Monthly Archives: March 2013

A Blind Hope

All anyone’s talking about these days is the dreaded sequester. Since our inept congress failed to come to an agreement in January about budget cuts, raising taxes and so on etc., massive cuts took place starting on March 1st. Now we are in a continual, petty, and in the own president’s words himself “dumb” situation. Draw parallels to Rome. The barbarians invade soon.

Of course, Congress is not affected by the budget cuts. They will continue to do what they do best, which is political jockeying and incessant, vacuous chatter. The fact that the American people still believe these are the people who should run our country is beyond me. If anyone is looking for an argument against the efficiency of government they need only look to our esteemed political leaders over the past couple years. I’m not by any means making the conservative argument for smaller government.—all my family believes me to be on the “liberal” side of things. I am however going to make an argument for an end to both big government and big corporations. For the richest country in the world to spend more time on it’s own poor than bombing the poor of other nations. I would like to say the writing is on the wall for America and the political divide, capitalism, globalization, and so, but I don’t know that I’m that optimistic.

However, combine our current governmental situation with reality T.V. shows like “Toddlers and Tiaras,” and it’s going to be easy for the aliens to understand why we as a society failed.

We don’t have enough Wendell Berry’s in our world today—people who can criticize the bureaucracy of government and the energy corporations in the same sentence. But who are not libertarian because they still believe in community. But are not socialist because they still believe in individual responsibility. In short we need a new political framework or I would even go so far to say, an anti-political framework.

We need people who can rise above the day to day squandering and not be fitted into our structural boxes of who’s right and who’s left and who’s right and who’s wrong. I am not solely proposing anarchism, although maybe a year ago I might have. The word anarchism is a highly misused word and obviously controversial, It is nearly impossible to define because there are so many different forms, ranging form pro-violence to pacifism, from extreme individualism to collectivism. In the Greek it stems from the word anarchos, which means “without rulers.”

Today, more than anything, my subjective opinion would be that anarchism is highly skeptical of government structures but clearly opposed to even bigger forces like globalization, militarism, and oppression. In some cases it calls for a return to a more tribal society or Native American society where individual groups ruled themselves. The word can be synonymous with violence and chaos, but anarchism as a form of rule would be highly organized.

My Christian friends would probably call me an anarchist for my “radical” views, but my secular friends who are anarchists would say I could never be an anarchist because I submit myself to the authority of God and my community.

However, I’m really not interested in defending anarchism or any other type of ideology. I would like to propose a society where, well, I’m not really sure what society I’d like to propose. At the end of the day they’re all going to be flawed. Like my father loves to say, “Democracy is the best of the worst.”

Lest I stray into the bloggish world of “Here’s my opinion about everything in the world and watch me criticize everything!” I would simply like to lament the fact that while congress squanders our money and resources, many people around our country are feeling the effects of a flawed economic and government system.

The U.S. spends more on defense than 12 runner up countries below it combined, and somehow we are arguing that we need more money for military defense? All of our money, weapons, and democracy are accomplishing very little.

I could argue for a return to a more just and loving society, but I don’t know that such a society has ever existed. Besides there is also a recognition that whatever it is wrong about the world “out there” the same greed, bickering, and lust for money, sex, and power exist in here. In the dark recesses of my own self.

I usually try not to write about current affairs and politics because I find them both irrelevant in trying to love my neighbor.

However, for the record, I would like to call for a society where blood is more precious than oil, where pro-life excludes the possibility of war, and for a return to less technological, less concrete society. Where progress is not measured in GDP’s or smart phones. Where people were friends with the earth, and not enemies. Where we spend more time contemplating the beatitudes and less time arguing. Such things may never come to fruition, but there’s no harm in trying.

A Lenten Failure

The following is a piece of writing/journal I came across from a couple years ago about my first experience with Lent. Apparently not much has changed. Maybe next year. 

 

This morning I failed at Lent. But it wasn’t just this morning; it was the two days before it as well. Okay so I lied, it was five days ago. Five days since I have returned to all the same vices I so admire, breaking the promises I promised to God.

This was my first year participating in Lent. Growing up as the good conservative protestant boy I was, I always thought Lent was a cheap religious tradition (Not unlike the Easter Bunny) for Catholics and people who wore red, pointy hats. To my surprise I found out that Lent is actually for anyone and not just people who sit in confession booths and refrain from using contraceptives. The church I belong to talked it up a bunch and I was actually quite excited about the forthcoming challenge of 40 days of sacrifice. Now, being the good American that I am as well, I resolved to do it all. I was going to give up everything: Coffee, cigarettes, alcohol, masturbation, T.V., murder, bank heists, food, all physical touch with those of the female gender, and basically, everything I turn to throughout the day to self-medicate and help me get through life (which, also to my surprise, turns out to be quite a few things) I was also going to eat healthy, run, read my bible for three hours a day, pray like a monk for four hours by candlelight vigil, and conclude my day with seven hours of silent meditation. I was sure that by the time Easter rolled around I would be the most spiritual person anyone has ever met.  I would be in the best shape of my life and be well on my way learning how to levitate. I was sure that I was going to have miraculous visions throughout the Lenten season through which God would reveal His plan for my life and all His greatest mysteries.

To my surprise, none of this happened. I made it two weeks. I got discouraged. I got depressed. I stopped caring about life. I stopped caring about God. First I drank coffee, because I was tired of having headaches and feeling like a zombie from Dawn of the Dead, and then I smoked a cigarette (because…well, because coffee and cigarettes just go so well together!) After a few days of this I eventually gave it all up and was reduced to a near state of suicidal depression. I had failed. God was angry at me. My life in waste, my temple in ruins.  I returned to all the same old vices that give me comfort and help me make it through the day. Lent was done.

Or so I thought.

 “Good job Levi, way to hang in there!”I told myself (shouted really.) “Two weeks, way to go!”

After failing miserably, I proceeded to recoil into a fetal like position and numb my brain watching Arrested Development.  I did my best to forget what a miserable Christian I was and my prodigal son bastard tendencies. Eventually I gave up my self-pity and picked up The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning. And, nothing that spectacular happened, but I remembered that God loved me. He loves me even though I failed horribly at Lent and was like a blind grandson playing baseball, who you cheer for because you have to, though silently you think, he should just give up.

And I continued reading and almost cried and continued with Lent.  Still with all my same old vices, but with the knowledge that God loves failures, and burn-outs and ragamuffins like me and that is what the good news of Easter (not actually a cheap holiday tradition) is really all about.  

 

He Had Always Thought Going to Bed Was the Loneliest Part of the Day

He had always thought that going to bed was the loneliest part of a person’s life. When you lie there, tired, but unable to fall asleep, staring at the dark, your thoughts more alive than they’ve been all day. You are racing. You are racing.

 

It was 10:36 p.m. He was in bed. Trying to sleep. He never went to bed before twelve. He had wanted to go to bed early. Get a good night’s sleep before an early morning meeting. So he tried. He tried to go to bed early, figured some whiskey and a beer or two would do the trick. But all he could do was lie there, thinking about another drink, listening to Elliot Smith, another drink would make me fall asleep he thought.

But no, I must stay put. What time does the liquor store open? He thought, All he could think about was when he could go to the liquor store tomorrow, pour himself a couple strong ones in the evening tomorrow, get a little fucked up, and go to bed in peace.

 

He thought about getting up. But no, his meeting. He wavered between the two. Falling asleep and getting up. He could throw on some pants, pour another, step outside for a smoke, get a little fucked up, wake up exhausted, but somehow, content.

 

He wondered if these thoughts made him an alcoholic. He had never wanted to be an alcoholic. It was a sad thing. But he didn’t drink last night. That’s what he told himself, and it was true. He hadn’t drank last night. So he couldn’t be an alcoholic.

 

It was about more than that somehow. It was about going to bed alone. It was about going to bed lonely. It was about not worrying about the consequences of tomorrow. The headache. The churning stomach, like a ship. It was about not caring.

 

There is a transition, between tiredness and when you fall asleep. It is a transition that can last all too long.

 

He never liked the transition. He wanted to be awake. Then he wanted to be asleep. He didn’t want the in-between-time. When you lied there, all introspective, wondering if you’d survive tomorrow. When you thought about yourself, how damned destructive you were, how sad.