Tuesday, May 27th, 2008. Now it is Wednesday.
Time marches on inexorably. All we really have is now. It is now o’clock. The past is gone and the future may never come.
The story of my life in six words: Loved the world, grew up fast. Loved mom, left bereft, looking around. Life’s simple, complicate, make simple again. Love and disappoint, then accept limitations. Build it and they will come. (Obviously I stole this one.) Change, change again, change back, repeat.
My grandson Caleb and I went to the movies last night to see Prince Caspian and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. $15.50! And that was with two student discounts. I liked Indy better and I think Caleb did too.
I think C. S. Lewis’s Narnia series is more about his experience of WWI, WWII, the horrors of Nazism, and the deep human propensity to glorify and justify the sacrifices required during war as well as the need to honor those who make them than it is about the Gospel. I wonder if the argument can be made that Narnia is a fundamental distortion of the Gospel? Does the Narnia series imaginatively conflate the ancient cultural requirement of honor in war with the Gospel? This is something I will have to think about.
The following quote is from President Bush’s speech at Arlington Cemetery last Monday, Memorial Day 2008.
“I am humbled by those who have made the ultimate sacrifice that allow a free civilization to endure and flourish. It only remains for us, the heirs of their legacy, to have the courage and the character to follow their lead -- and to preserve America as the greatest nation on earth and the last best hope for mankind.”
I am humbled by the sacrifice many have made for our nation as well, and not just the sacrifices of our solders. But a little bit of nationalistic hyperbole here? That’s a rhetorical question. As a Christian I would have to call this nationalistic idolatry, not to mention an expression of linguistic patriarchy.
Back to my story...
What did I bring to this novel conversion and conversation with Jesus?
First was my Catholic upbringing, largely ignored by high school though, but only consciously, intellectually. My basic orientation to the world was a moral one formed by this experience. Simply put, we where to love, all else was sin. This love required action, one had to do what one believed. As President Kennedy said, “ask not what your country can do for you, but what can you do for your country.” I don’t remember this comment myself; Kennedy made it in his inaugural address on January 20th, 1961, when I was 6-years old, turning 7 in 9 days. But it exemplifies the ethos I think I learned via my Catholic schooling. (I have to mention parenthetically that I think there is a sort of fascism-light in this statement, though I do believe public service and elective office can be a high calling.) Love is action and the world was in dire need of action: poverty, hunger, environmental degradation, segregation, freedom from oppression, justice was called for.
Childhood fishing and camping trips, experiences in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, summer camp at a nearly all black church camp are the early experiences that I remember as significant in my understanding of the world. My Boy Scout Handbook, the magazines Field and Stream, Sports Afield, National Geographic, and Boys Life, and the outdoor adventure novels My Side of the Mountain and The Pond where my earliest reading that informed me about the world. These created a fundamental idea of the natural world as a place of pleasure and meaning. It was home. It needed to be cared for
As I grew older I was becoming aware of the broader world. I came of age during the 1960s: the Civil Rights Movement, the War on Poverty, the Hippie era, the War in Vietnam, the Free Speech movement, Women’s Liberation, the Environmental Movement (i.e. Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, which I never read, was published in 1962 launching the modern environmental movement), LSD, marijuana, the sexual revolution, the burning of bras, flags, and draft cards. This was the social milieu I was growing-up in and from which I drew my inspiration and ideas of the world as I came of age.
“Let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine,” wrote Henry David Thoreau in his 1849 essay Resistance to Civil Government later published as Civil Disobedience, which I read in High School. The Story of My Experiments with Truth, Mahatma Gandhi’s autobiography was another book I read early in high school. I always believed that the pen was mightier than the sword. I liked ideas and my ideas where taking greater focus from a broader range of people.