dead to me

{  s i l v e r  }

Dead to Me
• Or, What a Classic Mafia Movie & the New Testament Have in Common •


Dead to me. The phrase sounds like something from the Godfather.

But it’s in the Bible too.

Well, sort of.

In Galatians 2:20 Paul talks about being “crucified with Christ,” a snippet of Scripture that probably sounds familiar to many Christians and seems to be used primarily to emphasize a believer’s alignment with Christ and His redeeming death and resurrection.

But Paul also mentions another kind of “being crucified”–a crucifixion of the world, as stated in Galatians 6:14:

“…the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me…”

Could be that Paul, much like the Godfather—albeit in a more eloquent, Romanesque kind of way—was saying to the world, you’re dead to me?

It seems so.

The phrase “dead to me” typically implies a break in relationship—and not just any relationship but a strong one, like with a close friend or family member. Which is why saying “You’re dead to me” can be so powerful—and so hurtful.

For example, in the scene from the Godfather II when Michael disowns his brother, essentially declaring Fredo dead to him, what Michael is really saying is that he no longer recognizes Fredo as a brother and will no longer treat him as such.* Therefore, Fredo will no longer receive the protection, financial benefit, or personal access to Michael that he used to have just by being a brother. As far as Michael is concerned, Fredo does not exist.

So when Paul says that the world has been crucified to him—that the world is dead to him—he is saying that he no longer acknowledges the relationship he formerly had with the world. Therefore, he is no longer going to act like the world still has a claim to him, still has rights to him. He will no longer act upon the pull and the sway of his former ties to the world. Those ties have broken.

Paul is basically saying that when it comes to him and world, there are no strings attached. The world is nothing to him.

We might find it helpful to consider this type of broken relationship in terms of a childhood game, as a cosmic version of the silent game.

Let’s say that in this version of the silent game, Bobby is not supposed to speak or react to Sally or join in any of Sally’s antics. Bobby is just supposed to stay still and quiet. Sally, meanwhile, is allowed to speak to Bobby and do any number of harmless things to try to get Bobby to break his silence.

At first Bobby finds it easy to ignore Sally. He is thinking of winning the game, of sticking to his resolve, maybe even of proving himself to be better, smarter, and stronger than Sally.

Sally, meanwhile, finds it a fun sort of game and eases in the competition, with light joking and silly faces. After a few minutes Sally sees her strategy is not working, so she takes a more aggressive approach and begins to make fun of Bobby, mocking him and reminding him of foolish things he had in the past. (If Bobby and Sally are siblings, this method would probably come quite naturally to them.)

Now Bobby is finding it a bit more difficult not only to ignore Sally but to remain silent, to not defend himself, to not get angry to the point of lashing out. But he doubles his efforts, working hard to keep calm and carry on. Even when Sally begins to makes threats and offer bribes, Bobby is able to maintain his composure.

So Sally changes her strategy again: This time she just ignores Bobby. She goes on with her day—playing games, chatting with friends, eating snacks—all in full view of Bobby, who from his post can see and hear everything but is not allowed to participate.

At first Bobby finds it easy to sit by while Sally goes about her day and leaves him alone: He doesn’t have work to control his flashes of temper or exercise the willpower to hold his tongue. But after a while, this strategy takes its toll.

Has Sally forgotten him? Forgotten about the game? Were the two of them even still playing the game at all? If he got up or spoke now, would he still lose?

When she was making fun of him, even when she was insulting him, at least she was paying him attention. He could withstand the taunts; he could even take pride in being strong enough to hold up under the threats and congratulate himself on refusing to take a bribe. He could find satisfaction in taking the high road, in not stooping to Sally’s level, in sticking to his guns.

But to be forgotten? To be left out?

That was a different matter. Now he was missing out. Just sitting by himself, not having fun times with friends, not having tasty treats, not having pleasant conversations. And Sally–Well, how could she go on and have fun without him?

What about him?

Did he succeed in winning the game only to be forgotten? Only to deprive himself of greater pleasure elsewhere?

Was the game worth the sacrifice?

to be continued…

part two • overcoming the world
{ in which a cross is boasted }

& then some…

* Technically, Al Pacino tells his brother Fredo, “You are nothing to me.” Which is pretty much the same thing as saying “You’re dead to me.”

unless otherwise noted * graphics, photographs, text © 2017 hilary hall


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