Thursday, July 8, 2010

Monday, July 5, 2010

Plato ruins your friendships.

When the baristas arrive to work at five in the morning, they find me pacing back and forth in the dark parking light, chain smoking and talking to Renee- the only other person up at such an ungodly hour.

Not even coffee-slingers have the ability to speak that early. They grunt at me and I follow them in.

Say what we will about Starbucks- over priced lattes and big business and blah blah blah. This place has been the setting of Moments and Memories in the past few years.

The last time I was here, writing before the sun came up- I was on the high of a spiritual revelation. A high that I hoped would change me forever, but probably just changed me for that day: Animal eyes:Angel eyes

This morning I am here on the low of human revelation: community is very, very hard.

We all have these grand thoughts of ‘community’. Like everything, the stories we grow up with impact and form the words ‘friends’ and ‘love’. When I was in high school I had a community of other freaks and geeks, weirdo’s like me that could help me feel not so…weird. And then I became a ‘christian’ – and it was way too weird for them. I wasn't 'like them' anymore. And I learned the lesson that your friends must be close versions of you- same interests and vices and temperaments...that way everyone could sail smoothly on the same path, follow the crowd...perfection meant rarely arguing, rarely confronting things...

It’s a shame- these perfect shiny ideas we have. The toy friends make the real ones a failure- thanks a lot Plato. He told us that everything here was just a poor reflection of something better.

I realize how shitty that idea is. Socrates (who is accredited to teaching this) and Plato (who wrote it down) are way more than this one idea- but the effects of Christians seeing this B.C concept of heaven-like place and teaching it in our churches may have left us with some poor thoughts on this present world. And our cultural stories latch onto this- the tales we are told as children, the expectations spun in in romantic comedies and porns- there is something better, someone perfect.

Irresponsible storytelling.

No one is perfect- it’s actually not even a mathematical possibility- yet we still expect, expect, expect it.

I have incredible friends. Real life and blood people. They are not shiny toys. They are not ads for beer commercials. And many of them are not 'like me' and I am not 'like them'. I am friends with Doers and Thinkers; Republicans (admittedly, only a few) and Anarchists and Apathetics; the Tired and Bitter; the religious Elite and the religious Minority- Lawyers, Counselors, Teachers, Pastors, Students and the problem I see is this: we all use the same words in conversation- in knowing and being known- and though the verbal utterance of one is the same as the verbal utterance of another- we have RADICALLY different definitions to what those words/utterances mean. In fact, some of us, if you asked our definition of 'love', would spit out a bible verse. But I don't First-Corinthians-Thirteen a band, a new pair of shoes, a person I barely know, a country, a time....

Ever count how many times you hear people say they 'love' a thing?

Instead of saying 'OMG, I love tribal print', I may challenge myself to say "OMG, I will lay down my life for the betterment of tribal print."

"I would lay down my life for the betterment of those chips I had at that one place."

"I would lay down my life for the betterment of the new Usher song."

"I would lay down my life for the betterment of soccer!" (Now, my boyfriend Gui, truly might be able to say this one honestly....)

I would lay down my life for the betterment of {what was the last thing you claimed to 'love'}?

I guess I see that my true definition of love is more like a strong emotional or mental affection/attraction. I am mentally attracted to the essence of tribal print, emotionally attached to certain people, attracted to books and art and places and one bachelor contestant over the other.

Or perhaps the most painful moments- when someone says they love me and I realize they do not- or rather, it looks nothing like what I had hoped, expected, been told 'love' was.

I have hurt people with this lie- perhaps unknowing, but the end results were the same- I have told people I loved them and thought agape meant being a door mat in one season, a savior in another, a grace-dealer, a money-lender. To some I thought love was giving my skin or my time or my tears. But most of the time my 'love' had to do with the short term, selfish fear of being left, and not the long term betterment of the other.

Christ has a conversation with Peter- he asks him several times, "Do you love(agape) me?" Peter keeps responding "I love (phileo=brotherly affection) you."

If love is agape...then this morning I realized, while sipping on my over-priced coffee, that I love...


I don't know that I love YHWH (God)- and though this conclusion disturbs me, I would suppose that YHWH knows this. I am fascinated by YHWH, attracted, dismayed, confused...and I have more often used the word 'love' than the previous ones.

Later on Peter writes, 'Though you have not seen him, you love(agape) him."

I guess if Peter can learn then so can I.

What do you mean- what do you REALLY mean- what do your actions show- what did stories in your past define for you- the meaning of you telling a friend or lover, 'i love you'.

And this is why when we tell people that 'God is Love' it is potentially the worst thing we can say.

Because it may mean:

"Distant Father is Letting You Do Whatever" or "Controlling Man is Holding You To A Standard of Perfection" or "Floating Deity is Wanting You To Be Happy No Matter What' or 'Angry Judge is On Your Side'.

God is love.
YHWH is agape.
I-am-there-with-you is -in-awe-of-you/will-lay-down-all-for-your-betterment.

I say ‘I love you’- and sometimes mean ‘I will buy you things’ you.’ My friend repeats ‘I love you, too’ and it means: “I will spend time with you, too.”

No wonder friendships and lovers and churches and communities get so painful. We are walking around shouting the same word at each other.

And in our cultural stories, our earliest references on how to socialize and reason- if there are problems- we see how to fight, how to create drama and hurl words and things.

Good Lord, how I wish whoever wrote our fairy tales would have included a talk on boundaries and personal space between Snow White and the Dwarves. Maybe Cinderella could have asked her step mother if she had been abused as a child. Sleeping Beauty could have a soliloquy about how kisses from a 'prince' are just as apt to kill a woman as to save her.

Throw your definitions out. Become like a child. Learn a new language. I think this is what Yeshua (the name- the verbal utterance people spoke at the Christ) spent a lot of time talking about. He wanted to replace the definitions that we already had for 'Messiah' 'power' 'love'.

Who knew that LOVE would mean dying on a peice of wood instead of leading an army? Not the disciples, thats for damn sure.

I want to LOVEAGAPE my friends and community.

At the fear of sounding superhippieshit- I have had to remind myself that my friends (and I) are beautiful and broken, animal and angel, struggling against or giving in to the stories we were all told.

Our friendships should not always be so easy.

Aristotle completely disagreed with his teacher. He said that there is no 'perfect world', only this one. And we make hundreds of choices every day that could make it better or worse, that allow us to give in to what feels comfortable or go against the grain.

In Christianity- many early church leaders adopted Platonic philosophy. At first I though it was neat, when people would talk about Plato and call it 'christianity'. But now I am a little disturbed. Christ had little to say about heaven- he had many things to say about community and friendship and right here/right now.

Who are you now, right now? Who are you becoming?

Can you talk to your friends about what you mean when you say various words? What is love to you- can we describe it without using the word in the definition? What is LOVE, what is NOT LOVE to you?

These are hard conversations. Movies don't show people maturely working through things, it's not exciting- they would rather show perfection or dissolution. These are not our only choices.

Be careful with your community- they will either change your standards or be changed by them.

Look carefully into your definition of GOD/YHWH- what you believe about these things will reflect in your actions, even if you can't put it into words.

Emotionally and mentally attracted to you,