend it, and transcend it by way of resurrection.

My teenage son and I watched Limitless collectively. He was engaged by the humor, fascinated by the science, and thrilled by the spectacle. He was much less fascinated by accepting his inevitable dying. After we are younger, all of us consider life is everlasting. The tower of years earlier than us is so tall that it appears to achieve heaven itself. But it’s solely by way of acknowledging and appreciating our finitude that Christ’s incarnation turns into significant.

An early Christian poem, recorded by Paul, tells us that Jesus emptied himself to grow to be human. Students debate the which means of this time period, to empty, but it surely should be a way through which Jesus allowed himself to grow to be restricted, to grow to be like a human and die like a human, and never even a noble dying on the finish of an extended life, however as a substitute, an early, ignominious dying. The crucifixion is a reminder that every one dying is early and ignominious, for God created humanity in view of the tree of life and “put eternity into man’s coronary heart.”

It was solely God in Jesus, like us in finite kind, who might set us free from the boundaries of our corruptible our bodies. We will now stay within the paradox of the incarnation: accepting and receiving the variety of our days as a present and, when the time comes, placing our hope in a resurrected God who tells us that there are extra items to return past the boundaries of what we will think about.

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