Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Feeding Time at the School

Yesterday, The Pack was taking its usual after-hours walk around the local high school grounds. As usual, the dogs nudged their way toward the classroom area where they went into electrolux mode sniffing and scarfing up food-detritus. This annoys me, but I let them do it at least for a while on the rationalization that hunting and scavenging are what dogs are about. I do put my foot down, though, on Goobers and other disgusting things that our teenage population dribble out of their mouths.

It annoys me to see what these kids eat, which seems to consist in 1001 varieties of salt, grease and sugar. Strewn around the place are: pizza slices, french fries, velveeta smothered nachos, saucy crunchy chicken nuggets, hot dogs and chips, chips, muffins and candy. Oh for an apple core!!

It also annoys me to see how much of this garbage doesn't seem to make it to its intended repository but instead gets spilled about the ground. Are they physically challenged or are they just pigs?

These annoyances are so routine by now that I hardly think about them. But they do come to mind when, as yesterday, Rosco-dog makes a quick lunge for something particularly revolting.

A voice hearkened to my muttering. "Oh, come on, now. Kids will be kids."

"Oh yeah?"

"Yes, it's only natural that some food will get dropped and dribbled here and there."

"It is? No it isn't. What's unnatural is that these kids are allowed to eat and roam at the same time, as if they were some species on the hoof."

It then occurred to me that yet another thing wrong with our public schools is that they don't require everyone to sit down at a common meal. In our local school, they let the kids wander about munching fast food garbage, in a mode little different from that of my dogs. In others schools, the students are allowed to meander into a noisy cafeteria where they divide up into cliques and clusters. Either way, this is completely wrong. It is, in fact, degenerate.

The common meal is the most basic social act in all cultures. That more than 1000 lectures and 1001 school pep rallies is the one thing that inculcates a spirit and habit of community. What our local school is teaching, at a very radical level, is simply alienation and irresponsibility.

I thought back to my (rather privileged) school days. Boy! were we noisy brats. We had our cliques. We tripped up our fellow-student waiters, found ways to steal extra helpings from the serving carts and did all the mischevious and voluble things kids do. But when all was said and done, three times a day we gathered, stood behind our chairs and sat down to eat together.

Of course, this country being what it is, any Common Meals Program is bound to stir up a School Prayer Controversy, which will no doubt make its way all the way up to the Supreme Court as Americans find yet another way to quarrel over the inconsequential while ignoring the simple basics, which could be simply stated as: mindful of those less fortunate; we are thankful for our food and for our friends.

©WCG, 2009

Friday, April 10, 2009

voca me cum benedictus

A little while back we were having an unremarkable chat with a friend of the Gazette during which we remarked that Pope Benedict's definition of faith (Spe Salvi) seemed to us to define faith as a social committment by us to live as we would like our reality to be. Our friend immediately interjected a protest. "No, not just that!" Detecting the essential unilateralism of such a definition, he insisted that, "God is really communicating to us from the Cross."

Communicate? What a goddamn piss-poor way to “communicate”. Was He some sort of Cosmic Imbecile or what?

We rolled our eyes and let it slide; but in truth such palaver rubs us the wrong way. If God is so damn eager to “communicate” with us, why doesn’t he shower us with iPods from Heaven? I’m sure He could cut a favorable licensing deal with Steve Jobs. Why He could then keep in personal touch with each and all of us, answering our personal questions and tailor-texting us instructions on what we needed to do. But nooo! Instead he pulls a Rockefeller and sends out invites via third class mail. This Wireless Act on Stick was such a dumb and inane way of “communicating” as to leave one wondering if maybe God was that than which nothing more fucked up stupid could be conceived. And not wondering for very long either.

In fact why bother “communicating” at all? Actions speak louder than words, my mom always said. Who cares about messages? What most of us need is food for the tummy, money for operation and maybe a little better luck than getting our arms blown off by some US /Israeli drone or being born a girl sex toy in Thailand. This blathering mantra that “He died on the Cross for our Sins” is decidedly underwhelming. Whoopee dooo. I mean, here’s this ‘Guy’ whose got all the power and goods in the universe and what does he decide to do? To incarnate himself in some filthy, fanatic-filled backwater and then get himself in Big Trouble with the local sheriffs. The whole thing strikes me as nothing more than a Self-indulgent act of Divine Slumming.

And who gives a rat's ass about “God sharing our humanity.” Big deal. In case He hasn’t figured it out, most of us would rather the sharing go the other way... a little co-participation in Heavenly Ease or Seventy Two Virgins... whatever. But it gets worse. When the Beloved Darling ascends back to Daddy and his Heavenly Mansion on Park Place, does he provide any coat-tails for the rest of us? Noooo.... we’re still here in stuck in the muck of things. Looks to me like He’s just another typical Hi-There! One-of-the-fellas, rich boy.

The whole thing pisses me off. With gods like that who needs devils?


Of course I could never have such thoughts in Mexico. Not in a thousand years. The truth is different down there somehow. One doesn’t think about the “message” of the Crucifixion. There really is nothing to “communicate”. It is there. It is a fact. It is overwhelming.

As von Balthasar would say, we are “endowed to be a response” and to the theological drama of Good Friday we respond with horror, first, but thereupon with compassion and renunciation. If we cannot un-nail Jesus from the cross or free him from the lash, we can at least renounce the conducts, attitudes and lusts that lead to a man’s crucifixion and we resolve to do unto others as we would have done for him had we been there. That after all is the greatest whole sacrifice, is it not? (Mark 12:33)

No. The truth appears different down there. In Mexico, the Crucifixion evokes a decided response.

Evokes..... Ex Vocare..... Ah , well, in that case...

©WCG, 2009