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family history (or, solipsism part 1)

the summer of my sophomore year in college i decided that pre-med wasn’t for me. calculus and o-chem had done a number on me…well, calculus more than o-chem… and my love of ultimate frisbee was even more than calculus. it’s funny how if you don’t study you don’t make good grades. that summer, under the hot tropical sun, i read hemingway and harper lee. i also began to write vapid treacle that in my ignorance i called poetry.

the story of the majors i held between pre-med and english lit is rather boring. the story of how the chair of the department laughed at me when i told him that i was going to major in english and go to grad school, is only slightly more interesting. but, i won’t repeat the story of my D in comp II. it’s rather apparent.

i entertained theology seriously enough for my mom to warn me me that the only person she knew who had actually gone on to study theology had left his wife and became an atheist. though this cautionary tale did not disuade me, i didn’t take up the cloth.

the summer of my junior year, i worked as a youth intern at my grand-mother’s church. it was on the mission trip to panama that i decided that i didn’t want to go into missions, at least not for the CoC, at least not in Latin America.

when i told my sister that i wasn’t going into missions, she let it be known that this was tantamount to turning my back on the spirit. had i not been raised on the mission field? did i not already have a command of spanish? was i not already sensitive to latin american culture? and, most importantly, weren’t we a missionary family? ever since our great great grandfather walked off the reservation in oklahoma we had been a family of preachers. he, it is said, was a circuit preacher and would use a bed sheet with the plan of salvation painted on it. and his children and his children’s children all went into the ministry and my father’s children are all on the mission field, as well…well, except for me.

i told everybody…well, i’m gonna become a college professor and get involved with a campus ministry. well, i’m a college professor. ..and campus ministry? not so appealing.

when i told my sister that we were leaving the CoC to join the DoC, she cried. she cried, not because we were going to hell, she said, but, for some reason, my switching called into question her life-calling: that of being the wife of a missionary.

my parents are glad, i think, that they have a child state-side. as they care for parents with alzheimers and finish raising our adopted siblings, it’s nice to have a child they can count on being somewhat near.

when i seriously entertained various offers from religious (evangelical) colleges and universities, my dad expressed some disappointment. he liked the idea that i would be in a state institution, hopefully bringing light to the masses. and, he tried to push the possibility of my returning to the alma mater to teach.

 

Comments

Aww poop. All that exposition, and no big question for the payoff? Gaw! :)

Keep this up, by the way, and everybody’s gonna know your name. I’m fairly certain there aren’t that many… [ha! this is what happens when you give me control] he types smiling

And if you blab, then I’ll have to start writing about my family, and we’ll get into a big bona fides throwdown. So keep your name out of this!

yeah, i should take that part out of it…and it is going somewhere!

I don’t doubt it is going somewhere—I’m just annoyed it’s not there yet!

and, you of all people should know…i’m all about exposition…never about real questions!

The world could use more good expositors, though, so I shouldn't complain too much...

I see I have been redacted—just before I was about to redact myself!

sophmore! ;)

I am monopolizing the office, and besides, K has gone to bed, but I want to ask a question she raised over dinner. What, precisely, does this mean?

when i told my sister that we were leaving the CoC to join the DoC, she cried. she cried, not because we were going to hell, she said, but, for some reason, my switching called into question her life-calling: that of being the wife of a missionary.

Was your sister dismayed that your embrace of a woman-affirming denomination would negate her own submissiveness? Or was she dismayed because she could not see how she might justify bringing others to the CoC fold when she couldn’t even keep her own brother there? Or was it something else? We were both confused as to why she reacted that way.

as was i; she never explained herself.

but, it has to do with the latter and not the former. for some reason she felt that our leaving the CoC called into question her call to be a missionary (for the CoC). and, this still confuses me.

your confusion is probably my fault for bringing in the gender thing.

but, though my family has been of the contingent that believes that others (so long as they are protestants) will make it in by the skin of their chiny-chin-chin, they have always believed that the CoC is the only one on the fast-track…they get to ride the automated walk-way while all the other schmoes have to run to the terminal without knowing if they’re gonna make it in time.

And it would really, really suck to miss that plane.

That’s what I suspected she meant. Still, it’s a strange way to think, how someone else’s actions casts your entire becoming into doubt. As if her life depended upon your orthodoxy. Divorced kids develop that kind of guilt about their parents—or at least, I did. If I learned anything good from the alma mater, I learned that such guilt doesn’t do good by anybody.

I really like J’s analogy of running to the terminal, partly b/c (this is going to be a complicated explanation) we are studying Dante’s Inferno in our class, and one of my students wrote that he thought Dante’s concept was really interesting b/c he had always imagined hell as one big plane of suffering people. I said, “Wow! I can’t imagine anything more hellish than being eternally stuck on an airplane—what a great image!” He looked at me with pity and it slowly dawned on me that he meant plane in a one-dimensional sort of way.

I agree with you, Mary. Being stuck on an airplane for eternity is way worse than everyone milling about some gray, Kansas-like expanse. Oh, the horror of eternal delays as we taxi, on and on and on, down the runway! The horror!

so, M, what is this class in which you have them reading Dante’s inferno?

is it a survey class or will you read other visions of hell, as well?

just a soph lit survey. it’s only the first seven circles…after that i grow weary, frankly.

it is hell, after all.

ultimate frisbee, harper lee are loves of mine . . . if you had thrown richard wright in there i might have let you off the hook, :-)

greg gave me a link to this story in response to my blog of may 22 (stoned-campbell disciple).

i am curious as to your grandfather’s name (the circuit rider) and more details on your story. i am not trying to dissuade you just trying to get insight.

shalom,
bobby valentine
http://stoned-campbelldisciple.blogspot.com/

BV, now you’ve done it! J already threatened me for handing his secret identity to a Pepperdine librarian; if you’re not careful, now, he might get violent, or worse, take away what meager Evie privileges I have! Please, for my sake, ask that question via e-mail, hermitsrock at gmail dot com. I can’t promise he’ll give it, but if he does, he can hand over my secret ID too (though mine’s way less secret than his).

Meanwhile, don’t miss parts 2, 3, 4 and 5ish.

I believe Oscar was his name... though, it could've been Franklin Pierce... but I believe it was Oscar... FP being the father of O

Well. That was anticlimactic. Couldn’t you have blustered a bit at me, for melodramatic effect, at least?

well, i didn’t give any last names!

and i dare say that Franklin Pierce (and Pierce is not his last name) is a little bit more obscure than JD! and so is Oscar, since I don’t believe I’ve mentioned the town he was associated with!

besides, I’ve resigned myself to your blurting out your connection to my illustrious family every chance you get. i mean really, some people just are dying to be associated with CoC luminaries… even when they are the Patrick Kennedys rather than the Johns!

so back off!

Ahhh. I am so chastized. :)

i want to say, and not for greg’s sake, my last post, was soooo tongue in cheek.

then again, aren’t most of my posts?