We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
(with thanks to The Anchoress for the reminder of this hopeful Psalm of David who was, indeed, a big-time sinner)
Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness. In your compassion blot out my offense. O wash me more and more from my guilt and cleanse me from my sin.
My offenses truly I know them; my sin is always before me Against you, you alone, have I sinned; what is evil in your sight I have done.
That you may be justified when you give sentence and be without reproach when you judge, see, in guilt I was born, a sinner was I conceived.
Indeed you love truth in the heart; then in the secret of my heart teach me wisdom. O purify me, then I shall be clean; O wash me, I shall be whiter than snow.
Make me hear rejoicing and gladness, that the bones you have crushed may thrill. From my sins turn away your face and blot out all my guilt.
A pure heart create for me, O God, put a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, nor deprive me of your holy spirit.
Give me again the joy of your help; with a spirit of fervor sustain me, that I may teach transgressors your ways and sinners may return to you.
O rescue me, God, my helper, and my tongue shall ring out your goodness. O Lord, open my lips and my mouth shall declare your praise.
For in sacrifice you take no delight, burnt offering from me you would refuse, my sacrifice, a contrite spirit, a humbled, contrite heart you will not spurn.
In your goodness, show favor to Zion: rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Then you will be pleased with lawful sacrifice, (burnt offerings wholly consumed), then you will be offered young bulls on your altar.
This beautiful psalm has always been a great comfort to me ( especially in the midst of a family crisis right now that I will not burden y'all with). I can relate. Reflecting again on a line from Yeats that I tediously repeat to a long suffering friend and confidante about how "too much sacrifice can make a stone of the heart." God, does not want to break us, does not want hardened, cold hearts but living, warm, loving ones. And so I try to tell myself as I read this that He will be merciful, that he will not forever leave us in our dungeons (whether there by our own or others' actions).
BUT, perhaps not the example I really need. The friend or professional who says what we can understand, relate to, the consultant who tells us what we want to hear, is not always right...
What makes me think this is that I finally watched "300" with my kid and her friend yesterday. I love kids, have worked with them all my life, and dote on my own BUT: a more mollycoddled, self-centered, softer generation I have never seen! Of course all old fogies have been saying that since time began....My own father used to sigh in exasperation, whenever I disagreed with him: "we should have exposed you on a hillside at birth...the SPartans had the right idea!"
Anyway, yesterday afternoon, watching this film about the Spartans, all of us classics scholars so snarling at historical inaccuracies in the movie, but also much discussion of sacrifice. Waste? Or an inspiration? Pointless posturing, and squandering the life God entrusted one with? Remember those BIblical lines about better a living dog than a dead lion (sic?).
I have studied Wilfrid Owen line by line with these girls, and reminded them that the poet who wrote "Dulce et Decorum Est" was no cowardly PC academic, but a patriotic Brit officer who volunteered for the front, fought bravely, and cared about his soldiers, who did not abandon his post. Almost certainly gay, but put God, country, duty ahead of his own right to live and love whomever he chose. That the personal must be set aside sometimes. That soldiers hate war, but face their fear, serve anyway.
I have always preferred the Greek heroes to the Israelite ones. Probably just because I learned about them first? I was raised by classics scholars, who had little use for the Old Testament. The Philistines got a bad rap! And so I have never been a great fan of David. Great poet, fascinating character, and obviously a sinner so we sinners can relate to him. BUT I don't like tricksters, adulterers like him. Yes, yes, it is supposed to give us miserable sinners hope that if God could love an SOB like him, he might love us...
I am an equal opportunity squeamish female: I didn't like Odyssesus much either. I'm on a Leonidas kick right now. Studying most of the male Old Testament heroes or the craftier Greeks doesn't help me do the right thing in my own life. The Spartans appeal more because they are braver, more decisive, because they expected more of their women, and were less degenerate.
Usually, I look to ordinary brave and faithful American men and women nowadays for inspiration. American Marines fighting better than anybody else on God's earth, then being kind to children and their defeated enemies, feeding stray cats and dogs in Bagdad. Devoted Sunday school teachers. Patient doctors. Honest local businessmen giving jobs to released prisoners to give them a fresh start in life. Not a day goes by that I am not awed by my fellow countrymen (and revolted by the weaselly politicians who presume to try and "lead" them).
But for today I need a real hero, not a messy Old Testament one. Stupid CGI movies notwithstanding, Leonidas is my hero. No broken and contrite heart stuff for him. Some macho hero (where?) exclaimed that "moods are for women and lovers!" David and many of us tend to brood and drown in our feelings too much. Closer to home, heartless but sensible people I know say "Feelings aren't facts." A feeling never won a war or built a bridge or fed a child.
What I need and what many in our country need more than the mewling and pewling of David's Psalms right now is a little more of the spirit of Sparta. Leonidas. He's the man!