Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Standing, Still

Don't get to close to me. You may get clobbered by something falling off of the shaky construct, like an old building in an earthquake.

"Life of Pi" (see story below) is as much about storytelling as it is about anything else. What story do you tell? What story will anyone believe? Writers in our culture generally goes in the direction of trimming all the hard-to-believe parts of a story off so that it won't offend or confuse anyone. Martel's book is neither dumbed-down, nor one of the fashionably flashy ones that deliberately sets out to confuse people. It's a rare attempt to simply tell a story, whole and complete, let the readers believe what they may.

That's the way I see it. Believability isn't my responsibility. Telling the truth is always difficult because truth is much more shy than lies. Truth has to be told with a certain amount of creative flexibility on both the writer's part and the reader's. No story can be told whole; there are always holes the readers must fill in. I try to provide as much detail as I can, but you, the readers, still have to build some bridges.

Faith is something I never believed in. God has his ways of teaching, though, and he has taught me through repetition and practice that no matter how intellectual one might be, there's no escaping faith. Even a rational atheist doesn't know the difference between a creature that's alive and one that's still warm but obviously not living. We all simply believe that our multiplex processes will keep on going and we'll get out of bed in the morning and continue converting food into motion. The faith of a follower of Jesus isn't different in character from this, but it is a more knowledgeable faith. We know we need it.

Just because the bridge is invisible, people say it's not there. Jesus built the bridge for us and those who believe step out onto it and keep going. Walking that bridge turns out to be truly life-changing in ways unique to every follower but common in how the walk shakes loose assumptions and years' worth of add-ons.

Faith, being necessary, leaves a hole when it's denied. So I do all kinds of things to try to fill in that hole, sort of like crude patches on the side of a building. Year by year the patches get thicker and more rickety. Jesus arrives and, gently as he can but knowing that the old things must go, starts removing the patches and doing real structural repair. This doesn't feel too good, but, really, what choice is there? I've tried everything else and it's all bullshit. Only God tells the truth and stays with it no matter what.

Running, the dynamic life, seems like a good way to go. Just go. Skip from sinking stone to sinking stone, bailing off of each one just before it goes down for good. It's great for young and energetic people. What about us who are a bit beyond middle age? Energy is no longer the endless resource it used to be. Running becomes, has become, work.

I'm tired. I don't care much what anyone else says. I'm just going to stand here for a time, feet suspended over the chasm that terrified me for so long, and see what happens. God, if you want movement, it's up to you.

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