I was so so honored to be on Alisa Childers’ very cool podcast this week (I mean, she is a brilliant podcaster, not that what made it cool was…oh never mind). We talk more about Rachel Held Evans, in particular how she reads the Bible, and I say ‘um’ at the end of every single sentence, mostly because even though I told everyone to go away and leave me alone, I was doing something “Very Important”, because the internet in our house was so bad that day, I had to stand next to the box, and so I was both mouthing, “BE QUIET” and trying to think of whatever I was saying. Of All The Times I Could Have Been Very Distracted, it had to be that time. Anyway, give it a listen and remind yourself that I’m always better on paper than in person.
That’s really the thing for me. I am not quick on my feet, nor with my tongue. I am mentally arriving to whatever it is a few minutes too late. The Information Age is not my best life now. By the time I think of something to tweet, the feed has refreshed and my clever witticism evaporates into nothing.
I’m smack in the middle of listening to A Peace To End All Peace and I must say, it is both gripping and appalling. I’ve never been enamored of the term ‘White Privilege’. I think it is needlessly incendiary and doesn’t help the discussion much. And also, I am a much bigger fan of mercy than of justice. The very idea that a sinful humanity would be able to untangle the tight woven tapestry of who is wrong when, without constant appeals for merciful divine intervention, vaguely appalls me. That said, it is very curious to listen to the careful unweaving of just those threads in detail. Lots of men (many of them white, but really, it has so much more to do with culture, geography, worldview, prejudice, and ignorance than skin color, except for occasional libations of outright racism) blundering along, going on half knowledge and half truths, trying to sort out the world, but not having even a portion of the information that would have meant wisdom and justice, but nevertheless carving up the world for their own purposes, is sort of, I dunno, very alarming. All the time I’ve been listening I’ve been thinking of the ordinary woman in her plain kitchen as the principalities and powers of the cosmos try to sabotage each other. In some ways, none of it had anything to do with her. But in other very essential ways, it was her whole world that was being unwound.
Honestly, Rebecca West’s Black Lamb Gray Falcon is wonderful alongside APTEAP (that book up there) because she sketches out miniatures of just those people as she travels. She catches the face, the essential character, the long terrible history, the hopes and curiosities of people along the way. She is able to take that vast sweep of history and distill it into a single troubling line. Nations rise and fall, of course, but the ordinary woman ties on her cap and takes her basket to market.
That said, it wouldn’t be any different if all the leaders of the world had been women at the beginning of the last century, nor if they had been people “of color.” The Ottoman Empire—what became the Modern Middle East—had all its own aspirations and intrigues. Arrogance lived on both sides, and nobody said what they were really thinking and what they really meant. But power, as we all know, eventually devolved into the hands of just a few. In other words, whoever is in charge doesn’t usually know all the things that they should—man or woman—and makes far reaching assumptions that stretch into the corner of every kitchen and corn field. Or oil well, as it came to be.
And yet God reigns supreme. The heart, someone said somewhere, is as a stream in the hand of the Lord. He directs it where he wills it to go. The greatest act of trust in that sovereign and strange direction is to get up and go to work in the morning—no matter who is agreeing to what in whichever smoke-filled back room—or worse, to have a baby.
Well, that took rather a dark turn. Maybe go check out some more cheerful takes! And have a great weekend, if you’re into that sort of thing!