The Afterthought II

…in which I say all I wanted to say in Loneliness Sucks.

I have very little tolerance for idolatry. I would have smashed the desert’s porcelain gods along with Muhammad and torn down the golden calf with Moses. I took down my Jimi Hendrix poster because it was in line with my crucifix, and the whole line-of-vision situation was getting awkward. I make sure to not get too excited about coffee, for fear of undue praise to the inanimate, but despite such awe-inspiring intolerance, I can forgive, I can tolerate and I can understand the man who worships his next-door neighbor.

My next-door neighbors will live forever. My neighbors are made in the image and likeness of a God whose image and likeness is utterly unfathomable outside of my neighbors and I. My neighbors have  – by the sacrifice of Christ – the incredible opportunity of complete union with their Maker. My neighbors – screw what the Calvinists say – have Free Will, the ability and power to decide their own fate, while all the particles around them are slaves to the laws of thermodynamics. My neighbors are conduits of grace in the world. My neighbors have such a rich and incredible personal dignity, such beauty in the eyes of God, that to harm them would bring his fury and wrath upon me. Truly, as C.S Lewis said, “Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object present to your senses.” If the pagan religions made their gods so like men, crossing them with beasts, perhaps it was only because men are so like gods, and so often like beasts.

So the sight of a man pressing his nose to floor in front of his waiter – while strange and misinformed – is much more sensible than one pressing his nose before a stone, before a career, or before the government. We should not worship our neighbor, but the question I bring to you is this: if everything I mentioned is true, should we not at least love our neighbor? Should there not be at least a little awe in the greeting of another human being? This is the cure to our loneliness and isolation – not becoming familiar with our neighbors, for familiarity breeds contempt – but by becoming awed by our neighbors. Each human being is the central protagonist to a narrative of the highest drama. We walk among Frodo’s and Aragorn’s, Ender’s and Hazel Motes’, but we treat each other like cheap foils in trashy pulp fiction, worth a ‘hello’ or a grunt, but beyond that…that’s the cure: the constant realization that man is incredible.

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