Monday, May 19, 2008

The Folly of Flowers

In this world of lies and insincerity, many times it seems as though we are shrouded in doubt and fear, unable to see how to live our lives. The idea that there is such a thing as true love is relegated to relic status, some archaic notion that existed prior to the latest invention or school of thought but surely not something to embrace today.

Born into such a climate on a societal and personal level, my mind as a child was set upon leaving home and forming my own environment that would not be full of the things that I considered to be the normal abnormality-and so I swam upstream by forsaking all that was familiar to this world. To flee fraudulent love, I sought to be free of all that was attached to it.

For I knew so many individuals who were married or couples that had no real love for each other--no brightening conversations that spoke of a common bond, no desire to give up what one wanted for the sake of the other. If there was such a desire, it was at least not acted upon. And yet, I also lived in a world where every two months or so some obligatory holiday enforcing that archaic notion of love would creep across the screens of the television and hypnotize the unloving beasts of burdened matrimony into automatons of amor. And so a husband who never spoke to his wife would dutifully bestow the appropriate gift of flowers, candy, a card, jewelry, or whatever the latest experts had dictated to be digno de alabanza in the world of love. And that action supposedly wrought love ex opere. But I knew it for what it was; it was a paper house founded upon lies and held together by beams of vanity. To flee from such mentality I needed to flee from the culture as a whole.

And so it was that when I was in high school and in love I kicked against the goads of the proms, dances and other ceremonial sappiness. The corsages were exchanged but I would always offer the qualifying phrase that this was all adiaphora. The reality of my love was outside of such tangible things and was more sublimely abstract.

As time went on in the courtship of Mrs. Deane, I recall being in the dormitory as a junior in my undergraduate studies. A blaze of passionate disagreement had brewed, as I had yet again spurned the notion that the giving flowers would ever be something a "genuine" human would appreciate.

Surely they had some place among the sincere couples?

That was the cry of my plaintiff, but this judge, jury and bailiff cried out in protest.

And so the folly of flowers was established to be what it was. I myself had thought about my opposition to the commonplace expressions of love and knew intuitively that expressions of love were indeed still needed. So anything that was out of the ordinary was embraced and utilized as a conduit of my way of expressing myself.

Sure, it was interesting and exciting to give an atypical gift that was given at an unexpected time, but to say that one realm of gifts was verboten because of their abuse left a vacuum in my own mind. I can only speculate (with much trembling) as to what this experiment in absconding wrought in the mind of my wife.

And so, slowly but surely, with no nagging (after all, such dastardly deeds of dames serve only to distract from change in the convinced man's heart) on her part, I have come to see this to be the folly of flowers.

Just because one person has taken a gift and perjured themselves by offering it as a token of their love says nothing of the gift in itself. This, of course, brings me to the topic du jour that has captivated my mind.

For we find in one set of buildings where people call upon Jesus, that there are folks who tremble with fear that they will become mindless because others were mindless when they recited something repetitively.

They have heard of people who chanted with no heart, and so they who burned in their hearts sought to rid the world of chanting, not heartlessness. They say this even though they know that recitation is as ingrained upon our minds as wanting a drink when one is thirsty.

They have heard of some unholy holy men who, tortured out of a realization that their calling from God to be a "eunuch for the kingdom" was fraudulent, turned to hideous nameless deeds of lust in frustration. In response, these people say that the key is to rid the world of celibacy, and not the crimes that really hurt people. They reason, "Surely that passage about being a 'eunuch for the kingdom' was temporally and culturally contingent!"

But woe to you if you suggest to these same people that other statements of Christ were somehow relativistic! For then they will come to the defense of our Lord with a ferocity unrivaled.

I could multiply my examples, but I think the point is clear, and this post is getting voluminous as it stands.

Just as my teenage heart saw insincerity in the world of romance, most Christians flee from embracing good practices because of abuses thereof. Many people who have crossed my path in life have turned to a complete abandonment of Christianity because of the abuses thereof. Some have stood their ground and thought that there was some way to not fully abandon Christianity, but they have found many practices that they cannot tolerate due to abuses. In every instance, the solution to the abuse of a good practice is a change in the heart, not the practice. But the folly of flowers is to deny that which is abused. I hope I have convinced you that to do this is really to deny the goodness of the world itself. To abandon these parts of the world is to abandon reason, and the fullness of life that comes when one lives under the light of reason. I also hope that the fragmentation of our world that has come about through this abandonment will end, so that we can be reunited into a world of people who are not afraid to be who we know we should have been all along.

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