Friday, August 13, 2010

Following directions

Remember Ayn Rand with her indiscriminate individualism? Understood young enough, her principles are a great way to get out of the mire. However, once you're out of the mire, they don't work so well. You need to move up a step on the socio-political ladder if you're going to stay out of the mire. Socialism with its sharing and networking seems to work well for a time. Then someone says to you - Did you know that Jesus was a socialist?

You're accustomed to reading the texts by now; so you grab a Bible and turn to the gospels where you find lots of confusing footnotes like "not written by a single person", "handed down orally for about 90 years", "this refers to Hebrew Scriptures and was probably put there to validify Jesus". The story is fragmented, confusing, redundant, conflicting and undetailed. Other books you've read are at least attributable to one person or a few people who are named. Usually they follow a good sequenced pattern. Not so, the Bible. The barest facts are recalled in everything except a few instances. You put it aside.

One day you conclude that some of the best networking is in churches - big churches where rich and influential people sit, stand and kneel together with the fireman and his family, the clerk and her children. So, you join the church and begin participating in its activities. They expect you to share your money, your time and your talents. Huh?

Eventually, you have made yourself into what you wish to be professionally or you haven't. You keep going to church because that's where you find your friends. You've done the mission trips, the church school teaching, the choir, the twice yearly clean-up. You've worked the homeless mission, given food for the local food bank, donated money to help those in foreign lands, and been coerced into increasing your donation to the church.

You pull back and realize that you're hanging on to Ayn Rand's philosophies with clenched fingers. I have made myself into who I am. I can do whatever I want because I have freedom. I can dump you at the food bank and never see you again. I can socialize with the top notchers. Then, you wonder why am giving all this money to a church that's fighting over how people have sex or whom they love or which version of the prayer book/hymnal do we use?

You pull back even further and stare at the world around you - hanging onto possessions and principalities with a single-mindedness - just like you're hanging onto your individuality. Just like you're still balancing between the sharing of the church and the individualistic self-preservation of Rand. You've fragmented yourself into thinking either/or.

Some people revert back to their Any Rand tendencies and hoard their money, use their time strictly for themselves, and stow their talents in gym bags.

Other recognize that life is a grand mixture of getting, giving, keeping, sharing, and continuing to grow.

I vacillate between these two ideas - isolating then giving away time and talent that could make me more financially secure in my old, old age. But, like the child who couldn't sleep when the adults were playing canasta in the next room, I'm always afraid that I'm missing something important, something fun, something I really, really need.

1 comment:

Cynthia said...

Yesterday, on the way home from a few days at the beach, I was in one of my "Who Needs Church?" moods. I thought of all the things I could do with the saved time and energy, not to mention the money. This morning I went to church early, to get it over with. I got hooked once again by the priest, a Fisherwoman, if there ever was one, of men and women. So I will stay for another week, at least.