Thursday, August 4

God, Made Simple

Okay, we're all agreed April is the cruelest month (breeding), but where do you suppose August was ranked in the coaches' poll? August is tiresome and irritable to its core. August is the smug, unreflecting smile of the born cheerleader, the irrepressible booster, just before she dies in a prom-night car crash or worse, graduates. August is a month of Groundhog Days, in both current senses. Six more weeks of this? Sure. But you know what, how 'bout instead of the brave promise of Earth's Green Bounty and bluebells in the meadow, we following this one with entire forests of orange flame, with the long, lingering soul kisses tasting of apple cider, and maybe a little roll in the hay for Harvest Home. And just a little touch of frost, darling, a little love nip, just enough teeth to make it interesting. Then the warmth will return, she promises, warm and bright and you can wear that new sweater you like so much for the slight morning chill.

Then she's walking out, and takin' your ball glove with her just for spite.

Well, it isn't actually like that for me. I like winter. I'm always ready for change. I'm a little tired by this point of getting up early to make sure everything in the garden is watered, but I don't think that's it. It's a psychic malaise, but it doesn't seem to have anything to do with my personal psyche. And it's confined to the morning. I'm terrible at waking up under the best of circumstances. I don't sleep much, but I'm not worth much for roughly ninety minutes after I get out of bed. The past three days it's been more like stirring out of hibernation than cursing the alarm clock. You may be familiar with that sense that comes with having ingested certain types of intoxicating substances where the body is too leaden to respond to the brain's commands. This is like that, only my brain's dead, too.

But there are plants to be watered--we've hit another stretch of mid-90s here--and a kitten to be romped, and another cat to be fed and reassured that we'll be straightening out said kitten any day now, and while I'm under the influence of whatever this is I'm really sick of all of it, even though the garden is still peaceful in the early morning and the kitten is Most Agreeable, and I feel guilty about the stuff Stinky has had to go through on top of his recent illness.

So I blame August, or some mystic chord that's now lost that once equated late summer with jumping fish and tall cotton. There's a reason why sensible cultures with continental climates take the month of August off, while we're busy extending Employee Pricing and Christmas in July sales into one final week. August is God's way of telling us what He really thinks of Calvinists.

[By the way, are you as disgusted as I am with the overcommercialization of Christmas in July?]

I don't know what this has to do with God. In fact I don't know what anything has to do with God, and I wish more people who seek His care would admit they don't either. We'd all get along much better. But Stephanie filled in for Chris Clarke last week with a Chris-worthy piece about an old cemetary, and Lindsay had a piece about the latest sighting of Jesus in a bag of Fritos, and they both collected comments decrying their unfairness to people of faith, and it bothered me more than such things usually do. Maybe it's just August, I dunno. I'd be a lot more impressed by such people if their religion called on them to deny themselves something they really wanted, instead of grousing about what other people are up to all the time. How 'bout "Air conditioning is the Devil's back rub" or something? There's a 19th Century cemetery in Monroe County, about a quarter mile off a hiking trail through Morgan-Monroe State Forest, and there's a large stone for two parents and eight of their children who didn't make it past eleven. Those were God-fearing people (I'm supposing) who had real reason to fear, who probably didn't have time for a God who was interested in trivialities. Winter meant more to such people than bringing the potted plants indoors and wondering how much Ice Melt to buy. And the sweat of August was probably as welcome to them as a good spring rain.


Hokie said...

Truly oppressed groups, the ones that really have the short end of the stick, I find do things other than just sit around and compain about how other people aren't being fair to them or about how they're being persecuted.

People of faith are typically just as unfair, in terms of snickering or snide comments, to those without faith than vice versa. It's part of that whole "thinking your belief system is right" thing. But it's something about religion (and I myself am sort of religious, though my religious tradition takes the form of philosophy more than Western-style faith and what ho, and that's a belief system I have trouble wrapping my head around) that causes insane double standards towards those who don't wish to partake in it.

For example, if you tell someone you don't believe in God, all of a sudden they get up in arms at how illogical it is to be an atheist, while, generally, never making such a claim to those who are theists. Then, when the atheist protests at how little religion has to do with reason, the theist gets offended by the questioning of their faith, regardless of how on its face absurd the statement they're attributing to their deity of choice is.

Talk about being unfair: how about comments like George HW Bush's that he didn't think atheists could be considered patriots?

It cuts both ways, people: there are of course religious folks who are perfectly fair to non-religous types, and for them the favor should of course be returned (though I still reserve the right to ask "What the fuck are you thinking?" to the most absurd beliefs, though, of course, absurdity is in the mind of the beholder). But there are far more, in my experience, who are more unfair to even those who believe in a God but not the way they do than almost any atheist has ever been to them, even to the extent of writing them off as not being moral because they can't have a moral code that's dependant on the whims of some being (no, I don't get that, either).

If you, as a person of faith, want to be treated fairly, you've got to return the favor. There are those courteous souls who will do so anyway, but you can't expect it otherwise. Otherwise, stop bitching and seriously look at how you're behaving. The ones who keep harping on it are usually the worst offenders, after all.

Yosef said...

That was an excellent description of the "Dog Days", DH. Very good.

KathyR said...

I'd like winter, if we had one.

I'd be more inclined to believe in God or Jesus or the Flying Spaghetti Monster if they'd reveal themselves on the floor of the UN or something, rather than in chip bags, cheese sandwiches and underpasses.