Friday, April 01, 2011
Never knowing who to cling to
On Wednesday I wrote about faith being a full system of being, a thought that I have continued to mull over these last few snow-haunted days. I’ve written before about the challenge of mutually incompatible systems of belief. Maybe it comes from having parents that are missionaries, parents that are evangelists in the true sense of that word. They make it their life's work to change people’s systems of belief, from one thing to another.
The thing is, in our culture, we don’t believe that any system should impose itself on anyone else. That’s what we mean when we talk about “moral relativism.” I don’t want Aroostook County to impose its system on me, or vice versa. But certain systems of being cannot exist in the same world, mine and Osama bin Laden’s, as an example.
He can’t live in a world where women like me are allowed to live legitimate, solo, lives with purpose. According to him, my life should come only from my family, either from my father or my husband. It’s hard for me to believe that any religious text could completely support the suppression of half of the human race, but many Muslims interpret their religious scripture as saying exactly that. There are also Islamic feminists who have an avant-garde, progressive, feminist interpretations of the Koran, who interpret Islam in a cultural context, who support the equivalent of liberation theology.
That’s neither here nor there. My point is that I do attempt to convince other people that my system of being is the right one. That it’s correct for me to be out here in the woods, separate from the world, devoting my days and nights to the written word. I want other people to find the joy that I find in art, in the outdoors, in a life of withdrawal from our consumer addictions. I am an evangelist in my own right.
But if everyone were to live the way I do, our economy would fall apart.
Thoughts on a snowy April evening, alone, with the wood stove burning. A foot of snow falls tonight, as I write, on the first of April. Heavy, dense, wet snow, forecast to bring down power lines, according to the weatherman. I’m trying not to get discouraged. I’m trying to muster the courage to plant my little radish seedlings, to look through seed catalogs, to build a cold frame, to believe that spring is really, really right around the corner. It is, right? April is the cruelest month, indeed. It won’t be breeding any lilacs out of the dead ground up here.
It makes me remember my old masthead, the sailing vessel of the coast of New England, and all of the hope and freedom it conveyed to me, the blues and the purples. Things are different up here. Photographs, even. They're all black and white.