May 3, 2005

Traps, demons, and such

I am not sure why I do this. Not the blog. It has been a good thing. But at times I engage with people that I really know I shouldn't. This isn't elitism, or snobbery. It is just the recognition that it is a trap to discuss with some people because while it seems we are using the same language, we aren't. We might as well be speaking Martian and Venutian for the good we do talking to each other.

Over at Jesus Politics I got into a discussion with a woman over the Lamott essay. She firmly believes that those of us who ask questions are bad. And so it goes. I tried. As God is my witness, I tried. I tried to approach with humility and grace. But when I try to engage, I run into her insistence that she has it straight from God. I am merely trying to think my way along. It isn't a fair discussion.

In a similar discussion, I got into it with a very conservative gentleman. We have moments of clarity as if we are on the same field, but then the ground shifts and it is clear we aren't talking about the same stuff at all. Here the subject is history, but the outcome is the same.

Today has been one of those days. I have written about those demons that come out when we are tired and weak and distraught. Mine come out when there are clouds and I am down. Today they reminded me that I am almost 40 and that my "career" is not what I had hoped. My brain struggles to fight them off--reminding those smug bastards that there is more to life than career, and that in that accounting, I am quite rich. More rich than I deserve. But those bastards keep taunting me; reminding me that my Ph.D., doesn't amount for shit.

I know they lie. I know they lie. But it hurts, and it drags me down today. Right now, though, as I write this, some evening sun has broken through. that is nice. I feel a surge of relief, like adrenalin, or like when you realize you have been holding your breath and start breathing again.

This is one of those down times, and those who read this blog recognize them. I am moody. I have to keep reminding myself of the truth of who I am, and not try to engage people on some other blog in a fake contest. It won't convince them, and it won't convince the demons.

But I don't have to take their shit either.


Hokie said...

See, that's why I always had the urge to just stop being polite to such folks (here I mean people I shouldn't engage with if I'm trying to be productive), which finally got the better of me.

jpe said...

I'm having that kind of day myself. Sucks.

Anonymous said...

So, while I am fighting the urge to write "Lighten up, Francis!," I understand all too well what you are referring to.

Demogogues are all too common at the moment. Tailgunner Joe-types are no longer anomolies, so many of us have become almost numb to the poisonous discourse they create. To your credit, you refuse to become numb to all this and you continue to marshall great arguments refuting faulty premises, factual errors, etc but, as you said, the ground keeps shifting.

No matter, you've done your part and got a number of others thinking -- here I am reminded of the "it matters to this starfish" story. (Of course, I am also hoping that one particular starfish will be whipped further up the beach instead of back to the water.)

I have long admired the way you have managed to live a balanced life amidst stress, strife, and general bullshit. That, truly, is an accomplishment to be proud of.

Hang in there, Streak. This too shall pass.

-- Sgt. Hulka, the big toe

PS You're old.

GreenSmile said...

I just found yer blog...going to have to catch up 'cause you have at some of the same windmills [and windbags] as I do. As to Mrs Utterly Closed Mind; I still have hope she is not representative. From your standpoint, its like trying to lift a house with your bare hands. We call it "isometric" exercise...nothing moves but you still get stronger.

You allways learn more in such exchanges than the pathetic intransigent.

Kevin said...


I, too had one of those days. I saw a good, gentle, holy, man get torn down by a self-righteous, angry, conservative ass (but not all conservatives bear the same moniker).

Today, for the first time, in MY LIFE, I felt like leaving the church. The hate was too clear. No humility. No grace.

I won't take their shit either, Streak. Thank you for your post. Thank you that I'm not alone.


JoeG said...

Streak -
Keep standing up, dude. I am in a verbal battle with the same schmuck you are in the same thread on Carlos' blog. I told the man I was pagan, and his first comment was "which tree or rock do you worship"? Look, I know stereotypes exist, but for a guy claiming to be Christian and promoting Christ's and God's will on earth, that was a pretty crappy comeback. I challenged him on it, and while he backed off a bit, he never apologized or anything. He has his generalizations, he has his opinions which are irrefutable in his mind, and he basically thinks he is right about everything. We know better. Keep helping me tear the sumbitch down! As difficult and frustrating as it is, I'm having fun with it, and I feel more empowered knowing I am standing up for my convictions in the face of ignorance.

Alice Venturi said...

I just wandered over from the now-apparently-infamous Anne Lamott thread at Jesus Politics.

Your argument there is sane, rational, and tolerant of other views; that is why people like Jane and JAB will never comprehend what you are saying. That they chose this particular thread to engage you and others in discussion is kinda...ironic. Anne spoke eloquently of the dangers of certainty in the realms of faith. Both J & JAB are nothing if not certain!

There seems to be a strain of human that finds any mental state other than absolute certainty frightening. They are very literal in how they view the world, and many seem to be blind to metaphor. For them, the world must be black-and-white, because shades of gray call for using critical thinking - something this type of person isn't very comfortable with.

You find this sort of person all over the world, in every culture and in every religion. And none of them are willing to listen to other points of view. Their view is the only correct one and that's that.

I think this sort of outlook must have once had survival value; dealing with the world in a literal fashion must have helped to keep people from being eaten by hungry bears or something. Alas for them, the world has changed. Few of us today are in danger of having Bad Things happen to us by being too flexible, or too tolerant of the dangerous Other.

So, don't let the idiots get to you. You can't help them because they don't want to be helped. They don't want to engage in a discussion. They don't give a rat's ass about what anyone else thinks or feels. They want an echo chamber, where they can hear their own views being bounced back at them, whichever way they turn. Spiritually speaking, they are an evolutionary dead-end.

You (and JoeG and others) are not on that track, so be of good cheer, if a non-Christian may say such a thing. :)