I started watching The Game of Thrones HBO series a few months ago. It’s violent, mythical, full of sexual content, intriguing, mysterious and full of war. Someone told me that the first episode, first scene, is the most violent but if you can get past that then the story and characters draw you in. Well, I got past the first scene and yes, it was indeed violent and gruesome, and you may be wondering then, ‘Why did I continue to watch the show?’ Good question. I got drawn into the story, this game of thrones in which various members of different ‘households and kings from various lands’ are all vying for the ultimate throne – ruler over the 7 kingdoms (I think). It’s both fantasy and science fiction which I’m not usually a huge fan of – although I loved reading Lord of the Rings as a teenager and enjoyed the movies. After watching an episode last week though, I had terrible dreams. The kind of dreams that are sort of nightmarish, gruesome, wake you up in a sweat – disturbing dreams. I’ve decided to stop watching the show. It’s violence and sexual content are bothering my psyche.
You may be wondering what any of this has to do with the Christmas season. I was pondering the following phrase this morning as various faith communities around the world light the second candle of the Advent season: the Peace candle.
“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, there will be true peace.” Sufi Wisdom
The Game of Thrones is all about the love of power and who wants to be the ultimate ruler. I realize that it’s a fictional story and fictional setting etc but it plays out a common human theme: this love of power. I don’t have a Masters in History or Theology but it struck me that the Christmas story is simply about that as well. The context of the birth of Jesus was all about power. King Herod, who was ruler of the land at that time violently murdered babies who had been born around the time of Jesus as he felt threatened by what was being said: “That a new king was born who would rule”.
What if we were truly able to live in peace? What would that look like, feel like? What would it mean to overcome the love of power? How do I daily practice, in small and ordinary ways, love and peace? This is what I ask myself. It may mean realizing within myself and my immediate family what ‘power plays’ I may use to maintain control or feel like I’m in control. How can I practice loving both myself and others?
May you be able to practice peace this season in whatever simple, ordinary and practical ways work for you.