“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.”
"And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
note to self: don’t be an arrogant fool.
what is valuable?
A female friend of mine recently expressed the sentiment that when men buy dinner or drinks for women, men tend to expect sexual favors in return. I’ve given this idea some thought, and my conclusion is as follows: men who hold the expectation that food and drinks ought to yield sex and ‘some’ implicitly believe women are prostitutes and commodities.
He is, in effect, trading food and drinks for sex. The underlying assumption of this barter is that the woman in question is ready and willing to trade sex for food, drinks, and his company. This is the same assumption that men go to prostitutes with - that material means can and ought to yield sexual favors.
That women can be bought.
So. Dear female friends, if ever you meet a man who expresses such sentiments, I implore you to open up a massive can of whoop-ass, verbal or physical. I implore you to unleash a barrage of indignation and public humiliation. I implore you to slap his face silly and beat down his cocky brow. I know that as a Christian, I ought to advocate peace to all men, kindred and brotherly love, love of philos and agape, but some whom seem as men are not men but mere boys, and boys still have need the rod of discipline. And we all know that boys, particularly the foolish ones, are often best served by corporal punishment.
That is all for this morning.
Is apparently easy.
Well, when the girl is a friend, an old friend. I met up with this friend over lunch last weekend. We hadn’t seen each other for eight years, and somehow we spent almost eight hours catching up. She was a pretty teenage girl the last I met her, and now she is obviously and gracefully a beautiful woman. So maybe it’s not that talking to girls can be easy; it’s that talking to woman can be easy.
As we chatted I related to my friend the first time I really had to talk to a girl. As in, the first time I talked to a girl with the intention of impressing her, inspiring her to reciprocate my affection. I was fourteen, and boy I was in love. She had big eyes and a lovely smile. I was stupid and smitten. She was the most beautiful woman I knew or had ever met.
My roommate, the school badass, perhaps seeing my lovelorn plight, or perhaps out of wicked amusement, decided to give me advice. “Dude, if you like her you have to call her. Ask for her number and call her and chat with her.” I was fourteen. I really wasn’t a conversational genius or love-guru. I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t know what to say. My roommate, on the other hand, was a sage, a deity among mere mortals when it came to women (supposedly). He was the school badass, the charming rogue, the Varsity soccer star and striker, with long dyed hair that came to his shoulders. At sixteen he had already done more with woman and had more girlfriends than I have in my adult life.
Naturally I heeded his words like a faithful disciple. My Rabbi commanded “Call the girl!” I complied with every letter of his law.
But I did not know how. Of course I knew how to enter her numbers on the phone, but I did not know what to say, what to talk about. Afterall I was merely a nerdy and foolish fourteen year old.
So I prepared notes. I teared a page off of a notebook and brain-stormed things to talk about. I nervously and vigorously jotted down conversation topics and the order by which I was to speak about these subjects. I cannot remember what exact topics I wrote down, but suffice to say it was not much more imaginative or exciting than:
To think this simple list took so much mental anguish and emotional exhaustion…
Deep breath. Stretch out fingers. Another deep breath. Hit 0955 - *** - ***. Ring, ring….
We chatted. I nervously, she perhaps obligingly. In the middle of our conversation, she noted, in a somewhat perplexed tone, “You are talking as if you are reading from a piece of paper.”(WHAT HOW DID SHE KNOW.) I lied and laughed and said, “haha ha, no wayyyyy.” When in truth I really was mechanically reading from a piece of paper.
Ah, the follies of youth!
Talking to girls. Not easy.
Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, and Jesse begot David the king. David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah.
Is apparently difficult.
There is a coffee shop next to my house that I frequent. It’s the only coffee shop I have membership to, the only coffee shop where one of the owners knows me. Grey walls, cement floor, metal fans. Good coffee.
It used to be that when I went I’d be one of the few people there. The shop’s lack of business meant I’d be full of focus. I spent many fruitful afternoons understanding the complexities of the LSAT in this coffee shop, under the protective shade of solitude.
I went back to my coffee shop again last week, with a couple of novels and a Kindle in hand, hoping to finish Maya Angelou’s autobiography with the reliable company of my friend coffee. It’s been two years since I was last here, and as I walked in, I noticed that the decor is much the same, the staff is much the same, but the customers are completely different. In the past I could have my pick of the seats, now the place is packed full of artsy customers. Most of whom are women. Many of whom are beautiful women (who are also seemingly intelligent). Fifteen women, two guys, and I’m pretty sure the other guy is gay.
Coffee. Books. Beautiful women. Let me repeat that: Coffee! Books! Beautiful women! Oh, this must be some form of Utopia, a Heaven on Earth for the tired saints. God must have taken me up as He did Enoch and Elijah.
I mean - coffee, books and beautiful women! Only the foulest devil of a man cannot find contentment thus.
Naturally, my hormone-charged 20-something brain decided that I should venture to speak to one of these women. Who knows. Perhaps the future Mrs. L is sitting in the seat next to me, reading the translated work of John Steinbeck.
Then it occurred to me I did not - and still do not - know how to talk to strangers. Well, really, female strangers, because com’on, why would I want to talk to a male stranger? My Ma taught me manners, but I somehow did not pick up her charm.
So. There I sat. Books in hand. Functionally mute. Maya Angelou, your story is encouraging, you’re inspiring and brave, and I’m sure you’d make good company. But I’d rather spent time meeting the future Mrs. L than sympathizing with you. Afterall, you’re already taken, and really not my type, nor my age. (And, well, dead.)
If only coffee provides the same courage as alcohol does, if only coffee unbridles one’s tongue as alcohol does…
- Finished the second year of law school. Law school is a place with the weeping and gnashing of teeth, literally. Somewhat like this other place I know, though figuratively (I think?). I wish it upon my worst enemies, their children, and their children’s children.
- Got an A in a class I wholeheartedly, sincerely, and fearfully expected to get a B- in. Law school grading remains a confusing mystery, the functioning of which is too difficult for my feeble mind to grasp. The mystery is similar to criticizing art or poetry. Supposedly there is a right answer, a correct opinion, but to me it’s all just mumble jumble, and sometimes the nonsense I spew out happens to be correct.
- The process of obtaining employment is a bit like a monkey jumping through hoops. And more hoops, and more hoops, and more hoops… and more hoops. Some hoops are singed with fire, others comically small.
Can a monkey retain any sense of dignity after all these tricks?
- I’ve decided that my general understanding of justice is correct: that justice is an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Justice is vengeance, justice is retribution, justice is dulling out a sufficient amount of punishment. Justice is not restorative, justice is not merciful, justice is not forgiving.
Don’t confuse justice with finer ideals: grace, forgiveness, mercy, etc.
- “A thing of beauty if a joy forever.”
- It is possible to lose motivation. I speak not merely of the motivation to achieve one goal, but the motivation to achieve at all. Most of my adult life I’ve thought ambition a wicked impulse, something I struggled to suffocate and stifle. Yet now that I am riddled with apathy, I realize that ambition, if bridled by God and focused for God, is a gift from God.
- When I was a college freshman, I often prayed, perhaps even daily, that God would help me root my identity in Him, in what He thinks of me, in what He has done. Eventually I stopped offering this prayer, because after months and years, despite hope and discipline, I still felt very much that my identity was rooted in accomplishments and praise. I decided, at last, that such a prayer was simply too vague and nebulous, that its practical effect would be impossible to actually experience.
I knew, though, that man would be truly freed when he finds his identity thus, but decided that God was unwilling to give such a freedom, or that it is simply impossible for man to reach such a freedom. A man who thinks not of what the world cares for, but knows deeply and passionately that God has accepted him… freedom indeed! But who can actually become such a man?
Nowadays, I am failing, failing in many things I once held pride in. I can no longer lift a ton of weight. My grades are mediocre. I am seemingly unemployable. I am very well acquainted with rejection.
Failure is distasteful, yet in my failure I feel like I am finally breaking the shackles of opinion and achievement. Perhaps God is answering the prayers of my youth. Perhaps God knows that some lessons - the most important lessons - can only be learned the hard way.
INCIDENTALLY, SO TOO ARE LUNATICS.