Friday, July 25, 2008

The Ogre's Castle

Since I have spent nearly every waking, non-parenting hour this week working, this will be my first week dipping into 'the file' to post some older stuff. After having an e-mail exchange with my high school friend, Taunee, this week about my Dad, I've decided to post 3 short pieces about his death and funeral. This should not be as depressing as it sounds. The last one is actually a humor piece (as Dad would have preferred). But let me use the first one to unpack the title of this blog a bit... Father was killed by a reckless driver just over 5 years ago, 2 days before his 59th birthday and less than a week before the birth of his first grand child (my brother's first born, Abby). My next post will deal more with how this affected me existentially, here I am more interested in a wordview with room for the s@*# of life. You see, I think that any successful world view has to believably encompass two seemingly disparate observations: that our lives are rich with indescribable beauty (see previous post) and horrifying evils. Most religious world views have to deal with 'the problem of evil' because they assert a fundamental purposefulness against which, loss and pain appear to be aberrations. Conversely, secular worldviews have to deal with 'the problem of beauty.' By asserting a fundamental purposelessness, art, beauty and love can be difficult fits. Which brings me to Dad's funeral, my brother and GK Chesterton. Nic used the following quote at the service from one of my favorite books, Orthodoxy (the most exhilarating book that no one reads because the title sounds unbearably tedious):

"For our Titanic purposes of faith and revolution, what we need is not the cold acceptance of the world as a compromise, but some way in which we can heartily hate and heartily love it. We do not want joy and anger to neutralize each other and produce a surly contentment; we want a fiercer delight and a fiercer discontent. We have to feel the universe at once as an ogre's castle, to be stormed, and yet as our own cottage, to which we can return at evening. No one doubts that an ordinary man can get on with this world: but we demand not strength enough to get on with it, but strength enough to get it on. Can he hate it enough to change it, and yet love it enough to think it worth changing? Can he look up at its colossal good without once feeling acquiescence? Can he look up at its colossal evil without once feeling despair? Can he, in short, be at once not only a pessimist and an optimist, but a fanatical pessimist and a fanatical optimist? Is he enough of a pagan to die for the world, and enough of a Christian to die to it?" GK Chesterton - Orthodoxy

And so there it is. In an age of post modern detachment I am on a quest for a fiercer delight and a fiercer discontent. White hot anger in the face of injustice and overwhelming joy in grace. Frustration with the darkness in my own heart and gratitude in redemption. The ability to sit at my dad's funeral and hate the world I love.


dreamer said...

Good stuff. The quote by GK Chesterton is excellent and really puts words to what I have been struggling with... and I love your closing words to this post. Excellent!

JMBower said...

Well this hits pretty close to home...I think I had about the same experience when my dad passed. I was angry, and feeling helpless, and feeling like those two words weren't...words..enough to capture what I was really feeling. And my mom wanted the service to be a celebration. When I stopped and let my guard down for a moment, I realized it really was a clash of both worlds. A terrible tragic ending coupling with an unbridled joy for having this man in our lives. Beauty only exists in comparison with pain, and vice versa. Ironically, one of my favorite moments from that day, as odd as that may sound, was seeing your dad there and catching up with him.