Hideous Men

I found a bio of myself hidden amongst David Foster Wallace’s writings today. Unfortunately it was a conversation recorded in his collection “Brief Interviews with Hideous Men”…

A thought: It takes a certain level of togetherness to even pretend like you have it together. In light of this, considering how sad and messed up we sometimes find ourselves (“ourselves” being those of us who can maintain a relative semblance of sanity even when we are sad/frustrated/angry/generally down), how bad must it be for people who suffer from depression and other behavioral disorders? I was at the lake last week and just thinking how for every person just out enjoying the sun, there must be ____ (10? 20? 5?) people who are stuck in their dark rooms/houses/apartments in the sort of agony and mental/emotional/physical pain the sheer thought of which would paralyze most of us with fear.

I’m trying to understand why CS Lewis is so emphatically against flippancy. We’d prefer them not to laugh, says Screwtape, but if they do, let it be flippantly. Then I remember that our Lord compared us with the sparrows and the flowers, and then contrasted our worth. We take one another too lightly. We use and pick and shoot one another down and toss one another aside, like so much chaff. Can I get through one damned day without looking at another human being with disdain? Is it possible? It is perhaps worth considering the glorious condescension it required, for our Lord to find something in me worth taking seriously, something that would survive the fire.

Sometimes when I drive down the stretch of 76th Ave. towards the shelter’s parking lot, I find it difficult to believe that things like suburbs and malls and Beauty and beaches exist. I’m sure the residents of 76th Ave. have a wider experience of the world than I am giving them credit for but as I pass each run down house (every single one with a wrought iron fence against the road), each car idling in the middle of the street (hard looking youths yelling to their friends in the yard), stray dogs and trash everywhere… it’s just hard to remember.

God’s watchful eye aside, what would I think if I saw a recorded video of my day? How would I feel about how I treated people? The looks I gave? The quality of my work?

Maybe one of the enemy’s tactics is just to pull. If we are pulled lightly enough in enough directions, a few dollars here, a few hours there, some energy into this and that, maybe we will just never get anything done. And we will wonder why we are so tired and why the world is still such a sad place. Not that the world won’t be sad anyways… I don’t know. After Albert’s sermon on Sunday one of my salient thoughts was: Why not just teach one kid to read? I could do that, I think. I could actually do that. There were immediately a thousand countering voices, but I don’t know. Why not just love that one lady? I know, I know so deep deep down that there are strategists and mobilizers and God made them that way. I just really, honestly don’t think I am one of them. And I really, honestly think most of us aren’t that type, and that we should wake up and stop dreaming for the day when we’re going to “make a difference”. I guess I just don’t want God looking at my life and saying, “Well, that’s ironic.”

I heard something on the radio today from some guy at the Aspen Ideas Conference, or something. He said something like “I think we need to protect people’s right to believe what they want to believe.” He was a Muslim and talking about how in history some Muslim’s have championed free thinking and how one Muslim ruler even brought the first Jewish families back to Jerusalem once they took over after the Romans. I am going through this thing where I really believe that a lot of my thoughts about God are true. But that I’ve also come to realize that I assume everyone thinks the same way that I do, and this has shown itself to be one of those Great lies, and think I am becoming more humble about thinking I have it all figured out (although, I am also wary of the fact that this could just somehow be a more insidious form of pride, we’ll see.)

However, one thing that I am willing to strongly and vehemently say is that I do NOT believe that people should be free to believe whatever they want. That’s just stupid. (I think if you try to think of some dumb things that people could claim the right to believe, start with something like “Forcing children to have sex so that you can make a profit is Good”, and just go from there for a few minutes, most of you will agree.)

Sometimes,
when my belly is full, but my heart is empty
what satisfaction is it?

if my voice is strong, but there is no song on my lips
what joy is it?

if my feet are swift, and my pulse is slow
if my body is strong and my children grow
yet I do not dance with the Divine
and I find “Our Father” is not mine
my prayers follow an arc back to earth
and not a vertical line

where then is my strength, what if i fall?
what can I tell my son at the end of it all?

what Good is it?

it is right to be weak, when you are weak.

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~ by justinhong on June 29, 2011.

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