“Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress;
my eye wastes away from grief,
my soul and body also.
For my life is spent with sorrow,
and my years with sighing;
my strength fails because of my misery,
and my bones waste away.
I am the scorn of all my adversaries,
a horror to my neighbors,
an object of dread to my acquaintances;
those who see me in the street flee from me.
I have passed out of mind like one who is dead;
I have become like a broken vessel.
For I hear the whispering of many—
terror all around!—
as they scheme together against me,
as they plot to take my life.”
That there is from Psalm 31, in the New Revised Standard Version preferred by liberal Lutherans, verses 9 through 13, and part of that was in the morning meditation – the bit about being a broken vessel, which was translated “pot” there. I have been heard to say that I most enjoy the Psalms that focus on the smiting of my enemies, which is not entirely untrue, but is also not totally accurate. I get carried away sometimes and say things that are true-ish, not out of a desire to deceive, but because what I’m saying seems fun at the time. I do enjoy the smiting of my enemies, but I am more emotionally invested in maudlin and exaggerated descriptions of my own wretchedness and lowly state because that’s how I seem to me. The scorn of my adversaries, a horror to my neighbors. Yep, that’s me. I became this way as a result of various factors – my parents, mental illness (depression), alcoholism/addiction, poverty – all of which I’m doing things to address, but however I got like this, I am like this. I am a relatively bad person who doesn’t deserve anything nice. But I want to be better and do better. Therein lies the problem.
I don’t believe in human abilities. I mean, sure, people can get to the moon and shit, but people, as a general rule, are not capable of doing the simplest things to improve the plight of humanity. The best idea anybody has ever had for organizing society and distributing wealth has been capitalism, a system based on the slogan “every man for himself”. That this is slightly better, for some people, than the other corrupt and unfair systems that the powerful elites have imposed on the masses is the best argument for it that anybody can come up with. The greatest achievements of humankind – the things that people have made which have stood for ages – have been religious in nature. From this, I deduce that humanity is at it’s best when it serves God – by whatever name any given humans use at any point in history. In my own life, I have been at my best – that is, able to rise to the level of the average asshole – when I have done my level best to live as I believe God would have me live. That’s enough to convince me that continuing to live as I believe God would have me live is going to work out better for me than any other course of action.
Note that I’m in it for me. And mine. My daughter, that is. Anybody else – I’ll help ’em out if I can without too much inconvenience. Unless the Spirit moves me – if that happens, I’ll give a stranger a kidney because my experience has shown me that it all works out better when I do what God says. Let’s pause for a moment to hear what Reverend Gary Davis has to say on this subject – and to enjoy a picture of a wee grrrl, not unlike my own, doing the “Hot Dog Dance”.
So I’m throwing my lot in with God.
Recent developments – I’ve enrolled in the adult degree program at a local university, the first tangible step in my long and arduous journey toward becoming a pastor in God’s Lutheran church. I’ll be struggling to scrape a bachelor’s degree outta this and then I’ll move on to kicking the bricks at a Lutheran Seminary. I’ve also met with some people who have a house that they wanna get rid of, as well as a realtor who knows what hoops I have to jump through to be able to live in said house and assume more debt than I have ever had before. These are normal, grown-up things that normal, grown-up people do on the regular and which I have never had any reasonable reason to believe I could do. It’s pretty fuckin’ weird. It’s easier for me to think of it like a scam – like I’m putting one over on somebody – than that I actually am capable of doing things the normal, grown-up way. However I think about it matters one fuckuva lot less than what I do, though.
I can kinda see why God would motivate me to the ministry – I have the common touch, being a commoner who is somewhat “touched”, to use an old southern expression that means “crazy”. I never been a slaver, but my redemption story is not unlike that of John Newton, author of “Amazing Grace”, America’s favorite hymn. Scotland seems to like it too. Here’s the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards:
I’m not sure why God wants me to buy a house, but I experience that in the same way as the call to ministry. And it seems to be moving along in the same sort of way. I meet people who are instrumental in making these things happen – the mortgage agent and the realtor, the admissions person at the university – and they make things happen. When I express doubt or concern, they assure me that everything is gonna be okay. Sure, you could argue that they ain’t signing themselves up for debt – actually, they get paid to rope people into contracts whether those people can meet the terms or not – and yet that just don’t matter to me. I am quite confident in my ability to scrounge the resources that I’m sure God will provide. It’ll mean work and sacrifice on my part, but that’s baked in. Jonah had to travel to Nineveh – God didn’t teleport him there. Jesus had to get crucified, for fuck’s sake, I’ma havta do some work.
Maybe the house plays into God’s plan like I’ll start my church in my living room. The house has a nice open floor plan and it would work for that. Prob’ly two dozen people could congregate there for an hour although I generally don’t like having people in my space, but as long as my parents continue to go wherever they go on Sundays and don’t come to my house, I could put up with it. Or maybe God’s just thinking it’s about time I got my own place – the grrrl’s gonna need her own room in the near future, for privacy and shit. Or maybe I’m totally mistaken – I could be projecting my desires onto God and believing that He wants me to have something that I want and that He’s gonna give it to me if I act like a good boy for a change. That seems likely.
Anybody who’s been reading this for any time – not that anyone would – might’ve noticed that I tend to hit the “things work out better when I do what God wants” theme pretty often. That’s because I’m figuring out what my ministry will be about when I get done jumpin’ through hoops and have a ministry, which’ll prob’ly be in my living room. At the moment, it looks like I’ll be hittin’ three major themes, to wit:
- Things work out better when God is in charge.
- God wants diversity.
- Remember the poor.
I might come up with some other shit later, but that’ll do for now.