Test Pattern

Yo! -New invitee! Let me know if you see this.  10…8…4…2….

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Verging Illness

Verging Illness

Odd.  I have rarely written on the subject of illness per se.  Perhaps this is because my vision is a little bit chilled by the spiritual illness of our time. Of course such a culture of death gives rise, as it does throughout history and the Bible, to a myriad of physical parasites and the sicknesses unto death.

Lazarus did eventually die, even though this is not specifically dated or timed.  And physical illness may sharpen spiritual perception, so it is both a consequence and a guide, in God’s economy.  And much more.  It is indeed the last enemy, but one that God does not fear to use.  He does not need death, but some will be alerted to nothing less.  We fear it, when we should and must fear God alone.  His judgment, yes; but the chief fear is of God Himself, His Presence, and worse, His absence.   Of course he is master over Sheol as well and the deepest depths physically humanly and spiritually speaking are miserable barriers to His Power, of Creation and hence of ownership.  “Where can I go from Your Spirit?” moaned David.   Those who posit an absolute and eternal Absence of God may only be speculating.

 

Yet many of the seriously ill do wish for death, and it is easy to feel why.  A toothache, as C.S. Lewis may have said, is enough to put us in a temper in no way fit for God or Heaven. Words may emerge that we have long campaigned against, and our love for our fellow man is severely tested.  “Count it all joy, my brethren, when various trials come” to give one an opportunity to grow out of all human bounds, and to be part of His Unshakeable Glory.

When one considers that, if you are reading this, most likely God has already delivered you out of almost all the illnesses and infections you have ever encountered.  How many of us have had a twinge of leprosy?  Or a  mild case of Ebola?  While I have weaknesses and more developing all the time, physically, the purpose of these is no longer, for the Christian, to prove the potency of The Fall, but to manifest the Destiny God has made for us.  Which is, according to Westminster, “to glorify Him forever.”

I myself due to my immune system with holes in it, find myself, as at present, having to take a potent antibiotic several times a year, and to take advantage of most of the inhalers reserved for emphysema.  And yet I find myself always at risk, every day I work.  And if that were not enough, I am 66 and could think about retirement.  But this is not God’s purpose for me.  Like Caleb I find that if I do not fight on, against the Fall and its fellow travelers, that there is little purpose in merely lingering for death.  “Go not peacefully into that good night.”?  Unlike Dylan Thomas, I do not think much hinges on my being anywhere other than where God places me.  He will protect me as long as He sees fit, to be a blessing to those I encounter.

It surely does not mean I can bless everyone, or that everyone will come back and thank me for placing a dressing on the right wound.  Truth is not that popular in any era, and what I do do, is to try to represent the Truth, which is why I am so adamant about the  unrecognized and underreported healing obtained only from believing God and God’s Word.  I find it surprising that pastors have to press people to read the Bible, since I cannot do without it. Some would say that that is just a habit I have gotten into.  It may be that as well, but I am seeking the Speaker of the House.  Absolutes? Absolutely! For He is nothing if not Absolute in every conceivable sense and infinitely more.

Certainly He is King over every kind of leprosy and decay and entropy; always ancient; and always new.  Our illnesses will find us out; but let no illness force us out of God’s forever bearing care. How much more than a doctor is He!  Is there bitterness anywhere?  Because we rejected Gods path for us, which entails suffering and plenty of it, but only for a few short years; and chose to cling to our ignorant short sighted plans.  He will heal you.  But hang on, “lean not to your own understanding but acknowledge Him in all your ways, and He will direct your paths. “

 

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The Great Hinckley Holocaust.

Both legend and history not to mention my personal genaeology make mention of a great fire in about 1894 which killed over 400 people and covered 200,000 acres of timber. It was so hot that some rail cars caught in the blaze had their wheels welded to the tracks. All the oxygen in the area was sucked up and many died of hypoxia. The cause was a series of fires set by loggers amidst a terrific drought, which coalesced into a wall of flame that lasted only 4 hours but was unmatched for intensity.  There was waste timber scattered on every inch of ground, with no one bothering to clean it up. It was part of the landscape, or shall we say, manscape.  (goatish)

My great great grandfather, a Mr.  Martin Martinson, was a logger in the area, and was employed north of town during the week, to come back to his wife and 4 daughters in the town only on weekends. The fire hit while he was away, and the Hinkley Fire Museum has an eery portrait of a mother and 4 daughters being consumed by the flames.  (see weather history video)

Mr Martinson, by my grandmother’s report, became, or maybe was, an embittered man prone to violence.  He subsequently married my Grandmother’s mother, who ran away from her husband taking young Inga with her, my Grandmother on my mother’s side.  My Grandmother would tell me about the time he attacked her with a chisel and show me the scar.  Because her mother ran away, Inga was forced to go back and live with her father.  The most memorable thing about this, per my grandmother (Martinson nee Balster) is that she was no longer allowed to go to the library, which she very much resented since Minneapolis/St. Paul where the ladies had fled had very good collections, and were  not very prone to horrible fires (unlike rival Chicago)  –or unrelenting chores.

Hence Inga ran away again, and somehow was finally allowed to stay with her mother.  But knowing these stories I always had the sense that my Grandmother was scarred far deeper than the surface, indirectly of course as a result of this great fire.  Her attachment to St. Paul in particular was very firm.  Ironically when her husband died she went from one daughter’s house to another depending on the season of the year, and began chain smoking, which eventually led to her own demise. The fire next time?

The other irony of course is that my mother, myself, and my siblings, as well as my two aunts, would not have existed apart from that horrible fire. Some would be rancid enough to call this an act of God, even though it was really the result of man’s carelessness with nature.  Mr.  Martinson himself can be said to have been part of the  problem, leaving waste timber everywhere so there was no chance for the fire to slow down or do anything but to gain power and heat.  Probably the only thing that may have stopped the fire was the clear cutting around the railroad tracks, and a few locomotive engineers were able to save some hundreds of people by backing up into the inferno.

The point here may be that man is quick to blame God when disasters strike, but in a sense all disasters, and lack of peace, are due not to Nature but to Man, who is the “Disturbance in the Force/Forest.”  We need not merely stop at wars and rumors of wars.  Man puts a stick of his own devising into the cycle spokes of nature and natural law, and subverts it for his own ends. Short sighted to say the least. Light still does not bend around corners.

It is unlikely that, in this country at least,  another fire of this particular type could occur. We actually learned from history in this case, but there were other fires that added fuel to this one, and of course today, in the era of controlled burns, we continue to see that the more we interfere with nature, the more we reap disastrous consequences that it is impossible, computer models or no, to predict.  Forest fires now consume Designer Homes routinely.   We are fond of referring to ecology but not to the principle of, “Nothing works if everything does not  work,” and that the most seemingly trivial and innocuous-sounding projects can, like small fires, become chaotic, life-destroying juggernauts that none can stop. the worship of nature has not brought peace but a dozen swords of Damocles all clamoring to be first to pierce our non-innocent skulls.  There are even those who blame breathing for all  our woes.  (sounds like the non-breathing campaign of Pogo; “No, you first…”) The problem is us, as Walt Kelly maintained, with plenty of evidence then and now. We have no idea how deep  this goes…

Take genetic engineering. Or better, don’t. The amplification potential of even the smallest manipulations (as if mutations were not  harmful enough)   is clearly unimaginable, yet we plunge on, like Mr Martinson, thinking all is well at home so long as the timber is stacking up high. Around hearth, heath, and home.

What could  possibly go wrong?  When you think of it, Mr. Martinson, to hear Inga tell it, was also a raging inferno against God, man,  and his own natural daughter, who could not replace four of them.  He went on to a total of five marriages, at least four of them with tragic ends.

Yet it was not God who engineered this disaster, but people like Martin Martinson, in fact he and his friends and employers were sitting on a powder keg of their own making. It is possible that some of the embitterment of his losses may have been due to a vague and gnawing sense that he himself had laid some of that timber down that consumed his wife and children.  The logging industry and social responsibility, like the housing industry, are not known for their readiness to accept social responsibility. And they do it only when it is mandated by the wider culture, which may (but usually does not)  see where the culpability lies.  Jet on, Jetsons!

Everybody is on the Greenpeace bandwagon now, but it only became so  when profits were threatened.  The same is true of virtually  all political interference from business, from Big Sugar to Big Daddy Computers Inc.  They are more like surfers, looking for the next big wave; and as “surf bums,” they are hard to respect.   But what they are looking for is what the public wants, and if they can figure that out, they are rich beyond Croesus.  Temporarily.  If there was ever a president we actually deserve it would be a cross between Steve Jobs and Donald Trump. As in Animal Farm, it is hard to tell the difference from down below and outside the farmhouse.

W.H. Auden makes the Augustinian distinction between 3 forces: society, community, and the public.  The first and the last are only concerned about themselves and preserving their fought-for advantages and the liberties  that remove those of others. (c.f. Mark Twain’s, “The War Prayer”)  A commmunity may be defined by having an interest and a purpose higher than itself; altho most communities become societies in time, and advance only the status quo; or an abstract concept they would like to make concrete, such as euthanasia, abortion, and eugenics, just to name a few.

I do feel badly, worse as time goes on, for those whose goals are selfish or self righteous; secular and man-centered; and lack the humility that comes normally when one seeks the Actual Presence of God. “There is no fear of God in this city.”  It is impossible to anticipate or calculate the harm we may do. Is this a rational time to abandon God, when we are mired in gridlock in so many areas, none of them concocted by God?

Did Israel, Judah, and Jerusalem have any to blame but themselves for the conflagrations and  horrors that consumed far more women and children  than any fire or tsunami (save one; and even that was ours to own) in ancient times when the population was far less?

Now there is no need to “fret” about what has already been done or set up by overweening ambition.  (the wider view and purpose of this blog is not cursing darkness or dark forces.)  The housing collapse was brought about by the same human forces that caused the Hinkley fire. (I will not fill in the details as the reader can do that readily on his or her own.)  Yet is it not true:

that God has used the detritus/fertilizer of man-made epics to make a way for Christ to come in?  Again, I will not elaborate, as I believe as Paul said in Romans that this is self-evident if one merely sees that GOD IS, and the rest of our shortfall shortly fall into place, in the Big Vista.

Is the weather pattern of your life unsettled? Did Eden suffer from tornadoes?  What harm does it do, then, to take responsibility for our contribution?  Had Mr Martinson taken responsibility for his own load of timber and tinder, he may have not  died a bitter and violent man. Is it better to be angry or penitent?  Which benefits your neighbor more?

I still  believe that belief is a matter of choice, specifically and finally only between two things. However if God is assumed, then the only logical (in hindsight, mostly) solution to our sin problem, and God’s nexus of Mercy and Justice, is an Embodiment of Him Who Alone could follow the rules of the universe and God’s own covenants.

If God is denied, all we have is chaos. Or as Camus said, the only remaining question  is whether to commit  suicide or not.

Nailed it.

It is said that the Hinkley fire was so hot that whole barrels of nails fused together.  It sounds like a mercifully quick death, not unlike a nuclear explosion,  which we also invented. But all that is really needed to nail it for me are 3 “nine-inch nails,” mocked by the world even in the most Christian-itic of eras, which settles the questions of guilt, and fear, and the future.  The chain of responsibility is long, long indeed and goes back from before there was Hinkley, or Minnesota, at all. The accumulation of not only sins and flora and dried fauna but  mutations is clearly unbearable unless Christ Creator has borne it already. And it was not the nails that held him to the cross,  nor holds our feet to the fire.  I was created out of the flames.  So were the rest of us, but maybe not as literally.

Even our tongues can readily be read as a world of evil and poison, and a match from a matchbox that “sets the whole world on fire.” (James) If there is aught in these many words of mine that kindles or sustains such blazes, well, to blazes with them, then, and forget please all that I have written. But if one word  herein is “in season” and brings peace in a vast worldwide drought; let that one word or phrase bring cool light and the rest perish where flames never rest.  Dark fire, dark matter, dark energy; but there is no dark side to His Force, only ours, and the forces that are allowed to destroy us but only of our own bitter will.

“Choose this day whom, or what, your will serve.” Hint: serving mere ideas is no better than idols of wood or stone; and may be worse…be a firefly, not a little match person…

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BLOOD, Shed

The God Shed

Or

The God, Shed

In a Monty Python sketch, there is a composer, Arthur Jackson, who is being interviewed by the BBC.  However Jackson’s nickname is Arthur “Two Sheds” Jackson because he does, in fact, have not one but two sheds in his backyard. And the interviewer is only interested in his name and will not ask anything else, about his music or his life, just about how he came to have the nickname. See here now!

“There’s always one, isn’t there…no, three……to two thou shalt not count, neither to four…5 is right out…”  Well, something like that. You had to be there…

How so like men!  We are quite easily distracted, non?  This is the basis of the game, “trivial pursuit.”  It is almost inevitable that we will focus on minutiae and miss the point of almost everything, except those things that seem to have no point at all.

As I observed in high school, however (hence this is not profound, but telling), it is almost impossible for man not to imbue things with purposes beyond what is warranted by the facts. We are, “meaning mammals,” which sometimes makes us all the more dangerous than tigers. Yet if we think we are going to escape this, well, non, non, non.  As in Arthur’s case, the point taken may not be ours.  It may in fact belong to the public, often the very public whose favor we curried; then we find that they could care less  about us, but only about some points more easily grasped…or more amusing.  No one likes being the butt of the jokes of others—even comedians—but it is really about this;  whose cause is being favored?  Fame has a way of biting back, hard.  And the individual finds he has little or no control over what others think of him or her.

Expectations also have a way of waylaying us.  We do not even live up to our own.  And yet we expect others to live up to ours.  In marriages one spouse often expects wonderful things of the other; but he or she will not tell them in advance what they in fact want or expect, because we are supposed to know these things and do wonders that are “spontaneous.” If we have to ask, we spoil it. We have not anticipated every whim and fancy of the other, and ironically these inflated expectations usually come from newlyweds, who barely know each other!

Well, where men are concerned, ironies, contradictions, and oxymorons are never other than abundant. I often find myself writing opposite opinions or conclusions in the same essay. What to do, what to do?

As Alfred E. Neuman used to say…

But I DO fret, that’s the trouble! As Paul said, the things I hate, I do. And the things I know to do, I do not.  Oh what a miserable man I am!  This, too, is a given.  We cannot follow simple instructions, we have to make it, well, our own. And in doing so we miss, miss, and miss again, the whole point.  It is easy to “shed” God, and apparently once we have done that, to shed other people, or, as I have a habit of saying, to abort them and their many meaningful missions.  Like the background radiation of the universe, there is a moral law that surrounds men like a  buzzing cloud of coffee comets evenly distributed throughout even  a very dreary day, always spoiling his “fun.” And as we all know, fun is the point, is’t not?

“Above all, he must have a good sense of humor.”  “He makes me laugh.”—Jessica Rabbit.  But that is only one of many requirements we have laden upon us.  The Law keeps popping up, with all its social implications and expectations.  Do you want to risk being thought of as evil?  In your own group?  This explains ISIS- if you do not want to or actually behead Christians, you are not living up to those unwritten laws of execution and you are a compromising lying evil cast unto the group.  How could one NOT want to kill outsiders and infidels?  And so, fortunately, such purists eventually set about killing traitors and each other.  How ironic that this is the ever-recurring terror tactic of the French Revolution and the purges of Stalin and so forth.  No wonder we covet humor so much.

But God we see as utterly malleable. Even with Christ, we found him immutable, so we mutilated Him. Stubborn guy!  Just as the smiths of old hammered metals into the shape of idols, we do the same today, but more with ideas and whole floods of ideas.  Yet each one finds problems with the ideas cast out of our personal furnaces of thought and affliction.  “This, too, is a chasing after the wind.”  Ecclesiastes.

So we find that when our idols are cast down, if we have attached our pride and our hopes to them, it really hurts.  But as the doctor may say, “It’s a good hurt.”  Or as the psalmist said, “It was good for me to be afflicted.” Or CSL: God whispers in our pleasures but shouts in our pain.  (Which is why Christian rock bands take pleasure in making our ears bleed and our drums rupture.)  I have recently experienced the downfall of one of my own idols, in fact, several.   “WE are not as strong as we think we are.”  Infinitely stubborn, perhaps, but not so with our strength.  “…If we have the strength.”  And my own health, in which I have taken some pride, and my own assumed longevity, have come into some question now as well.  So yes, Virginia, there are limits, no matter how it may be proclaimed otherwise by the young of our species.

What next, my hair?

“When all is stripped away, and I simply come…” –It’s All About You.  Written by a songwriter whose church actually fasted their (rather terrific) music for 6 months, looking for worship beyond just emotion. God loves willed worship, if I may venture a guess. And thanksgiving in the midst of a field of broken images and cherished cherubims is better than from a palace/fortress built by human hands.

Christians in this world have lost many of their privileges but that is a good thing.  We have had many hangers-on who have used Christian forms as a social advantage,  nearly  all of whom have jumped ship at this point.  Now that can’t be bad, even from a human point of view.  The culture is still “Christ-haunted,” as St. Flannery once said about the South; but so is the whole world, by now, even or especially Islam.  It may be a highly distorted image; but the world still uses God’s Name in vain, suggested they are still in some manner in thrall to the Man of Sorrows.

“Since I gave up hope, I feel a lot better,” crooned Steve Taylor, echoing Walker Percy.  There is something extremely advantageous about being forcibly stripped of one’s interests and purposes and crutches, even more so than with the nearly impossible job of stripping one’s self.  (Now that’s what I want to see from Home Depot—a self stripping hardwood floor!)   But if the slate is wiped clean, what will we do? Turn to the Slate Maker and the Creator of all chalk, and the Mind of Christ?  That is indeed the Purpose behind the purposes we can imagine or see.  Yet how much help we need! To an infinite degree! How, otherwise, can we survive eternity without making it hell for ourselves?  There is no dream, plan, or ambition of men that would not become the haunt of demons given enough time, nothing that would not totally dissatisfy all, even or especially the inventors themselves.

The antidote is not mere submission to an unknown and possibly very unfriendly god, as Islam and others surmise. It is welcoming Him who loves you, “and gave  himself for us.”  “Greater love has no man than this, that he give his life for his friends.”  And then, “I have called you friends.”  “How can such things be?,” asked Nicodemus.  “You are a teacher in Israel and you do not know these things?” countered Jesus.  We have already been given this Gift in full, not only in spades but hearts.  So the question is, what am I still holding onto that is, “a hindrance to Me.”  Whatever we do, getting in the Way of Christ is, as I would say, absolutely contraindicated. We are not powerful enough to do this, except for our own souls, where the power of choice of love, or not love; God; or not God, is constantly a Given.  We may assume it. (Faith is required, even for the slightest move of the doctor/Physician.)

You do not need two sheds, 3 , or 5.  You do not need to shed God nor does he want to shed (scour off nor store up) you but holds you in the OPEN palm of his hand, from which no force can snatch you. But we can shed the world just as we will be forced soon enough to shed our flesh. Just don’t leave it for the Proud.  If God takes you to The Shed, which is not The Shack, rejoice that you can come to him as a naked newborn baby whom only He can cover with the finest swaddling you’ll ever see!!! He will not keep you there forever.  Flights are leaving daily. Do not miss yours.

Go ye thankful people, go. Tell it on the mountain, over the hills, and on the plains, plainly.  Jesus Christ has come.

 

 

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The Thing of things; The King of kings.

“The thing became a snare to Israel.”  I am not sure whether this refers to the brazen serpent in the Mosaic desert or Gideon’s Ephod or some other artifice which may even have been ordained of God, and used of God, but became, like certain angels, an object of worship and an outright idol.

 

2 Kings tells the story of the Shunamite woman who miraculously, like Sara, conceives and bears a son.  Then the son dies in the middle of his father’s field (sounds like a ruptured cerebral aneurysm)  and the woman, refusing to accept any futile administrations, goes to Elisha the prophet, who prophesied/promised the son’s birth in the first place.

Gehazi, Elisha’s servant, pushes her aside. (Gehazi comes to a bitter end in the next chapter–he is kind of a minor league Judas)  So Elisha sends Gehazi away with Elisha’s staff, an instrument used in many miracles, to revive the boy.  Gehazi, being younger and swifter, does get to her house  first and lays the staff on the boy’s body, but nothing happens.  Elisha is enjoined by the faithful mother, thus: “As The Lord lives, and you yourself live, I will not leave without you.”  So like the itinerant Indianese hero in many a tense tale  of adventure, Elisha is slowed down by having to take a lady along. (John Wayne comes to mind)  but they get there, apparently too late.  I can hear echoes of Jesus’ disciples, “Why bother the teacher any more, Jairus’s daughter is dead.”

My attempts to re-tell this are poor indeed, but Elisha does the first recorded mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, and also body to body–he must have been very warm by this time. Hence the boy ‘sneezed 7 times,” and went on to live a normal (?) life. (Implied)

Sometimes Christians and some Jews wonder if Aaron’s  “rod that  budded,” and the Ark of the Covenant are hidden away somewhere.  Maybe with the brazen serpent too. But Elisha’s staff (no not his employees)  does not make another appearance in the hands of  another.  Stories such as these have so many aspects one cannot count them all, and there’s a  sermon for each one!

God’s point is, a  thing’s a  thing and it’s only a thing. It is only what God makes it  at the time, and usually one time only. So my attachment to stuff, even if only sentimental, is a thing against the King.  Suess’  Thing One and Thing Two, were only things of his imagination.  (Suess did not idealize things, to his credit.)  How is it that we cling to any single thing, when we will have to throw it away very very soon?

But as Doc S also said, “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”  Of course he only had Jewish tradition to go on, but that was enough to inform his stories with a touch of irreducible immortality. He at least knew it was a possibility; and that many of his ancestors had in fact worshipped  Real Royalty, all earthy kings aside. C.S. Lewis opined that if we really knew the  nature of the person with squeaky shoes next to us in service, we would, “be tempted to worship him.”

So it is with every object and temper and subject of creation, including a vast spectrum of rebellion,  hatred, anger, and murderous intent. “You have already murdered your brother in your heart.” (The way of Cain–Jude)  Even Mom’s good cooking doesn’t last. But her love leaves a long mark and a wide bright spot– because she too is immortal and has the stamp of God on her and in her.  Even if she denies any such “thing.”

Which brings us back to the Shunnamite mother.  She prepared a place for the prophet, with things. Specifically, a bed, a chair, a table, and a lamp. Likewise Jesus blessed the woman who kissed his feet and broke a jar of nard all over Him. “She did what she could.”  So  did Judas but I hope I do not have  to elaborate on the difference.

In our house we used to have a sign from Scripture, “Do not despise the day of small things.”  But neither shall we worship the things. The stories of how God used the things, and the people involved, will ring eternally down divine annals of history, if such Things be. In medicine never worship the things we use,nor put our trust in them.  Nor do we put our trust in man, eternal stamp of God though each may have.  God is our Maker and hence our only defense. Jesus His Son is also co-Creator, but no, not one, can get his mind around that.  “By Grace are ye saved, by faith, not of works, lest any man should boast.”

What more could we want, when what we have is more than we can handle?  “Think on these things…;”

 

 

 

 

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“The Trumpet Shall Sound…” G.F. Handel among others

Lord, give me ears to hear the warm up blasts.

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Observatory

I rustle up these observations from my ruins…TSE.

“The Wasteland”, Observed, is not as personal or as lovely as, “A Grief Observed,”–C.S. Lewis– perhaps because I, like Thoreau, have never been in a howling wilderness but in a rather protected environment, and go to great lengths to keep it that way and insulate myself from pain and grief and profound connections.  “Band of Brothers,” say.

I am referring to a group of 3 articles in the Oct. 19th TNY, one about Thoreau, one about a school bomber with Asperger’s and a new theory of the social proof of the school bombing phenomenon, and a review by Anthony Lane of the movie about Steve Jobs. It is my job to see connections on the level of ideas, and this is a fertile cocktail that says much about the present moment of our culture.

One thing must be said, and that is that connections are everything, according not only to pundits but sociologists and just about anyone else you can name in the business of opinion-making.  We live where the Social Network is God, and there is no other, if one believes these writers. Yet another idol has arisen but with a lot in common with previous idols and idea-gogues.

This is actually not at all new, and was observed by Dr. David Riesman in his foundational book, “The Lonely Crowd,” published in 1950.  He pointed out then, in a culture of conformity, that the inner directed person, the rugged individual,  was being crowded out in favor of the outer directed. Unlike writers of today, writers of the 50’s were not convinced this was a good thing but a rather ominous development. In fact,  the whole beat culture arose in response to an increasing number of social controls remaking man in an image of blandness, in response perhaps to the banality of evil represented by the Third Reich.  One could say the same about the re-revolution, based on Beat failures, of the 60’s;  Of which I was a  part  of course. But not having gone through any brutal wars, and managing to avoid Vietnam like the plague it was, there was no way I was going to submit to cultures that kill their own people, but I did not realize that all cultures do this, including mine, which practically invented abortion on demand.  Out of the frying pan…

I was very Thoreau about my life.  But I see in retrospect also that Thoreau was really a reprobate, and may have had not only a touch of genius but more than a hint of the cruelty of Asperger’s–somewhat like the arrested school bomber who was the subject of what I consider to be a companion article, “Thresholds of Violence.”

But it is quite possible that we are not talking her about Asperger’s, or sociopathy, but about the pristine male ego.  As with so many things, such as addiction and abuse, we insist on manhandling it to make what is normal, a disease state.  The article on Thoreau admits, at least, that Thoreau was a case of over-extended, but really normal, adolescence.  Which would explain why we read Walden in high school but seldom if ever go back to it. Because many of us, unlike Thoreau, grow up and get married and take out loans and watch football and so forth. (It seems counter-intuitive to consider the NFL a civilizing influence but really it is, in a very large way. Keeps us off the streets, etc…)

Another sociological study of some years ago, I forget the name and the author, pointed out that the “civilizing” projects of the female kind are quite an important way to balance out, “the madness of the prophet,” and the vagaries of the mannish rogue elephant, which most males continue to be, albeit covertly.  While modern men are enmeshed in a social network which they helped only a little to create, by providing the technical assistance (not  that much different from building a  house for your bride or inventing the telephone and then the party line) to those who actually knit together all of our famous loose ends; it is still true that our web is voluntary if ill-informed and reflexive.  Get specific, men! You are here for a reason, admit it, and get with the program!  It’s not about you anyway, but about who follows you! (And then, it is not about them either, once you get back to the future…)

But there is still that little boy, in time out, sitting in the corner, saying, “I’m still standing up on the inside.”  Indeed, we are.  And one could hypothesize, as many have, that the more you control the little boy in us, the more ways he finds to rebel. Because rebellion is always on the male mind, at least. Both the Bible and the 2000 years following show  that very clearly. Hence Caesar, Alexander, and Mussolini, and the whole crowd of despots who were once campaigning for freedom and dignity. On their own terms.  Thoreau, given more power, would have ruled like Cromwell, and people in general,while they crave a leader, do not like the desperate measures such tyrants propose and will depose all. Eventually.  But in the larger view of history, almost instantly. Failed experiments in radical autonomy, all. For only one Absolute Monarch can be, at a time, and even s/he is not free at all, but loaded with obligations and the heavy hand of history.

Of course then there is The Elephant in the  room that no one will touch  or contemplate lest they lose everything the world loves.  Whether on the inside or the outside of  civilization, the equation really remains the same. Whoever wins the elections is not as important as we think. “Put a dent in the universe,” Steve?  “Tell that to Einstein.”

Everyone is Religious, and everyone is Reactionary. What’s  the third “R,” then?

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