Every Religion gets perfection.
And promotes their type. All religions do. Lots of noise and confusion, but we live long enough and start to get the General Types. It is possible to imagine a Best Person Ever at ease in every religious tradition. But only one system allows us to find the beauty in all: a rational, secularized Democracy.
Money helps, too.
And there are traditions for Poor But Tolerant. In the Indian subcontinent, in Greece in fits and starts, in Rome, then much later for Christians, after the Renaissance, after Spinoza. Freedom smells good, even to the brute in us.
My grandmother was one such Best Person. She wanted to radiate, quietly, effectively, her Christianity. And did so, more simply than anyone I know. We could read her moral choices in the whole of her: Just work. Care for us. Be honest, and modest. Have steady-on thinking, engage with liberal democracy. In a plain-fed sense of citizenship that was right and old-timey and must, o please, revive.
She read The New Republic and Atlantic and NYTimes. And great books.
Never once did I hear her discuss how the world needs this belief or that, or there being any point of convincing anyone of a Belief. She studied with others, end-to-end classes in her progressive church for 45 years. She lived alone, after raising my mother alone. Had time to read.
But she never changed any Ideas into Doctrine.
So she is, for me, both the example of plain saint of Christianity, and my secular saint of choice for free thought, and reason. Not to bring up Spinoza again or anything, but see the connection to his idea that God can be so beautiful, so complete, so natural and complex, that he need not exist at all?
When she and I talked we connected. She got fierce, in her bone-thin way. But unlike everyone else I knew growing up (well, not true: Mrs. Anderson in 2nd grade, sigh), she got more articulate when she got upset.
She once spent an afternoon describing red wolf hunts, in the fall, in the Ouachita Mountains near Louisiana. The entire surrounding community gathered up movable rural splendor for a two week time-out, camp under tents, chat with neighbors under the stars. Lucky pot indeed, those feasts. We were eating little squares of a perfect brisket, eating it with crackers, as she described the whole beef cattle roasting, on open pits, and mops for sauce. The fights. The livery and forging her dad provided. Horse races. Music.
This finger talk we do here: can it be as good as that? as the best conversations, ever? the intimate, lounging, intense thinking, feeling each other's breath, passionate fun, makes-me-feel-better Connections, of real life?
That feeling of: just between a few of us.
I think personal, frank talk, in open forums, should always have some measure of caution to it. But what is this heaven for if not to share things like colon surgery? first love? confessions of, er, auto-didacticalism? annoyance at our kids (see this)?
So if this succeeds at all, this piece, let me share with you in confidence, in mutual trust, in hopes you understand, inherently, we are a society of the just, people who are Free, and the need we have for complete freedom, to share what makes us human, because most of us are imperfect, so I must do this:
I will be posting a piece eventually about my colon surgeries.
It is a Performance Piece, actually, one my daughters say I cannot ever, ever perform, and they are look-at-me-I-am-totally-serious.
I love the freedom to just experiment with writing here. It is not the same as a workshop. More risky, but forgiving of risks, too. I can try anything here: Lists. Flyers. Nonfiction essay. thrashes. fiction. poetry. bus ad. fragments. odes. even buffoonery, if i am brave.
The net rolls. OS flexes for it. Cool.
And there must be some way of using, creatively, the intense physical reaction my colon surgeries elicit in people. Sort of like how guys react when I describe getting a vasectomy while awake, but more intense, and from men and women both. And besides, it's funny. Now.