I’ve oft publicly confessed I’m not a Church Guy. I pray just about every day, sometimes several dozen or hundred times. Hilarious note about that? It’s usually on the just perfect great days where I catch myself praying a lot. For me, prayer is asking. I wonder if God smiles and shakes his head at all the gimme-gimme-gimmes that I float heavenward. If I could just open my eyes (or close them) I could see. I already have.
I meditate. Certainly not enough. Again, for me, meditation is God talking to me. In a variety of descriptions, poets, seers, saints and the dear simple common man have referred to it as “The Still Small Voice.” Very hard to describe. Sometimes it’s not so much a Voice, but I hear a — Something. It could be, in a voice not mine, a mirthful, “Keys?”
Can’t start my car or anyone else’s without them. Sometimes, the Still Small Voice is profound.
One midnight, I’m all the way down in Orange County. I’m heading home. Or so I thought. Being who I am, I’m daydreaming. About 45 minutes go by before I make that caveman face — brow furrowed, duck lips, confused expression. This time, the voice is my own, precise question: “Why is the Pacific Ocean on the wrong side of the freeway?”
A moment later, The Voice said to me, with volume and measured urgency: “You’re Going In The Wrong Direction.”
Nothing to do with being Mexico-bound.
I Was Going In The Wrong Direction.
As in — Life.
I found out something interesting the other day. Originally, the word “wicked” appeared 116 times in the original King James Bible in 1619. I’m guessing the church didn’t want to offend the, no offense, wicked, so it’s been edited out to about half — 61 references.
Wicked is a word of many meanings, from “Tiffany Addison Marie makes a wicked peach margarita!” to being purposefully evil. Malignantly dishonest. You know. Like Shakespeare’s Iago? Devious. Depraved. Willfully ignorant. Unprincipled. Machiavellian. Contemptible. Perverted. Oppressive. You’d have to get tattoos in 3-point type to carry all the synonyms on your body.
It’s not that any of us gallop about like the castle hunchback, slurping and looking for bugs to eat and fair maidens on which to drool. We perform many loving deeds in a day. But wickedness?
Like kindness, a little goes a long way.
The air is thick with wickedness lately. If you just stop for a minute, it’s there. You can feel it. It’s everywhere, a modern smog of self-righteousness. We’ve become, in a blink, a pornographic culture.
Lately, I don’t recognize my own country. Braindead college students give fumbling interviews on why it’s OK to loot and riot — if you don’t agree with someone’s politics, real or imagined. Thousands are afraid to slap a political sticker on a car bumper or hammer in an “Elect Gonzosaurus” sign in their front yard for fear of physical retribution. Mobs run free to burn and rule portions of our cities. Some lives matter more than other lives. I must have been out of town because I didn’t get the list just where, exactly, I fall. Our institutions lie to us. Government is bloated with red tape, jargon and frustrating mind games of No You Can’t Cuz We Said So. Law? It’s used by the connected as a weapon, applying to some, not to others.
Ever tune in to traffic reports while you’re driving? Listen to the tone, the urgency, the panic, the frantic pacing. Public servants carrying the rank of dog catcher are now field marshals, casting nonsensical orders, destroying businesses and lives in their self-importance.
Some, gleefully, kill their babies as others cheer them on.
Scott Newhall, a former editor of this Mighty Signal, once said: “The most glorious priesthood in the world is the newspaper profession.” I’m not sure Scott would recognize the priesthood to which he devoted his life and soul. Journalists have become snarling lynch mobs, demanding human heads, shouting and elbowing one another at a chance to one-up the outrage they themselves created a quarter-hour prior.
Social media? Advertising? A disturbing percentage of public education? You can’t watch a football game without some dour, horse-faced shamer scold you, cursing the country that adored them and made them wealthy for the rest of their lives.
It’s tedious. It’s wicked.
And, it’s so painfully, obviously Orwellian. I wince as I write this. How many people today actually know what Orwellian means?
I’ll give you the Cliffs Notes definition. It’s wicked.
How did we get to build ourselves such an oppressive culture? We’ve allowed ourselves to be hushed by tut-tuts and shooshes from the politically correct, bowed by the loathing of people obviously insane. We flee to flat screens to worship the despicable, the banal, the untalented. We take Selfies of our lunch and ignore the constant cloud of loudness. Everyone insists they squeeze in that last word, the final dig, the ultimate comeback.
It’s cacophony. We are unable to hear our own Voice, to answer a question not heard: “Are we going in the right direction?”
A while ago, I read an interesting study on, of all things, cannibalism. In one Borneo culture, the practice of devouring one’s brethren wasn’t so much to respect the spirits of the dead or supernatural. One tribe hated their enemies so, they’d kill and eat them just for the pleasure of taunting their neighbors.
Through the — entire — digestive process.
It’s an interesting word, with so many definitions.
Just the right amount makes us interesting.
Too much, we gag and drown in our own and other people’s juices.
John Boston is a local writer.