Black, White, and Grey; Green Bananas

13 November 2001

Well, what a lovely day yesterday was. This is why I don't often self-identify as a Christian, and why using the more specific term Haugean only works so far: because people hear the part of "Haugean" that is "type of Christian," and then they decide that I believe things that whatever Christians they have met before or heard of in some indirect fashion believe. Without consulting me at all, they use these viewpoints as though I had already made the arguments attached to them or had the experiences related thereto. I had three different people do this to me in private or public places yesterday, attribute beliefs to me that I do not hold because those beliefs fit in with their preconceptions.

One example is: I do not believe that God has A Plan For Us All. This implies a three-dimensional God who's essentially a human being with some superpowers. The God I believe in is infinite in dimension, making time something quite outside our experience. And when other people who self-identify as Christian talk about God's Plan For Us All, I tend to get a little upset, especially when they're attributing remodeling plans to God because of a tornado or some such. So when I get that particular view attributed to me, I tend to get testy. "But since you believe this already, you must think--" No, in fact, I mustn't.

There were a couple more of these, all related to religion, all in the span of yesterday afternoon/night. (Interestingly, none of them had to do with yesterday's Morphism comments about the church we went to.) One of them was not even a belief that's widely held by people who are different kinds of Christians than I am. I ran through the major groups I could think of, and then the minor groups I could think of. And it has nothing to do with the doctrine of any of them. Sigh. Anyway, the moral of the story is, if you want to know what I believe on a particular subject, and it's not written down directly around here, ask me. Don't ascribe views to me because someone else you know holds them.

One of the problems I keep having in arguments, over and over again, is that people think that the difference in some viewpoints is "black and white" vs. "shades of grey." But if I admit to shades of grey, if I admit that there are things that fall into a difficult middle category, that doesn't mean that black and white disappear. For example, there's a line between murder and self-defense. Different people would put that line in different places. But that doesn't mean that nobody has ever murdered. I can agree that it is sometimes difficult to determine something without agreeing that it is always difficult to determine that thing. You can have shades of grey that still have black and white on the different ends of their spectrum.

Also, Evan has mistaken my comments about the snow as being annoyed at him. I'm not annoyed at him at all. If he only wants to visit snow, that's his choice, and it's not one that annoys me. I just want to make it clear that it is a choice, that he's choosing between something that has value in one way and something that has value in another way, not between something valueless and something with value. Because "why do I want that? I could just visit snow" is kind of a have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too perspective. And Evan is having his cake and eating it too. He's just not having my cake, and I want him to know I have some.

Yesterday I read The Free Lunch and wrote a book review of it for Speculon for the upcoming issue. And I said a lot of stuff about it there, but something I didn't mention was: Spider Robinson knows who Don Camillo is! We Ralston High Honors English students, we are not alone!

The Little World of Don Camillo, by Giovanni Guareschi, was the exception to Smilin' Bill Novak's curriculum. The rest of the books and essays in it were Classics You Need To Know, For College And To Be Educated People. This was the class that forced me to read The Return of the Native, and we all know how much I hate Thomas Hardy. (Well, you know now.) But then there was The Little World of Don Camillo. It was out of print, so we read battered and photocopied versions of it. It had little cartoon illustrations of Jesus and the Devil talking to Don Camillo (who was an Italian priest), and it was hilarious, as I recall. So I looked at Alibris, because they were good for a birthday present for my grandpa, and I discovered that not only can I buy it there, but there are more of them. There's an omnibus. I am so thrilled. Next time there's a special treat time for me, I'm going to get me some Don Camillo. Me and Spider Robinson and Smilin' Bill.

Yesterday I bought green bananas, and I thought of my Gran. My grandpa's brother thought he was really funny, and sometimes he was even right. And for the last fifteen years of my Gran's life, he kept telling her, "Mother, don't buy any green bananas, you may not live to see them ripen." But she did anyway, of course. Gran wasn't going to die until she was good and ready. The very idea that she'd do it any way but her way was ridiculous.

Salon has made me happy for the first time in a long time by running a "Brilliant Careers" article about Tom Stoppard. Stoppard is one of those people I haven't stopped liking just because he's kind of trendy, and I don't intend to. He wrote Hapgood; that's a large, permanent mark in his favor. And so are some of his other plays, of course.

Mark and I and Sarah went to see "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead" clear back when Mark and I got engaged, when their parents still lived in Tampa. The cast had only five or six members, and when they had to play multiple roles, they indicated it by putting on or taking off Burger King crowns. Polonius was a sock puppet on Claudius' hand.

I worked on the Old Man of the Woods scenes on the Not The Moose Book yesterday, and it was good. My instincts were working overtime, putting in the things that needed to be there. I often write "thin" the first time through and have to go back and make sure that the layers are there. I think with these scenes, I had less of that first draft thinness than usual, without veering off into pointless digressions that will get axed in later drafts. (Despite these journal entries, I assure you, I can pick a topic and stick to it.) They were good. It was good. And like most good scenes, they were tied up with the rest of the book, so I feel like it's getting me going really well on this.

I started reading The Motion of Light on Water yesterday, Delany's memoir of his time in the East Village. It's interesting, to say the least. It probably wouldn't be quite so interesting to me if it wasn't Delany, that is, if it wasn't a writer whose work I know and like, but it is, so that's moot entirely. At any rate, I'm going to keep reading that and work on the NTMB and hang out with David and probably outline my BEC article and write e-mail to MA just so that I can use more acronyms. Okay?

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