Wednesday, August 19, 2009
A Tough Man's Spiritial Paradox
I had dinner at Annie Guns last night and what a pleasure that was. First because the food and service exemplify all that is right in a restaurant. The staff at there are incredible stewards of the business and the food is always creative and prepared with impeccable care by Chef Lou Rook III. Second and most importantly,and without remorse, I am ecstatic for not having to pay for it. Thanks to my neighbors for sneaking the C card out while I was at the loo, or maybe my hand was just a little to late to reach. My 40 dollar strip steak was wonderful, like a sausage in fresh casing it sat in my stomach until the 7 AM opening of the elimination window. (Thank you Coach Hammer for the term "elimination".)
I mentioned early on to my hosts that I was needing to get to sleep at a decent hour, because I was invited to a bible study at 7:00 AM in St. Charles and I wanted to be fresh. It would be my first. Having never attended a bible study I remarked that "I am likely the token agnostic of the group"--"of which the pivoting will surely come"...during the study. I blurted this out in between slurps of a California Pinot Grigio.
A pause and then a full silence fell upon the table. And it occurred to me that my neighbors were Catholic and since, in my opinion, most organized religion folks seem to box and label in regard to their understanding of things. Touting yourself as an agnostic (humor based or not) dropped their jaw like a baby oil covered bowling ball.
And I know they were Catholic because I remember them coming in to Lone Wolf covered in ash one Wednesday afternoon, and, instead of saying "uh..guys..dirt-on-your-face", I said nothing--and was immediately taken back to my parochial school days at Sacred Heart Elementary Catholic School in Columbia Mo, where I got all freaked out going to confession a couple times and then, upon completion of (my perception of the experience) my mom asking the question: "don't you just feel better?"
Why yes, I did indeed feel better after getting the heck out of there. It always freaked me out some of the traditions of the Catholic Church and I have had a bit of an issue with this sort of thing for quite some time, traditions found in all kinds of faith based things, ever since. Not my fault, it is just the way it is with me.
Later in life, when I was able to make decisions for myself, which was quite possibly a little earlier than necessary due to circumstances relating to my lack of support for moral agenda, I felt religion and/or spirituality of any kind, or any outward proclamation of the sort for that matter, to be a weakness. I can't deny the fact that when it came down to it, the entire concept of spirituality seemed a little uncool. There was too much....--that which someone could be sold, convinced, brainwashed. It was like Amway, A.L. Williams, Relive, NSA Water filter multi-level marketing of the lord. People like this really get under my skin and it started early on. Later in life I was equally turned off because, like my mother, in an attempt to provide my kid with some form of spiritual influence, the clergy continually had their hand out, the whispers of pledge fulfillment, offerings, fund raisers, guilt...guilt...guilt.
Hey, it was not that I haven't had an "understanding" of something (no personification) greater than I guiding me through certain uncertainties, especially through the years most complicated by indulgence and through the tough times growing up. I always thought that I was chosen to do something great. I am not totally clear on what that is yet, but I still believe it. I am also convinced that doing something great has a lot to do with helping my fellow man out a bit, the planet, the world we live in. I am guided by the need to put this first, me second. In fact, I am interested in learning a bit more about the spiritual connection with God (personified as a human being or not) in order to study the successful processes that I have seen in others achieving something great for the betterment of our condition. So there you have it.
I find it interesting writing about this. I am apprehensive knowing that somebody will read this and take the same pause or equivalent. That..."is he sure he really means that" pause that, should his day come soon he will surely be in big trouble in because he did not conform.
Well, I am grateful there is concern, however, I am not much of a traditionalist and I need to craft out my own understanding while making my way in the world as whom I have become. I prefer my God to have a bit of empathy over the fact that I don't plan on tossing myself in the creek in the name of anything other than the refreshing goodness for which it stands. I suck at some of the stuff in life that, according some, puts me at risk. Fear...fear...fear...
I don't mean to question the traditions and ideologies of the masses for my own benefit. After all, I was the one asked to come and play a part and I genuinely feel that my cards were on the table in regard to my "level of spirituality" prior to agreeing to joining the bible study. I take comfort in this as I embark on the knowledge quest. There is something about turning over the fight to somebody else. There is somewhat of an immediate cure to the unknown if you look at it that way. Though I do see it as an intellectual dud. More on this later.
Can I get an amen?
"The truth is you're the weak. And I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm tryin', Ringo. I'm tryin' real hard to be a shepherd".
Jules Winnfield played by Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction.