Christ you know it ain’t easy,
You know how hard it can be.
The way things are going
They’re going to crucify me.
A few months ago I confessed to a general discontent. Since then, that rather poetic unease has deepened into a kind of simmering radioactive vexation. There have been days when my karma could light a charcoal grill. The objects of my rankling are many and often banal—bad drivers on cell phones, vapidity in the pulpit, long lines at the check stand, disregard for my genius, unjustified arrogance, stuff like that. It’s not unusual for me to dream wistfully of a farmstead somewhere in the middle of North Dakota where the wind has no pretensions.
This acrid stew often takes the form of impatience with the world in general and a wholesale rejection of any assumption of human nobility. Yes, I know I rebuff my own poetic fancy. Mine is a love/hate relationship with the world evidenced by a host of self-contradictory notions. Actually, the earth I like; it’s the people in it who drive me nuts.
In moments of critical reflection, I caution myself against becoming a full-blown misanthrope. It’s not that I wouldn’t be justified, only that misanthropists are the most miserable people on the planet. Why should I punish myself for the sins of everybody else? No, it’s better to think of people as a necessary evil. Without others, sex would be half as fun, there’d be nobody to get mad at, and though there’d be no lines at the Starbucks drive-through there’d be nobody to take my order.
That the depravity of the world is also a Biblical doctrine only makes it worse. Being modestly literate in the Scriptures, I can chapter and verse why idiots who toss their cigarette butts out of car windows deserve everlasting torment. And don’t get me started again on door dingers. My rage is a righteous rage, a rage to make the prophets proud. So the fact that I’m right compounds the issue nearly beyond accommodation. The tension is almost unbearable. I am a paragon of virtue amid a mob of Philistines, a beacon of civility among black holes of arrested development. The fact that I’ve withstood moral capitulation this long is mind-boggling.
There seems no escape. I avoid television, movies, sports, pulp fictions, and revisionist histories. Still I discover the litter of decay everywhere. Even church, that last defense against the advancing barbarian hordes, power-points me to oblivion. The new Jesus blesses excess and sloppiness. Worship is crass, the sermon often insipid, the whole service an elaborately executed non-event—just like American Idol, except without the benefit of heckling.
So, you see, I bear the vacuity of this garish world upon my brave shoulders. Fear not, I will not succumb to despair, hurl Molotov cocktails, or vote for Barack Obama. The God-damned world needs me; it needs me to hold it in utter contempt, depends upon me to repudiate its every hollow hope and empty assertion. Without me holding out against its drivel and ignorant bravado, it is nothing. My scorn gives this world substance and a reason to be. I am the meaning of its meaninglessness.
It ain’t easy. But I can handle it.