Apostles’ Creed 2 | Jesus Joins Us In Bruges

A few years ago, Nadia Marais, Curtis Love, Shaun Darker, and I, read the Apostles’ Creed from four perspectives. This post contains some new thoughts on the Book of Common Thought.

2. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.

In Bruges, tells of Ray and Ken, two hitmen stuck in the Belgium town after a hit involved a child’s accidental killing. Bruges is one of the best-preserved Medieval towns in Europe. In this ethereal, antiquated space the death-dealers await instructions from their boss, Harry. In the meanwhile, Ken, Ray’s mentor, relishes the rich cultural, spiritual milieu. Ken coaxes Ray into religious significance spaces.

Ray, a slight milquetoast,  burdens the accidental kid-killing. Patronising sacred places aggravates the rookies’ despair. After visiting the Church of the Holy Blood, the pair sits on a bench over a river. A short, yet poignant discussion about Ray’s contrition follows. The duo touches on the residue of Catholic guilt, human power, and mortality. This talk sends Ray into a despair free-fall.

Ray and Ken play stand-ins for the liminality implied by Bruges as setting. They are in-between life and death. Ken plays spirituality and Ray jests carnality. Yet, as the film progresses the ethereal and profane come closer. During the bench discussion, Ray summarises the plot’s dark comical fulcrum:

Because of me, a little kid isn’t here anymore…I mean in the worldnot in Bruges.”

Liminality makes the film an interesting starting point for discussing the Apostles’ Creed’s second article. Is modern life’s incessant busyness not a cover for humanity’s nescient vacillation between the spiritual and profane? Such fluctuation is nothing new. How the ideologies of rapidity and progress cover this instability is, however, novel. Only when we join Ray and Ken in Bruges, a place devoid of progress and speed, is the brittleness of our lives mirrored. We are stuck between life and death, spiritual and profane, and woefully unaware. The film is humorous because it mirrors our subliminal absurdity; I mean in the world, not in Bruges, to play with Ray’s adage.

The contingent texture of being human is why the second article of the Apostles’ Creed remains interesting. As you may know, the standard story goes that unlike the Ante-Nicene Creed, the Apostles’ Creed had more organic beginnings as a baptismal creed. Its practical, visceral birth thus circumscribes its message.

In baptism, one joins not only the journey of Jesus through death, but also is inducted into his living body. We are joined, through washing, to a new master, lord, or headYet, this master, Jesus, is one who lives our limbo, being both spiritual and carnal. And all theological error, as Karl Barth commented, is overemphesising either the spiritual or the carnal. These errors pertain, then, not only to Christ, but also to humans.  In a sense, then, Jesus joins us in Bruges.

 

Author Details

Calvyn du Toit

Calvyn C. du Toit is a PhD-candidate in Christian Spirituality at the University of South Africa (UNISA), and a Research Associated in the Department of Christian Dogmatics and Ethics at the University of Pretoria. He lives in New York City, where he is h(o)us(e)band to Christine, and 6PM Music Director at the Church of the Holy Trinity (Episcopal).

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