Saturday, July 17, 2010

Outer Darkness My Old Friend

This is the month in which, every two years, the Daily Office presents readings from the book of Joshua, including such fodder for Lectio Divina as "Then they utterly destroyed all in the city, both men and women, young and old, oxen, sheep and asses with the edge of the sword," the "they" being the Israelites, and the Commander-in-Chief for said genocide being God.

This is when baby, bathwater, bathtub, bathroom, and whole-house-that-contains-it is in serious risk of getting jettisoned en bloc.

Then, much to my relief, along came the Outer Darkness. The Gospel of Matthew refers three times to the Outer Darkness, and those who get banished to it. One exile was the dude who didn't meet the dress code at the Wedding Banquet. This week, it was the servant who, entrusted with single talent from his traveling master, buried it in the garden, unlike his already-more-lavishly-endowed cohorts who received larger sums and invested them. When the Master returned, he was pleased at the capitalist initiatives of his well heeled servants, and full of wrath at the servant who, knowing that the master liked to "reap where (he) did not sow," returned only the single coin entrusted to him.

"For to everyone who has, will more be given; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. So cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth."

And women, I hasten to add. Women ? You've heard of them ? That gender, the ordination of which, in some circles, is now an ecclesiatic crime on a level with molesting children ? Yes, them.

I confess. I love the outer darkness.

I have been in one of my religious fits-of-pique this week. The week has not been without illumination, however. I was reading an article on the web after work, on the National Catholic Reporter site, when suddenly a chunk of malware sluiced into my computer, something claiming to be antivirus software in the process of detecting multiple lethal viruses. It didn't look like anything I'd ever seen on my computer, so I hastened to summon the lads from IS. I love the lads from IS. Many of them are named Jason. They are uniformly cheerful, patient and helpful. I have them on speed dial. I picture them in some vast hall in the hospital basement, a dark room lined with throbbing mainframes and huge glowing maps, resembling a hybrid of the war chamber from Strangelove and the NASA launch room.

I watched as Jason logged into my machine remotely, downloaded something called "Malwarebytes" and began the disinfection. By morning, said Jason, if things went as planned, all would be well. If not, they would "give me a new computer."

Wow. This was serious. I thought about the irony of getting something so malicious and possibly fatal from a Catholic website. Then it struck me that I could turn the occurrance to good use, as in subversive parables.

So I have this thing, see, where every day or so I get this impulse to swim the Tiber. It's predictable and comical. Hilarious, even. It's like falling in love: I gaze at my paramour, enthralled, besmitten by his pulchritude, besotted with adoration, imagining nuptials and honeymoons and wedded bliss. I sigh and swoon wade into the muddy river fully dressed --

And then My Beloved turns to me and opens his mouth.

"Scandal," he hisses. "Divorcee ! Adulteress ! Woman ! Rejector of the Blessed Gender Binary ! Former practitioner of birth control ! Protestant ! EPISCOPALIAN !! Get back to your ecclesiastic community, with its invalid sacraments and invalidly-ordained priests, some of whom, being women and ordained, are saved from graviora delicta as bad as clerical child-rape, only by the invalidity of their ordinations !"

So I decided to look upon my Tiberophilia as a piece of unfortunate malware. (Thanks a bunch, Thomas Merton.) Unfortunately, I think the requisite disinfection is beyond Jason's skill set.

As I was saying, I love the Outer Darkness. Those who haven't been here don't realize that it's not all weeping and gnashing of teeth, although there is some of that, of course, because that's what we outer darklings do. We anguish. We fall short. We try our best, but the "Jesus is my personal savior" thing is as beyond us as the "ubuntu" thing -- the community, the relationship, the congregating, the hospitality, that is the whole, exclusive heart of the Christian Churchgoing project, not to mention of the Holy Trinity itself.

We are, IOW, fucked. Like Cain whose vegetable offering pissed off Dieu Carnivore. Like the ill-dressed wedding guest. Like the worthless servant.

Hello, Darkness.

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