The Other Ants & The Grasshopper: A Fable for Becoming Human

~ A tribute to Josef Pieper

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The moral of the story from The Ants & The Grasshopper (above, as found at The Library of Congress), one of Aesop’s Fables, is among the most damning morals of any story ever told, at least since the morals of the Old Testament story (although in an altogether different way). In my failure to adequately censor the story selection suitable for my own children–Lord, have mercy–I made the tragic mistake of reading this utterly perverse fable to them at bedtime last night. Since it is impossible to un-tell a story once told, below I have written not so much an alternative reading but what I will tell as “the rest of the story” in a sequel under a similar title.

May the God of the Seventh Day redeem our work with his rest, his joy, his beauty, so that, in Plato’s words, “after being refreshed in the company of the gods,” as it were, we might again find the moral courage to “return to an upright posture.”  

The Other Ants & The Grasshopper

One dark winter evening a family of Ants was dancing about the bonfire, celebrating during their annual season of play, when an ant from another colony, bored out of his everloving mind, wandered up, a sack of rations hanging heavy on his back, and knocked on the door. The music stopped with a screech, and one of the Ants (slightly annoyed by the interruption) opened the door, at which point the weary visitor humbly begged to join the party. 

“What!” cried the Grasshopper in surprise from the mic on stage at the front.

Prior to this knock at the door, the Grasshopper had been leading the Ants in song and dance. The Ants and the Grasshopper had developed a symbiotic relationship, which began one late autumn day when the Ants approached a forlorn and half-starved Grasshopper, after being brought to tears while overhearing him play Mozart’s Requiem on his violin under a willow tree. They had never felt such a bright, longing sadness, or really much of anything, other than feeling a little hungry just before lunch breaks. So they approached the Grasshopper and asked him to join their colony. They offered to provide him with food and shelter in exchange for the Grasshopper providing them with music and laughter, as well as officiating weddings and funerals for them. The Ants taught the Grasshopper how to work with his hands, but his only real summer responsibility was to provide music at the work site, which they discovered actually made their time at work quite enjoyable, especially after he taught them how to whistle while they worked. They did let him work alongside them (on the rare occasion he actually wanted to), although he mostly just got in the way. But even his clumsy contributions were amusing to the Ants.

The Grasshopper, on the other hand, taught the Ants how to play and rest, which included all sorts of strange and properly useless activities. He taught them how to play instruments, even forming a summer internship program for a select group that would only work half-days in order to spend the second-half of each day practicing for the winter solstice celebrations. He taught them how to dance, or tried to anyway, and was always quite amused at their stiff and clumsy movements, often commenting at their uncanny ability to turn every dance move into “the robot.” He held cooking classes, teaching them how to think outside the box and to experiment with new recipes, an altogether unexpected contribution that changed their whole approach to and methods of food-gathering, which had formerly been one-dimensional, with the only goal of maximizing their “energy reserves.” This actually led to a reorganization of the entire colony into three primary work crews in a new division of labor (breakfast crew, lunch crew, and dinner crew), which were then subdivided into smaller work crews with various assignments, all with the goal of maximally diversifying the possibilities of each meal, right down to the smallest group assigned only with the task of gathering garnishes.

He also taught them about the visual arts, holding art appreciation classes on Tuesday evenings and painting seminars on Sunday afternoons, during which they never ceased to be astonished in discovering just how different each of them “looked” on the inside—through the array of unique expressions on the canvases. (It was actually this discovery that led to them taking individual names as well as beginning to name their children.) He even taught them a number of interior design techniques to help brighten up windowless living spaces, which they had found especially helpful for battling against their formerly unrecognized Seasonal Affect Disorder, apparently common to all ants, not only because of the darkness but because they never really knew what to do with the time, or with themselves, when they couldn’t spend it working.

“Haven’t you found anything worth celebrating in the winter? What in the world were you working for all last summer?”, asked Jim (one of the Ants). 

“I didn’t have time to learn how to play,” whined the ant; “I was so busy storing up food for the winter that before I knew it, summer was gone.” 

The Grasshopper and the rest of the Ants shrugged their shoulders in disgust. 

“Storing up food, were you?,” they cried. “Very well; now eat!” And they slammed the door in the ant’s face, at which point the Ant family erupted in shouts of laughter as the music resumed and they went on with their celebration. 

The lone ant sat outside, ear pressed against the door, and eventually starved to death. He hadn’t even finished his rations, for he had lost his appetite. 

The moral of the story: there’s a time for work and a time for play. 


Teach Us to Pray

The word “father” has many and various forms
As many as the tongues that have uttered it by name
Through beams stretched out from a shining face
Or groans searching for home in a formless void
“O father, my father…”

Contained in this word are all history’s begots
(and misbegots)
Spilling forth from Adam to Omega
Like a big bag of acorns
(and arachnids)
Splitting long ways at the seams
Or a small basket of crimson petals
Collected from a long center isle
Only a lucky few are lifted from the top of the heap
And carried away with the wind
Between the back door of the church
And the dumpster by the road

It’s the biggest word there is
The fullness of the godhead in its bosom
The daughters of the earth in its loins
The sons of god and their loins

The father of lights casts a world of shadows
Through tears in the curtain drawn over ancient windows
The son of light, said the children of Rome
Tried to climb the steps of the dawn palace
To find his reflection in the face of the sun
But that day the boy died in his father’s chariot
And the desert nymphs choked on his ashes
As flames spread spangled across the globe
Beneath the great eclipse of a single word

When the son of Mary taught us to pray
We, like Phaethon, “hid our eyes with our arms”
Expecting to receive stones instead of bread
An audit on our debts instead of forgiveness
A world of wilted lilies and sun-dried sparrows
Like the day Athos burned and Atlas quaked
We feared for the earth as it was in heaven

But the other day my only daughter
Climbed up on my lap with unflinching eyes
She opened her mouth and uttered a word
That eclipsed the rest of history in a moment
Around a small single petal wafting down a thread of light
Unbroken by shifting shadows and sinking sand:

“Daddy, you’re my only daddy.”

And I saw my reflection in my daughter’s face
And, there, I remembered how to pray
“O Father, our Father…”

The Tornado of ’86: On the Making of Men & Memories

The tornado of ’86 sliced through Lynn, Indiana, like an evil surgeon with a reciprocal saw. Lynn is a small farm town nobody has ever heard of, except for casket manufacturers and the most inquisitive admirers of Jim Jones. My memory of this event, I am told, is misguided, but sometimes there is more truth in a misguided memory than any the world affords at a given moment. Such is the making of many myths, and the memory of the men who wrestled with God is always truer than the world of men who can’t see him.

I was in our candlelit basement with the women, my sister and mother, while my brother and father were “out there,” where the world had turned a glowing green with ashy edges, as the firmament began tearing in pulses from top to bottom, side to side. How my brother and father fit into that shaking frame was left to my imagination. I was four. 

The images I formed in my mind that day have crystallized in my memory, as real-life memories, solid as my basement’s cinderblock walls. Four year-olds still live seamlessly between the walls that delineate the world “out there” and in the world of the mind that fills in the blanks. I was too young to be afraid of the severity of the moment. Men were still immortal in those days. All I knew is that the world had turned on itself in a cosmic civil war and my father and brother were in the thick of the battle. It’s from that world two images were erected.  

One is of my brother or, more precisely, my “big brother.” Whatever else that had meant hitherto, that day and henceforth it meant he was more like my father than my brother, or at least more like a man in my eyes than the eight year-old boy he was in his father’s eyes. He had bonded himself to manhood the way soldiers bond in battle. I imagined him—I remember him—shoulder to shoulder with my father, facing the wind, as debris and dust pelted their faces and necks and the arm of the wind tossed around limbs and boats from every direction. (For the record, they did report seeing a boat fly across the sky in at least one direction.) They forged forward, unwavering through the gauntlet of hell, and finally arrived triumphant at home, where men stand guard for the women and children. It was my brother’s great initiation. 

Strangely, however, I also remember an altogether conflicting account, and I think I have always maintained both accounts without conflict, necessary to balance my image of a father. It is of the two of them confronted by the same opposition. I see my father wrapping his firstborn son up in his arms, shielding him in a light blue wind-torn blanket from the misshapen bullets firing from all directions. My father, unflinching, absorbed all that the wind hurled their way. When they arrive at the door, my brother is unchanged, still soft and supple and eight years old, but my father’s body is worn and marked like a leather strop, his face like flint. The world is still at war, but we are all now safe at home. That is the image of my father I choose to remember, the image I need to believe.

Ever since that day, I have longed for the storm to come again, to be initiated—I have longed to go to battle with my father.  

I can tell by the way the trees beat, after
so many dull days, on my worried windowpanes
that a storm is coming,
and I hear the far-off fields say things
I can’t bear without a friend,
I can’t love without a sister.

The storm, the shifter of shapes, drives on 
across the woods and across time,
and the world looks as if it had no age:
the landscape, like a line in the psalm book, 
is seriousness and weight and eternity.

What we choose to fight is so tiny! 
What fights with us is so great. 
If only we would let ourselves be dominated
as things do by some immense storm, 
we would become strong too, and not need names.

When we win it’s with small things, 
and the triumph itself makes us small. 
What is extraordinary and eternal
does not want to be bent by us. 
I mean the Angel who appeared
to the wrestlers of the Old Testament:
when the wrestlers’ sinews 
grew long like metal strings, 
he felt them under his fingers 
like chords of deep music.

Whoever was beaten by this Angel 
(who often simply declined the fight) 
went away proud and strengthened
and great from that harsh hand, 
that kneaded him as if to change his shape. 
Winning does not tempt that man. 
This is how he grows: by being defeated, decisively, 
by constantly greater beings.

The Man Watching” by Rainer Maria Rilke

Every Man Is an Island, And Love Is an Isthmus

An Excerpt from Touching Death for the First Time

Being human has something to do with being cut off from the whole and yet somehow still part of it. Humans are at once islands of consciousness and a sea of connectedness. Empathy describes the gravity in the tide on every shore, pulling fragments of sand into the sea and blurring the lines of selfhood. And it becomes far more empirically measurable whenever death is in the air, because grief is the sharp edge of empathy, and it is the edge that crashes against the surface at death, like the waves on the steepest beaches, and pulls something in the human out like a riptide, something irreversibly lost at sea.

Empathy with the dead is a kind of death, because it reveals the capacity for life to be shared like a hypostatic union. It reveals that the archipelago of human life is not void of isthmuses. We call those sandy land bridges love. Grief, then, or empathy with the dead, is experienced as a sharing in the loss of a life that was shared together in love. It hurts like you would imagine death hurting if death were something you could feel. Turns out you can. And so, humans can feel death and the people looking at the ones feeling it can almost see death in the manifestation of their grief, like the way you can see a demon when it manifests through its human host, or like the way you can see a baby when it kicks a woman’s belly from the inside. Grief throws and thrusts the soul around with such irrepressible immediacy that the embodied bereaver is contorted into the shape of a wordless groan, or of Edvard Munch’s Scream

Grief is love’s wild groping for its beloved in love’s refusal to die. It is love’s desperate dive into the infinite abyss in a futile search for the wholeness that gave birth to it. No love is an island. Love is an isthmus. Love is a singular word that exists only as it cradles together plural referents, like the word pregnancy or God. People die and love does not, and so every life shared in love will inevitably share the cradle with death. And so God gives us grief to teach us something about Being and time.

The Death of A Shadow—A Parable About the Future of A Nation

“To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, so that indeed

‘While seeing they may see, and not perceive,
and while hearing they may hear, and not understand,
lest they should turn and be forgiven.’”

Mark 4:11-12

There was once a family that lived together on a lush garden island. They ate dates and pomegranates and sweet potato french fries and drank much wine. They wrote music during the day and sang and danced around the fire every evening. Across the sea existed only a barren wilderness populated with men who had resorted to a diet of other men and also of women but only after they have produced for them other men. There was no music in the desert.

Tribes formed in the desert, however, but only to go to war with other men to feed themselves and to resource their building of towers, where they could compete for the highest place to see who owns the spoils. 

As it happened, after many years of war all but one tribe remained. Recognizing their threat of extinction they built a ship and sailed across the sea in search for meat.

One evening on the island, as the children were playing fiddles and their parents were dancing along, the air cracked with the harsh ring of hammers on the edges of steel and bellowing grunts and the creaking of tired wood. A ship was approaching. The parents knew what it was and what populated it. It was not human—not for any immediately apparent reason but because towers aren’t shaped like family and because the men that live on them don’t believe in music, and because they only know how to speak in the first- and third-person.

But the family was compassionate and impossibly generous. So they made a great fire and stretched out their arms and waved happy silhouettes of welcome in front of the fire and laughed as they sang their special family song. When the ship arrived the men crawled out and walked toward the warm light looking down and shifting their eyes. It was their first experience of fear, but it didn’t feel like fear. They just felt shy. They felt like folding their arms but then felt ashamed for folding their arms. The openness of the island was overwhelming.

The family ran to them covering them with blankets and throwing their arms around them to welcome them into their home. They set the table and filled it with the bounty of the garden and gave them gifts of stringed instruments and lyrics to all the songs they had ever written.

Within weeks all the men had been transformed by the image of family. Soon they were joining in song and dance and running around the beach together with arms spread wide open like a bird finding rest on the wind. They even gave each other names, and the family made each of them a green card with their name on it. They were finally home.

All but one, the one who remained nameless. It was not that he wasn’t given a name but that he couldn’t hear it for his thoughts. He couldn’t stop thinking about the desert, which made it impossible not only to hear but also to trust. He couldn’t get over the fact that for all those years the other men had seen him eat. And as for the family, it wasn’t that he suspected something about them that he feared but that they might discover something about him they would fear. He felt like a stain on a wedding dress and at first it made him sad but soon just made him different. It inspired a new innovation, of which ordinary beasts are incapable. He conquered his sadness by twisting it into contempt.

One night when the moon was a high hanging globe he set out to visit each room in the house. He quietly murdered all the men of his tribe with a cold metal knife and at last the entire family. He had thus triumphed over all the earth. 

He ate sumptuously the entire next day and sat down on the beach the following evening. He waited for the moon to accompany him,  but that night it was cloudy.

“The wind left. And I wept. And I said to myself:
‘What have you done with the garden that was entrusted to you?'”

From “The Wind, One Brilliant Day” by Antonio Machado

The Old Horsey Tree

When I was a boy I didn’t know there were others like it:
“The horsey tree,” we called it;
The only tree I knew with an elbow,
Like a flexed bicep of one of the gods,
Except more alive, more godlike.
It was an ancient relic
Living in my grandparents’ back yard,
Where time stood still for a season,
As the earth grew a memory of Home.

At the appointed time every summer
The grandkids eagerly mounted its saddle,
Like the heroes of old on the back of Pegasus,
So our parents could capture another still shot
That showed how much we’d grown from the last
So much faster than that tree—
Cropped down to a yardstick
To compare the years.

In time we grew too big, or embarrassed,
To ride or climb that tree together.
We learned to stand upright, like mannikin lords,
With Creation staged in the background
Until finally, the horsey tree fell out of the frame,
Where the Garden withers in a graveyard of days,
Where Poseidon drowns in the seas of Neptune.

Moments trapped breathless behind cellophane pages
Are all that is left of that short season,
That now only measure how quickly we outgrow our gods
In pictures that fail to show our size for the trees,
Nor capture that image of Home beyond houses.

Now I stand on the other side of the camera,
Watching faces that won’t sit still,
Throwing out shoes that no longer fit,
Trying desperately to capture that same image
I always managed to escape as a child—
Of a world in full bloom outside the frame
That only grandchildren can see, that parents can only remember,
Where boys grow as slow as trees,
Where the day is never buried in the years.

My grandparents now live among old roots
And the horsey tree lives in someone else’s yard,
Still standing, at Home, flexed firmly in its place,
Buried deep in the dirt of the dead,
Growing slowly in a memory of the gods.

Stop & Pay Your Respects

In the world such as it is
     There are only two places one can call home:
          In a house made with strength and straw and fear 
          Or on a road made by someone else.

In the world such as it is
     There is a place where everyone dies trying,
     And there is a place where everyone dies;
          And there are no other places.

     There is a place where everyone dies old,
     And there is a place where everyone dies like a child;                    
          And there are no other places.

     There is a place where everyone dies in their sleep,
     And there is a place where everyone sees death coming;                   
          And there are no other places.

In the world such as it is
     There is only death,
     And it is buried beside houses right next to the road
          That leads to Destruction
               By way of a Funeral,
          And there are no other places—
     The road home.

In the world such as it is
     There is the world that will be,
               Whose maker and builder is someone else;
          And there are no other places to go and grieve
     For those on the side of the road 
Still looking for a place to stay.

If I Should Go

Do not weep for me,
Though I am gone;
It was a strange visit in a strange land.
Do not weep for me,
For I am home.
Save your tears for someone else;
Don’t get lost in a slew of sorrow.
I was caught up;
In the twinkle of an eye
I was found.
The twinkle in his eye—I was.
He saw me and I was stolen away.

Do not weep for me;
Imprison my tear;
Hold it captive;
It belongs with my memory.
Shut your eyes and catch it;
Swim with me in yesterday;
Please, never lose this.
Let me live again in your mind,
Lest you slay me each day, again
And again.
I died but one day.
Can’t you remember?
Then let me live, again
And again.
Hold a glare to the heavens;
I can see me
In the reflection of your eye;
Don’t steal this from me, I pray.

Do not weep for me,
But weep.
Weep for beauty,
For glory.
Look toward tomorrow—
That we may meet again
At the sharp crease where time is folded,
Where day sinks ever into darkness,
Falling in a blaze of easter blooms,
Baptizing the world, again
And again,
Forever in a damning hope.

Weep, ye grieving;
Weep all who remain,
Not for that dark cloud of witnesses,
Only for that distant day
That dawns only in your vision
Through a small opening of unclutched hands.
Let the dam burst and cover the earth
As the waters cover the sea;
Let your tears roll like the roar of many waters;
Paint your face with the radiant shades of twilight;
Let the horizon run down your cheeks
Till you taste the salt of the earth
In the light that seasons death.

Drink deeply in this hope;
Go on and drown.
Get lost in a day that never arrives
Until night is upon you, at last,
Where, alone, you must be found.
Weep for love—wail—
But for me, hold your tears.

The moon whispers in the night: 
This light is not my own.

[Found in old files I was sorting. Dated 2002.]

Radley, Come Home


Megan walked into my office “[something something] Radley…seizure.”

Everything scrambled, static. Next breath I remember I was pulling onto my street. The ambulance and firetruck were parked in front of my house, exactly where they do not belong. I yanked open the ambulance door. Heads turned around and words flew around and I couldn’t hear anything and neither could she. I was small and helpless and out of control and so was she. Keldy knelt beside her with all her heart and soul and mind and strength poured outside of herself. She had become a cross and turned the space all around into a womb.

Radley was there, somewhere, lost behind some thick black curtain. She was thankfully now breathing but still far from responding, far from herself and from us. For all her life she has been naked and not ashamed, proudly wearing her whole soul and sin on her sleeve. But my daughter was nowhere to be found on that surface. She had sunken beneath the surface of her body and was trapped somewhere inside herself and outside everyone else, kept from entering into that middle space where love lives and people say “you and me” and “daddy” and “we,” that space where children come home. They’re supposed to.

Her body was ironed out and flexed like a toddler’s body is not. It was like the body of someone who wants to escape in a place for people who are not allowed to escape. Her hands were balled in fists and arms stretched stiff at her side. It looked like she was trying to split herself in two longways to let herself out. Her mouth was pursed and lips jerking at angles and taking turns being bitten, like if a face could have its wires crossed. The sound of her teeth grinding was louder than the voices I couldn’t hear. It sounded like a torture chamber. Her eyes were lost. Everything was. 

It wasn’t that her eyes were out of focus but overly focused. Her face looked dead serious, like a search party at sunset. Keldy’s eyes were locked into hers, knowing her, trying to remind her. Radley was looking back intently, pupils jolting in small angled orbits, scanning like a satellite in outer space looking for signals through the outer darkness. But–wrong frequency or something. There was sinking, grasping distance. It was like Keldy was yelling down from the top of a well that Radley had fallen—was falling—down, and Radley was trying her best to keep looking up to the light to make out the silhouette, to recognize the voice, to hear her name, to remember, to be known. You could tell she was fighting with all her powerful little self against the gravity of the of the night beneath. But we remained out of reach—she remained out of reach.

Jesus, where the hell are we!

We arrived at the hospital and I carried her into a sterile buzzing room and laid her little body down on a big white bed custom-made for non-working adult bodies, equipped with rubber blood vessels and wires to do the math and chrome bars for the weight of the world and flashing lights and beeping beeps and sick adults and serious sounding words. It was a scary place for a two-year-old little girl and a thirty-seven-year-old little boy trying to be a giant, trying to hold up all that weight on that bed.

She looked at my eyes the same way she looked at Keldy’s, like she was looking for a memory, looking for a mirror—lost. She just couldn’t penetrate beneath the surface where names are kept, where we see “daddy” and “daughter” and not strangers and eyeballs.  The distance of that prolonged moment is incomparable to any I’ve ever known, from this vantage at least. It feels precisely godless, which I’ve only ever known from the other side, the lost side, where my two-year old daughter should not be allowed to go. 

I knelt down and cupped my hand around her ear to block out the universe and began to tell her all the secrets about her that nobody knows but us, because only I can see them and I’ve never told anybody but her. I always tell her secrets at bedtime, when the universe is gone and it’s dark and we’re the only two voices left, because bedtime is not the only time it gets dark like that and I want her to know there are always at least two voices left. So I told her some secrets about her two middle names (because one isn’t enough for my only daughter), Jael Dawn, and a story about a rider on a white horse, the soldier of Light who makes war against the darkness.

After a while she began to loosen up. She was still not responding but no longer looked panicked like she was trying to escape her body. Eventually, her eyes began to relax and her body settled into the bed. Keldy stroked a finger down the bridge of her nose and like a light switch she was out. Keldy finally was able to recount to me the events as they took place at the epicenter of the eclipse—when she first lost her eyes along with her breath as her body seized and face filled blue—and she began to weep and I tried to hold it together so I just suffocated all over and my soul turned blue.

When Radley woke up she had risen closer to the surface. She still wasn’t identifying people by name or pointing but seemed to see more of us or more of herself in us, a step toward meeting in the middle. Keldy actually got a few giggles out of her with her customary (Canadian) Eskimo kisses. Her laugh sounded like trumpets blasting from the four corners of the earth and the roar of many waters. Then she peed a baby-pool worth of baby-pee on Keldy’s mommy-lap, or Keldy peed her pants and blamed Radley for it, and shortly after looked straight at Keldy and said “mommy.” “And the tombs burst open, and many bodies of the saints who had died were raised and they left the cemetery… and went into the holy city…and appeared to many people.” (Mt. 27:52-53). It was like that.

After that Keldy asked, “Can you say daddy?” She looked at me and her face promptly filled with bright red sadness and she began to cry as she reached out to me with both arms. I reached across the bed and pulled her to my chest and she laid her head on my shoulder and we both cried like babies and I had my servants kill all the fattened calves in the kingdom.

I held her while Keldy RN adulted with doctors and signatures and words words words and I did not put her down until long after we got home. On the way home, while holding her illegally in the backseat of my truck, I asked her if she wanted me to draw a picture of her on my phone. She nodded. She still had not called me “daddy” but I had a hunch that it was now only because she knew I wanted her to and she takes after her mother. So I was tricking her. Every time I finish drawing a picture of her she makes a request (demand), the same request (demand) every time. I finished the picture and, without hesitation, she demanded, “Draw you.”

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away…and I saw the holy city and the streets of gold and unshuttable gates and all the rest…” (Rev. 21-22).

The sun was shining in full strength. I was “you” and “we” were together again (see above fine art).

Radley came home. 

Within two hours she was talking to “mommy” and “daddy.” By the end of the night she was doing the shake-your-booty dance. I don’t think I’ll ever be so relieved to see my daughter doing the shake-your-booty dance, but tonight it was life abundant.

P.S. Doc says the seizure was caused by a fever and is confident it was not epileptic. Thank you, Jesus. I’m sorry, Jesus. I did a lot more sinning and doubting today than praying and believing. But you did you anyway. Thank you.

If we have died with him, we will also live with him; 
   if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
   if we are faithless, he remains faithful—

 ~ 2 Timothy 2:11-13


Most blessed of women is Jael…
Of tent-dwelling women most blessed.

May all your enemies perish, O LORD!
But may those who love you
Be as the rising of the sun in full strength.

And the land had rest for forty years.

~ Judges 5:24-31

American Spirit

The Colossus (painting) - Wikipedia
~ Francisco de Goya, The Colossus

I know I shouldn’t post this—every pastoral reservation in my bones is rebuking me as I write—because there’s a good chance I am simply wrong (I hope I am) and / or that I will be misunderstood. But I would be coward not to say what I truly think, and, at any rate, it would be unamerican for me not to exercise my freedom of speech. I’m hoping someone out there can convince me I am indeed wrong. Please, persuade me.


This campaign season seems to have demonstrated the degree to which we have made an idol of our politics as a nation, and indeed our elected officials. The rhetoric and behavior and attitudes that fill this land from sea to shining sea wreaks of the worst kind of religious fundamentalism. This campaign has verged on a holy war, each side so convinced they are fighting the good fight against a faceless mob of evil ‘others’. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think people have been fighting for their respective gods to take up their “rightful” throne on high. The presidential office is simply the highest of our “high places” where the shape-shifting idol of power is most eagerly sought in our democratic republic (cf., Deut. 12).

To the degree *the office* of president has indeed become the seat of our highest idol, the spirit of whoever fills that office will inevitably possess all those who worship at *that* altar, regardless of who is enthroned there. Reps and Dems seem to have both been equally possessed by the same spirit of hate-of-the-other President Trump has poured out on all flesh. Some love their god and hate his detractors, some hate their god and hate his devotees, but his hatred is the bipartisan denominator. And thus all are doing his bidding and being conformed to his image.

Hopefully sleepy Joe Biden will possess our nation with a little of his tranquilizing spirit and we can all just have a nice long nap, so that when we wake up, we can fall on our face, repent, and put our faith the Man God himself has given us to be our God, and so be possessed by his Spirit, take up our cross, love our enemies, and be “conformed to the image of God’s [only] Son” (Rom. 8:29–and the rest of the Bible).

“To the extent antagonism becomes embittered, a paradox occurs: the antagonists resemble one another more and more…Their conflict dissolves the real differences that formerly separated them. Envy, jealousy, and hate render alike those they possess.”

~ Rene Girard, I See Satan Fall Like Lightning
~ Georgiana Romanovna, American Civil War