That’s How I Knew This Story Would Break My Heart

So I have the morning off when I usually don’t. I was up in Norn Iron again, having my paper thin stereotypes of the citizens there punctured yet again. I was welcomed by about a hundred pensioners with the kind of welcome that would make you want to hug them all. Plus, very few of them were wearing balaclavas or walking around on their knuckles. One of them even gave me a pen that advertised a potato reseller. He went out to his car to get it for me. It was class. Now my writing is extra-starchy.

I was still really glad to get back home where the Constitution and not an old lady is protecting my rights. Did you know the Queen claims to own all the swans in the United Kingdom? Was there ever a better reason to fight for republic? I mean, such arrogance has not been seen since Stigmund claimed without support that The Graduate was a good movie. I imagine the Queen in her wellies on one of her huge slave camps, I mean, palaces, beckoning the swans of her land to her with an outstretched arm. In my mind she is like some Regal and disgustingly wealthy version of Francis of Assisi. Even with her Sith powers, she’d struggle to hold a swan on her outstretched arm however.

So I have to get a few things out of the way before I set my fingers to typing in earnest. This is one of those “make it up as you go along Zoomtards”. Scarily, that does mean quite a few of the other (recent) ones have been planned. But I thought these initial obstacles should be grouped in a paragraph called You Already Know This But…

You Already Know This But…
Roger Federer is a breathtaking athlete that makes me want to actually watch tennis on the telly. Or in person. Or even buy a bandana and wear it while physically playing the game. My racket already has his photo on it (it was the cheapest one in the shop, I think nerds would say, “for teh win”) so I am probably half as good as him at this point. If you don’t know who I am talking about, this article by David Foster Wallace will tell you all you need to know about the greatest Swiss since Karl Barth. Of course, if you don’t feel like reading a long article by one of the world’s finest authors that compares watching a tennis player to a religious experience, you can always just watch this clip:

You know you are good when your opponent half looks like he is going to cry, half looks like he is going to laugh and half looks like he is going to bow down before you. You say, “That is too many halfs!” I say, “You don’t know The Federer”.

Gheyball barely looks like a sport in comparison.

Aimee Mann should have a large statue of her erected in the centre of some global city and every year on her birthday, or Aimeeday as Hallmark will call it, we’ll bring scraps of paper with our best attempts at rhyming a little couplet that gets to the heart of humanity like she can do. Then we all at the same time drop the scraps at her statue’s feet so she can metaphorically deride our perceptive and writing abilities. Her songs are good for you. Doctors have proven it. Now the jury is out on whether Joanna Newsom is just having a laugh at your expense and Mother Theresa might not have been the most prudent person with money so you are just wise to spend the rest of your days trying to make yourself better by being like Aimee Mann.

Aimee Mann singing a James Taylor song in a West Wing scene with Bradley Whitford and Mary Louise Parker. The only thing that could be more worth five minutes of your time is Ricky Gervais standing in front of a camera and admitting that Spaced is the best British TV show ever and that there are no “stoner” characters.

Just to hammer home that Aimee Mann point:

Forgiveness matters. I read a fascinating article about a 15 year hate campaign against bisexual graduands at a small college in Iowa. It is scary stuff. One of his victims slowly over the course of a few years tracked him down. The only problem is that she realised she had to utilise his tactics to achieve it. She ended up harassing people, contacting strangers and most depressingly, spending long nights in the dark corners of the Internet one should never be in. But at the end of the article, she admits that even with success in her hands, she feels unsatisfied. You see, all she wanted was for him to experience the fear and intimidation that she felt at his invasion into her life.

These final paragraphs remind me again of:
1. How important forgiveness is
2. How our culture has largely stripped it away from our way of life

If you do read the article please share your opinions with me on what you make of her final position. I need some help to get out of the confusion.

Turn the corner and read things you might not already know
I was trawling through the archives of Van Peebles Land and Williamson wrote this fine series of sentences we’ll group together as a paragraph for the ease of your reading:

The German theologian Emil Brunner said the Church exists by mission as a fire exists by burning. His friend, Karl Barth, said faith that believes in God cannot refuse to become public. God is He who did not wish to remain hidden.

Jaybercrow has us all thinking very hard this week because he has asked us to justify the aforementioned Karl Barth. Since Jaybercrow is smarter and wiser than anyone (except maybe Aimee Mann), I am scratching my head and turning back to my few small Barth books.

But these two ideas put together by Williamson are pretty potent. God chose to let us know he was around. He was utterly free to do things any way he pleased. But he lets us in on the happy little group he is called, Trinity, even though we are the Karl Pilkington at the party, constantly saying stupid things that are borderline offensive. We are not let in on this great open secret at the heart of everything for our own sake. It is for the sake of the world that he chose to be the kind of God who lets us know who he is exhaustively in Jesus. The mission of the church is the only logical outworking of meeting this God.

What this means is that there can be no “Christian” who is not a committed member of a community with whom they participate in the burning mission of regeneration set before us. You can’t respond adequately to the revelation by “having a private relationship with God”. You can’t love people privately. Organised religion is a pain in the behind and often far worse than that but authentic local communities of Christians in the midst of this raging fire mission are as far from legalistic hierarchies as you can imagine.

The other important thing that it brings home to me is that the mission of the church is not religion. The task of the church is definitely not to make more nice people. It is not even the task of the church to sing nice songs, write nice prayers or preach nice sermons about a God who is out there. Instead, the way that Brunner talks about the mission in terms of fire hammers home to me that it is an organic activity that should be ravishing everything around it. Down with tame God-botherers! Up with provocative liberationists!

To give a quick answer to Jaybercrow, I suspect that when Barth considers the chosen freedom of God to reveal himself to us, this implies a profound regard for the world but I am still reading and thinking and working it out. If you haven’t seen it yet, your lecturer, Paul Helm has written something of interest this month.

Your Correspondent, He started with an earthquake, birds and snakes, an aeroplane and Lenny Bruce who was not afraid.

10 Responses to “That’s How I Knew This Story Would Break My Heart”

  1. stigmund says:

    A mere technicality: by “stoner” I include all drug-induced kraziness that somebody who’s only ever seen the first series of That 70’s Show could write.

    There’s that Northern Irish courier guy, Tyres O’Flaherty. Granted, it’s most likely E, but he fits the bill. The bill of predictability.

  2. stigmund says:

    That clip’s amazing. Could you do some tennis blogs where you just find us sweet rallies like that and post them all together in a row. Thank you.

  3. zoomtard says:

    Tyres isn’t a stoner. I’m a Presbyterian Minister in training and even I know that!

    Tennis! Talk about an under-rated sport.

  4. Disturbed Ex-Housemate says:

    That’s a very sad story (IV). The end is the saddest part. She seems so close to redemption, but she doesn’t grasp it. She accepts who she has become. It’s like she knows it’s wrong to want him to be afraid, but she doesn’t stop wanting it (or want to stop wanting it).


  5. zoomtard says:

    It is a tragic story alright. I can’t imagine the meaningless terror that would come with receiving one of those letters but the end note is one of double sympathy because of how she has not really grasped that you can’t overcome the terror with the terror-inflicting techniques.

    You know how there are words like schadenfraude (sp?) and ennui, there ought to be a word for meaningless terror… get some Greek geek on it!

  6. jimlad says:

    Oh wait… that’s not a word, and it means an extremely irrational fear anyway, so it doesn’t quite fit. hmmm

  7. jimlad says:

    Oops, hmmm isn’t a word either, and it means hidden markov model anyway, so again doesn’t quite fit, though markov chains as we all know involve states, and how one gets to a fixed state of meaningless terror could potentially be simulated by a markov model with different emotions represented by different matrix entries, and a multiplying matrix representing various circumstances.

  8. jimlad says:

    No… actually I don’t think that would work, being complete nonsense. Nevermind.

  9. zoomtard says:

    I love you Jimlad.