Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Careful With That Axe Eugene

Hello Peoples,

     Last week saw Walkerville High School on Spring Break and myself without an internet connection.  Though I did  actually write a post (a very long one) I find it better to write, save as a draft, rewrite, publish.  Each of these steps is as essential as the one  before it and I just couldn't bring myself to skip any of the aforementioned steps and deliver to you, my readers, anything lower than my normal absolutely stellar material (Har har har).

     A lot has happened to the Strange family and their relatives recently that has us all more or less reeling.  More correctly, a lot has happened to the Strange family's families and this has left us all a bit stunned.  More on that (maybe) some other time, but at the moment there are just a few things that I need to share.

     My mother and I have a disagreement which has led to a jagged rift in our familial relationship.  It is, to say the least, devastating.  You see, she maintains that Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven is the greatest rock and roll song ever recorded.  I, though I recognize its incredible beauty and rock awesomeness, maintain that in fact the greatest rock and roll song ever recorded is Jimi Hendrix's All Along the Watchtower (yes I know, you know-it-alls, All Along the Watchtower was written by Bob Dylan, but would you consider his version rock and roll? I thought not).  To resolve this dispute we (or I) turned to our resident authority on ear-candy, Bess.  My thoughts were that perhaps her unfamiliarity with the lords of rock would lend her neutrality.  So in order to see, what does a 14 year old girl think is the greatest,  we did what anyone would do. We grabbed a  25 year old AM/FM radio with one speaker and a tape player and we played the songs.  Oddly enough, both songs may have actually sounded better on said AM/FM radio with one speaker and a tape player, but this was not enough to stop 6 yr. old Curious George from walking in during Stairway and declaring loudly, "You call this rock and roll?  This does not sound like rock and roll!"  Oh Curious George, someday you will grow up and see the error of your ways. As for Bess, she realized that she was between a rock and a hard place, namely my mother and myself, and decided very wisely to hide behind the fifth amendment.

     As I mentioned before, a lot has  happened recently to the Strange family's families.  Some of it is, to put it lightly, rather shocking.  Certain things have made me rather angry at certain people.  I can't describe how angry it has made me.  I think its a kind of righteous wrath, but it has been justified (by me) on the basis of, "Well, I may be a sinner, but I would never do this," or "What kind of [no need to type this] would do that?"  I justified my anger because I saw myself as better than certain others around me, but I'm not. Honestly, not one of us is.  In Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand describes one character's realization that some people are just plain bad.
But he still thought it self-evident that one had to do what was right; he had never learned how people could want to do otherwise; he had only learned that they did. It still seemed simple and incomprehensible to him: simple that things should be right, and incomprehensible that they weren't.
     Like it or not, some people are actually intentionally bad.  They intentionally do things for the single purpose of hurting others or getting their own at others' expense.  You and I may not be out to get people.  We may not try to be mean (I swear, I don't try) or hurtful, but we still do. With that in mind, we then separate people into the categories of intentions.  We make two categories: those whose intentions are good and those whose intentions are bad. "Did he mean to hurt her? Well then he is bad." "He shouldn't have done that, but his heart really is good."  The fact is though  that no matter what or how we do right, we will always, purposefully or accidentally, do wrong as well.
If we justify ourselves by what we do, we will always come back to the fact of what we cannot: we cannot achieve perfection. We cannot achieve our own justification.  C.S. Lewis describes our state in life without Christ very well in Mere Christianity.
That is the terrible fix we are in.  If the universe is not governed by an absolute goodness, then all of our efforts are in the long run hopeless.  But if it is, then we are making ourselves enemies to that goodness everyday, and we are not in the least likely to do any better tomorrow, and so our case is hopeless again. We cannot do without it, and we cannot do with it.  God is the only comfort, he is also the Supreme terror: the thing we most need and the thing we most want to hide from.  He is our only possible ally, and we have made ourselves His enemies...Goodness is either the great safety or the great danger- according to the way you react to it.  And we have reacted the wrong way.
Yes, we have all made ourselves enemies of God by our every good intentioned wrong action.  Lets add in the ol' Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" and 3:10, "There is no one righteous, not even one" and it becomes annoyingly clear that we all, on our own, suck.
C.S. Lewis echoes David's own words of resting in the shadow of God and hoping in the Lord when He says that God is the "only comfort" and "Supreme terror."  Just how true this is can be seen by looking at how Israel, God's chosen people reacted to Moses when he came down from the mountain with the commandments.  They didn't see God, they saw only one who had met with him and they were so afraid by what they saw that Moses had to place a veil over his face.
     Let me add one more ingredient to this stew of thoughts I've spilled out here.  As I sat at the table one morning at the house in Alabama built by my grandfather and formerly belonging to my grandmother I was angry.  I was angry because it was "simple that things should be right, and incomprehensible that they weren't."  I fumed because some people could have the audacity and ignorance to do petty and ruthless things.  Then I read this
You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
I read this and my exact thoughts were, "Dang it, Jesus.  Really?" Now let me tie this all together.  I would like to say that I am the Moses in my life's story, and maybe sometimes I am, but the truth is that we are, all of us, Israel.  None of us is good.  None of us is righteous.  None of us is holy and the holiness of God should make us tremble.  Suddenly my anger was turned to pity as I realized that I am not as good as I think I am.  The only goodness that I have, the only righteousness I possess, comes from Christ.  Stonewall Jackson was known for reminding friends and family that as angry as we may become at others it is important to remember that they are only still "deceived." Like it or not, and I'm leaning toward not, we are, none of us, so much better than the worst of us as we thought. But enter here the beauty of Christ and His continued work in our lives.

This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone,  but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.- Romans 10
Also note, Bess pleaded the fifth, but you don't have to.  Let me know what you think is the greatest rock song in the comments.  Oh, and if it is not All Along the Watchtower then  I am sorry to inform you, but you are wrong.