Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Senna - a life lived on the edge

Saw this film last Friday, chronicling the career of the master Brazilian Formula 1 driver. Ayrton Senna. A name whose stylishness sounds specially crafted for a star. An absorbing tale. There are few things I’d be less likely to watch on TV than an F1 race, but I knew from the reviews that this was a film whose themes transcended its subject matter.
Like so many of the Brazilian football team, Senna’s faith in God was no secret. As his genius propelled him to push car and track to the limit, he expressed the sentiment that such driving brought him closer to God. Easy to scoff, but paralleled by the experience of transcendence reported in other domains of extreme sport and performance – not least, as I recall, by the high wire artist Emmanuel Petit in ‘Man on Wire’. And paralleled in life: pushing beyond normal human limits opens up the possibility of experiencing wisdom, strength and resources from beyond.

Senna had been criticised for supposedly allowing a belief in special divine protection to push him to take excessive risks, but in interview he denied this, saying he was as aware as any driver of the dangers – thus expressing a wise humility: faith doesn’t exempt you from life’s trials and misfortunes, as of course his tragic accident demonstrated. The portrayal of his very human emotions facing the pressures of a top flight sportsman – including the intense and sometimes bitter rivalry with McLaren team-mate Alain Prost – is also very engaging.

A life cut tragically short, aged 34, by a seemingly random freak accident. Had the car part which struck his head been just a few inches away, he’d have survived. As it is, he remains the last fatality in Formula 1. A man of faith… Does it make any sense, when you consider the weight given to prayers for protection among Christians? Such incidents can only be responded to by drawing on some of the faith’s deepest resources, such as the assurance in Romans that all things work together for good, to them that love God. The spirit of the man released from the broken body is ultimately safe with God, while seventeen years on the tragedy has produced a work of art that challenges and engages millions.

9 comments:

Billy said...

Had the car part which struck his head been just a few inches away, he’d have survived.

And if he had survived, no doubt folk would call it a miracle.

And paralleled in life: pushing beyond normal human limits opens up the possibility of experiencing wisdom, strength and resources from beyond.

Got any evidence?

Interestingly, my top 10 rock/ice climber friends are all atheists. Some outspokenly so. We have over 100 climbers in our group. I only know of 2 who are christian and membership is open to anyone (we even have pesky gays, women and both, and let them hold positions of responsibility :-) ).

Both your examples above illustrate christian confirmation bias. Even if the second one was true, it is not universal and you have nothing other than a baseless assertion linking it to your god.

Bruce said...

darn Billy, have I failed to persuade you again? :)

cerebusboy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
cerebusboy said...

Billy -

Impressed that you didn't agree with Bruce's mental assertion and claim that, as a rock climber, you indeed have super-powers! ;-)

Bruce said...

lively contribution as ever Ryan, all I'd say is, since my blog is at the foot of my emails, and also I often link it to fb, I need to remind you, nothing too personal like this please. gracias :)

Billy said...

darn Billy, have I failed to persuade you again? :)

Afraid not Bruce. It's like your god wants me to burn in hell or something :-)

Bruce said...

you mean I haven't failed to persuade you? so I've persuaded you? This is hopeful indeed! :)

Billy said...

Nah, just messing with your head. Was that a moment of confirmation bias regarding prayer? :-)

Bruce said...

not that I'm aware of..:)