Follow me at jmarasco.wordpress.com.
Haunting, enveloping and grounded. I am under an orange sky.
My mind is too strong to carry on
When I am alone
When I’ve thrown off the weight of this crazy stone
When I’ve lost all care for the things I own
That’s when I miss you,
You who are my home
In your love
My salvation lies in your love
Life is hectic. Life is nicely paced. I’ve been getting nothing done. I’ve been busy doing everything. I write because I feel like writing, because if I don’t write I don’t exist. That is, if I don’t produce, create, express, then I am just subsisting. In my mouth out my ass and so on until I am dead.
I see your love is
Bold and underlined
You know the one thing you’re fighting to hold
Will be the one thing you’ve got to let go
These little wars in my mind
The ones I always lose
They keep me in my seat
Take me out of the game
I lose by fighting them
I wonder how you give
I wonder how you pray
I wonder how you live
And drive your demons away
Am I hurting anyone by all this?
Is this the evil in the world?
Am I miserable in it?
I read Romans recently and I got stuck around chapter 6 or 7. Bummer, a friend of mine said, I didn’t move on to chapter 8, that’s the good stuff. I had another conversation with a friend the other day about the evil in the world, and the evil in a person, and then the evil in me. He was with me on the first two, but when it came to the third I entirely lost him. How could my demons be harming anyone?
Either he is right
And my demons are imaginary
Or they are not
And I am still miserable
Or perhaps they are not imaginary
But less important than I give them credit for
Perhaps they are not the point.
David Foster Wallace delivered a commencement address in 2005 on the challenges of living an intentional thought life, and rising above the default settings of a me-centered life. “It is unimaginably hard to do this,” he says, “to stay conscious and alive in the adult world day in and day out.” I recommend listening to Part 1 and Part 2 on YouTube, though the transcript certainly digs at you just as much. For example:
Here is just one example of the total wrongness of something I tend to be automatically sure of: everything in my own immediate experience supports my deep belief that I am the absolute centre of the universe; the realest, most vivid and important person in existence. We rarely think about this sort of natural, basic self-centredness because it’s so socially repulsive. But it’s pretty much the same for all of us. It is our default setting, hard-wired into our boards at birth.
In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship–be it JC or Allah, be it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles–is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive.
None of this stuff is really about morality or religion or dogma or big fancy questions of life after death.
The capital-T Truth is about life BEFORE death.
I was struck by this post, called An Open Apology, which Joe also read in church this week. He essentially proposes that the best form of apologetics is apologizing – demonstrating that God is real by apologizing up front for the things people have done in his name, rather than by careful reasoning and arguments (which also have their place). I identify with this expression of faith much more than what the word evangelism is typically taken to mean.
I found this quote today, attributed to Gandhi:
“The message of Jesus as I understand it, is contained in the Sermon on the Mount unadulterated and taken as a whole. If then I had to face only the Sermon on the Mount and my own interpretation of it, I should not hesitate to say, ‘Oh, yes, I am a Christian.’ But negatively I can tell you that in my humble opinion, what passes as Christianity is a negation of the Sermon on the Mount.” ~Mohandas Gandhi
I really like this quote (and other similar things he said). Gandhi seemed fairly adept at calling a spade a spade when it comes to the hypocrisies of Western Christianity. In that regard, I am totally with him. From an outsider’s perspective it sums up pretty well how we Christians aren’t quite living up to Jesus’ call, and have headed down our own paths to the Kingdom of God enough that the term “Christian” tends to call to mind someone pretty well opposite of the kind of person the Sermon on the Mount describes.
On the other hand, I think in saying this he may be understating Jesus’ message. The Sermon on the Mount is a picture of how followers of Jesus should live, a personal and cultural code of conduct showing them how to relate to God and be the “light of the world”, a people who embody God’s love on the earth. Jesus was calling a new people out from Israel just as the Mosaic Law called Israel out from the nations. (To be fair, Jesus was calling all of Israel, whoever would listen to him.)
But to say Jesus’ message ended there misses the point I think. I am thinking (and rethinking) through many of these things, but here is where I am at right now. Jesus didn’t just say “here is how to live, now everyone go do it,” he actually showed the way, which involves a whole lot of humility, holding your tongue, and putting yourself after other people, among other things. And, most importantly, Jesus went first down the path through death and resurrection. The promise of his teachings isn’t just a moral and loving society but a world reconciled to God in a complete and permanent way. His message in the Sermon on the Mount (and everywhere else he taught) is “the kingdom of God is here.” His message in the cross and his resurrection is “follow me to enter it.” His actions paved the way for everyone else to follow, and somehow provided the ability for us to do it.
This is an incomplete thought right now. Jesus made statements and actions that I think pointed to himself as inexorably connected with his message but I am still sorting those out. And then there is the question of why he seemed to knowingly march straight into the custody of his murderers as if his death was not just inevitable, but chosen and necessary. In any case, he doesn’t seem to consider himself as just a moral teacher, but something more than that, and by extension he wouldn’t consider his teachings to be separable from his life.
In the midst of holiday celebrations and preparations, a round of the stomach virus, A studying for her upcoming finals and the day-to-day parenting mayhem this week I stumbled on this article on what a four-year-old should know and it has stopped me in my tracks. I can get very impatient with my kids, often about getting things done and behaving well, but also about what they do or don’t know or what they will or won’t try. Why hasn’t she learned yet that she always needs to… Why won’t he just sit down and do this… It is hard in my often hectic-feeling life and our competitive culture not to feel behind, and not to look at my kids sometimes and think of them as behind, when what is really important is a different set of things entirely.
1. She should know that she is loved wholly and unconditionally, all of the time.
2. He should know that he is safe and he should know how to keep himself safe in public, with others, and in varied situations. He should know that he can trust his instincts about people and that he never has to do something that doesn’t feel right, no matter who is asking. He should know his personal rights and that his family will back them up.
3. She should know how to laugh, act silly, be goofy and use her imagination. She should know that it is always okay to paint the sky orange and give cats 6 legs.
This advice for parents is gold too:
That being the smartest or most accomplished kid in class has never had any bearing on being the happiest. We are so caught up in trying to give our children “advantages” that we’re giving them lives as multi-tasked and stressful as ours. One of the biggest advantages we can give our children is a simple, carefree childhood.
I have no further comments. I am still digesting.