Wednesday, December 31, 2014

So, yes, I got through my shift, itself quite a story, the end of it sort of hijacked by some guys who come in and regularly drink a bit much, Mr. T., over there with his Japanese raccoon and beaver striped coat draped over the chair, enjoying his dinner right up until midnight, red shirt, red vest sweater trimmed with green, red Prada shoes, finally driving away--I watched him--into the drizzle with the top of 500 series Mercedes coupe down... anyway, I get home, finally, Jesus Christ, and since it's Sunday, the silent movies are on TCM, and it's the Cecile B. DeMille thing, King of Kings...

And I'm watching it, sipping a glass of wine I'm not very enthusiastic about, but just unwinding, and there's this great scene, it always jumps out at me, Jesus and the Harlot and all the accusers about to throw good-sized stones at her...  And the chief priest Caiaphas is trying to set Jesus up.  If he says the old law of Moses is too harsh, bang, they can stone him.  And something tells you Jesus is not going to allow the thing to happen...  So there's the excitement, people juggling their rocks, and someone drops this, like, bag of dust thing, so there's this plastery powder on the floor outside some temple-looking thing.  The poor woman crouched against a wall trying to cover her head with her arms, and the excitement's growing, because Jesus really hasn't said anything, one way or the other...  And then he walks into the middle of the picture and says something, and then the screen writes out, you know, the line, let he who is without sin cast the first stone...  And then back to the scene and Jesus has stooped down and his writing his finger in this white dust.  And some eager shady looking character walks up ready to toss his rock, but he looks down.  The camera looks down from overhead, and written out, first, is in Hebrew, clear letters of script, and then, it's written out in English, written in the dust the same way, like magic.  "Thief."  And the guy with the rock kinda goes, oh, shit, that's right, because, yes, Jesus knows everything.  He knows the heart of mankind.  He shrinks and turns and slinks away.  Next guy comes, with his braggadocio, stone in hand, and again, Jesus, not even looking up, is writing again.  First in Hebrew, to bait us, and then, in English.  (They did this in Bugs Bunny once, taking a sign in Arabic, then into "Sam's Bar & Grill," things the same the world over.)  "Murderer."  Yes, that's pretty serious, and the guy clutches his fist to his chest, has a moment of self-recognition, as if he'd forgotten what he'd did once, leaves.  And then some last guy comes, well, I'm glad I'm not like those other men, but Jesus is writing again in the dust, and boom, "Adulterer."  Shocked, the rock falls.  And then, even the end of it is interesting.  "Woman, hath no man condemned thee?"  "No man."  "Neither do I," Jesus says, which may well be a tacit admission of his own sins.

It's a fun scene.  An embellishment upon a simple line in the Gospels that Jesus drew with his finger in the dust, without saying anything more than that.  I put that as a reference to something my character says when he brings this girl flowers at the end of the school year, how he says, well, if I find a piece of paper and pencil in the dust I'll write you.   A reference to the summer job he'll take as a landscaper, but there's a resonance in it.  I don't know what it means here, but anyway...

It's taken me a long time to really understand in a conscious way what Jesus is talking about, here, and elsewhere in the Gospels, about sin.  Is it a sin to have sexual urges when you see a clearly attractive woman you may not know?  How can you not?  Okay, fine, Jesus, you're pure and holy enough not to, but I'm not.  Try translating that to the current day, where sex sells everything, where celebrities bare all...  And you'd sound like a complete fool, a prude, a nervous nellie, and most likely a complete hypocrite, if you were to make note of the fact that really you just committed adultery by opening a magazine or turning on the television, all of it right there in front of you.

But the strange thing is that there are these little islands of purity, a sinless relationship between a young man and young woman, a kind of sweet hidden love between the two.  Of course that island exists in the middle of the modern world, with all the outside pressures, "did you do it yet?"  "What's going on with you two?"  And those pressures eat at such things, but from the outside.  They can't touch the Christian purity within, but they can sure make things seem awkward enough, and cause over thinking and anxiety and insecurities...  But if, like Jesus, you could turn off all that outside noise, then the two would be back together enjoying each other's company without any pressures.  And yes, maybe from that, something nice would grow, naturally.

But it is the sinful vain world which seems to control much of the world.  The sinful are raised up as models of adulthood and realistic maturity.  And the people without the vanity of sins, who do not take pride in sin, well, where do they go, what are they left with?  I guess they must learn to stand up for themselves, to not be beaten down, to not regard themselves as psychologically deficient or deviant by being so hamstrung as to not revel in sin.

How would such a world know or recognize who was good anymore?  It would see those who've made material successes out of themselves as good, role models, but would the world appreciate the people who do deeper forms of good in the world, Christian forms and acts...  How would the world give credit to anyone who sins in no major way, who is not proud of themselves when they do, but doesn't so much dwell upon it, as that allows them to be freer than if they did dwell on it.  Wouldn't the world, such as it is, tend to see those of less sin as weaker people, suckers, and smirk, "get with the program, or you're going to be left behind in life, yes indeed..."

I looked out the window, then back at her, my therapist.  Some sort of incense candle was gently burning.

I know, I know, one of my little fantasia asides, largely irrelevant to this process...  But I will say this, you know.  It doesn't help matters any to not have some faith in being sinless as you can be.  It doesn't help matters to take it to heart to deeply the thought that your Inner Jesus is really just a creepy stalker, an obsessive, a weakling of the shadows.  Those are the voices that don't help, that don't help you be a good person.  And that's the only real inherent way you can proceed in life, is to be that, a good person, nothing less, nothing more.  Otherwise it's all too baffling, too choice-ridden, too much about careerist stuff and selfish things.  You've got to be able to recognize Gary Cooper the sheriff in Nigh Noon, a guy doing the right thing even when it hurts, even when it's lonely, to not judge him, as a man out of touch, not the most captivating guy in a world of shiny objects and bells and whistles and Heineken ads of the night life.  That's where you take a beating in the world, when people can't come up to you and say, "hey, you're a nice guy," for fear of something.

Yes, living in the world takes courage.  And maybe all of this goes back to what Jesus was saying, "let he who is without sin..."  You're going to accuse someone else, or judge someone?  Well, how about you, what about your character and your actions?  Are you above me?  Better?  That strikes me right there that you would judge...

I guess this is why my mom says, of the process of therapy she went through, that she was looking for meaning in her life.  That's what you need.  Maybe that's hard to figure out sometimes when you've got so many things to worry about.  Well, I've not been so good about moral courage.  I wish I'd had it years ago, clarity.  But at least, now, I'm trying.

But we are poor shadows and imitations of...  If we try, to be in our own small way like the proverbial Jesus and what he would do, I think we end up looking a bit foolish, maybe a bit dim, non-engaged, too passive...  At least in my experience.   We don't seem to stand up for the relationships we really want to happen.  We inflict pain.  We miss the golden opportunity meant for us, and the happy life that would follow.  Cast instead into some poor missionary sort of a life, unknown and obscure, and not really standing up for all that much except general common decency, which, you know, most people seem capable of.

Is there some urge to, like hidden within, to be brought out, have some sort of, I don't know, celestial magnificence, let's call it, that quality of wisdom that trumps human selfishness...  So that you are out on the forefront, as unselfish and as observant as you can be, so that you can see things, like all the different stuff pulling on people, residing in their personalities...

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