Tag Archives: People

Goads

Why do you kick against the goads?

You have suffered, long and bitterly.

You drank from the spring and shattered the bowl.

And you paid a very high price for it.

You have suffered.

They lie about you, when they say you only care about yourself, a careless hedonist. It isn’t true. You’ve wanted the tenderness of the morning stars and the wind on the river racing down. And you’ve paid for it in dry tears when you were alone, and in blood in the middle of the night. You are in so much pain.

And your sons and daughters are given to Molek, and your fresh blood runs over the crusted blood, mangling together. And inside you is a cry that you fasten deep down, never to come out.

 

 

On Real Faith

Faith isn’t about ‘believing what you know ain’t so.”

If you have to believe something to ‘make’ it true, then its all the Easter bunny and the Magic of Santa Claus and Carebears and the Power of Friendship.

Faith is actually a vulnerable, radical openness. But this ‘radical openness’ is not about believing it. It is more like going to a bridge and waiting through the long winter night, because of a letter just received, (purportedly) from someone you had loved and lost a long time ago, which asked you to wait here for them at this meeting place. You might catch pneumonia, and its a dangerous part of the city at night, they might not show up. Perhaps they really are dead, and its all a ruse. Perhaps your enemies are playing a cruel prank on you, perhaps you dreamed the whole thing (and the letter is now misplaced or missing). You aren’t pretending your beloved is already there, you aren’t having an imaginary conversation with them on the bridge. You are merely willing to gamble everything on this moment of vulnerability, to walk away from your normal life, and be willing to lose your health/life/mental-state/reputation in the process.

Here in affluent America, we Christians (of all stripes) do not truly have Him because we don’t truly seek Him–a seeking not of heroics of our own doing, but a seeking of honestly giving God total permission to really take everything else away. The fiery bloody God of Sinai and Golgotha is as real now as He was then, we only need to be willing to pay the cost of seeing His face.

Glory be to God….

GLORY be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.

—-Gerard Manley Hopkins

 

 

I love Hopkins. He has a poem for every mood I’m in. This is the one now.

Not all tears are evil

People talk. People judge. People laugh. and laugh. About disturbing things, sad things, very sad things.

 

We can talk about anything now. Broach any topic. Break all the taboos.

 

But we can’t cry. We can’t sorrow. To say, “that is sad. I am so sorry.”

 

Sometimes, in conversations, especially when you hear about the ways people have used sex…. we all have to laugh, look mildly shocked, say, “hey, if that is what they wanted…”   But no. All I really want to do is cry.

 

So, in our culture, we can laugh at them. But we can’t cry for them. This is a strange world. We need….Middle Earth.

“I will not say, do not weep, for not all tears are evil.”

Darwin and Lincoln

Darwin and Lincoln

“At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races. …The break will then be rendered wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilized state, as we may hope, than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as at present between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.”
–Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man, 1871 p. 193

“If the negro is a man, why then my ancient faith teaches me that “all men are created equal;” and that there can be no moral right in connection with one man’s making a slave of another.”
–Abraham Lincoln, Peoria speech 1854

Rambling thoughts from a morning brain….

I’m trying to finish a paper on Pope Innocent III’s idea of the papacy. It has taken me 9 months, and while I shouldn’t compare it to the pain of giving birth….

OK. But seriously, it has taken a great deal of emotional processing–which for me, means hours of staring at a wall and feeling various unformed thoughts struggle inside me. Only at the very end do I have words.

This is it: Pope Innocent III was a good man. He defended prostitutes, gave indulgences to men who would marry one and get her out of that lifestyle, and (if legends be true) set up an anonymous infant donation center, so that they wouldn’t end up drowned in the river like kittens. He was an idealist and a romantic: and one of those ones who probably cried for those who had lost, especially their innocence. But….he trusted far too easily. And when his grand plans of heroism went terribly awry (e.g. when would-be crusaders lost control of their soldiers who then pillaged/raped/slaughtered)…he commanded, he complained, and when they did not listen, he gave up and compromised with them.

I suppose one can’t condemn someone for failing. But it is still sad.

Also…he corrupted the symbol. Oh, he had the best of intentions, but he innovated the symbol: of what the Pope was. In his teaching, he changed the symbol of the pope, from friend of the Bridegroom (Christ) to bridegroom himself (albeit temporarily and technically only for the city of Rome). That was a very dangerous thing to do. Because symbols are sacred, latent with terrible power (like a nuclear reactor), and generations will reap the fruit of it. And generations did reap the fruit.

Journal entry from 2 years ago

Last Saturday during the family reunion, I skimmed/read my way through “Manning Up” by one of those neo-feminists who attack modern ‘manhood’ and the hooking up culture. It was quite convincing, but the chapter about love and darwinism gave me a lot of undefinite emotions/thought-feelings that I couldn’t explain when asked.

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Anyway, that Saturday night after going to bed, I found myself sobbing for a few minutes. I realized I was crying about all that, all the miscarriages of what could have been love, all the cynical hookup and jockeying for elite partners kind of stuff that has to do with status/degrees/money/jobs/etc in a modern urban jungle of swinging singles in big cities….it hurt so much. Stripped of all its sanctity, history, everything…..it was so empty for them you just had to cry for them.

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Miscarried children is a different pain than other people who die on you. It is supposedly quantitatively less because you didn’t “know” them…yeah right….it is true time-wise it is shorter (you don’t have a million anniversary/object/place reminders of a memory with them)….but the pain is of a qualitatively different anguish….much worse, a kind of pain BECAUSE the very thing you lost was so very immaterial, such a big potential that never was….hah, if the pain of an extinguished beloved light is bad, what about the light that didn’t even get lit, but was almost, and you dreamed of its light, and it was half-there and then not? Far far worse. The in between zone causes an intense kind of anguish precisely because it is in the ill-defined middle area. It was not just an immaterial dream to be forgotten, neither was it a concrete reality to be remembered. The child that was and wasn’t, and the mother cries and nobody understands.

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That is how it is with these people with 100 hookups and a half-dozen failed semi-serious (e.g. shacking up, open relationship, friends with benefits, starter marriages) ‘relationships’. None of it was ever really love, all hormones and status/life/career calculations and varying levels of false dreams and projections and the hypnotism of romantic infatuation (the stuff genuine relationships start with, but then moves past to reality and the real thing). But for these people, there isn’t really even a true relationship to grieve. They have done Lucretius very very well, and “Venus’ troublesome sore is well-lacerated with promiscuous attachments”. But somebody has to grieve, grieve for all these griefs, grieve for the guys who were never men, cornered into their couch and videos and porn and lifestyle, girls who are never wives, but strained partners all calculation and career with the botox or the pancake to cover the wrinkles and are so liberated they submit bikini shots on internet dating sites for inspection; because we are all so modern we are all meat and worship/treasure nothing, not even ourselves.

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So I cried. The tears kept coming. Someone has to grieve for these ‘miscarriages’, for these failures of potential that could have been and never were. I found myself talking out loud in the darkness, “they do not ‘just want sex or status, money, etc’….any more than an alcoholic ‘just wants liquor’”. I repeated that to myself three times crying, “they do want love, they just don’t know”.

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The alcoholic doesn’t just want liquor…no, the alcoholic wants to forget, forget that he might’ve abused his daughter, that his ex-wife’s life is a mess, that his father died in the cancer ward without reconciling with the family…..that there is no certitude, no peace, no beauty, no help from pain, and we are on a darkling plain...

Freedom from shame, seeing Beauty/Ultimate Good in reality, eternal love, the Holy Ghost….that is what he really wants, though he may not even know it himself, because as a child sitting on the chipped porch steps alone no one ever taught him half the words, and the other half was forgotten/deaf/bleary by all the injuries to his being that Others and himself have done to him over the years.
Freedom. Dignity. Peace. Goodness. Love. The simplicity and sanity of it all. Our deepest cravings never change, all of us, all of us children.

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But we have all violated ourselves and eachother, and nothing is clear, all higgledy-piggledy and scar tissue and upside down. So the girls run after Romance, and the boys after Carnality, and all is thrill…and all is consumption and disgust and compromise.

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It was all so simple in my head last Saturday night, and of course here it looks all melodramatic and me soapboxing. But it wasn’t like that that night. I didn’t really argue or reason, I just wept, and felt…I know this is going to sound weird….felt another breath within mine. God’s breath. It was there in my lungs too. Whether he was breathing into me, or sobbing with me, or both, I don’t really know. But this thought went through my head “Where human grief is, there is God’s breath also.”

It made sense at the time, though it’s a bit less coherent now.