Monday, December 15, 2008

Something for Christmas that isn't depressing

Thanks to the fabulous SFist.

I find Christmas depressing. I'm not close to my family. I have more things than I need, so do most of the people I know. The people I know who don't have enough, they need more than I can give them. They don't need slippers with little flashlights in the toes. They need healthcare, or decent jobs, or decent places to live, or love and community. They don't sell that stuff at Wally World. In fact what they do sell is the antithesis of what so many of us need.

This little video gave me some heart for Christmas. And, I should point out, it was made by religious people. I can get as cynical about religion as I can about Christmas. Religion, as an institution, seems impossibly corrupt. Priests and ministers function as bureaucrats. People only come to church looking for what they can get.

There's just no way around the fact it is human to seek meaning and purpose in life. Some people find it in art, or family, or work but, despite everything, many people find it in religion. Me, I'm still looking, but I keep coming back to religion. I guess I find "the world" as some Christians would define it, deeply unsatisfying. Except for ukuleles anyhow.

Having said that, I want to back up a few posts and talk about my friend, HD, from Hagar's Daughters. She was kind enough to give me a "Superior Scribbler's Award". I mentioned the award, said something about not following the rules and hastily moved on. I'm still not going to follow the rules, oh I'm such a rebel, but I am going to take some time to thank HD.

HD and I have one thing in common: The Episcopal Church. I grew up in The Church, and I can't say I was mistreated there. I find church politics maddening, and I usually end up walking away from them. I've made a couple of attempts, as an adult, to get involved with The Church and none of them have worked out. One of the things that keeps me orbiting around the fringes of The Church is the knowledge that there are some real good guys there. HD is a good "guy". In a very small but meaningful way she's been ministering to me for a while now. She's also given me a window into a world that I have great respect for. Rather than recommend any of my friends for "Superior Scribbler" awards, I'm going to recommend that you go to Hagar's Daughters and follow her links. HD and her friends are wonderful, thoughtful, kind and generous African American clergy, most of them women. They are intellectuals and scholars who calmly and patiently insist on having their voices heard.

That, I suppose, is what HD and her friends have in common with a lot of my friends here at Poetry is for Assholes. I want to hear what sawmill workers in Canada, and stay at home dads in Scotland, and recovering ex cons in California, among others, have to say for themselves. I admire people who insist on speaking up. I'll admit that some of friends are, like me, plain old white men. You know, the folks whose opinions "count" in America, but none of us are the kind of mean, chickenshit people who take up so much room on the internet.

If I have any gifts from God, curiosity is surely one of them. By the grace of God, I'm much more curious than I am scared, and I am often scared. I want to know what religion, especially Christianity, would look like if it was taken out of the hands of angry old white men. I think I might feel a lot more comfortable if people like HD were running things. HD, thank you for speaking up. Thank you for giving me a window into your world. Thank you for the "Superior Scribbler Award".


Hagar's Daughter said...

Wow Jon, I didn't see this coming. I am humbled, truly humbled. I came to your blog to catch up on reading. I'm usually a lurker. I didn't expect...Thank you.

I love coming here to your blog home. I experience a range of emotions and I ususally leave happy sometimes just down right slapping my knee, holding my gut, laughing (thinking about your reference to "my sparkling pony" which I can't type without laughing). There are times when I leave in silence because you've said something that is simply profound and times when you've left me speechless by reminding me of the pain in each of us and in the world.

About The Church...all I can say is I'm just as frustrated as you, but what keeps me there is that I feel connected with those who have gone before. I love the ritual and liturgy of The Church. All of the major religions have their truth and if we would follow the spiritual tenets of our faith tradition instead of trying to force others to do so, I think the world would be a better place.

As far as rules are concerned: This is Jon's house and Jon makes the rules.

Anonymous said...

jon, agreed, we all need meaning. looking around you realise that for meaning to be true it has to be simple because frankly many people are simple, it has to also include animals and other fellow sentient beings cos they are surely more than just lunch, and it has to include consideration of our planet. anything else kind of gets us to a very exclusive heaven/nirvana/still with slaughter houses (if animals are only there for food) and i presume where we came from will just be a charred remain!
shamans, old tribal religions used to be more this way i think rather than our multi faceted sometimes oppressive urban churches preaching good stuff that clearly so few people follow.
keep searching jon.

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