I am all for showing people respect – and i do. In fact, one of the best gifts I give people each day – Homeless people – is simple respect.
Do you wanna see a change in the guy who asks you for change? Instead of treating him like a nothing with a dismissive wave of the hand, look him the eyes and say “I’m sorry I just don’t have anything for you today.”
Treat him like the man he is. Treat him like someone who bears the imago dei – the “image of God” – because he does. And watch his response.
More often than not he will relax and that will be the end of it. The next person will have change, or the next. But you acknowledged his person-hood.
Meanwhile the rich and powerful are screaming for it – “Look at me!!” “Don;t you understand who I am!?”
“Oh yeah, I understand exactly who you are,” I say. “You would be that, er..um…fancy worm food who plays a drama for a while then goes back into the earth like the rest of us, no?”
They really hate that. They never laugh.
People who have a a lot of stuff have a lot to protect and they are very fearful. me? I have nothing so I have almost no fear at all. What are you going to do to me? What will you take away from me that has not already been taken away?
You see the most precious things are unassailable and internal/eternal. oh you can take my life – but even then I will be raised from the dead just as surely as Jesus was raised from the dead. Or as sociologist Peter Berger wrote once “given the resurrection, nothing is ultimately tragic.”
These things give a man perspective – or this man.
So I felt bad when I scared the poo out of famous poet Czeslaw Milosz once in the GTU bookstore (I have twice temporarily disembowled famous literary men). It’s not my fault.
Wrong guy in the wrong place.
i love theology because I love God. It is the study of God. What could be more exciting except that they make it mostly extremely boring and not that often about God at all. Somehow they seem to always make it about US. Oh we are gonna have some discussions about THAT in seminary.
Anyway…I just meandered away from the Medieval theology section where I had been looking at books by Bernard and I turned down this little walkway into this dark secluded area and suddenly around the corner came Czeslaw Milosz. Well…his eyebrows arrived first..like about four minutes before the rest of him. I figured the rest of the Milosz would soon catch up and it did including eyes that went wide with shock and my immense size, dark foreboding hat and long coat and a look that said “You are ONE who has been sending THOSE letters. I am surely a dead man.”
I have never seen a famous poet so scared. I thought at the time “Kinda looks like Andy Rooney..except this is terror and Rooney is all ‘worry and anxiety.’ ”
“It’s okay fella,” I said smiling. “I come in peace.” Then I beat a quick exit before he had a stroke and I could be blamed for curtailed the future of Western literature.
Who was the other guy? Lawrence Ferlinghetti in a dark stairwell…all alone and i swear he shat himself.
Also sheer terror.
Literature is about the Word and the poet is the bringer of the Word in our Post-modern context (as they were under Modernity). I became a poet in the 80s because I needed a voice away from religion and anything overtly “Christianized.” I had to learn how to function in an entirely secular context and I did so become a newspaper editor, then an arts and entertainment editor and finally moving over into Internet content in the videogame industry, in sports and a few other venues. I found I could morph myself empathetically to just about any audience.
Here is a good poem about how the Church has become self-obsessed. It;s short. You can understand it. Sheesh. All About Us.
What I was doing was “incarnating” into those worlds – no different than plopping myself done into the middle of the Tent City (or ‘in the goo” as I say) and doing service there. All the same principles apply.
Here is a video I did awhile back that talks a bit about this, about Czeslaw Milosz and also Andy Rooney. It’s a little bit funny too.
Now, just so you do not think me crazy …they really do resemble each other a bit…
I started studying theology seriously in 1978 when I decided to go to Bible college in San Francisco. As a young convert, with no religious training at all as a child, I had nothing to unlearn but also did not know that things like Fundamentalism existed.
Imagine my surprise, shock and bemusement when i was first presented with it!
For it was far too late for that bullshit to fly with me. Just as a man with a deep experience with God is NEVER at the mercy of a man with an immediately fabricated argument; so he is never tempted to trade it for dead religion. It’s – if you will excuse me – like being asked to trade in the vibrancy and intimacy of a beautiful woman for a box of blow-up dolls.
Er, no. Keep the dolls…go have fun..perve.
So I was already learning Greek and reading Kierkegaard (which everyone should read as an inoculation to dead Christian Religion right off the bat – and then we could all be done with it!)..and kept up my pursuit of loving God and people.
And I never stopped being a guy (never let them take your balls. So many christian guys just hand them over. “Oh well..here they are…I wasn’t planning on using them anyway I suppose…”).
Now over the next 37 years I would appear to many to be all over the map. Not so. The one constant has been my hunger to know more about God and enjoy God. I still think that the more I know about Him and am exposed to His glory the more I am changed (it will not come from some outward morality or trying to be “good enough”). I never try to earn anything from God and on the rare occasion I start to suggest He “owes me” for my pain I shut the hell up and apologize quickly because that is just plain crazy-speak.
[Ooh and by the way, if you find it disturbing my using the male pronoun – switch it for yourself. I go with what is presented in scripture, but we are also created in the image of God “male and female.” Just me. If we were discussing and you said “She” I would never quibble.]
We all want a lot of things – or used to. Now I want a few things. As ironic as it is – I have almost nothing and I have never been closer to having all I have ever wanted.
The things i still want (that my heart aches for) i trust God with because I trust His love. I trust Him with my education because He built my brain especially for this kind of study. It is not hard and those of you who know me best know this is true.
I’m glad so many of you are on this journey with me – and have been with me for the tough and really, truly, hard times.
I have been to the Center and it is not US.