Rube Goldberg

Unintelligent Design

Your plan is not working, they say.

Ah, but my plan is working, we respond.

(I just haven’t fully implemented it, yet … )

But look at the results you’re getting, they say.

Things a’gonna change, just you wait, comes our reply.

*

The truth is, our plan is working. Mine is, yours is, theirs is.

Look at the results I’m getting? This is what you say to me?

My system is perfectly designed for the results I’m getting.

My plan is executing at top efficiency — it’s the wrong plan.

*

Need a new plan.

Same man … new plan.

Or check with different men?

Change things one or more at a time.

Rip it all out and start over from scratch.

Pick any one.

*

It’s not really the definition of insanity …

(though it may be an illustration of this … )

(and it is actually the punch line to a joke … )

(“I didn’t think he’d jump again,” the guy said.)

*

The problem might not be that your plan isn’t working.

The problem might be that it’s working only too well …

 

Flanders Field

All Things Considered

This could go a couple different ways.

An image likes could be Veteran’s Day, it’s not, or Memorial Day which, though closer, it’s not. Could be about a song (actually a poem) I found only a few months ago or an automatically somber meditation on mortality that’s begun before you’ve even begun to read … such is the power of an image like this.

It is none of those.

Let us say it is fates worse or fate’s worst.

Three things —

“To live you must die.”
“(Have) contempt for death.”
“Life lies in resolve for death.”

The first is Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer, in The Way. Second is Steven Pressfield in War of Art. Third is from a Japanese language film, Love and Honor.

Quite a collection—and of course it’s elsewhere and everywhere if one knows where to look.

Escrivá also says “No ideal becomes real without sacrifice. Deny yourself.” Probably Pressfield has it in various versions in his books, which I’m working through now.

But Love and Honor is what got me thinking on it years back. The fuller idea from it goes like this —

“There is one way you can win. That is if you are resolved to die, and the other man wants badly to live. That’s the only way. I told you something [once] — do you remember? Be resolved you will both die. In that lies victory. Life lies in resolve for death.”

These three.

That’s all.

 

Ballet v Football

Pas De Duh

Is ballet a sport?

The question is asinine in at least two ways.

Of course it is, whether one is asking does it qualify as one or simply based on the assumptions implicit in the question itself.

To put it as stupidly, would a Ferrari fit in my garage? Is Rivendell a better deal than Motel 6? Can Michele make a Betty Crocker cake?

Well … yeah. Sure. But, um, that’s understating it a tad idn’t it? And when did my garage, Motel 6 and chemical moistness become of the standard of deciding such things.

Ballet is kick your ass hard. So are many sports. So it automatically is as anyone who reflects on it for 12 seconds knows. There isn’t any phony “debate” about that, as one media outlet which shall remain USA Today claimed there was.

And looking at the assumptions we see the question makes “sport” the standard. Sport. Which today rarely means the physical prowess and grace required—meaning the beauty—but rather the professional leagues, meaning money and media.

This is absolutely not to say that people who play do not possess the prowess and grace. In nearly all cases they do. You don’t get there if you don’t.

Likewise that ballerina does incredible things with her body, from her toes on up to the sky.

Which of course has exactly zero to do with her underwear, although that is the connection we are to make, in addition to the sex, which is always there.

What she can do she can do whatever she wears and she should rightly be praised for the hard work and dedication required to get here, as we may hope she is grateful for the innate talents that began the good and difficult work in her.

It cheapens it to ask the question, not to mention making an “event” out of a TV commercial. I guess we could say we’d never have known about her without the money of those trying to sell underwear.

But that is a different problem.

Dufresne Smiling

Inconvenient Truth

Near the start of The Shawshank Redemption Andy Dufresne is on the witness stand, losing a battle for his life he will ultimately win. The district attorney calls “inconvenient” the inability to find the gun used in the crime. Andy has used the gun to make a hole in the river, though not to make holes in his estranged wife, and the golf pro banging her into the wall. 

“Because I am innocent of this crime,” Dufresne replies. “I find it decidedly inconvenient.”

It is the truth.

And that’s all.

By which I mean the gun, it’s use or non-use, it’s location and locatability, and, most crucially for our perceived “prove it to me” approach to life, whether we receive (accept) any of that information, is irrelevant to what is. Andy knows he’s innocent. He will be perceived guilty for the next two decades.

But the truth will out.

So take faith.

Faith is faith in Christ and the faith of Christ, as we come to understand. Faith seeks understanding, and what is sought is found. And it is what it is, as the kids say.

Admittedly, there’s always work to be done, and always more work to be done.

Andy Dufresne, for example, must tunnel through rock, and walk through a quarter mile of sewer — a river of shit, Red calls it. The faithful must do similar work, in ways appropriate to it.

The faith of Christ is rarely convenient.

If ever: it tells us to stay when we want to go, to love when we want to stew, to shut up when we want to speak.

It tells us to forgive when we want to gnaw the marrow of resentment.

[Buechner says we’re eating ourselves, but golly we enjoy that meal.]

And the faith of Christ is the best way of the best man who’s ever lived.

One of CSL’s better known lines — stiff competition, that — has to do with believing in Christianity not so much because of what he sees in it but because of what he sees by what he sees.

And Chesterton who came before says the more one becomes convinced of something the less one is able to explain it. Like loving one’s wife, it is. It simply … is. How could one not see it?

Each of these lines — Lewis, Chesterton, and Andy Dufresne (by way of Stephen King and Frank Darabont) — works by way of indirection, which is crucial in communicating truth. For that matter, add Emily Dickinson: Tell it slant, she says. Not because it’s practical or impractical, effective or proactive — or even rebarbative, to some.

Do it because that’s the way it’s done.

Continue in it, whether anyone sees or not.

The power in Dufresne’s response to the DA is that if he’s guilty, the prosecutor is right — how convenient the gun can’t be found. But he’s innocent. And because that’s the truth, it is inconvenient, and for nearly 20 years.

But Dufresne continues to live in that truth and of the faith of it. The tunnel is his monument to that truth, the boat he begins to build his reminder, to himself, but (since he’s had 19 years to learn it) most of all to us.

Do it because that’s the way it’s done.

Continue in it, whether anyone sees or not.

That’s how the truth will out, as it always does.

The End in Mind

The End In Mind

Sometimes we imagine ourselves the star of our own personal blockbuster biopic, currently in production (it’s sometimes in development hell, but generally moving forward) and it’s all vital and crucial, Academy Award-material, two thumbs way up.

God is teaching us all this stuff, we think, even if don’t presently know what it is. And if we can figure it out, then it will all not only make sense, but also be worth it.

We want it to “mean” something, and then all of it will be alright, all the dangers and challenges and sadness, and we’ll be “OK with it.”

Not only that, but maybe … we’re not sure, because we don’t presently know what it is … maybe it’s gonna be big! And we mean BIG.

Then it will mean something.

And maybe we’ll get famous.

As if it isn’t meaningful enough for God to just want to be with us, and want us to be with Him, and want us to want what He wants. Imagine! God wants to hang with … us. He wants you. He wants me.

But do we still get to be the star in that movie deal you mentioned?

We want to know, because then, you know, it’ll be … even better!!

And I’m the star so I get to direct, because who else could, knows as much about us as we do?

At least I can be petulant in my trailer if the Writer / Director won’t pay attention to us, right?

Which is a lot weird, because the thing we just turned down was Him paying attention to us.

*

So I realize there’s no film.

So I say, “Then there is no purpose?”

If there’s no big production, what’s the point?

*

And that’s when I realize there’s also no defined end to the drama undeniably being played out in my life. It’s not a blockbuster biopic starring me, but something is going on. And here we mean when it’s not fun, because we were just looking for the meaning. And part of how there would be meaning is if I’m in charge, but if not I still want to know there’s an end, and I get the girl, find the money, and save my friends, family, town, world.

*

So bottom line, here’s my fear:

There’s apparently nothing that explains and justifies the pain,

and

There’s no foreseeable end to that pain, my fame waiting or not.

But if the first part is about being with God, why do I care when it ends?