We Were Just Kids
Reflex-ions on the meaning-making structures of our folks.
I was raised and, for a period, worked in an Evangelical Christian church that’s been in the news lately. I’ve been considering that news—news about abuse and the ways it was hidden—and what it means for people who grew up in that church. As I did, the following poem came like a reflex—automatically.
This poem is not meant to convey that all religious structures (or any societal structures for that matter) lack meaning. It’s simply my attempt to wrestle with the things generations ascribe meaning to, and how that shapes the worldview of future generations, particularly future generations of faith-bearers.
“What I relate is the history of the next two centuries. I describe what is coming, what can no longer come differently: the advent of nihilism… For some time now, our whole European culture has been moving as toward a catastrophe with a tortured tension that is growing from decade to decade: restlessly, violently, headlong like a river that wants to reach the end, that no longer reflects, that is afraid to reflect.”
-Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power (1901)
Nihilism /ni·hil·ism/ (n): a philosophy characterized by the belief that nothing matters, nothing has meaning, nothing in the historical social order is trustworthy, reliable or worthy of continuity.
Let the Record Reflect
the preacher-man under the Sunday lights, fist pounding podium, quoting Nietzsche and the holy texts to rebut him. This was red meat, a feast for the saints who dismissed all the prophets—secular and sacred alike—as stoney relics. And here is the question: When plowing through a ribeye, who notices the dogs under the table, under the boot, waiting for a mouthful of spent gristle?
I once wore the nineties to the Sunday gathering: pants too loose, too holey, sweater like a knit pair of drapes. Deacon Tom, a man as good as the seersucker he wore, asked whether I needed a new pair of pants. I asked whether he’d like a pair of tweezers to pull the splinter from my eye.
We were just kids, just sorting out the way the world worked. One got pregnant: the people bowed their heads and closed their hands. One wondered whether God was, and if so, where: the people gave him a book with answers to questions he did not ask. One fell in love with a minister and he with her: after all these decades, even I’ve forgotten her name.
Does anyone remember?
We were just kids, just sorting, just pregnant, just doubting, just loving, just fumbling little bits of life like all kids do. We were just kids, just searching for anything that meant something. We were just kids and this, we thought, was our fault, but fault measured by folly is no fault at all.
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