The Tyranny of the Gift

When did WordPress begin to offer a writing prompt on the blank post page? Have I been gone so long?

It feels intrusive. It’s an offering that probably feels like a service to the giver, but feels like a tiny condescension from this end. Now wild animals are creeping around the edges of my thought, disturbing everything.

Or maybe that is just where my head is today after dealing with the “city pastors” yesterday, who apparently have a mandate (not quite sure from whom) to wander the school building and talk to students who are sitting alone. My students were sitting alone in the library working on an assignment. One of the pastors started “chatting” with my student about his project on Oedipus Rex. I am kind of thinking that is not within his mandate for so many reasons.

The church and state haven’t been separated in this country for very long, but this seems like a weird reactionary move on the part of the school system.

I am inclined this morning to seek this guy out and have a proper discussion with him about the Dionysian festival, about parallels with later Christian tropes and iconology. I have always wondered how lambs usurped goats. How highly sexualized androgyny became asexual. So much really to muse about. I do have a lot of questions and am curious about a lot of things, but there is a time and a place.

My mandate is to teach theater history in that building.

I went to high school in Kentucky. I had a French teacher who began each class by reading from the Bible. In English. My French teacher had never been to France. Which I even then thought was very sad. I don’t know – I would like to think she’d at least been to Quebec. It just seems like such a lonely pursuit, learning a language so divorced from your own life. When I was a child, I loved the language of the St. James Bible. Spoken, mostly softly, sedately by a California preacher who used to be a drunk.

I had a very romantic idea of what a “drunk” was. But the words were magical, like a fairy tale incantation. They changed him. So much hope in the song.

There is a part of me that envies people who can hold on to a belief in universally good magic. And there is a bigger part of me that wants them out of the school building. That wants me to tell them about the way a song can strengthen the heart – harden the heart – until it shatters in a collision with the real world.

You don’t know what you’re stepping into when you start throwing your charms around. Assuming you can blindly separate the good from the destructive.

5 Replies to “The Tyranny of the Gift”

  1. Wild animals, oh yea. (boring part) Yes, WordPress is always trying to “prove their worthiness”, seems to me. Tedious. Unnecessary. Un-called-for. I use but am not a fan. (what’s really big?) Church and State. Is it like the first – someone wants to tell me how to be, because. But me, I got my own – because. So share or be square. (and I’m oval, not square) Then again, here’s a question. How do we float? (and all choices are brief? I think, yes.) (impermanence) you I appreciate.

  2. Well, WordPress hasn’t started offering me such a prompt yet. Thankfully. The platform is obviously being a city pastor in itself. On those wandering around your school – no matter what my beliefs are, no-one has the right to indoctrinate young people is my view. The world is in a dangerous lurch to the right, but then you knew that already. Your words, you know, like dandelion parachutes in the breeze.

  3. And also–why approach the students who are sitting alone? Is sitting alone presumed to be such a terrible antisocial thing, even in Norway, land of loners? Good heavens.

    And yes, I noticed the prompt too; having taken some time off from blogging, the words– which I knew were not mine –kind of threw me for a moment.


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