Holiness in The Grapes of Wrath

“I been thinkin’,” he said. “I been in the hills, thinkin’ almost you might say like Jesus went into the wilderness to think His way out of a mess of troubles.”
“Pu-raise Gawd!” Granma said, and the preacher glanced over at her in surprise.
“Seems like Jesus got all messed up with troubles, and He couldn’t figure nothin’ out, an’ He got to feelin’ what the hell good is it all, an’ what’s the use fightin’ an’ figurin’. Got tired, got good an’ tired, an’ His sperit all wore out. Jus’ about come to the conclusion, the hell with it. An’ so He went off into the wilderness.”
“A-men,” Granma bleated. So many years she had timed her responses to the pauses. And it was so many years since she had listened to or wondered at the words used.
“I ain’t sayin’ I’m like Jesus,” the preacher went on. .”But I got tired like Him, an’ I got mixed up like Him, an’ I went into the wilderness like Him, without no campin’ stuff. Nighttime I’d lay on my back an’ look up at the stars; morning I’d set an’ watch the sun come up; midday I’d look out from a hill at the rollin’ dry country; evenin’ I’d foller the sun down. Sometimes I’d pray like I always done. On’y I couldn’ figure what I was prayin’ to or for. There was the hills, an’ there was me, an’ we wasn’t separate no more. We was one thing. An’ that one thing was holy.”
“Hallelujah,” said Granma, and she rocked a little, back and forth, trying to catch hold of an ecstasy.
“An’ I got thinkin’, on’y it wasn’t thinkin’, it was deeper down than thinkin’ I got thinkin’ how we was holy when we was one thing, an’ mankin’ was holy when it was one thing. An’ it on’y got unholy w,hen one mis’able little fella got the bit in his teeth an run off his own way, kickin’ an draggin’ an’ fightin’. Fella like that bust the holiness. But when they’re all workin’ together, not one fella for another fella, but one fella kind of harnessed to the whole shebang, that’s right, that’s holy. An’ then I got thinkin’ I don’t even know what I mean by holy.” He paused, but the bowed heads stayed down, for they had been trained like dogs to rise at the “amen” signal. “I can’t say no grace like I use’ ta say. I’m glad of the holiness of breakfast. I’m glad there’s love here. That’s all.”

The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck, p81

Here’s a nice little presentation thingy with a set of quotes about God from The Grapes of Wrath

The Lord Of The Rings : when the world was changed

He prepared then the greatest armament that the world had seen, and when all was ready he sounded his trumpets and set sail; and he broke the Ban of the Valar, going with war to wrest everlasting life from the Lords of the West. But when Ar-Pharazôn set foot upon the shores of Aman the Blessed, the Valar laid down their Guardianship and called upon the One, and the world was changed. Numenor was thrown down and swallowed in the Sea, and the undying Lands were removed for ever from the circles of the world. So ended the glory of Númenor.

p. 280

god in the margins

<– back to alt.worship on the edge

my friend Mike went to listen to his friend Elizabeth speak, and she got him thinking about the margins:

Elizabeth delivered the first of her Burns lectures. It was superb, I thought. She started with recounting the story of Nazi Germany, and its twin movements to expand into surrounding territory and to exterminate all dissent internally. Noting this was a Christian country, she then raised the question of whether this drive for totalising power was not something that has constantly accompanied Christianity. The main point of her lecture was that God must become more marginal – not in the sense of being less important, but in being permanently displaced to the margins of life. She spoke of ‘unauthorised places of divinity’ – God turning up in the broken places, not as an exception, but as a norm. I liked it a lot – a pretty damning critique of the church, but recognising something buried in the Christ-tradition which still provides hope. She was wonderfully synthetic, bringing together a lot of diverse theological and historical strands.

my own utopian dream

is for everyone to think of themselves as their own minority, all working to protect the next most marginalised…

–> move on to the car in the field
–> or a cynical thing i said one dark day

C.S.Lewis on the True Myth

<– back to the grief

C.S.Lewis, saying just what i would have liked to say about the old autonomous collective mantra of the True Myth.

‘I was by now too experienced in literary criticism to regard the Gospels as myths. They had not the mythical taste. And yet the very matter which they set down in their artless, historical fashion – those narrow, unattractive Jews, too blind to the mythical wealth of the Pagan world around them – was precisely the matter of the great myths. If ever a myth had become fact, had been incarnated, it would be just like this. And nothing else in all literature was just like this. Myths were like it in one way. Histories were like it in another. But nothing was simply like it. And no person was like the Person it depicted; as real, as recognisable, through all that depth of time, as Plato’s Socrates or Boswell’s Johnson (ten times more so that Eckermann’s Goeth or Lockhart’s Scott), yet also numinous, lit by a light from beyond the world, a god. But if a god – we are no longer polytheists – then not a god, but God. Here and here only in all time the myth must have become fact; the Word, flesh; God, Man. This is not ‘a religion’, nor ‘a philosophy’. It is the summing up and actuality of all of them.’

Surprised by Joy, 1955, [p.188-189]

–> Stephen King knows about fiction
or, other quotes about the scriptures

Andrew’s parable of a local church

<– back to Andrew’s personal history of Plunge
or the parable of the car

There once lived a people who needed a secure city in which to live, where they could grow and flourish and not be killed by wild animals. They asked their king for protection, and he promised them security for as long as they remained under his roof. He gave them lots of things, but every night he sent his men to steal the things back. And when from time to time the wild animals crept into the city and attacked the people, the king sent advisors to give advice, and he sent promises of help and improved security, but he never actually did anything. So the day came when the people had to decide whether to stay under the king’s protection or to take their chances in the desert, and some of the people said “let us stay here, because the king has promised to help, and he sometimes gives us things, and in the city there are laws which require the gates be locked at night and the walls be kept in repair, which we can appeal to if we are threatened”, but others of the people said “but the help the king promises never comes, and the things he gives he steals back again, and we cannot appeal to his laws because he doesn’t abide by them himself.”

next, the mongrel dog of the church
or, an arrangement the emerging churches might want to employ

i get regular complaints about this page, more than any other thing i’ve written, but always second hand. this story is an allegory i wrote long ago about a situation which is no more. if you feel like i’m throwing rocks at you now, you’re wrong. if you feel like i’m throwing rocks at a part of your history, well i probably am. please email me personally if you have any questions.

Jim White on collaboration and God

As for the other contributors, whenever I make an album I embrace the philosophy of the more, the merrier. You meet so many beautiful folks when you’re out doing your shows, you want to include them all when it comes time to document your endeavors in the form of an album. I never worry about the disparity of viewpoints. I figure when I get the tracks back home to my little studio in the garage I’ll be able to build in continuity that might otherwise not emerge during initial tracking. I’m at my best when I’m sitting in my studio with a screen of pretty colored tracks in front of me, chopping them up, moving them around and endlessly experimenting until I come up with something that has its own internal integrity. so whenever anyone came to mind as being right for a track, I’d just call and see if they were interested and had a spare moment to help out. The ones that you see listed were the ones who said yes, and I can’t thank them enough for all their help and generous contributions. Hell, Chris Heinrich and Paul Fonfara [from 16 Horsepower] drove all the way from Colorado on their own dime just to help out. now that’s what I call good people.

Well for better or worse, being raised poor in the south, my framework for viewing reality has a filter of primitive divinity confusing everything. I guess I could try to pry that damn filter off but I wonder if it wouldn’t render me blind in the process, so I leave it there and just try to remain mindful that it’s there. I don’t take the notion of God too seriously when it’s presented in a religious context. No matter who it is, whenever anybody uses the word God, as far as I’m concerned they’re just using a self exalting reference to theirself. That’s fine, you can think of yourself as God, so long as you wink in the process and remember that if you’re God, you’re the devil just the same. Too many people in the world think they’re just God. That’s how wars start and atrocities are committed.

[ cdtimes.co.uk/content.php?contentid=787]


Here’s something i wrote to a mailing list after a difficult conversation about humour

i’ve been thinking about this thread a lot this week, especially since my name was invoked.
i’d like to say i have laughed at adultery, but i don’t think i have.  i’ve laughed with people over the smoking remains of their home, and at death, even by suicide, and at divorce.  but not adultery.

I have been helping a friend release an album – satirical songs, mostly political.  politics and politicians aren’t very funny, but i think humour can twist the issues (and the hypocrisy) in ways that undermine the lies while making the issues bearable.  i’m a long long way from england, but we had a very similar scandal last year, and one of his songs has the line “hey bronwyn don’t be embarrased, you could’ve done worse than poor old gareth.”
he says this:
“We are a generation that no longer expects integrity from the politicians we vote for.  Which means satire has to be done thoughtfully.  It only works if you’re having more fun than the people you are taking the piss out of.”

maybe it’s hard to make adultery funny, but hypocrisy and politics and the media spin and the whole cultural