Saturday, 12 January 2019

Strangers in a Foreign Land

For several reasons, I seem be in contact with more ex-pats this year than last.  Nothing makes me feel lonelier than ex-pats. A common ability to gabble in a tongue not native to this country is not enough for a strong bond of friendship. The following is a fairly typical example:

One ex-pat I know seemed to need to "confess" to me a pledge he was going to make.  He was going to stop sleeping around and was going to concentrate on making good friendships.  He knows I am a "God botherer", he probably thought I'd like to hear this. Then the following week, after having only met 2 women on Tinder, he was sleeping with one of them.  I asked him why, and he did not know.  She's nice, he'd tell me.  She's OK, but not very interesting, he'd tell me.  Then he'd tell me that he was going to try and stop doing what he was doing, it wasn't enjoyable, he really just wanted the friendship.  He has not succeeded.

Something happened and I felt the need to tell him that she was using him, that it was obvious she liked the idea of him more than him, she liked his status, liked is "foreignness" and was using him to kick against somewhat traditional attitudes from her own family.  He agreed and depressingly said to me, yeah, I know she's using me, but I'm using her, I'm lonely and I want sex.

Is that it?  Is that really all there is to life?  Are we all just in one claustrophobic x-rated version of the Peanuts cartoon?

Most people seem to be either Linus: basically sound but with overpowering an attachment to a thing.

Or they are Pig-Pen: basically sound but with an overpowering attachment to a habit.
And I am trying very hard not to be Lucy; with an overpowering attachment to my own righteousness.

If there is only a horizontal dimension to the world, that is all you get: a Peanuts cartoon. Somehow the vertical has to break though.  But if those of us who have some connect with the transcendent behave like Lucy, the less chance it has of doing so. The sanctification of everyday life is very hard.  The priesthood of all believers is a massive challenge.  BUT it is a challenge the laity are meant to face.  We are not to hide away permanently, Amish-like in some bubble of godly order.  Priests ought only to hear about masturbation in the confessional, we have to face our "friends" boasting about it in ordinary conversation. It is the role of the laity to go beyond the Linus or Pig-Pen in the people we know and find the image and likeness of God that lies beneath.

We can't even begin to start until we have dealt with the Linus, Lucy and Pig-Pen in ourselves, but then we will be a 3-D character in a 2-D cartoon strip of a world. I am not convinced many in the Church are willing even to try and be what we are meant to be.  It is so much easier to remain 2-D. The medicine is unpleasant.

1 comment:

Robert said...

This is such an insightful and thought-provoking post.
The really hard thing is to find that image and likeness of God that lies beneath the surface of our own selves. I think that's why we can do bad things. Because we don't see that likeness within the self. So then, instead of the positive self-acceptance we ought to practice, we end up with a kind of defeatist self-acceptance that allows sin to run roughshod over our souls and our lives.
And then we do the same to others.