God



I am not a writer. I have nothing to prove, complain about, or justify.

Born in1940 and raised WASP male in our nation’s capital, with no childhood trauma or handicaps, I am an intellectual decadent, uh, descendant, and admirer of DWEEBs (dead white European Enlightenment bullies) and feel that these days only the voices of the oppressed and marginalized deserve to be heard, so I’ve kept my mansplaining mouth shut. I am also lazy.

On the other hand, my meal ticket (and escape from ‘Nam) required a PhD in English, and for 50 years I’ve read The New Yorker and The New York Review practically cover to cover, (cor)responding with a legend (in my own mind) that has produced, you may say, a disquisition or dissertation every few years since 1980, all of them on a single idea about Christ (and dogs) that has let me cut the Gordian knot of Western ego and imagine a unified field theory of love and democracy.

God is dead, say the dweebs, and good riddance to that projected narcissism. But not until you’re in your thirties in America, which thinks God is Jesus, alive in them 'til then.

The medium is the message, says Marshall McLuhan. Marital hospitality is a new medium that restores the parity between writer and reader (that created god in the first place) by making youth and marriage equal co-creators of the visit-message.

Wikipedia: An Archimedean point is a hypothetical standpoint from which an observer can objectively perceive the subject of inquiry with a view of totality (i.e., a god's-eye view) or a reliable starting point from which one may reason. In other words, a view from an Archimedean point describes the ideal of "removing oneself" from the object of study so that one can see it in relation to all other things while remaining independent of them.

First we are young, then we are married. You can’t be both at once. One “stage” or viewpoint is succeeded (“removed”) by another. Youth is the Archimedean point for perceiving marriage (and vice versa) the way an employee has one with which to (or is one that can) perceive her employer, or a citizen his government, or spouses each other.

The Archimedean point implies equality, as do reader and writer when they together create the hero. The seen is equal to the seer (O brightening glance!) as is the dancer to the dance. Truth is transactional parity, agreement, compromise, détente, momentary ceremonial mutual understanding.


The constant reader says: I don’t need to be a writer for the same reason that I don’t need to be a soldier, pro athlete, or porn star: I don’t need to keep their company. I prefer to keep my distance, my Archimedean perspective. I want to have my cake and eat it, too, the way the young and married can, if they think they can (and only with each other).


Our incarnate god died at thirty (or so). He did not marry, he did not parent, and he did not grow old.

What is the god he told us to love if not something inside each of us only until we’re thirty?

And who is the neighbor we are supposed to love if not the intimate other we must live with and treat as we were treated by that Jiminy Cricket or Tinker Bell or Hobbes (the toy tiger) of our youth?

God is love, we swear, but fear both are neither. God is dead, but what about Christmas and Easter, sentimental rituals that account for a third of our annual retail economy?


Nothing that you would have read in the last fifty years of the NYM and the NYRB contradicts or refutes my idea that our incarnate young-dying god can be seen to have created and inspired, in two millennia of Western arts and sciences, the sentimental “parties” of European romantic love and, latterly, American democratic government.


God is the last refuge of the egotistical Western scoundrel, the libertarian patriot. Ironic, isn’t it? The Christian individualistic pluralism that created medieval romance and modern democracy is today threatened by totalitarian, puritanical ego-God cults like Islam and Trumpism (and, you may say, liberal humanism) that equate their divine personal savior with the state and the Holy words of its oracles (and intellectuals), and deny the gender and generational dialectics—ecumenical and intimate and sentimental—that express our American equalities as freedoms and vice versa.

God is a feeling that you are right: in the right place, at the right time, and that your life is on track, your fears are well-founded, your friends and enemies are clearly identified, your complaints are valid and will be addressed, your wrongs redressed, your fortunes repaired, and your hopes deserved.

Good readers (of a good book) get this feeling because they are both creating and created by an author (a hero!) as they read.

Most people only get this feeling when carousing in like-minded groups, celebrating a “divine” identifier and validator, a higher power/person who offers justice (vengeance) and atonement (precedence) to those who belong. The group projects that power upon their performing idol, define themselves by it, submit to it, feed on it, and are coterminous with it and each other in frenzied collective ecstasy—


Sounds like a rock concert.

However large the group, that power, be it Allah or Trump, is unitary (ego-centric, nationalistic, reactionary) because individual performers (Luther, imams, singers, actors) create it (from what they’ve read) as they speak, unilaterally, and the audience members are captive ears and eyes, passive clones of demagogic oratory.

Democracy, like true love, is neither monotheistic nor dialectical, but tetrahedral. Paired oppositional parties of gender, color, power, and beauty incarnate writer and reader, and cross with the serial Christ-spouse in each of us, making three-dimensional, four (view-) pointed encounters (perspectives) between equal human beings momentarily dependent upon each other for means, motive, and opportunity, for lights, camera, and action, for entertainment, hospitality, and enlightenment.

In democracy and love we belong not to god or the state but to each other. We take turns being actor and audience, leader and led, winner and loser, sick and well, on top and underneath, in and out of control, sane and crazy, rich and poor, as we identify, define, and express those conditions in our intercourse.

Equality

“A single life doth well with churchmen for charity will hardly water the ground, where it must first fill a pool.”—Francis Bacon

The root inequality, the power struggle that underlies all unfairness, is a tetrahedron of parent, child, spouse, and spouse. That is, differences of strength and skill created by age and gender in all of us as we grow up produce (foster, incubate) the conviction that hierarchies are the bedrock of civilization, that the strong and smart must control the weak and stupid at every level of society. Thus is born the great chain of (command) being, with men above women, parents above children, masters above servants, glitterati above literati above illiterati above ethnic, alien, or heathen “others”, the poor, etc.

Jesus gives each of us 33 years to claim equality by introjecting Him in an ego parity or psychological monotheism of individual self-worth that may be (thanks to fiction) unique to the Western world. The only absolute difference between human Christians, the only perspective that moots the inequalities of age and gender, is that between the young with Christ inside them and the married with each beside Him. “Render unto Caesar” obedience to society’s legal hierarchies, and “unto God” (self and spouse) the “love” bred (via kenosis) of equality.

There are a million examples of obvious inequality among humans, while equality itself is notoriously hard to perceive. Like love, it’s in the eye of the beholder.

It’s taken all of the charity I possess or can summon just to put up with my wife. Her need (her lack of self-esteem) is indeed a “pool”. She doesn’t feel equal to me, so that means I don’t love her. Naturally, whenever the subject comes up, my feelings for her are not “fond”. She becomes a virago, a termagant, an angel avenging her sex.

Collect for the 5th Sunday of Easter (One way to look as “’til death us do part.”): “O almighty God, Whom truly to know is everlasting wife, grant us so perfectly to know thy son Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the wife, that we may steadfastly follow His steps in the way that leadeth to eternal wife through the same Thy son Jesus Christ our lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Us, in the unity of the Holy Spirit [family], one God [universal microcosm], forevermore. Amen

And in the communion service: “Risen lord, be known to us in the breaking of the bed.”

“If God isn’t good (and love) I’ve been a real chump for staying married all these years”—what wives have been saying for millennia. [c.f. Rowan Williams’ desert fathers who “made God happen” with each other].

God is the love you have for yourself and your (equal) companion, the sense that what you are and have and do together is “good”—or good enough, or sufficient, or plausible, or passable, or at least comme il faut.