Thursday, February 23, 2006
Praise hits me the same way. I am seldom praised for anything so I have no defenses, no habituation to it. Big-name popular people, musicians, politicians, preachers, get praised all the time so it just rolls off like water off a duck's back.
Praise is, however, biblical. "Well done, good and faithful servant." My sole contribution to God's kingdom being that, by the Holy Spirit's constant help, I haven't quit, I am unlikely ever to hear that. They'll have to put a new sub-basement in Heaven when I arrive, but a quarter-inch on that side of the border is good enough for me. Better there than anywhere else. I'll be so far from the table that only crumbs will arrive, but I've always subsisted on crumbs, so a full meal would choke me.
Praise is what got me into God's hands. The church's pastor came around and praised some stories I wrote, in front of some other people, and I wanted to disappear. So, I did. Body there, lights on, nobody home. God came to me that night and helped guide me through the mess. God has, since then, attempted to praise what I've done but I've become much more sophisticated in my resistance.
I know how powerful praise is. I know what it does. I've seen it turn good engineers into suck-ups. I've seen it turn me into a tail-wagging puppy. Beer is better. That gives me an excuse for acting silly. God tries to praise me and my world threatens to come apart. I think the truth here is that God is delighted with each day I don't quit, but that doesn't carry much weight among God's kingdom-builders on Earth. I also don't like the out-of-control feelings engendered by that, but the problem with emotional control is that it metastasizes rapidly to consume every emotion and life becomes very flat.
Praise also implies disappointment. I know God is disappointed with some things I do, and that's like the sun not only going behind a cloud, but being turned off. Things get cold, quick. The contrast is devastating, so, in my logical way, I just live in the cold. Which means that if the sun does come back through some gap I've not managed to close, it sears me to the core. I'm not habituated.
I wonder if Christianity hasn't just turned into a bunch of habits dictated by whatever idea is in fashion. I don't care about fashion, but survival recommends at least some blending in. I am very firmly guided by survivalist techniques learned through a lifetime. I think God loves cheap drunks because they know when they drink strong beer. How do you become habituated without becoming dead?