Tuesday, August 30, 2011

INTERPRETING FRANCIS SCHAEFFER FOR THE POMO



My first encounter with Francis Schaeffer was in the bathroom at a fundamentalist college. Inspecting the cleanliness of rooms on my hall one Saturday morning (a daily job that sophomore year), I came across a seditious-looking, oversized hardback, lying on the back of a bathroom toilet. In ridiculously large Courier font on the front cover of the white dust jacket it read Whatever Happened to the Human Race?




Feeling the aesthetic sensation that I was being shouted at, I picked up the book and turned it over. On the back were photos of two, interesting-looking characters (Amish versions of the founding fathers, I thought) whom I learned to be C. Everitt Koop (U.S. Surgeon General under Ronald Reagan) and an intriguing character simply named Francis A. Schaeffer. 



Not sure whether or not I would find history or nudity between its covers, I opened it to find the continuation of Courier font. I forgot about room inspections.


A theological argument that read like a Modern history book, I inquired of the owner to explain the meaning of it to me. In short order I left his room with a copy of an antiquated paperback of Schaeffer's He is There and He Is Not Silent, spending the rest of that morning in my dorm room, lying on my back, trying to cipher his complicated arguments, tears streaming down my face.


Having read most of Schaeffer's written work (and many of his books several times), having watched his popular documentary series dozens of times, and having listened to the high-pitched whine of his voice on cassette lectures for literally hundreds of hours over the past twenty years, I have developed a basic familiarity with Francis Schaeffer's theological mindset and cultural perspective, albeit a basic one.




I later learned that the Calvinism I had been taught in Europe had been filtered through the influence of Francis Schaeffer and that some of his ideas for which I immediately felt a powerful affinity during my first readings had been taught to me in the little village of Mehlingen, Germany. However, years later I have learned that I learned about Francis Schaeffer in a backwards fashion. While many people were light years ahead of me in his documentary series How Should We Then Live (what I like to term "Commercial Schaeffer"), I wrestled with the abstraction of his thoughts before I ever knew about the motion flicks. That has resulted in my own emphasis on Schaeffer.


I am struck by how many times Schaeffer's name comes up among evangelicals and the politically conservative, a group largely influenced by a smattering of Schaeffer. Usually citing Schaeffer's political concerns in How Should We Then Live, I find discussion with many from these groups to be generic (they focus on the anti-Christian sentiment from American government) and short-lived ("Schaeffer was the greatest evangelical figure of the 20th century." Period.) as well as disappointing ("Mmm, yes, Francis Schaeffer was a GREAT man of God."). I have often wondered if we have been reading the same books. 


Much of Schaeffer's overt legacy is his intellectual contribution to the anti-abortion movement and the consequent rallying together of the Moral Majority under his ideas. He is also known for the popular Schaefferism "All truth is God's truth" which has in practice meant that playing John Lennon in church is allowable or that creating cheap, Christian facsimiles of "secular" originals is obligatory (I was recently in both a fundamentalist and a charismatic church, respectively, which parodied Schaeffer's ideology, complete with a coffee shop, skate park, and a Border's bookstore look-alike). Francis Schaeffer's name is a talisman, a relic, a stamp of approval for religious, political action. His ideas have not changed much in the almost 30 years since his passing.


Were Schaeffer present in 2011, I am sure he would have already re-framed or rebranded himself in light of the new dominant world spirit (Call it what you may. Just don't wrongly associate it with the Old Modernism). I would like to highlight a few ideas of Schaeffer's (in no particular order) that I think relevant to the POMO (aka, post-modern).




1. Schaeffer was not a professional theologian; Schaeffer was an evangelist. Each of his works are best understood with this truth in mind. While Schaeffer used a theological framework and theological ideas, he did not see his main contribution to the world to be a theological one. He saw his main contribution to be cultural, aka, conversational. Schaeffer created a language unique to describing the anomaly of "Modern man." That is one of the reasons Schaeffer's influence (pre-Religious Right) was widely influential in the Woodstock community as well as in the university (each on either extreme spectrum of the "Evangelical" Schaeffer helped to shape). 


Using orthodox, theological constructs, Schaeffer created new categories that were culturally-specific and language-specific for the Modern. For example, Schaeffer describes Adam as an "unprogrammed man." Elsewhere he describes the distinction between existential and orthodox theological expressions to hinge upon whether or not that individual believed in "Adam's bones" (belief in the Bible's Adam demanded a belief that the remains of his bones lay somewhere on or in the earth). 


Schaeffer even uses Einstein's relativity language when he speaks of a literal creation "in space and time." To distinguish Adam as human without the modern connotation of determinism, Schaeffer used the term "mannishness", the sum of all that it means to be human.


Schaeffer did not create language for ivory tower enjoyment. He sought to encapsulate the ideas of a scientifically-infatuated culture in imagery that correlated to ancient Biblical truths and he tried to represent them in as Modern a way as possible. In The Church at the End of the 20th century, Schaeffer explains the schizophrenia of the Modern's intellectual touting of an ideology the consequences of which he or she revolts against in areas of actual meaning. "Cage directed some of his own chance music and when it was over he thought he heard steam escaping from the steam pipes. Then he realized that the musicians were hissing.... They were hissing because they did not like the results of their own teaching when they heard it in the medium to which they were sensitive. They were hissing themselves." (italics added) 




2. Schaeffer did not parrot the traditional expression of a harsh Calvinism, and this caused him problems with his mentors. One need only to read of Van Til's reprimanding Schaeffer's cultural approach to Modern man to understand that while Schaeffer borrowed heavily from the Calvinistic greats, he made a distinction between what he considered a Modern, Calvinistic view of determinism (variants on fatalism at least in expression) and the "dynamic equivalence" of a true freedom of the will. 


Schaeffer makes it clear that God gave Adam the "unprogrammed man" an unprogrammed choice. The Old Calvinists flinched at this expression because they had no category to which they could popularly appeal save for the Modern concept of determinism: that man is "predestined" (read "determined") to "this" or "that." Schaeffer revolted against the modern concept of man's will as robotic because man was made in the image of God and God is not programmed. Man is not a "machine."


In his book How Should We Then Live, Schaeffer uses the analogy of ripples (as in ripples caused by a stone dropped into water). He says that the ripples are "real" and that these ripples move in ever-widening, concentric circles, referencing real causes and having real effects in the world around us.  Schaeffer's emphasis on this latent Calvinistic view severed a great many relationships he had. For some, Schaeffer was seen to have crossed over to the very Aristotelian side against which he was speaking (Thomas Aquinas' view of grace and nature).




3. Schaeffer advocated a serious "earthy" consideration of matter versus the exclusive "Platonic" idealization of the soul. In Pollution and the Death of Man, Schaeffer explains a critical aspect of his theology upon which the development of his entire cultural conversation hinged, explaining a lot of the reasons behind his interest in and commendation of the study of pop culture and other contemporary interests deemed useless by most of his peers. Schaeffer calls this idea the "covenant of creation."


In this view Schaeffer says that all "covenants" (aka, relationships) are "fixed" because God entered into a relationship or a covenant with the "stuff' (actual matter) that He created. In other words God swore to respect the material integrity of the things he created. So God will always deal with a tree like the tree that it is and not like, say, a man. Schaeffer uses the example of Moses and the burning bush. God suspended the normal, relational combination of a bush (wood) + fire = smoke for a specific reason: God was relating to Moses on the basis of his humanity. 


In other words, God, having created Moses as a man who aspires to reason, created an anomaly (a miracle) that He designed would lure Moses to the burning bush because Moses as a man had the aspiration that a bush on fire would result in smoke and ash. And this bush didn't. Further, Schaeffer tells us that God kept the integrity of the bush and the fire because they were both recognizable as such to Moses.


We can go on further to say that when Moses threw down his staff in the pharaoh's palace and it turned into a snake that it was a miracle (because snakes are not wood). However, when Moses picked it back up, it became wood once more. Had it remained a snake and slithered into the desert and died, that would have been magic and a breach of the material integrity. Further yet, Moses' snake eats up the other magicians' snakes when they performed the same miracle that Moses did. 


But there is no contradiction here either, because Moses' snake ate up the other snakes (staffs) which became wood once more. Though Schaeffer does not say it, I guarantee you that he would argue that Moses' staff was much larger after it "ate up" the magicians' snakes than before simply because the material that now made up Moses's staff was quantitatively larger. In this covenant of creation, Schaeffer was very careful to consider the minutest of details of the physical world around him as well as the details of historical events expressed through ideas.




4. In all of Schaeffer's works, he mainly gave us a model for how to communicate to a culture. His focus was not merely on the facts of his generation. He taught us a cultural method of how to arrange facts. Schaeffer self-consciously lived in a transient world where things change, says he, because they are not the Infinite-Personal God Who does not change. So the more that the body of scientific knowledge grows, certain facts will "change."


This "Infinite-finite" distinction led Schaeffer to believe in the fraternity of created things or matter. That is to say, Schaeffer believed that on the basis of ontology (the area of being) there is no qualitative differentiation of matter. On the basis of ontology you have the Infinite-Creator God and then you have everything else.  


In other words, he really believed that on the basis of ontology man was related to every other created thing. However, as man being made in the image of God (at God's prerogative), Schaeffer believed that man was arbitrarily special and different than all other matter (Schaeffer calls this the "arbitrary" will of God because God chose to do so because He wanted to do it and not because he Had to do it. God is not programmed and did not have to refer to that which was greater than Himself). 


As touching man being made in the image of God, Schaeffer held no qualitative distinction between the genders, races, or even popular, modern cultural preferences like sexuality or religion. None whatsoever. You can read Schaeffer's letters to members of the homosexual community, and you are amazed at the dignity with which he treated them and the seriousness with which he treated their emotions.

In Schaeffer's Whatever Happened to the Human Race he clearly links the plight of the unborn child to the plight of the African-American slave. He speaks of how slavery and the sub-human view of race eventually morphed into the lawful extermination of unborn children of every race. Actually, one of the last things for which he was remembered was his becoming the apologist for the Religious Right and intellectual father of the anti-abortion movement.




It has been almost thirty years since Schaeffer passed, and still there is no significant reinterpretation of Schaeffer's ideas to address the framework of our very own post-Cold War or post-modern era (or whatever you may wish to call it). What you often hear from the evangelical corner are the sound-bytes of Schaeffer from the early 1980's largely leveled to bolster political interests. Schaeffer-loving is often times merely an addendum to the political resume.


I have the sneaking suspicion that, perhaps, many who use Schaeffer on their resume are probably a little confused about his fundamental beliefs that long preceded the abortion issue. For example, few people understand that Schaeffer's theology drastically developed when he was sent abroad to study the state of the Christian Church in Europe following World War II. Europe was already despairing of Modernism and entering into the European post-modern blahs. Schaeffer's ideology, then, can be understood to be the cultural differential of his trying to reconcile what was happening on both the European and American continents. But the simplistic analysis we hear in the States is the same intransigent idea of Schaeffer that offers no fresh perspective and no enlightening guidance about present times.


I am certain that Schaeffer would, were he alive, empathize with the POMO, ciphering his hard core, gangsta rap, and world music, sobbing at the hopelessness of Indie films, walking the aisles of Bonnaroo chatting with drifters. I cannot imagine him ridiculing the documentaries of Michael Moore (not that he would necessarily agree with him), or encouraging the disparagement of Ellen Degeneres (not that he would necessarily agree with her). 


He would have wept over the death of Kurt Cobain, rallied all Americans with steely resolve at 9/11, been an honorary member of the U.N, and been present at the inauguration of President Barack Obama. He would have taken time to fall asleep on the beach, babysit his grandchildren, and watch old reruns of The Cosby Show. He would have a smartphone (probably the iphone 4 and researching the iphone 5). I think he would have even had the Mac Air versus a Dell.


What is for certain is that he would not be lobbying in the ranks of the neo-cons, libertarians or progressives. He would not appreciate his name being used as political endorsement. He probably would not be writing political books, and he probably would not be taking interviews from neo-Christian radio personalities. For all I know he might have retreated to the hills of Switzerland once more (if they would have him) to a quiet chalet, reading the Harry Potter series for the fifth time, savoring tea, or snoring in his rocking chair. 


In only the way Schaeffer could, he would have created one hundred new conceptual amalgamations, one hundred new terms, and sixteen new perspectives about our current world situation that would allow us fresh enlightenment and even give us an edge on our ability to problem-solve new problems we don't yet recognize because we are in love with the old ones.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

ANGELIC CARRIER: GOING POSTAL ON THE MAILMAN


There are certain people I never want to see. Ever. And there are certain times I never want to see them. Policemen (who ride behind me on the interstate or knock at my front door). An EMT (when his ambulance is parked on my cul de sac). The fireman (when his fire engine is wailing in the direction of my house). A door-to-door salesmen (on my door step with the winsome but uncomfortably flashy smile). 

I would include angels, too (but I might offend some friends who have claimed to see them), so I will say the postman. After all, angels and postmen are both messengers. Over the years people have told me about their personal yet casual interactions with angels which are always bracketed by a sense of calm, a giddy excitement, or an innate understanding that they are in good hands.

Unlike postmen, angels seems to appear unannounced which I find unnerving. Postmen, for the most part, are routine. Historically, it seems that angels scare the crap out of people. People in the Bible (like the prophets) who encountered messengers (or "The" messenger) unannounced respond in a wide range of anxiety: bending over, shrinking, cowering, falling down, hiding the face, going blind, becoming mute. I have never heard of a prophet yet who ever jumped up and down in elation, grabbed for an angel out of sheer joy, or talked the angel's ear off.

But the people who have told me about their personal encounters never seem to be concerned that an angel invaded their personal space (in their bedroom at night when no one else is around, for example). I'm afraid I wouldn't be able to differentiate between an angel and a home intruder. I might jump at the celestial being only to be blasted backwards onto my head.


But getting back to the mailman and his connection with a heavenly being, I think I loathe the idea that someone would choose an intermediary to bring me, say, bad news they cannot tell me directly. Aside from the Advent of Christ, angels are like the "last straw." If you don't listen to an angel, the other shoe is going to drop. While the postman is unflinching in his resolve, faithful in his duty, and the closest thing to a civilian warrior, I have wondered why I secretly despise them at times, especially when they bring me bad news through the mail. I've listed a few reasons:

1. Postmen are friendly because they are obligated to be friendly. What a facetious complaint, I know, but it seems to be the most sinister thing you can do, that is, handing someone bad news with a "howdy" or a smile on your face. Several years back a postman frequented our house between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. each day. I soon learned why he had such a wide time differential. It was because he talked to anybody who was available. Neighborhood friendliness to him meant that you deserved a long conversation from your friendly mailman that only ended when you excused yourself from his interrogative style of converse. Right when you thought the niceties were over, he always asked a question instead of ending the talk.

Over a period of five years I learned that he was divorced, had a special needs child who died in the bathtub, and was being monitored by the U.S.P.S. for the habit of striking up long conversations with residents like myself who happened to be out whenever he sauntered by. One time he spoke with me for at least 45 minutes. When I learned later of his probation (a 20 minute conversation), I tried to avoid him altogether or limit our chats. However, he never could kick the habit and was soon terminated.

2. Postmen know about our business and keep us in suspense about what they know. We interpret their silence one day, their smile the next, and their avoiding us yet the next day as a kind of thermostat gauging what we can expect to find in our mailbox. It is as if they have an uncanny clairvoyance for knowing what is in our box without having opened our mail (which is kind of like knowing what someone looks like with their clothes off).

Those are the awkward times, especially when the mailman hurriedly gives you mail that you open to discover you were late AGAIN on a bill or that this is the LAST notice that your subscription is going to expire or that you need to contact such-and-such ASAP or you will be terminated. Other days he (or she) hands you the mail, looks you straight in the eye to greet you, and exchange a "moment" with you only for you to open the mail to get that large check you've been waiting for or to get that one surprise letter from a long-lost friend or to get an apology letter from your bank or utility company showing that you actually have a balance in the black, not the red.

3. Postmen carry bad as well as good news (these days probably more bad than good). Unfortunately, it isn't that postman's fault even though I directly attribute the bad news in my mailbox to the man delivering it. I remember the first foreclosure notice I received back in 2008. I never saw the postman that day. It just ended up in my mailbox. I think the postman came early that day. 

Surely, mailmen are experts at categorizing the mail they carry. I always receive two notices before I pay my water bill. I know my postman knows that because the logo on the first notice is blue while the logo on the second one is red. I'm sure they even have their ways of knowing the differences between good and bad personal letters.

And isn't that an egoistic thought? That the postal worker sees MY bad mail at the beginning of the day and connives how to evade ME by rerouting his route, and timing it just right so that he slips by my house when I'm in the bathroom or backyard? That the postal worker can telepathically work around me? The omniscience to which we attribute the postal worker, I think, is the hatred we sometimes reserve for God Himself.

4. Postal workers make us sign for things without knowing what we are signing. I taught history & literature for several years and am familiar with accounts and stories of people who signed their own death warrants without knowing it or who accepted and passed onto their executioner the contents of their own demise. When a postal worker comes to my door and asks for me to sign for a letter or package, I want to see the package or letter, shake it around a bit (if it's a package), put it up to the light (if it's a letter), and consult with him about the contents ("What do you think is in it?") before I put my signature to it.


Of course, deliberating beyond an acceptable few seconds is not only impossible but also rude, because the mailman has three thousand more houses to drop by before he goes home for the evening. And what is so odd is that the little bit of innate respect we reserve for our postman morphs into a momentary but sinister hatred for his being needed by three thousand more people instead of only by you.

Below is some of my mail.  I thought one day that I would photograph every bit of mail that I get for one day. 


AT & T. Look below at all of the unnecessary paper.



The IRS gave my company a new tax ID. That's what this paper is.



Unnecessary paper again.



All that was left was the return envelope and the sheet inside.



This is a coupon I thought my kids might like.



I'm not changing my bank...



...so this is trashed.



My mortgage company sends me love letters...



Look at all of this love...



But I'm already in love, so it's trashed.



Oh, this is that AT & T bill...



Trashed.



My electric company...



Though the mail is varied, they all have one thing in common. An angel of a mailman delivered them. Thank your mailman today (but feel free to go on hating him tomorrow).

Monday, August 22, 2011

GNOSTY THOUGHTS & LEAKY VALVES


Mind over matter. Literally.


Mind
___________

Matter


It is not original with me that the above fraction is the basic "mindset" of all despisers of Middle-earth. The world-view essentially states that in order to accomplish something here below, one must overcome the actual inferiority and impoverished reality of this lowly, physical world by employment of that high, immaterial dimension we know as the mind (mind or spirit, because in this worldview, the mind and spirit are immaterial). Certain religious experiences operate along the same tenet as well as the main impetus in my own county for drug use.


Why do so many people hate the world so much? Probably because they operate the muscles of the mind far more than they operate the muscles of the body. Probably because they operate the muscles of the mind instead of operating the muscles of the body. Probably because they have operated the muscles of the mind so much and the muscles of the body so little that it just feels right to exercise the muscles of the mind while it just feels wrong to operate the muscles of the body.


The phenomenon of mind-over-matter is especially obvious in the area of goal-setting. As of late I have been reading a few books on mindset like Greene's formidable 48 Laws of Power, Eker's poignant Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, Covey's strategic Principle-Centered Leadership, and Tolle's A New Earth. Reading them has been a pleasure. Understanding them has been a mind-shift. Applying them has been my problem.


Until recently. It was through a series of quotes over a period of almost two years (one riveting gem in a thousand), that helped to dislodge a knotted blockage somewhere within me that prevented my acceptance and retention of it . The first was a quote by Arthur Rudolph, designer of the Saturn 5 rocket:


“You want a valve that doesn’t leak and you try everything possible to develop one. But the real world provides you with a leaky valve. You have to determine how much leaking you can tolerate.”


The second is from the honorable Albert Einstein:


"Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them."


And another one by Douglas Jerrold:


"The superior man is he who develops in harmonious proportions."


What awes me about these quotes and others like them is that they each take "physical manifestation" seriously. To conceptualize apart from actual measurement (which is always at some stage of "inferiority" in gnostic worldviews) might mean that you are a good talker, but it doesn't get anything done. Anything done is better than an idea unattainable.

And that is the problem with "thinking through" problems. One person has the idea that she would like all of her bills to be paid on time, but one month she is given a leaky valve: there is not enough money. Instead of reasonably setting the goal of paying some of her bills, she expends too much  thought worrying about how the consequences of not paying all of her bills will compromise her credit score or make her feel sick, or she will fantasize about paying all of her bills for which she has no money and, therefore, not actually pay any of them.


Each mental exercise depreciates the value of the actual money she does have to pay some of her bills. Proportionate to the amount of time she spends thinking about her bills, she hates her life that much more. 


I've been there. Everything is fine. Then you get that one expense that puts you "over" and places a big thundercloud over your entire week. Nothing is quite right: not your house, not your spouse, not your children, not your job, not the food you eat, not the drink you drink, not the exercise you do, not the sleep you sleep. Even laughter has that depressed pallor about it. Shrouding every God-given moment is the resounding echo that you are a loser, and that it is visible to everyone. They merely have to look at you.


One time I got pulled over by the police. I knew they had nothing on me, because I hadn't done anything. However, the longer the cop sat in his car, the more concerned I got until I had the absurd thought that the cop had my IRS file and knew I owed taxes. Actually, someone who happened to have my same driver's license number was wanted in D.C. for failure to appear in court. But I was relieved. That was when I knew that I had to kick these gnosty thoughts.


Gnosty thoughts reserve disdain for the world. You can never perform anything right in the realm of the theoretical. You can argue about what should be and another person can argue better about what should be and yet another person can outargue both of you. That method of problem-solving turns on you and breeds dissatisfaction after dissatisfaction until you find yourself repenting for ever having existed. When conceptualization turns into self-loathing, lower your standards. Decide just how much leaking you can tolerate. 


Sunday, August 21, 2011

SUPPRESSION: ODD BEHAVIORS IN MARRIAGE


Let's face it. Some of the most admirable marriages we have sought to emulate have ended in divorce, temporary separation, or worst, estrangement within the marriage. While even the best marriages experience periods of tension and stretches of extended strain, the ones that prove to be wholly dysfunctional, inescapably irreparable, or ignominiously transient experience disproportionate bouts of combative silence or resentful compliance in most or all areas of the marriage. They are just good at pretending.

Or good at suppressing the deleterious effects of a sucky marriage. But as with all things suppressed, that which is under pressure is sure to ooze, to leak, to explode. Aside from those marriages that amiably end in divorce and temporary separation or that result in mutual estrangement within the marriage, it is for certain that a heightened measure of spousal suppression preceded the defining moment when something snapped, when a line was crossed, when things changed.

Suppression has a way of tattling on itself. Maybe for years you are going along with a signature cycle of patterns, and then "it" comes out of nowhere like a blown head gasket (my damned suburban blew one this past week). Initially you are in shock. I mean, what has always happened didn't happen this time. Someone went too far and the cycle morphed.

I have always taken note of odd occurrences in failed marriages, signs that some sort of force was being silently but severely applied. Here are a few things I have noticed. (Granted, I did not necessarily think that these things would lead to divorce. It is just that in retrospect I recall thinking the behavior to have been strange.)

1. Separate vacations. Surely a marriage is on its way out when spouses routinely take vacations for pleasure apart from each other. It seems that among the most reasonable reasons for marrying, enjoyment ought to be at or near the top. I knew a couple who never vacationed together (and if they did they never spoke of it). No, they took week-long vacations apart from each other, and they actually enjoyed them, only reluctantly returning. Pardon my French way of thinking, but it seems to me that vacation for pleasure is a time for lots of romance, lots of sex, lots of "free time", and lots of nonsense. I am not sure how that can be achieved apart from physical proximity to one's spouse.

2. No touching. You don't have to make out in public with your spouse to have a great marriage. However, if you have absolutely no contact with your spouse in public apart from some odd compulsion like religious conviction, then something must be seriously wrong. I mean, you must be making a special note not to touch your spouse which is a conscious thought. I knew a couple who did not touch in public. The one wouldn't even touch the other to get the other's attention. The one would just sit there calling out the other one's name until after about five times the other one would finally respond. Actually, each spouse received more physical affection from the people around them than they ever gave each other in public. I always wondered how they ever had children. They divorced.

3. Vocal tone. I don't like hearing a spouse chew the other one out. I don't. I hate it when one chastises or interrogates the other in public in order to make a point to his audience that he has a dumb or wholly incompetent spouse. I have also learned through eleven years of running my own school that a spouse who dares to reprimand the other in public more than likely "turns it up a notch or two" in private. I once had a couple in my house who argued the entire time they were with us, using my wife and me as barricades to hide behind and trying to subtly bring us into the argument. They divorced. And I'm glad they did for her sake, because he was a butthole.

4. Incompatible networks. It is hard to have a good marriage when your friends do not like your spouse. It is also hard to have a good marriage when your spouse has no interest in who your friends are or in developing relationships with them. I knew a woman who was married to a good but ignorant man. He didn't cheat on her, but he didn't make love to her. He didn't hit her, but he also didn't touch her. He didn't raise his voice at her, but he also didn't speak to her. It was an awkward marriage where he was involved with a not-for-profit to which he gave his undivided attention. In return, the not-for-profit took his services but didn't pay him in return for the many hours he worked. His wife on the other hand threw herself into her own network of friends, incessantly volunteering time out of her normal job. They divorced. Quite honestly, it seemed to make sense.

5. Religious language. Exclusively. It is hard to talk to someone who is intent to be allegorical, poetic, or talking in parables all of the time. It is as if that person intends not to give a straight answer. Not to be easily understood. When one spouse talks this way, it might be style. When both spouses speak this way, it has proven time and time again to be a collaborative cover up. 

"How are you guys doing?" 

"God is faithful."

"That's nice, but I'm asking how you both are doing."

"Jesus never fails." 

"Mmm, yeah, but are things going well?"

"Hallelujah."

Surely they don't speak that way to their creditors when asked to pay their bills. Surely, they don't speak that way to their employers else they might not have a job. Surely they don't talk to their children this way when their children ask for dinner or come to them with a bloody knee. They divorced.

You know what I think was going on behind the scenes with every one of these marriages?





That's what.