Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Zombies and Jesus

Every so often, it rises. It shambles, groaning, across the Internet—haunting sites and stalking through comments and fostering half-formed memes, always on the prowl for another unsuspecting web denizen to bite.

The concept of Zombie Jesus is a hard one to put to rest.

In some ways, Zombie Jesus is akin to the ol' Flying Spaghetti Monster. Just as the Spaghetti Monster (central deity for Pastafarianism) was designed to lampoon a belief in God, Zombie Jesus is intended to mock the idea of Easter. And while the meme isn't nearly as popular as, say, Tebowing, Zombie Jesus boasts several websites, a short movie, a Facebook page and a T-shirt business.

But unlike the Flying Spaghetti Monster, which is just pretty silly and slapdash, Zombie Jesus has some, er, teeth. Adherents to "Zombie Jesus Day" note that Christ, in true George Romero fashion, crawled out of his tomb. They'll toss out Jesus' own words from John: "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6:53)

The parallels are so obvious that even some Christians  have begun, in a different sort of way, to play along. Clay Morgan in his book Undead: Revived, Resuscitated, Reborn, draws some interesting parallels between faith and the pop culture zombies and vampires we know so well. A series of essays called The Undead and Theology has just made its way to Amazon’s massive shelves. And then there’s Jeff Cook, contributing to Scot McKnight’s stellar Jesus Creed blog:

He came back to life after his death. He is chasing all human beings everywhere. Once he gets hold of people, his blood changes them and they in turn seek to change others.
Could it be more clear? Jesus was a Zombie.

Now before we go too far along these lines, it’s important to note that Cook, like most Christians who start walking down this Walking Dead road, tells us that Jesus offers real life: It’s those without Him that are the real zombies.

I totally get that—though I don’t want to take the metaphor too far, lest non-Christians begin to fear we might start stalking them like we were Will Smith in I Am Legend.

But what I want to talk about tonight is a little less deep—but maybe in rhythm with a Halloween blog post.

The picture that the most irreverent Zombie Jesus fans paint is, perhaps, closer to how the Easter story struck ancient Palestine than the beautiful story we know it to be today: For the Romans and Jews who were around back then, Jesus’ death and resurrection must’ve felt like a bad horror flick (had they been watching horror flicks back then).

From what I’ve read, being crucified was about the worst imaginable way to die for turn-of-the-first-millennia people. The entire process was designed to strip every last bit of dignity from the victim. They were executed completely naked, their arms stretched wide in the most vulnerable position imaginable. Those being crucified lost control of every bit of their bodies before it was over. It was horrific and humiliating—so much so that it was rarely spoken of by the ancient Romans, at least not in great detail (or so I’ve read). As for the resurrection itself—well, I don’t think the ancient Jews or Romans had a concept of zombies, but any sort of physical resurrection would’ve been out of kilter for not just everyday life, but for the theological theories of the day. Many pagans believed in life after death, but most assumed it would be a simply spiritual life—free from the chains of the physical body. The idea that Jesus would’ve been bodily risen felt, to them, a bit of an afterlife cheat.

As such, Jesus’ resurrection story would seem ripe for vicious lampooning. Would a god really choose such an ignoble way to die, and be resurrected in such a gauche form? It was as preposterous as—well, Zombie Jesus.

And yet, the belief in Jesus’ resurrection survived and thrived. It was as if the early Christians heard the mockery and simply smiled, secure in their faith. How could they be so unfazed by all the taunts, so immune?

It seems to me the most sensible answer is also the simplest. What they believed—no matter how ludicrous it sounded to contemporaries—was true.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Psycho: Mommy Issues

Psycho: 1960
Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Starring: Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, John Gavin, Janet Leigh, Martin Balsam
Rank, American Film Institute: No. 14

Hey, everybody loves their mother. Or, at least, almost everybody. But sometimes that love can make you a little crazy.

Take poor ol’ Norman Bates of Psycho. He and his mother were, shall we say, inseparable. As Psycho comes to a close, we learn from the narrating psychologist that, even before things got really out of hand up there in that creepy old house, the two of ‘em were as close as a pair of balled-up socks. But then one day, Norman’s mother (who had been widowed years earlier) meets a nice guy who just might be the next Mr. Bates (so to speak) and Norman’s new dad. But Norman’s grown so comfy with just he and his mom that the last thing he wants is another guy horning it. He kills both Mom and beau, keeping dear old Mother around for the next several years. And to fill in the natural lulls in conversation that comes from having a corpse as a housemate, Norman takes on her persona, too.

“He began to think and speak for her, give her half his time, so to speak,” the shrink in Psycho says. “At times he could be both personalities, carry on conversations. At other times, the mother half took over completely.”

And, just like Norman, his “mother” grows insanely jealous if Norman shows any interest in another woman. Hence, Janet Leigh meets Norman’s mother—and her untimely demise—in the shower.

Now, the murderous jealousy we see in Psycho doesn’t seem like it’d be a great spiritual teaching tool, but I still think we can learn something from this Hitchcock classic.

Some of Christianity’s critics imagine our faith as being something like the relationship between Norman and his mom: We’re like Norman (they’d say)—desperately holding onto this idea of God, even though the concept is as shriveled as that body in the fruit cellar. Our imaginary “mother”—God—berates and chastises us from the folds of our own brain, demanding unreasonable, sickening devotion. If these critics know their Bible at all, they might point to the Ten Commandments for backup: “Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” (Exodus 34:14)

And thanks to Hitchcock, we know how unhealthy jealousy can be.

But there’s an important distinction to draw between the unhinged jealousy of Psycho and our jealous God. And it springs from the two emotional bedrocks of jealousy: love and fear.

Back when Wendy, my wife-to-be, and I were first dating, I was a pretty jealous boyfriend. She had broken up with someone not too long before, and (being an insecure dweeb) I was pretty sure that one of these days, she’d realize I was a big geek and go back to her ex. Thankfully, he lived a good 300 miles away, so I wasn’t worried about them kissing in the biology building … but my insecurities bled into other areas. I saw threats in other guys. I moped if she wanted to spend an evening with friends. I pined for her when she was in class. I was completely unreasonable, of course, and I knew it: But I couldn’t rein my jealousy in.

Now, I wasn’t about to go all Norman Bates on anyone, but it was horribly unhealthy. I was miserable. I made my girlfriend miserable. I made most of our friends miserable. For a few months, I carried my jealousy like Typhoid Mary and spread misery wherever I went.

Thankfully, Wendy was patient with me (more patient than I had a right to expect) and I eventually got over my insane jealousy. Now, 24 years later, I don’t worry about Wendy leaving me for someone else: For one, it’d be too much of a pain, separating out all of our books. But for another, I’m secure in the fact that she loves me.

When I was dating my wife-to-be, my jealousy was based not in love, really, but in fear: Fear of losing someone precious to me, fear of not being “enough.” And when we listen to Norman’s conversations with his “mother,” we realize that that’s entirely what his jealousy consists of: fear. Any real love vanished long ago.

But God’s jealousy can’t be based on fear—not if what we understand of God is true. It’s not like He’d be insecure—that we might realize that creating the universe and all isn’t that big of a deal. There is literally nothing in this world that could frighten Him.

No, He’s jealous because He loves us that much. He loves us as if we were made for Him—which, I guess, we were.

It’s pretty stunning, when you think about it in those terms: Imagine the folks we love most in this world—our spouses, our parents, our children—and that barely tickles the affection that God feels for us: Not us collectively (which I can get my head around a bit easier), but us individually. He wants to listen to our boring stories and tolerates our poor taste in music—listening patiently to our Neil Diamond even though His angels sound waaaay better. If He had us over for dinner, we’d be the guests of honor and the rest of creation would have to sit at the kids’ table.

When you listen to Norman’s “mother” talk to him, you can hear the jealousy and selfishness in the voice: “I won't have you bringing some young girl in for supper!” She rails. “Go on, go tell her she'll not be appeasing her ugly appetite with my food, or my son! Or do I have tell her because you don't have the guts!” For Mother, it’s all about her—there is room for no one else.

But in God’s generous jealousy, there is room for all of creation. We’re encouraged to appreciate this world of ours and love the people in it. In a way, the more we love others, the more we love Him. He just asks us to not forget where it all came from—to understand the source of love itself. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Heaven's Gate

I have trouble with heaven.

It’s not that I don’t want to go there. I very much do. I just have a hard time envisioning where “there” is, and what we’ll be doing once we get there. Will there be football? Hamburgers? Hiking trails? Are the streets really paved in gold? Do we get to pick what age we’ll be? What if there are people I don’t like there? Do I have to hang out with them?

Yes, yes, I know. These are all horribly superficial questions. Folks who know loads more about such matters have tried to tell me that all those concerns are superfluous; that heaven is indescribably better than any joy or pleasure we might know down here.

But that’s part of the problem, isn’t it? There’s nothing to compare heaven to, which leaves its nature frustratingly unimaginable. The harp-and-halo trope seems a bit too cartoonish. The biblical version of heaven, taken literally, can read like a monotonous fever dream. (Let’s be honest: Does an eternity of singing praises with multi-winged, many-eyed angels sound like “heaven?” I feel awful for saying this … I’m sure there are those who feel that’s exactly how they’d like to spend eternity, and I truly respect them for that. But part of me thinks heaven should include a quiet nap on the couch.)

And then there are those moments—dark moments—when the very concept of heaven seems just too good to be true. Intellectually, we can piece together a case for an all-powerful, loving God. We’ve been given evidence to validate Jesus Christ and His claims. But my brain can’t wrap itself around the concept of eternity and everlasting joy. My mortal self can’t grasp it. When it comes to finding such eternal truths, our gray matter can take us only so far. To get the rest of the way requires faith and trust: We stop trying to feel our way through the dark and instead grasp the hand of the One who made us, counting on Him to lead us the rest of the way.

Still, my brain can’t help but flail around in the darkness every once in a while, clawing for some additional evidence. And as such, I’m always interested to hear the stories of people who say they’ve gone to heaven. And I was particularly interested in hearing what Dr. Eben Alexander had to say.

In his article for Newsweek (and his book Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife), Eben, a neuroscientist, chronicles his weeklong trip through the pearly gates when a critical part of his brain was, as he says, “inactivated.” In Newsweek, Eben writes:

There is no scientific explanation for the fact that while my body lay in coma, my mind—my conscious, inner self—was alive and well. While the neurons of my cortex were stunned to complete inactivity by the bacteria that had attacked them, my brain-free consciousness journeyed to another, larger dimension of the universe: a dimension I’d never dreamed existed and which the old, pre-coma me would have been more than happy to explain was a simple impossibility.
 But that dimension—in rough outline, the same one described by countless subjects of near-death experiences and other mystical states—is there. It exists, and what I saw and learned there has placed me quite literally in a new world: a world where we are much more than our brains and bodies, and where death is not the end of consciousness but rather a chapter in a vast, and incalculably positive, journey.

Eben is a Christian, and was before he ever fell into his coma. But before his experience, he was a Christian largely in name, he says—professing envy for those who had stronger faith in God and the afterlife than he had. Now, he’s one of the envied. Because he knows a thing or two about the brain, Eben says there’s no way that he can chalk his experiences up to hallucination or some weird memory hiccup. The part of the brain that made him human was, he says, as good as dead. And yet, there he was—alive and observing a wonderful world full of strange creatures and indescribable beauty and love. Eternal love.

Eben’s so convinced of his experiences that he says he’s going to spend the rest of his natural life discussing, and finding better proof, of the one that comes after.

And that doesn’t sit well among those who believe this is all there is.

Daniel Engber of Slate dedicated a hefty article (“Heaven Help Us”) to critiquing and ridiculing Eben’s experience. He allows that Eben is a neuroscientist, but Engber tells us that Eben’s experience is as a surgeon: He knows how to fix the brain, but that doesn’t mean he knows how it works. (Which, to me, feels a bit like expecting a plumber to be able to fix your kitchen sink without knowing where the hot and cold water comes from). Eben’s faith makes his claims further suspect in Engber’s eyes. He rejects the notion that Eben might’ve been struggling with aspects of faith before the coma. “He was just like you and me, you see [Daniel presumes the “you” here is a skeptic], at least until he fell into a coma—and flew into the sky, and entered the mind of an earthworm, was forced to reconsider all his Harvard science skepticism about the loving Lord above.”

Engber suggests that Eber’s brain wasn’t really as damaged as he claimed, and that whatever experiences the neurosurgeon had were augmented by stray memory fragments, his belief system and some lingering, post-coma psychosis. It’s a rant with little real cohesion—something that true believers of any faith might write when they find a fondly held belief challenged.

But really, that’s all he can do. Engber, nor anyone else, cannot disprove what Eben experienced. Nor, in spite of the title of his book, is Eben’s experience absolute, incontrovertible proof that heaven exists. He could be lying. His brain could’ve been more functional than what he was led to believe. Engber, however frustrated his writing might appear, could be right.

But when you think about it, most of what we know (or think we know) is based on very similar evidences. There’s a great deal we take on trust.

Say John and Jane Malaprop invite you over so they can tell you all about their vacation to Key West. They show you their pictures and give you a cheap souvenir T-shirt and tell you about the time when Jane nearly fell off a pier (“Hoo boy, did the skipper laugh!”). Does any of that prove they went to Key West? Of course not: They could’ve made up the stories, photoshopped the pictures and bought the souvenir off eBay. Does the fact the Malaprops say they went to Key West even prove the place exists at all? Of course not. They could’ve just made the whole place up. The fact that it’s on maps and in history books and lots of people have said they’ve been there just means it could be some sort of global conspiracy or a bit of collective insanity (much as some atheists insist that religion itself is). Unless we’ve been there ourselves, we base our understanding of what Key West is through the evidence of others.

I can’t say that, after reading Eben’s account, I have a great understanding of what heaven will be like. It is still too glorious for words. But if he says that he’s been there and that it’s a great place—way better than Key West could ever be—I’m inclined to believe him. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Truth, sensitivity and Dinesh D'Souza

For the last several days, a sizable subsection of Christian America has been all a-flutter with the news that Dinesh D’Souza—well-known apologist, former president of King’s College and maker of the film 2016: Obama’s America—was hanging out at an apologetics conference with a woman who wasn’t his wife.

Now in the secular world, perhaps, this wouldn’t create much of a ripple. But it was a pretty big deal for lots of folks who label themselves as conservative evangelicals, the very folks to whom D’Souza preaches and sells books. And so perhaps it wasn’t all that surprising that D’Souza, whom I gather is not a man to shy away from a fight, reacted more as a shocked victim than a shamed instigator. In a post on his website, he lashed out at World magazine (the publication that “uncovered” the alleged liaison) declaring that the magazine’s editor had it out for him due to a falling out when they were both briefly at King’s College. He wrote:

Ultimately this is not just about [World editor Marvin] Olasky or even World magazine. It is also about how we Christians are supposed to behave with one another. And the secular world is watching. Is this how we love and treat fellow believers? If my conduct was improper, wouldn’t it be the decent and charitable thing to approach me about it? Instead, here is a clear attempt to destroy my career and my ministry. This is viciousness masquerading as righteousness. And this is the behavior that is truly worthy of Christian condemnation.

I understand D’Souza’s point, I suppose. As Christians, we are given a model of how we are to deal with behavior and misbehavior in the Church (Matthew 18: 15-17 and Galatians 6:1, for starters), and publishing a damaging story via mass media is never mentioned. (Then again, some might argue that D’Souza’s 2016 takedown of President Obama, who’s also a Christian, might well fall under the same criteria.)

But I wonder whether the media, even the Christian media, falls under a different set of rules.

When I was covering religion for The Gazette in Colorado Springs, I covered my fair share of Christian scandal: sex, embezzlement, hypocrisy, you name it. And honestly, I hated covering some of those stories. I liked some of the people I had to write about, and I knew what I wrote was hurtful to both the subject and his flock. A time or two, people who knew that I was a Christian called me and asked me not to print a something, telling me the story wouldn't  just hurt their church, but hurt the Church.

But as much as I wanted, at times, to shut my eyes, there was no way I could. I had a responsibility—not just to the newspaper that paid me or to the readers who trusted me, but to the Church itself, even in the midst of its own potential hurt and heartache. Thou shalt not lie, the Commandment says. And journalists are tasked to tell the truth—to follow the story, wherever it might lead. No one ever said the Christian walk was easy.

The Bible itself is, in many ways, a great example of journalistic integrity. Most of the characters we meet in its pages aren’t perfect. We find them up to their armpits in questionable behavior. It would’ve been easy for the Bible’s authors, or editors long after, to edit out some of those uncomfortable truths we find. But they didn’t. The authors wrote what they saw and heard. Many of the writers themselves were deeply flawed. But as a result of their honesty, the Christian faith is given a greater complexity, poignancy and reality than it would have otherwise.

Karen Swallow Prior, writing for Christianity Today’s blog Her.meneutics (one of the most consistently insightful Christian blogs you’ll find anywhere) offered some pretty brilliant thoughts on D’Souza’s alleged actions and World’s coverage of those actions. Perhaps the folks behind World magazine aren’t perfect, she allows. In fact, it’s pretty much a guarantee they’re not. But does that somehow then mitigate D’Souza’s own alleged wrongdoing? “For if the validity of a message hinges on the messenger’s moral character,” she writes, “then D’Souza’s entire career falls with this recent news.”

She goes on:

But, fortunately, it is not the case that the truth of the message depends entirely upon the messenger. Indeed, if hypocrisy consists of failing to live up to one’s professed standards, only those who deny any absolute, universal standards are safe from the charge of hypocrisy. (And even these inevitably run up against something they absolutely believe in.) The fact is that in every case—except One—truth is proclaimed by imperfect messengers. Therefore, it is essential when facing disappointment in fallen leaders to remember that, despite its fragile vessels, truth is greater than those who proclaim it. This is what it means to say that truth is objective, that it lies outside ourselves, that truth is not subjective, or found within. The truth of something is not, thankfully, dependent upon the character of the bearer of that truth.

The poet John Keats once wrote that, “’Beauty is truth, truth beauty’--that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.” He was wrong, of course: Temporal beauty has very little to do with truth, and we know that a great many truths are quite ugly.

And yet, in the grand tradition of Christian paradox, there is a beauty in the ugliest truths, too. The truth, absolute and pure, does lie outside ourselves, as Swallow Prior writes—outside our ability to twist it and corrupt it and spin it how we like. Truth lies in a more hallowed place. And as such, it is beautiful indeed.

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Trademark Win for Tebow

Ah, Tim Tebow. Your skills may be buried on the bench of the 3-4 New York Jets. You may have had precious little opportunity to craft one of those classic come-from-behind wins that made us all like you so much here in Colorado. But that said, you can still lay claim to one important personal victory this year: As of Oct. 9, you now own the trademark for Tebowing.

Tebowing, as you probably remember, took the country by storm in October and November last year, when everybody took a knee and bowed their head in apparent prayer in mimicry of the pious quarterback, then leading the (my) Denver Broncos. For Tebow, the prayer was quite sincere. For some others—well, it was fun.

You’d think that Tebowing, given the fact that it was popular several thousand Internet memes ago, would be a dead issue—the pose having gone the way of “planking” or “owling” or “spelunking” (I just made that last one up I think.) But the site that created the term ( is still alive and well (check out the site’s Top 10), and the name and pose are still immediately recognizable by most of us, even with poor Timmy riding the pine.

And as such, Tebow’s newly minted trademark has some folks a wee bit concerned. Writes Julia Goralka of The Washington Times:

If Tebow can trademark the pose of praying with his fist on his forehead, can the Catholic church trademark the “praying hands” pose? If Muslims trademark the traditional poses that coincide with their daily prayer obligations, the yoga instructor at your local gym may be in trouble. Is the term “Buddha belly” indicative of religious affiliation or beer consumption? Or in our case, just a chubby baby?

She kids. Sort of. But it is a provocative question. And it’s one I might be a bit more concerned about if the trademark was owned by Richard Dawkins or Hugh Hefner. Tebow says he didn’t buy the trademark to make money: He just wanted to make sure that the term and pose didn’t fall into the wrong hands. And indeed, a wayward Tebowing pose is indeed a terrible thing to behold.

And it’s not as if some off-kilter things haven’t been trademarked before in the world of sports. As The Christian Science Monitor reports, everything from “Linsanity” (popularized and owned by former New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin) to the phrase, “That’s a clown question, bro” (registered by Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper) have been trademarked. And then there’s my favorite: “Don’t fear the brow,” trademarked by the famously unibrowed center Anthony Davis. And even though I’ve just used all of those phrases in this very blog, I am not anticipating any royalties to Lin or Harper or Davis. Freedom of speech is still freedom of speech—as long as you’re not slapping slogans on sweatshirts and selling them for $40 a pop.

So for those who are inclined to do a little bit of Tebowing—for the cameras, or with your friends, or even if you do it in the privacy of your own home and simply call it “praying,” have no fear. I think you’re in the clear.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Citizen Kane: Rosebud Was His Vacuum

Citizen Kane, 1941
Directed by: Orson Welles
Starring: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotton, Dorothy Comingore, Agnes Moorehead
Rank, American Film Institute: No. 1


Thanks to Lucy Van Pelt, I wasn’t too surprised to actually see the object of Charles Foster Kane’s lifelong affection. I learned what “Rosebud” was about 30 years before I ever saw Citizen Kane—but honestly, I was OK with that. Rosebud wasn’t some Sixth Sense switcheroo that messes up the entire movie. In a way, it was obvious from the beginning—not what Rosebud was, but what it stood for: Kane had everything, and yet there was an emptiness there that only Rosebud—whatever or whoever that was—could fill. Or, at least, that’s what Mr. Kane thought.

Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane has been called the greatest American movie ever for a good long while now, even though it didn’t get a whole lotta love when it was first released. Newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst thought the movie was about him (which it was), made sure that none of his papers wrote about it and got Hollywood so worked up over it that Citizen Kane was booed every single time it was mentioned at the Academy Awards ceremonies. Orson Welles must’ve felt like a Red Sox fan in Yankees Stadium. A few decades later, Welles was selling cheapo wine and appearing in The Muppet Movie.

None of that could, in the end, tarnish Citizen Kane’s lasting brilliance. And when it comes to talking about its spiritual heft, it’s almost too easy.

See, Kane had it all: More money than any man could possibly spend, more power than any man could comfortably wield. But the movie returns again and again to how sad Kane was. He’s a tragic figure more than a villain or hero, a guy who tried to use all of his wealth and power to fill an aching hole deep inside him—a pit that he couldn’t fill, no matter how much money he shoveled into it.

It’s a pretty quick step from there to get to what the mathematician/philosopher Blaise Pascal wrote:

“There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.”

And if that wasn’t enough, you could dive right into the Bible itself and find the verse that Citizen Kane might as well have been based on:

I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
I refused my heart no pleasure.
My heart took delight in all my work,
and this was the reward for all my labor.
Yet when I had surveyed all that my hands had done
and what I toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless; a chasing after the wind;
nothing was gained under the sun.
(Ecclesiastes 2:10-11)

I’ve already written a little on the Pew study, about how 20 percent of Americans now claim no religious affiliation. The reasons why these “nones” aren’t connecting with faith or religion are myriad, I’m sure, but I wonder if some of them have the same root as what afflicted Kane.

We Americans live in an outrageously affluent country. Wonders of technology are at our fingertips all the time, and most Americans are pretty well off, when you compare our lot with the rest of the world. And that puts religion—particularly Christianity, I think—at a bit of a disadvantage. I believe that our faith is a faith primarily of desperation. I don’t mean to downplay the advantages of faith and religion, but most of us don’t come to Christ as much through a pragmatic, plus-and-minus discernment exercise as if we were researching toasters on Consumer Reports. We grasp at it when there’s nothing left to reach, when all our resources are gone. When the vacuum in our hearts grows too big, too obvious, we ask for God to fill it.

But we’ve gotten pretty good at ignoring that vacuum, really. There’s a lot out there to distract us. I don’t think it’s an accident that the richest countries in the world tend to be the most secular. Granted, we’re not as rich or as powerful as Kane was, of course, but there’s a lot of stuff out there to keep us busy, to steer us away from thinking too hard about the Rosebuds in our lives—what we really yearn for, what we really need.

Honestly, I don’t think using Rosebud one last time would’ve helped Kane that much more than all his newspapers or marble statues did. Symbolism aside, the fact that a sled would’ve made him feel better at the end of his days suggests that Kane, even as he was on the right track, kinda missed the point. Perhaps he wasn’t looking for something he lost as much as he was searching for something he never really had: Love, unconditional.