Friday, October 19, 2012

Prayer

I sometimes think my conception of prayer is more philosophically rigorous than the genuine Christian. 

I find my faith in God is, like so many things we learn as children, not a belief I can shake. Like my, I should admit, incurable hopeless romance. Something I doubt I'll ever be able to banish. In fact, it's rather like those optical illusions where two lines are the same length, but because o
f context they appear radically different. Now I can sit and stare at those lines, measure them, and rationally appreciate they are, in fact, the exact same length. As I stare at them, I realize, yes, this is true, and the mirage vanishes, and they really are identical. For a moment. But I look away a second, and when I come back, they're just as different as the beginning.

That's my belief in God. If I think on epistemology, if I weigh the evidence cooly, I realize there probably is no God. Certainly none I could hope to know. But I think of something else, my mind gets distracted, life happens, and the belief resurfaces behind everything. Background radiation.

So my point is, at moments, I pray. I could say this is just a way of covering my bases, and it couldn't hurt, but it's nothing so calculated. It's that residual childhood imbibing, the sense that someone is looking on, caring, vigilant, loving. Maybe He is.

I clasp my hands, and my thoughts always go like this. I think of something I want. A relative, a friend, to be happy and well. A situation to turn out how I want it to. A love to be kindled and reflected.

But then I think what do I know? Who knows that this should turn out the way I want it, in the greater scheme? Perhaps, this momentary hurt is for the greater good. Perhaps if the Titanic never sank, maritime precautions would never have been enhanced, and the world would be that much poorer. Perhaps the Holocaust was the only fertile ground to breed the Aliyah Bet. Who knows the answers to these things? Certainly I can't begin to comprehend all the moving pieces. But God can. God must.

So it would be foolish to ask for a particular thing--He knows what should happen, what should be granted and what must be withheld. In surrender, I think, well then I'll simply ask God to do what He thinks is best.

And that prayer is on my lips, too.

But surely a good God would not withhold the right outcome simply because I failed to ask for it. If a loner lies in a hospital, comatose, will God really only grant him salvation, wellness, if he has someone to pray for him? Is God partial to the gregarious? I think not: that's not the God I believed in, and certainly no God I doubt now. A good God does good without being asked. He can't do anything else.

So the prayer dies on my lips. I'm bemused. I don't know what to ask for. The orison could only be redundant, and thus, pointless.

I don't know how to pray in the end. The only, only thing that suggests itself, is gratitude. Wanting nothing, only emoting. I think of the goods things in my life, the wonder. I think of when we got my childhood pair of golden retrievers. The first night we took them home, so small, so energetic, so unrestrained in their love for us. We named them Taffy and Butterscotch. When we picked them out, the favorite was Butterscotch because he had a white mark on his forehead. But Taffy followed me around, and I wanted him. Chaos in the family, until my parents announced we'd get them both.

Taffy died of cancer, and Butterscotch died of a broken heart. The last night he was alive I picked him up, so riddled with disease he couldn't walk, and brought him down to my bedroom. I held him, talked to him in words he couldn't understand, and in the morning said a goodbye that wasn't enough and couldn't have been enough and never saw him again.

When we brought them home the first night, after they'd exhausted themselves in licking our faces, Butterscotch fell asleep. His feet trembled, as he dreamed of chasing giant rabbits. I think of that.

I think of how a pretty girl's hand feels in mine, so frightfully fragile, like sapling greenwood. Like a secret never to be betrayed.

I think of laughing with friends.

I think of my mother's voice.

My hands are still clasped. "Thank you," is the only thing I say to God. "Thank you, thank you, thank you for all of it."

It's not a terrible outcome, to begin in a state of wanting something more, and to end up reflective, wanting nothing, grateful for all--all--that is.

So I fall asleep with a smile, vaguely knowing that if this is the last night, if some flair erupts from a sun that quite selflessly granted us so much, if some stray gamma rays sterilize this world and all its precarious civilization, then it was enough. Such is the legacy of a decade of Protestant worship.

It's enough.

Cage/Hammer

ROOMMATE: So, you watch any terrible Nick Cage movies lately?

SCOTT: No. But I did the find out the reason he makes so many bad movies. It's because he spends money nonstop. Has 17 houses or something, and a castle in Germany.

ROOMMATE: He's kind of like MC Hammer. Only, you know, he's still employed.

SCOTT: I know. I'm not sure what the latest MC Hammer single is.

ROOMMATE: The last time he made a single, it came with cheese.

SCOTT: It was titled: "You CAN touch this... for a price."

My Job

SCOTT: [after a general round of bitching] I actually quite like this job.

Practical Latin

VOCAL COACH: So that's Italianate Latin. And you speak...?

SCOTT: Classical Latin.

COACH: And you use that to speak to...?

SCOTT: Priests mainly. Like I know how to say "Please stop touching me" and "Help, I need an adult."

COACH: Very funny.

SCOTT: I know, right? And topical too.

Moore

Attached to the second volume of Alan Moore's "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" there's a traveler's almanac, which documents the world surrounding the Victorian setting of the book, and includes mention of every mystical realm ever dreamed up by an author. Of course it includes Utopia, Ruritania, Treasure Island, etc., but buried within are also these marvelously modern references, such as:


"Elsewhere in Washington we discover Chisholm Prison, thought to be escape-proof until the ingenious professor Van Dusen did just that during the first years of the twentieth century, while travelling further south, just past the logging town of Twin Peaks, with its many interesting Indian legends…"

And then even better, there's:

"…save to mention that a crewman who had sailed with Robert Owe-Mulch from the isle of Scoti Moria… eventually to settle near Los Angeles. The crewman, a fellow named Lebowsky, had been formerly a member of the Naiad race of Scoti Moria, but is it not known if he continued the traditional Naiad habits of smoking and nine-pins once established in America, or indeed if he produced any subsequent offspring of note."

The Nobel Prize is a Curse upon the World

Martinez Francisco:

I heard this morning for the first time the term "Pax Europea"
the EU received the Nobel Prize for peace

Scheule Scott D:

That's right. Germany has claimed it deserves 40% of the prize, but Poland says that's way too much. France has threatened to invade Belgium to get its 5%, whereas Greece has already sold its 3% to Italy in order to pay off government debt. Angela Merkel has demanded the handover of the Czech Republic's 2%, and London is trying to convince the Czechs to go along with it, lest the prize be revoked. For no particular reason, three Balkan countries meanwhile have joined, split up, rejoined each other, and once again split up.

Giving

DENISE: Oh, it's an "I Gave Blood" sticker. I thought it was one of those "I'm Special" buttons.

SCOTT: I don't need a button for people to know I'm special--that's what the tattoo's for.

Works Cited

‘Clevinger, what do you want from people?’ Dunbar had replied wearily above the noises of the officers’ club.

‘I’m not joking,’ Clevinger persisted.

‘They’re trying to kill me,’ Yossarian told him calmly.

‘No one’s trying to kill you,’ Clevinger cried.

‘Then why are they shooting at me?’ Yossarian asked.

‘They’re shooting at everyone,’ Clevinger answered. ‘They’re trying to kill everyone.’

‘And what difference does that make?’ Clevinger was already on the way, half out of his chair with emotion, his eyes moist and his lips quivering and pale. As always occurred when he quarreled over principles in which he believed passionately, he would end up gasping furiously for air and blinking back bitter tears of conviction. There were many principles in which Clevinger believed passionately. He was crazy.

‘Who’s they?’ he wanted to know. ‘Who, specifically, do you think is trying to murder you?’

‘Every one of them,’ Yossarian told him.

‘Every one of whom?’

‘Every one of whom do you think?’

‘I haven’t any idea.’

‘Then how do you know they aren’t?’

‘Because…’ Clevinger sputtered, and turned speechless with frustration.

Clevinger really thought he was right, but Yossarian had proof, because strangers he didn’t know shot at him with cannons every time he flew up into the air to drop bombs on them, and it wasn’t funny at all. And if that wasn’t funny, there were lots of things that weren’t even funnier.

Joseph Heller, Catch-22
Tourists on metro just referred to stop as Elephant Plaza. Priceless.
BLIND DATE: So do you not shave on the weekend?

ME: Honestly, I would have, but I didn't expect you to be this pretty.

DATE: So I was watching this movie, about the history of the, um…

ME: What?

DATE: The dildo. This doctor invented it actually.

ME: I think I know this story. You know how Isaac Newton was under the apple tree and it fell on his head and he got the idea for gravity? Well, this guy was under a banana tree.