my first posting for national blogging post month will be a repost of the very first blog entry i ever posted, on bloglines (which is going away forever as of november 15). (is it really cheating to post something you’ve written somewhere else a long time ago?) i’ve tried to leave the entry as i wrote it on march 14, 2006. however, i did fix a couple of typos and i added in a few links that were not there previously. it’s interesting to see how far i’ve come in the nearly 5 years i’ve been blogging (first at bloglines, then setting up impolite conversation at blogger, and now migrating over to wordpress.com, and i plan to migrate again within a couple of months to a self-hosted wp blog), and how my thought processes have changed and not changed. i have a few other items from the bloglines blog (books music food) that i plan to repost on those days when the muse is settling in for a long winter’s nap. but for now, here’s the one that started it all. (and for the record, my opinions on the role of the devil, mentioned prominently below, have changed somewhat since this original writing. but only somewhat.)
blogging at the end of the world (… or damn, why didn’t i start blogging sooner?)
|this is my inaugural foray into the world of blogging. this may be something i do daily, or once a year, but most likely the frequency will fall somewhere in between the two extremes. the things that make my heart beat fast are books and music and good food, so those things will probably be the focus of my writings, but i will also delve into religion, politics, sex, relationships, poetry, sports, racial issues, the war in iraq, and anything else that happens to present itself to me.
so… i am currently obsessed with the writings of andrei codrescu, npr commentator, essayist, novelist, poet, and generally a thought provoking human being. i love it when my two very favorite topics of religion and sex intersect, and in what i’ve read of his work so far, they not only intersect, they collide. over the last couple of weeks, i’ve completed the novels wakefield and messiah, and am in the process of reading hail babylon! in search of the american city at the end of the millennium and the devil never sleeps and other essays. i just recently paid attention to him for the first time through an interview on what is enligtenment? magazine’s website. i found him very relatable as far as some points he made about spirituality and american society, so i thought i’d try one of his novels to begin with. i’m a huge tom robbins fan and when i read robbins’ recommendations on the jackets of these particular novels, i knew that codrescu was someone i needed to take a good look at. it turned out that both of these books were everything i could ever want in a novel (with the possible exception of the ending of messiah – not entirely happy with the way it ended, but i don’t know how it could have ended any differently). both books made me laugh out loud, made me cry, made me squeamish, made me horny, but most importantly, made me think.
one of these continually evolving thoughts fed by these particular books is the role of the devil in our lives. first off, let it be known that i am no big fan of the devil. i come from a fundamentalist christian history, and while i no longer self-identify with those beliefs, i do believe that the devil is a real and powerful being. however, he is not an equal with god, as i think many christians believe, and therefore have the tendency to blame him for everything bad that happens in their lives. he is a creation of god, just as we all are (more on this in a moment). anyway, in both books, the devil himself plays a central role. basically in wakefield, the devil is the catalyst for wakefield (the main character, with one name, similar to madonna in that regard) to ‘get a life’. but more interestingly, in messiah, i see him being portrayed as being in charge of making life interesting for us here on earth. he makes the excellent point that if life were all good or all evil, we’d basically be bored to tears. (i used to wonder this about being in heaven for eternity; i mean, being happy all the time, with no dramas or crises, wouldn’t that get boring after a few hundred thousand years?) ultimately in messiah, the devil is the one who prevents the apocalypse from happening, namely because he likes the way things are here on earth now. (well i guess if you were going to be locked away in a bottomless pit for 1000 years after the apocalypse, you’d like it here on earth currently too.) (and as for all this control that the devil seems to have in this story, apparently god, after having set things in motion, is just looking in on us and not really interfering unless asked.)
okay, i’m not saying that the devil is this being with our best interests at heart, but i have come to see him as another creation of god, as stated earlier. as created beings, aren’t we all created in the image of god? i believe that we are all little localized pieces or aspects of god, so would that not be true of lucifer also? in other words, i guess i’m saying that god has a dark side that most are just not openly willing to acknowledge. but how would we know what good is without evil, light without darkness, or sweetness without sourness? it is the ugly that makes the beautiful worthwhile and transformative to us, and not just another day in paradise. if god is all-knowing and all-encompassing, then he (and i use that pronoun loosely) knew what he was doing by even creating lucifer in the first place.
i believe this is one of the key messages in messiah, that the bad in life is necessary to appreciate the good, and that what appears to be good (major notz, felicity’s uncle, for example) can be evil, and what looks evil (the shades, a group of unemployed stoners) can be good. it also illustrates something that i’ve believed for awhile (which i’ll probably touch on in future posts), that people make decisions and do things based on what they know and on their level of consciousness. this doesn’t dismiss right and wrong (i mean, hitler was obviously horribly wrong with all the horrors he wrought upon the world, but even he was operating from what he knew; his actions did not just happen in a vacuum), but just means that people do what they think they need to do to get by, whether it’s to scratch an itch on the physical level or to satisfy an ego need.
i could go on with thoughts about these two books for a long while. this means that these meet at least one of the criteria of a good novel, as they have made me think long after i’ve closed the pages. i’m sure i will bring up other aspects of these stories from time to time, but there are plenty of other things in my world to write about. i’m off to explore some more of those things now.