I am not quite certain here, but I may well be the world's least foremost authority on matters of the heart. The topic of romance was on my mind this morning after waking at about 4:20 a.m., or so? Dreaming something of which I have no waking memory, the very concept of "romance" kinda hovered in my brain for about twenty minutes after waking, and (oddly!) it even made sense?
So, with this hefty resume' of experience and insight on the matter, we courageously venture forward! Anyhow, a crazy-pants-essay seemed like a good idea for today. The theme appears to be interesting enough, and add to that; the statistically improbable fact that I have nothing to do on a Sunday morning? Our Kirk is closed today, due to a large (by Las Cruces standards) snow storm which dumped for about seven hours yesterday. I began this "think-piece" on Christmas Eve, but it kinda stalled several paragraphs below here. Today seems a good day to attack it again.
There is a "magical" or "romantic" aspect to the holiday (Christmas, I mean) which up until this morning, just never made any sense at all to me. Over the years, my basic strategy on this type of thing, has been to pull "a mike"; and conclude with a; "I am surrounded by lunatics in any case, and so why would we expect their ruminations on holy-days to be any more reasonable than the rest of their nonsense?". This not-entirely charitable assessment of things romantic, has remained remarkably uniform in me over the years, and then; for decades!
My keen insight on romance thus has been; "I don't get it". Overall, we presume it to be "a girl thing" in that (often) it is the fems who are most glad about it, they often seem interested in it, and appear to understand what the "it" in question refers to? Moreover (and this is kinda cheesy), the few guys who profess to grasp what romance (itself) "is"; have often struck me as basically pretty unreliable. They can wow the girls, but cannot seem to get the job done, or to that effect, has been my "take" over here, on them.
A year or three ago (I have no idea of exactly when), I hand-wrote a C.P.E. having to do with Valentine's Day. No, it has not yet been transcribed into blog-land. Anyhow, as I recall; several women objected to some of the observations within that essay.
I have no idea what they found to be objectionable. As I recall, I was bemoaning (again) "the r-word". In my brain, "the r-word" is relationship, not romance, although links exist between them we might suppose. Culturally, or socially, "relationship" has become a huge topic in the past twenty years, but the structure of the thing remains almost entirely weird.
If we could imagine two people in the room, you and me. The "r" appears to be a third "entity" of an abstracted variety. It too, is "in the room"? Are fems actually saying that; "If I care about you (the person) I then, in order to demonstrate this, should pay more attention to the abstraction, the "r" present also? I believe that they are attempting to induce me to pay attention to "it", and thus only "indirectly", to them . . . but why? I mean here, why is this cogent to anyone at all? And, as best as I can detect, it makes sense, because it is romantic.
Houston, we have a problem . . .
If some sort of fixation on "r" (the abstraction) is a sign of romance, and romance goes undefined, well then; we get . . . Me! This mind-wreck has just never filed in my poor little skull. The delusional stretching and contortions required along the way, to somehow decode this mess into English, has been lots of work with zero output in my experience.
I infer thereby, that men and women speak two distinct languages. The tricky aspects of twin languages include our rememberance that some sections of usage are quite similar in terms of intent and vocabulary, but beware! Even in those areas of commonality, meaning can wildly swerve. "The dog needs to go to the vet", might well have linguistic parallels, and imply something about animals and their doctors. And also; at the drop of a hat; it might well contain a surprisingly alternate (and sinister!) meaning.
Recall that you are just now reading, and so the twin functions are at low tide. In real life conversation, with all kinds of rising eyebrows, inflections and pauses thrown in, a veritable world of possible alternate meanings of the one sentence arise, and most of those are treated as grave personal insults by fems. In brief, it is work, to talk to women.
An outlandish assertion of mine like; "Nice day, huh?", can be taken to imply everything and nothing, depending upon which girl it is said to, and (crucially!) her mood. Such an alarming statement about air and sunshine, might well prove to be the most brutal personal slander ever delivered by human lips, or it could be just another asinine truism, delivered by a patronizing chauvinist. Women are weird. They seem to enjoy "being offended", and the romantic thing to do (I think?) is to decode what they actually say into some sort of charitable assessment of what they meant by it. But nothing of what I say is to be taken at face value. It is an "un-even equality" so-to-speak.
Overall, I have found that it is usually simpler to only talk to them about strictly structured topics, and that for limited time periods. The creatures seem to very much enjoy wrangling with words and emotions, and this tussle and constant fussing is (I assume?) what they refer to, in their "building relationship" concept. They want me to pay attention to it, and this demonstrates romance with them?
My strategy over the years has thus become a three pronged approach. (1.) First, get the heck away from crazy people! (2.) Next, note that some of them are not entirely insane. Little old ladies, and young girls for instance, often have the ability to speak normal English, and are often fun to talk with. And we ought grant that some Christian women are also sane, and so, they can be worth a guys time to visit with. (3.) But, the final and obvious prong has been to develop the finer points of alone-ness as highly desirable, over the onslaught of daily disasters and chaos which manifest in close proximity to me whenever I am falling off of the wagon (again) and contemplating "dating". Simply said, I have learned to value a distinct lack of small-scale emergencies manifesting in my daily personal life. If I am even mildly correct in assessing this bizarre romantic scheme, I think that women enjoy making things difficult, and then seeing if I am willing to hang around long enough to deal with their warped thought, so to prove romantic intent?
For instance, I recall, years ago; a young minister of the Gospel asking point-blank; "Why aren't you married?". The correct answer rose up effortlessly in me, and I truthfully answered; "Life is hard enough, and I already have a full time job".
Every day at work, it is from one small disaster to the next, In each, I am to find a fix, to answer an issue, and to build the solution, so to minimally reduce the sum amount of chaos in the known universe. Uh, not to be impolite, but why in the world would I want to be doing the same thing in the middle of the night, and on weekends at my house? Dealing with women is work! And I have plenty of that, thanks just the same.
For me, the strategy of generating distance, and of only talking with sane females, and most importantly, of valuing downtime from chaos-reduction, has served fairly well over the years. But it certainly ain't romantic! My main thing all along the way, has been that I do not understand what is implied or meant by "r-word-2" (romance), and it looks (to me) like more effort than it is worth; in order to find out! In my book, and in this fashion; it would be true to describe the leviathan of the federal government as romantic!
Just imagine, millions of dollars spent, years wasted by scholars arguing and defending. Consensus only very slowly emerging; "Fruit bats don't ordinarily prefer to turn left in flight". Well, I just now made that up, but I mean by the illustration, the yield-benefits never begin to approach the investment-costs. As such, I have historically considered, finding out what "r-word-2" means, as a ridiculous personal boondoggle. It is years and dollars and heavy work invested, only to find out that women really are weird . . . or something? But, didn't we know that, going in? Romance thus, has been a bust in my life, a bad investment and a pointless, and painful waste. So, instead of throwing yet-more good effort after bad, I prefer to leave them alone, mind my own business and try not to purposefully rattle their cage (too much). And "here" I have come to rest.
So then, overall this C.P.E. is a first for me, in the attempt to speak about romance in a friendly or even mildly accepting way. The drifting thoughts of an unremembered dream, with which this essay began; do we recall that? Those half-ideas were very interesting to consider. Thinking it over some, I am fairly confident that I have never really tried to think-well of romance.
To me, the violently brief version of "r-word-2" is; "Everything is going to work out alright". It is your basic, "Happily-ever-after" drill here, which has likewise never made any sense to me. But, as a first; and to some slender degree, today I "get it"!
What follows then, is my version of romance, and it begins in the toilet. As a little kid, I once (ostensibly) flushed my Mom's car keys down the toilet. I have no recollection of doing so, but she informed me of the act when I was old enough to understand. Maybe I did, and maybe I didn't, but we do know two things. The keys did indeed disappear one day, and a child we recall, certainly was fascinated with flushing toilets!
You just trip the lever, and a swirl and a whoosh, and everything disappears? Wow! And we are talking 1950's era toilets here, none of that wimpy 1,6 gallon stuff, this was a real flush! I think I saw things through this type of lens.
Vietnam was going on then, un-rest and riots in the streets, corrupt politicians with their finger on "the button", narcotics and "free sex" ruining a generation. And for you younger, (this present gen) "the button" was the premise of a nuclear war with the U.S.S.R. being a very real possibility (the "Cold War"), breaking out any old day now! With one push, an atomic holocaust ends civilization as we know it, and then there were also some "negative trends" to consider!
The end of oil was being predicted, a "Malthusian die-back" was in the works, world-wide famine predicted, along with an ice-age just to make things interesting. . . This was life, and life was a big toilet. To my young eyes, the lever had already been tripped. What we were observing then was the beginnings of the big swirl, which necessarily must end in the big whoosh, or so it seemed to young me at least.
The very concept of "everything working out fine" was not only a blindness to reality, it was also functionally insane. And in that young me, what was true on the grand scale over-rode and eclipsed anything on the personal scale. The everything-okay theorm of; "I got my bike fixed in time to go to Kevin's house for lunch", was not much help when considered in light of coming mushroom clouds, and hypersonic shock waves to follow. So, if romance was a "happily ever after"; in the long run, it didn't matter even if it was true. And I doubted the truth of it in any case.
Meeting a nice enough girl, so to settle down and argue happily for fifty years was small compensation for an entire world swirling, about to go whoosh, down the drain. I doubt that I fully thought this out as a boy, but the elements of this despair in me are (I think) being fairly considered today in this essay.
So, as a newly minted romantic, I shall divulge the over the hill plumber-philosopher spin we all await! And I think it is about good and evil.
Our concept of a romantic "happily-ever-after", is rooted in a dim-echo, a mirror image effort of grasping the real happily ever-after, of Gospel. The presbyhoovian spin here is ordinarily lumbering assertions concerning "Sovereignty", but nobody in their right mind wants to consider that.
No, it is the The Son who leaping every barrier, crashing every wall, losing even His own life in the deed, proving to be "The Spouse" extraordinaire, it is He whose love is the headwaters (as the actual), of which our reverse-image river of romance; originates. And as true as that may be, it yet does not deal well (in my opinion) with the basic set involved of good and evil.
It is a flat assertion that love triumphs over evil, and that is true enough, but says nothing about what precisely is being conquered.
The short version here, is that we (to some degree) know of ourselves, that indeed; we are ugly and mean. As such, we generate distance between ourselves and others, for their good! The romance theorm (and it is a true one) says that He is not repulsed by our efforts at "saving Him", in the same fashion as we would "save others" from ourselves. Rather, He inverts our reverse image back to the true, and saves us from Him! This, I think goes a fair distance in explaining what women are so busy doing in their "developing r" construct.
They inherently reject the notion that they are beautiful, insofar as they are aware of their inner ugliness. All of the dumb shenanigans they invoke, are designed to push away the seeker, because they wish to limit their own damaging effects, while trying to assay the genuineness of professed love. This is my guess at least, and know it to be true of myself also.
The glory of Gospel is that He ratifies the terms of life and peace, and then applies that merit to us, "AS-IF" we were the loyal ones? Thus freed, we are given license to begin growing into what He has already remade us to be! And boy-howdy, I'm all for that, but we have not yet even dented the discussion of what precisely He is overcoming in this victory, i.e., "evil" (or perhaps more accurately, "sin").
I like to eat at a Chinese "all-you-can-slam-down-your-neck buffet" here in town once or twice a month. Last night, on my way there, the "X-tion" radio station was playing a sound bite by Ravi Zacharias. He sounded in the content, much like C.S. Lewis and a big ol' slug of lessor lights I have heard over the years on the topic of sin. One and all, they inform us that the lever, the motivation and main driver of sin is . . . "pride". It is this that I have come to doubt, for it is this, which has so thouroughly made hash of my past efforts to decode the intent of romance. Or so, I now believe.
I am no theologian, but do like to think over some of the things they talk about. I cannot (just now) recall a single verse in the Bible which would afford us the luxury of defining sin as; "unrepentant pride, at root". If it were true, wouldn't it perhaps be also true that the premier value in life would thus be humility? If pride is the force which makes sin go, then wouldn't humble-lowness be the cure? But, He-Himself is the real cure! And so, I contend that this is the bait and switch, which accounts for much of my confusion over the years on the "r-word-2".
Houston, we have a weirdness. . .
As my friend Greg says: "Many Christians seem to think that the central and necessary attribute in The Almighty is love. Hogwash! The Bible makes it clear that, that axle of necessity; is His Holiness.". And I agree with Greg, yet the holy goes by-in-large undefined in Christian-land it appears to me. And so, whatever sin proves to finally mean, the main driver of it, must needs be unholiness, not pride! And if that unholy must also involve hubris, insanity and cruelty, I'm okay with that. But, the central pillar of sin (and death) is the un-holy in us, so reads this plumber's lexicon.
Whatever the package of sin finally contains, that Pandora's Box of chaos which pours out lawlessness and oathbreaking, as it belches forth addiction and passive collapse, while it continues cranking out perversion of the true, and the harsh and arrogant purging of the "useless", whatever the load ends up containing, the thing consistently rotates upon the axel of the un-holy, so say I. But, wouldn't defining un-holy, ought require a working grasp of the genuine article, The Holy? And just here, we are numb and un-naturally quiet. I won't bore you to tears with yet another hashing over of my view on this. But simply holiness is not a moral attribute of El Elyon, it is His unique ontological stance.
Being, "is-ness", the very most basic aspect of our lives is that "we-be". But, our being is always and always unlike His. His Name, "I Am Who Is", or perhaps "I Am, That Am" is holy, I mean the Name is! The referent here, is to a two-type of being, The Author, Who of Himself "Is, Was, and Shall Be", is being compared with all which He made, directs and supports in its being. It (The Holy I mean) is the Creator/creature disjunct, writ large and forever true.
Unholiness then, formats as an intense (and might we add, insane?) avarice for, and longing; and ambition to cross this divide from our side, so to become "like God". The unholy (sin) is rooted right here, in the ontologically impossible and frankly undesirable ambition from hell. The unholy is trying to be its own author, supporter, director and goal. And even if it were possible (which it is not), it would be a horrid end, a monstrous perversion, a lie writ large. It would be that which would be "demanding" revenge from the True "He who Is". And that is just what we, in fact; have! The original romance, He is saving us . . . from Him, unto Him!
So, in order to grasp romance, we must understand good and evil, but we are prohibited in correctly doing so; if we assess evil (sin) as primarily pride run amok. Thereby, we do not understand romance, this is my assertion today. But a proper understanding, involving the fear of God, holds life, and eternity-future as the prize!
Thus, the genuine article of romance is Immanuel, "God-with-us". Our crazy conspiracy to cross that gap from creature-to-Creator, is the source and headwaters of all our ills. But His remedy is to cross the gap from His side. And boy, is it ever romantic! In His story, everything really will work out alright, for it already has! There is an actual and real "happily-ever-after" of which our dim copies are of necessity, reverse images.
Who saw that one coming? Mike Labor, the hopelessly romantic plumber? Gadzooks! But it actually makes sense now. Hey, maybe I oughta get married after all? All of that scheming double-talk, those decades long cases of emotional extortion, the boatload of crazy blather, conniving and implacable mean-ness that is "wimmen", suddenly it all makes sense? If we can deduce (by faith) the future reality of a sane and glad future, then it becomes "worth-it" to endure their temporary insanity? Well, I (for one) am surprised by this development. Perhaps "romance" was His Christmas present this year?
No wonder I was lingering over that dream! For the first time in my life, voluntarily taking on that second full-time job appeared cogent, and lucid? It was not, in those moments at least; the familiar girding up, so to endure pointless madness on the way down the drain.
I get it! Or, more appropriately, He got us, and even we block-hearts are very slowly becoming aware of a sea-change!
Another world beckons, a place where things make sense!
He's so good, it's scary!