I have a Catholic friend who invited me to his church. Capital-c Church? I don’t know. It has lately come to be that I lack spiritual direction. I am forced to think about my deficit all the time. Tête-à-têtes with church-going acquaintances, compelling gospel songs over PA systems, the fact that religion is the ambient, pungent theme of seemingly every book I’ve ever read, unassuming gatherings that in fact turn out to be very spiritual events. And it leaves me pondering the nature of it all. So I woke early in the morning and we walked to the (C)hurch and I was surprised over and over with ritual after procedure after recitation, and it felt so unnatural, like I was a square block being fistedly shoved into a very circular hole. How does one reach an audience while speaking a different (and not to mention dead) language? All the Catholics, presently in on the joke, could all rub shoulders and understand the deeper meaning that sifted down out of all of this and could cry at candles and Latin tongues, and so nobody minded, outright, that I didn’t kneel at the right times, but how can something so innate and spiritual be so studied-for? How can you teach having a soul? Afterward, Catholic Acquaintance and I walked back for coffee and interrogation. I didn’t report much, which had a lot to do with a keenly shared awareness between the two of us that I was going to speak no wrong, not one single bad word about my experience or the (C)hurch or the Catholics even if I wanted to do so, because who does that and also out of a distaste for unpleasant religious-type confrontation, and all I could really say, in toto, was that “It was different,” or attention-diverting hot-potatoes like, “I’ve never seen holy water before, what’s that deal?”, etc. I didn’t learn much. The whole thing pretty much dwindled down to, in lieu of an actual feasible excuse, my slowly, outrightly walking away, I mean really backpedaling away as we neared my residence, while this Acquaintance was firing off about the sole religious authority of the definitely capital-c here Church and that the Scripture is just a bunch of riff-raff, his eyes ablaze and perspiration forming little pools on the meatier parts of his neck.
Dear Collective Forum,
Well, there are two things. One is that this virus does not really directly affect me besides the fact that the room in which I sit and type has changed. Tedious things. Toilet paper, minor inconsistencies. I put off things like I always did. Painting my room, my bookshelf, a small bust (a statue, that is) of a woman, and three portraits of a queen from Nigeria instead of checking Blackboard. Spring cleaning. Preparing a garden, something to live for. The usual.
The other thing is that I can’t help but feel, in a part of me which is a bad grape that I pick around, that this virus will really be the end of the world and it’s going to come for me and my family and who knew that so many people I care for are so sickly and so old anyway and once it’s wiped out a good chunk of the population everyone I love will either be dead, unemployed or starving, especially me because here I sit, a completely inconsequential English major who would have been much better off as a farmer or plumber or like the welder-girl in Flashdance, but then the worst part is that if it did wipe out half of us sapiens would that really be the worst thing because our population is bursting at the seams and our morals and humanity in general is sort of going to pot? And besides that the term “social distancing” made me laugh when I first heard it because God is there any other society that is more socially distanced and isolated in blind and mundane and empty consumerism and that is dissolving as rapidly and numbingly into a virtual existence that becomes more and more confusing and bizarre and multilayered and plainly unnatural as this one?
The long and short of it is, this virus kind of makes sense. And it’s huge, and it has nothing to do with me. Which is an interesting sensation.
Attached is a probably stolen picture of the tiny planet on which we swirl and lash.
Ella Corder, Live from the Pale Blue Dot
The immortal yet the dying. The truth yet the grossly and improbably fabricated. It dies and is posthumously replaced by its own dust; an ancient and pale art is held at the throat and dismantled within an inch of its life. Journalism, the media, the source of public information, which has henceforth survived McCarthyism, muckraking allegations, et al., now shakes down to its very foundation from the voice of the internet: online inflation of information, empty words inside of the shell of real journalism like a gutted crab. Opinion and fact have been crossbred beyond separation. It has never been the job of the public to sort through real and false information until now. It is modern day, and the people take one of three paths: they either eagerly ingest information exactly as it is presented to them because they agree with it; doubt or disregard every piece of news; or stop consuming news altogether.
everything teems with a buzz. The flowers are as orange as their mother and grow ever fonder of her as the long warm day stretches on. The trees race among themselves to be the most vibrantly green of them all. And the people are wrapped more tightly in this life as the days go by, and slowly the layers seep into their bones, and they glow in agreement and congruency with the life that surrounds them.