Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Real Life

Recently I asked myself, Self, why do we so often put quotation marks around the phrase "real life"? And my Self returned an interesting answer.

When we, who have grown up in this country, in this culture, use the phrase "real life," we are actually talking about a fiction.

When we use the phrase "real life," we mean a world in which everything makes sense. A world in which people are consistent. A world in which people act predictably, and in which thoughts and feelings can be understood and figured out logically.

We we say "real life" we mean a world in which everyone's goal is to get as much education as they can handle, get a job that pays as much as possible, or is as prestigious as possible, or preferably both, find a significant other, and settle down to a life of consuming as many of the pleasurable things produced by multinational corporations as our consumer culture can shovel into us.

When we say "real life" we mean a world in which science can explain everything. A world in which God doesn't make sense, but faith in Him is permissible as one of the beautiful, and one of the few acceptable, leaps of non-reason.

When we say "real life" we mean a world in which spiritual reality is no more than a personal construction, a fiction we can take or leave.

When we say "real life" we mean a world in which miracles do not occur.

When we say "real life" we mean a world in which true love does not exist.

When we say "real life" we mean a world without wonder, or mystery, or grace, except what we can create for ourselves.

In the end, anyone living in a world where any of these things are true is living in a world that is just as much a fiction as any Narnia, Naboo or Middle-Earth that ever graced the screen or page.

Sunday, October 02, 2011


Respectfully dedicated to Marshall McLuhan and Pontius Pilate

In the end, the world is not a book.
The stars cast their finite light
but they refuse to tell me answers.
The truth is an obsidian statue
with a hooked nose
and a large frown,
staring hawklike at a world
that refuses to acknowledge it.

Look, books are old news,
which is sad news
to those of us born from them.
But because God gives his message
in a book, should we snap up
a book's prejudices?

The truth is not a black-and-white
film, it is not either-or,
it is not a boundary line.
If truth is that, it is worthless.

Truth is an obsidian statue with many sides,
all of them absolute.

Truth is an awning,
a shelter into which the smell of the hot dog cart
wafts, off of which acid rain
cascades, leaving us unharmed.

Truth is a flashlight,
so why do we shine it in our own eyes?
Thus we are only blinded,

and our either-oring
makes us into prostitutes
who can see only original sin,
not salvation.

Truth is not a page in a book,
but the light that comes from reading
shines within us
(not by our doing)
shines through us
to illuminate the dark.

Truth is not the arbitrary lines
we draw in the sand
because we think we have the basis
to follow a page of print
containing it to the only possible conclusion.
With rare exception,
those who reach the only possible conclusion
are to be feared.

Truth is not the pages of the book
we have written about the world.

Truth is the sun, and its illumination
of the hills and vales, its light and its dark.
Truth is the noise a sunbeam makes as it falls to earth.