So I’m waiting for my ride at 5th and Jackson, when my bus driver friend Gary (older black gentleman, very nice, but very formal) drives up in the #14. A lady with tattoos on her face staggers towards the bus as I’m talking to him, so I step back to let her on, rolling my eyes to let Gary know he’s got a real winner coming on board. She’s just trashed, and being Caucasian, I guess that makes her White Trash (in this part of town, it’s probably 50/50 odds the inebriated person is black or white. The Asians are rarely wasted, or they never show it, and I won’t even mention the Native Americans).
Anyway, after the drunk Caucasian lady stumbles past Gary, he looks at me and says, “That’s one of your people, Finnegan.” Then he closes the door and drives on up Jackson.
Maybe you’d need to know Gary, but it was funny as hell.
Now, if our roles were reversed, could I say the same thing, and would it be funny? Obviously no, and I think it could be justifiably considered a racist comment. Doesn’t that mean that Gary’s comment is racist as well? What’s fair (or unfair) for someone on the basis of race must be fair or unfair for someone of a different race, right?
Only if you’re an idiot. The manner in which people of different races, especially blacks and whites, view one another has a long history in this country, and ignoring it, or trying to ignore it, turns us into fools. People are different. We treat different people differently, and that’s just the way it is.
No, it doesn’t mean racism is a laughing matter. Neither, in most or at least many circumstances, are drunkenness and tattooed faces. And I’m not sure how well this story would play in front of a crowd, told by a comedian. In fact, this seems like a pretty good illustration of the difference between what’s funny for professional comedians, and what it means to have a sense of humor in the midst of whatever life happens to throw at you. The former can be enjoyable, but the latter is necessary so that life doesn’t become unbearable.
…I figger it’s high time the rest of us started in blogging again. Otherwise, people might start to get suspicious. They might think we were doing meaningful work behind the scenes. Can you imagine?
Anyway, we had our parish priest over for dinner last night. He gave a fine homily for Trinity Sunday about the necessity for experiencing the dynamic of love within the Trinity as being rather more important than understanding its workings, and he closed with a bit from a book written by a father raising a severely autistic boy. On a day when the readings made explicit reference to believers as children of God, it was easy to substitute myself (and all of fallen humanity) for the afflicted son. I recast it thusly:
The Horse and the Boy
The child is simple – anyone can see it
The way he blindly flails about the barn
– in here, where blade and beast might do him harm
and him without the beastly sense to flee it
It’s not his fault – the flaw’s been there since birth
or further back; it’s left him largely with himself
for company, untroubled by the wealth
of words and rules that circumscribe the earth
Thank God, old Betsy has the patience of a saint
Another horse, with some less gentle spirit
Might kick, and stop his cry before I’d even hear it
(If his mother knew I brought him here, she’d faint)
But once I’ve helped him up upon her back
He flashes forth the longing to be known and know
the world beyond himself in just two words: first “up” then “go”
to seek and find what he and I and you still lack
I’ve been rereading this 1899 novel by Machado de Assis, and came across this passage, which seems somewhat related to the conversation JOB and I have been having over the last month or so.
God is the poet. The music is by Satan, a young and very promising composer, who was trained in the heavenly conservatory. A rival of Michael, Raphael and Gabriel, he resented the preference they enjoyed in the distribution of the prizes. It could also be that the over-sweet and mystical style of these other pupils was abhorrent to his essentially tragic genius. He plotted a rebellion which was discovered in time, and he was expelled from the conservatory. And that would have been that, if God had not written an opera libretto, which he had given up, being of the opinion that this type of recreation was inappropriate to His eternity. Satan took the manuscript with him to hell. With the aim of showing that he was better than the others—and perhaps of seeking a reconciliation with heaven—he composed the score, and as soon as he had finished it, took it to the Heavenly Father.
“Lord, I have not forgotten the lessons I have learned,” he said. “Here is the score, listen to it, have it played, and if you think it worthy of the heavenly heights, admit me with it to sit at your feet …”
“No,” replied the Lord, “I don’t want to hear a thing.”
“But, Lord …”
“Not a thing, not a thing!”
Satan went on pleading, with no greater success, until God, tired and full of mercy, gave His consent for the opera to be performed, but outside heaven. He created a special theater, this planet, and invented a whole company, with all the principal and minor roles, the choruses and the dancers.
“Come and listen to some of the rehearsals!”
“No, I don’t want to know about it. I’ve done enough, composing the libretto …”
If we imagine that the score is by Schoenberg, maybe the passage will make even more sense!
“English poetry and biology should be taught as usual, but at irregular intervals, poetry students should find dogfishes on their desks and biology students should find Shakespeare sonnets on their dissecting boards. The latter, upon reading upon her dissecting board, ‘That time of year thou mayst in me behold when yellow leaves, or none, or few do hang’ might catch fire at the beauty of it.”
— Walker Percy, “The Loss of the Creature”
From the Office of Readings in today’s Liturgy of the Hours, an excerpt from a letter by Pope St Leo the Great:
To pay the debt of our sinful state, a nature that was incapable of suffering was joined to one that could suffer. Thus, in keeping with the healing that we needed, one and the same mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ, was able to die in one nature, and unable to die in the other. [… ]
One and the same person – this must be said over and over again – is truly the Son of God and truly the son of man.
Is Groundhog Day merely a grotesque neopagan parody of The Feast of the Presentation?
Or is it the other way around? Did the early Church fathers whimsically co-opt the earlier pagan festival of the groundhog by placing a feast of Christ on the same day?
I was hoping to hear a homily on this topic today, but no such luck.
“We all have a sense of what’s right and wrong, long-term. We all know on some level not to have the extra slice of pizza. Many of you have probably set up retirement accounts. Many of you probably haven’t contributed enough. Even when we know we’re doing the right thing for the future, there’s no immediate reward for that, and we naturally want what’s rewarding now. It’s why we splurge on unnecessary things and then justify it by saying it’s been a hard week, or we’ll save money later, or what’s one little extra expense? We suck and we can’t not suck. Even when we know what’s absolutely right, it can be unappealing if we don’t get a short-term benefit. Save money for retirement and you actually lose money, effectively, today.”
DISTURBING UPDATE HERE.