On Being Anecdotally Significant

It was the stuff of nightmares: 18 years, 3 babies, and a to-remain-unspecified number of pounds later, I ran into the captain of my high school football team. While I was wearing a bathing suit. Aaaaargh!

I was visiting home last week, and ran into him at the pool, where we were both chasing our offspring around the shallow end. I resisted the impulse to pretend I was someone else and run for my clothes, and he and I started talking. We reminisced about mutual friends, or, more precisely, he updated me on the doings of the beautiful people from my high school, none of whom were ever aware of my existence. We chatted about kids and careers–he’s now the minister at a local church. Just before the conversation was ended by my 6-year-old who can’t swim very well taking off for the diving board, he said “You know, I’ve never really known any Mormons except for you and T_______ (one of the rare Mormon beautiful people), but I’ve never been able to quite believe all the cult stuff and the mean things people say about y’all. I just couldn’t get with the opposition to that temple they built a couple of years ago, even though everyone expected me to get my church all worked up about it.”

It was a very sweet moment, for lots of reasons, but two things have trickled out into my thinking about it:

1) Most of us, most of the time, are not (despite Frank and Nate’s fond imaginings :)) very rational in our beliefs about the world. We base our most deeply felt convictions on the slimmest of anecdotal and experiential evidence. Like most facets of human nature, this tendency is potentially both horrible and redemptive: people can be swayed into ugly convictions, like racism, by a single experience or even by rumors about the behavior of one member of a group, but people can also be persuaded into positive and respectful beliefs by a single good experience.

2) The obvious conclusion to draw would be a sort of “Phew–I did my bit to make the church look good, and I can congratulate myself for a tiny bit of member missionary success.” To my surprise, I’ve found myself instead really grateful for the human connection forged by respect for strong and *conflicting* convictions. I find it difficult to imagine that I would have felt a closer tie to him if I learned that this friend had been baptized–there was such a profound and rich understanding in that moment of acknowledging our differences and affirming that that difference did not require enmity. Which led me to wonder about the Celestial Kingdom, where, if our current thinking is correct, everyone will have accepted some (presumably radically fuller) version of Mormonism. It makes me a little sad to think that, after a lifetime spent learning to tolerate and even welcome variety, we may encounter much less of it. Maybe it would be less jarring to contemplate if I had grown up in Utah, but I really have a hard time imagining what it would be like *not* to be part of a minority religion, *not* to have to do that insider-outsider shift all the time–I really like being one of two Mormons my friend has ever known, with all of the explaining and translating and negotiation that requires. [Then again, my Mormonism seems so different from Adam Greenwood's or Jonathan Max Wilson's (or that of many people in my ward) that maybe I'll have to keep eternally progressing in my translating and negotiating skills!]

Comments

  1. Julie in Austin says:

    Wonderful, absolutely wonderful post. Thank you.

  2. Kristine,
    Nice thoughts. After reading your #1 point I immediately thought of how corporations spend billions of dollars trying to create experiences similar to what you speak of. How much of our purchasing habits are based on those same kinds of experiences? I would imagine much, much more than we think.

    It is an interesting psychology that I find myself falling into all the time. I’ll hear someone give their opinion about something and a week later I’m spouting off that same opinion as if it were my own. Next week I’ll be telling someone how I’ve noticed that we can be swayed into ugly convictions, like racism, by a single experience…

  3. I was thinking that if I ran into the captain of my high school football team I would never know it, because I was never friends with any preppy jock types. But then I remembered that the captain of my high school’s football team was the nicest guy in our school and was supremely popular because of it. So nice that he was actually friends with me and my friends! Ha.

    He also just happened to be the only black kid in our suburban school (ok, maybe one of five). I was never in any danger of being a racist, but I’ve always been in danger of being a snob when it comes to popular/preppy types of people, and his example was a good one to stop me from being that way. He really was one of the nicest people I’ve ever known–everyone loved him.

  4. Lamonte says:

    Kristine,

    Thanks for this thought provoking post. I grew up in a little Mormon settlement in Southern Idaho in a county of 4000 people that was 95% Mormon. There were about 50 active Presbyterians and a handful of Catholics. Yet there were four taverns in town that all did a very brisk business. I spent the first 11 years of my professional life living in the suburbs of Salt Lake City where it seemed rather easy to be a luke warm Mormon. And 17 years ago my wife and I moved our four sons to Northern Virgnina where we are definately a minority religion, although not an insignificant minority, and where I personally have finally become a committed member of the church (my wife and children have always been committed). I found through those various experiences that we must strive to look past the facade of outward appearances and learn of the experiences that have molded a persons life to truly understand them. It is certainly only a personal belief of mine but I believe that the Celestial Kingdom will be filled with a “variety” of people who will be diverse in all of the good things of life and unless we learn to accept their differences in this life and expect their differences in the life to come, we may find ourselves in a “lesser kingdom” in the end.

  5. Kristine, good one. I just have a couple of comments.

    Most of us, most of the time, are not . . . very rational in our beliefs about the world. We base our most deeply felt convictions on the slimmest of anecdotal and experiential evidence
    Yes, I’ve noticed that about the people around me. My own behavior and opinions are sane, reasonable, and rational, but I am surrounded by lots of people who fit this description.:)

    Which led me to wonder about the Celestial Kingdom, where, if our current thinking is correct, everyone will have accepted some (presumably radically fuller) version of Mormonism

    Aside from the ordinances, I think the only characteristic that will be shared by those who live with God is a highly developed ability to love. I have always liked this statement by Joseph Smith:
    “Our heavenly Father is more liberal in His views, and boundless in His mercies and blessings, than we are ready to believe or receive. …the nearer we get to our heavenly Father, the more we are disposed to look with compassion on perishing souls; we feel that we want to take them upon our shoulders, and cast their sins behind our backs.”

    It is an interesting exercise for me to look around at all the oddballs, nuts, wierdos, and crackpots who inhabit my neighborhood, ward, workplace, and family tree, overlook the differences, and see them as children of God, fellow strugglers who are probably doing their best, such as it is.

    It’s kind of funny – I grew up in Utah, but still always felt like an outsider.

  6. Kristine says:

    Mark, your comment makes me wish we had a “Featured Comment” thingamabob, like those clever whippersnappers at M*.

    I think I’ll memorialize your paragraph this way, and hang it on my wall:

    True religion is this: “to look around at all the oddballs, nuts, wierdos, and crackpots who inhabit my neighborhood, ward, workplace, and family tree, overlook the differences, and see them as children of God, fellow strugglers who are probably doing their best, such as it is.”

  7. Kristine, love this post. I have to admit, one of my first thoughts upon reading it was wondering how many bone-headed things I’ve done to anecdotally hurt the reputation of the church…we probably have no way to measure those, as people are more likely to tell us that they’re impressed by us than that they are annoyed. Thank goodness you’re around to cosmically balance out my bad karma! :o)

  8. john fowles says:

    How nice for him to say that and to believe that. If only more Evangelicals were like him. Unfortunately, they most surely are not. And that is not a merely anecdotal observation.

  9. john fowles says:

    Mark wrote It’s kind of funny – I grew up in Utah, but still always felt like an outsider.

    Nice, typical, obligatory anti-Utah barb there. Do you really believe Utah is so bad? The people who live there are good people too. But I’m glad that you were different than all of them–an outsider. If you had been the same–an insider–then I’m sure that would have meant that you were . . . . what?

  10. Thanks Kristine! I love your posts. Do you really think that heaven is a place without diversity? I’m intrigued by this idea, because of course it seems right on, yet horrible.

  11. john fowles says:

    Steve, what is wrong with homogeneity, if by homogeneity is meant that everyone loathes sin with equal abhorrence? I’m not aware of anything in our doctrine that condemns diversity in righteousness. Just because everyone in the celestial kingdom will have so internalized eternal laws as to never transgress them and always live according to them out of their own volition and not out of coercion–they will have become celestial beings through the Atonement–does not mean or even imply the clone theory of celestial life. There is nothing wrong with homogeneity in righteousness, and that doesn’t speak in any way to diversity of thought, tastes, looks, etc. This homo-phobia (that is, homogeneity-phobia) from the Left is really perplexing and, quite frankly, can easily be interpreted as insulting. If everyone in a society is LDS, for example, that is somehow bad? What if such homogeneity is the result of free choice and everyone has simply chosen to be what they are–is a lack of technical diversity therefore bad in and of itself? I have thought a lot about this and can’t agree that it is.

  12. JF, it’s good to have you back! Of course you’re still over-interpreting (homogeneity-phobia??), but it’s good to have you back.

    How similar will people be in heaven? How far down the spectrum of human behavior does righteousness go? Will everyone dress the same, eat the same food and dance the same dances? You see, I have no problem with saying that people in heaven are all righteous — that’s the point of heaven. But where we get into trouble is in the interpretation of what righteous behavior means, and its implications on cultural and behavioral diversity… on which point the gospel is largely silent.

  13. a random John says:

    John Fowles,

    What is wrong with feeling like an outsider in Utah? Isn’t is possible that a typical Utah-Mormon (sorry for the use of a loaded term) has a narrower view of what is righteous than our Heavenly Father does? I have given this a lot of thought, and I think it is possible for a righteous person to feel like an outsider in Utah.

  14. Kristine says:

    John, I don’t think there has to be anything *wrong* with the people in Utah for someone to feel like an outsider there, any more than there’s anything wrong with people in my ward that makes me feel like an outsider there sometimes.

    I suspect that it’s partly a matter of temperament, that some people just don’t fit as comfortably into *any* group as easily as others. Also, I think there are significant class and educational issues at work–Mormon culture is, in some ways, very much middle-class Western American culture, and that doesn’t resonate with everyone. Myself, I’m a hyperintellectual Eastern liberal Episcopalian feminist soul with a snobbish taste for high Anglican ritual and music who had the blessed good fortune to accidentally be born into a Mormon family and acquire a testimony at a young age. The testimony doesn’t always make the cultural fit easy, despite being something I’m profoundly grateful for and would choose over social and ritual compatibility any day. And, since God apparently made me with my crazy feminist Anglican divinity school sensibilities (I certainly wasn’t taught them by my Long Island Irish Catholic mother or my Iowa Swedish Mormon father), I have to presume that he doesn’t object to those characteristics, as long as they are subordinated to whatever glimpses of truth I’m privileged to have.

    Just imagine that some people visiting Utah feel the way you do visiting the Bloggernacle :) (It is nice to see you around here!!)

  15. Isn’t is possible that a typical Utah-Mormon (sorry for the use of a loaded term) has a narrower view of what is righteous than our Heavenly Father does?

    Nope. Because, as has been established in previous posts, there is no such thing as a “Utah Mormon.” It’s definition always entirely depends upon the subjective opinion of the person saying the word. “Utah Mormon” = whatever the person using the term does not like about Mormon culture. Growing up in Texas, “utah mormon” was used to describe people who did not take the Gospel seriously. Others seem to use it to imply pharasaical or fanatical adherence. There is no such thing as a “utah mormon.”

    However, I would agree with that phrase if you simply dropped “Utah” and retained everything else. This is a problem prevalent in the Church in general, perhaps, and certainly not isolated to Utah.

  16. I mean, “Its definition…”

  17. John Mansfield says:

    For those who will have fallen into the ground and died like a corn of wheat and become one as the Son is one with the Father, individuality may not matter so much to them or even be an identifiable trait. Is there any reason to think it will other than that we cling to it so strongly now?

  18. John Mansfield says:

    For those who will have fallen into the ground and died like a corn of wheat and become one as the Son is one with the Father, individuality may not matter so much to them or even be an identifiable trait. Is there any reason to think it will other than that we cling to it so strongly now?

  19. John Mansfield says:

    For those who will have fallen into the ground and died like a corn of wheat and become one as the Son is one with the Father, individuality may not matter so much to them or even be an identifiable trait. Is there any reason to think it will other than that we cling to it so strongly now?

  20. john fowles says:

    JM, you make an interesting point that can also be extrapolated from descriptions of the telestial kingdom which seem to reflect the continuation of individuality there. For example, the glory of the celestial kingdom is one, as is the glory of the sun. The glory of the terrestrial kingdom is one, as is the moon. But the glory of the telestial kingdom is as the glory of the stars, each of which has its own brightness, different from any other star.

    The actual text reads:

    69 These are they who are just men made perfect through Jesus the mediator of the new ccovenant, who wrought out this perfect datonement through the shedding of his own blood.

    70 These are they whose bodies are celestial, whose glory is that of the sun, even the glory of God, the highest of all, whose glory the sun of the firmament is written of as being typical.

    71 And again, we saw the terrestrial world, and behold and lo, these are they who are of the terrestrial, whose glory differs from that of the church of the Firstborn who have received the fulness of the Father, even as that of the moon differs from the sun in the firmament.

    . . .

    81 And again, we saw the glory of the telestial, which glory is that of the lesser, even as the glory of the stars differs from that of the glory of the moon in the firmament.

    . . .

    96 And the glory of the celestial is one, even as the glory of the sun is one.

    97 And the glory of the terrestrial is one, even as the glory of the moon is one.

    98 And the glory of the telestial is one, even as the glory of the stars is one; for as one star differs from another star in glory, even so differs one from another in glory in the telestial world[.]

    I think a good argument can be made that for those to whom hyper-individuality is of primary importance, rather than joining in unity and becoming of one mind with the rest of the group, the telestial kingdom will perhaps be the most comfortable, even if it entails an enternity of regrets for not being able to enjoy eternal increase. We will, after all, end up where we are most comfortable based on the law by which we chose to live in mortality of our own free will.

    Still, I don’t see that argument as implying that there will be a lack of diversity of thought, tastes, perhaps even culture, in the celestial kingdom. But anything inconsistent with true, eternal principles, will not be present there. That by its very nature will create a condition of homogeneity that shouldn’t by its very nature be repugnant to anyone, at least in my opinion.

  21. John, I’m not sure I follow your comments to Mark, but I live in Utah and I often feel like an outsider. I didn’t take his comment as anti-Utah, or a barb. Just a comment.

    Feeling “outside” or “other-than” can be difficult to deal with and stem from many things besides what state you grew up in, I don’t know from all your big words, but I didn’t see his comment as anything other than a statement of his frame of mind at the time.

  22. I had a similar experience as Kristine. My best friend in High School was raised in a church that was taught to hate Mormons. A couple years ago, after being disaffected from his parent’s church, he told me that he thought I was some sort of exception to the rule. That Mormons were really evil, but that I was different. Now he has seen that I may still be an exception, but not in the way he had originally thought ;)

  23. john fowles says:

    annegb, I took his statement as a barb because that is what it was. He felt like an outsider because everyone else was an insider. What made them an insider? It depends on how Mark B. is defining “Utah Mormon” but I am betting that it is because he was enlightened, tolerant, and liberal, and thus an outsider because everyone is Utah is mean, closed minded, and illiberal.

  24. Or it could be the other way around. He is an outsider because he is the only one living the gospel right, while all the other “utah mormons” are taking it for granted.

    We’ve heard it both ways. Whatever he meant, I don’t think he meant it as a barb in the sense in which you are taking it, John. I would say the same thing- I feel like an oddball in all sorts of groups, not just in Utah. You know, like the one people don’t want to talk to unless they have to.

  25. john fowles says:

    You know, like the one people don’t want to talk to unless they have to.

    ?

    Are you saying that I’m that one in any given social group???

  26. john fowles says:

    just kidding!

  27. But John, you do HAVE to talk to me.

  28. Mark B. says:

    Whoa, Nellie!!

    First of all, John, the “Mark” whom you have judged and hung by the neck until dead for his “sometimes I felt like an outsider” comment was not Mark B. I am Mark B. and I didn’t say what he said, although I can empathize with his statements. (Note that I said “his statements”, not your interpretations of those statements.)

    Second, I agree with Kristine (after all, who wouldn’t want to, generally?) that there are a whole lot of reasons that one may not feel as if he fits in, other than the parade of horribles that you dredged up.

    Third, I think it remarkable that the first unity you cite as a characteristic of those in the celestial kingdom is an equal “loathing” of sin. Good Grief! I would think that the first attribute we think of when we think of God is not that he loathes anything, but that he loves us. And I would think that love, not loathing, would be the first attribute we would think of as a unifing characteristic of those saved in the Celestial Kingdom. Your choice seems particularly ironic in light of Mark’s gently humorous description of the people around him, and of the liberality of God in loving them.

    On the other hand, I positively loathe ghastly words like “internalize.” Whoever first foisted that on the world ought to be, as Henry Higgins said, taken out and hung.

    Finally, Steve, why is this lousy site loading so slowly? Everybody else’s site is loading fine.

  29. Mark B. says:

    Oops. Make that “unifying”.

    And I still loathe “internalize”!

  30. Randy B. says:

    Perhaps it’s just me, but it seems a bit ironic that this thread has devolved into sniping over the relative merits of Utah and Utah Mormons.

  31. a random John says:

    I believe that a careful reading of the comments will show that I was the first one to use the term “Utah-Mormon” in this thread, and that Mark did not bring it up. I am sorry to have caused a distraction. I thought that the apology included in the original comment would have been enough to disfuse any potential flame war before it started. Shows what I know. Never underestimate the amount of mischief you can cause by saying “Utah-Mormon” on an LDS blog. :)

  32. john fowles says:

    Mark B., are you of the opinion that those in the celestial kingdom do not loathe sin? Also what do you have specifically against “internalize,” specifically in the context of becoming a celestial being by internalizing celestial laws and living according to them?

  33. Kristine says:

    john, I think Mark’s objection to “internalize” was purely aesthetic. (I’d say “merely aesthetic,” but I’m also someone who can get worked up about the niceties of the English language. I have nightmares about someone following me around saying “incentivize, incentivize, incentivize” the way Billy Crystal’s wife follows him around in The Princess Bride saying “Humperdinck, Humperdinck, Humperdinck.”)

  34. john fowles says:

    How else would one say “internalize” in that context?

  35. Mormon women who live in Utah, but do not necessarily conform to the Molly Mormon standard often feel like outsiders. I do. I’m not liberal or educated, but I’m different. I don’t hold it against anybody, and I attribute my feeling of “otherness” to a lot more than that, but Utah is a much more complex place than liberal, non-Mormon vs. conservative, Mormon.

    The truth is that every one of my neighbors and I are so different from each other, but we still measure each other against basically a standard of housekeeping, weight, and cheerfulness. And we fake it a lot. And each one has a burden, some of us have terrible burdens, which makes us feel different. John, I still didn’t get that from Mark’s post. I heard lonely.

  36. annegb,

    I’m surprised to hear that despite knowing of the “terrible burdens” your neighbors carry, you confess to measuring them by “housekeeping, weight, and cheerfulness.” The superficiality this comment reveals is troubling.

  37. a random John says:

    Melissa,

    I think you might have misread annegb’s comment. Rather than suggesting that those were good measures she was criticizing the exclusive use of those measures by her peer group.

  38. John F.,

    Sorry for the provocation – I assure you it was unintentional.

    I was simply responding to Kristine’s original point about growing up where she was in a religious minority, and pointing out that the occasional feelings of loneliness and inadequacy and separateness were part of my adolecence, too, even though I was part of the religious majority. My apologies for not making this clear. It would be dumb of me to hold anything against Utah Mormons, because then I would have to dislike my siblings, and Gordon B. Hinckley, and even you, John Fowles. And I won’t do that, because you are no doubt a fine fellow.

    Just to add a little confusion here – I am also a Mark B., but the other commenter who goes by that handle in the bloggernacle makes comments that are usually more cogent and witty than mine. Although I usually agree with him, I doubt he would want anybody to confuse me with him. I am just plain Mark. Clear enough?

  39. Mark B. says:

    “Internalize” is an awful abortion of a word. Use English–not that abomination. If it takes you more than one word, go ahead. It’s free.

    Second, before you snark off on my comment, perhaps at least an acknowledgment of your mistake in your previous post would be nice.

    Third, I find it odd and sad that loathing is the first characteristic you associate with Godliness. As I recall, John wrote that God is love, not that God is hatred of sin.

  40. john fowles says:

    Well, I do admit that I mistakenly wrote Mark B. in my previous comment. Sorry.

    But how is “internalize” not an English word?

    Isn’t it a mischaracterization to say that I ever said that I associate loathing as the first characteristic of godliness?

  41. Mark B. says:

    In your post no. 12 you spoke of the homogeneity you expect will obtain in the Celestial Kingdom. The first characteristic of that homogeneity that you mentioned is “that everyone loathes sin with equal abhorrence.”

    Perhaps you didn’t intend to suggest that loathing was the first thing to come to mind when you thought of godliness, but it was the first thing you wrote. I find it puzzling not only that you would put it first, but that it would come to your mind at all.

    On to English. In our extraordinary language, we can create any number of new verbs by adding “-ize” to the end of a noun. That such excrescences can be formed is hardly a reason to do so, and even less a reason to use them in civilized speech.

  42. Cool it guys. The only thing I’m loathing is that the discussion of Kristine’s lovely post seems to be skimming the edge of malice so frequently.

  43. john fowles says:

    “excrescences”

    Please use an English, civilized word. If possible, please stick to Germanic or Anglo-Saxon roots and eliminate all French or Latin derivatives.

  44. alamojag says:

    This may be trivial, and I apologize for following the threadjack, but count me as one who opposes the use of “internalize.” How about “learn and apply”? Sure it’s longer, but not nearly as ugly or pretentious.

    To go back to the original post, several years ago I worked in an office with a woman who was about as evangelical as they come–she was born in China while her parents were there as evangelizing missionaries. Anyway, their church was sponsoring one of those anti-Mormon week-long revivals. She came up to me one day in the middle of it, and said that, after seeing me and my wife, she didn’t believe a word they said about the Church.

    On a related note, I remember my first year of practice. I helped one man with issues related to his father’s estate, and when I asked if he had any other questions, he said no, but if he did he would ask me at church. I was a little embarrased that he recognized me, but I didn’t recognize him. That embarassment went a little farther when, at Stake Conference a couple of weeks later, there was my client presiding on the stand. I was glad I didn’t do anything during our meeting that I would have been ashamed of my Stake President knowing, because he sure would have found out….

  45. Mark,

    That’s a great point, and I’m going to try to internalize it quickly. But I really don’t see the need to senationalize John’s comment. I mean, what’s next, criminalizing those kinds of opinions? There’s no need to demonize John here. You’ll destabilize the whole blog, and make people feel marginalized.

    It’s really all about prioritizing. We need to just focus on proselytizing and publicizing the gospel. These internal disputes just immobilize us. So let’s try to just incentivize, incentivize, incentivize people to be better.

    I would summarize more, but instead I’m going to go drink some pasteurized milk and then go Edgarize some SEC filings and Daubertize a jury.

  46. a random John says:

    Mark,

    May I suggest selecting a somewhat more unique name to go by. Certainly you don’t need one as dumb as mine, but something more than simply “Mark” would alleviate confusion. BTW, I felt compelled to differentiate myself by the presence of many named John and “John H” already being taken. Originally I tried to append an approriate adjective depending on the tone of my post, such as “a serious John”, “a curious John”, etc. I think this was confusing for those reading the posts and also I’m not creative enough to come up with yet another adjective for each post, so I stuck with the horrible handle that I now have.

  47. John Fowles: Please use an English, civilized word. If possible, please stick to Germanic or Anglo-Saxon roots and eliminate all French or Latin derivatives.

    Then all we be left with is the uncivilized Teutonic crap words. The decline of western civilization incarnate, John.

  48. Kristine says:

    Actually, John Fowles, in his endearingly sandpaper-y way, gets at the heart of my question: I really wonder whether our (potential) appreciation for and attachment to individuality is a godlike (celestial) quality, or a characteristic of our (telestial) fallenness. Scriptural injunctions about striving for unity suggest that we ought to welcome the swallowing up of lonely atomistic egos into a larger whole, and yet my feelings when I have experiences like the one I described seem as true and as sweet as any other spiritual experiences I’ve had, and I really don’t know how to sort that out. There’s a great poem* by Edna St. Vincent Millay about a little girl who is called to join the throng of Saints being led up to heaven from some awful post-Armageddon world, and runs back to the burnt-out planet to rescue a tall blue flower she has loved. I feel like that about some things on earth, like I might turn back from the crowds of the blessed for the sake of some tall blue flower (or, more likely, for some Palestrina madrigal with a lusty text). Perhaps that means john’s right in the insinuation he doesn’t quite make–people who care about diversity as much as I do may, after all, end up in a particolored but less bright kingdom than people who are more willing to submit for the sake of oneness.

    *actually, now that I think about it, it’s a pretty crappy poem, but I like the ideas behind it

  49. Mark B. says:

    Ok, John. For “excrescenses” substitute “barbarisms.” Although I like the former because of the images its sound conjures up.

    Kaimi: Cute, man. I just had to go externalize my breakfast.

  50. danithew says:

    Enjoyed your post Kristine. As always. I dare not comment because I haven’t had time to see where thoughts are going (as if that ever stopped me before …)

  51. Now JS, English is, after all, one of those teutonic languages you are deriding. But we digress…

  52. Rosalynde says:

    Kris! What a great post. One point of clarification—those pounds that distance you from high school, they’re from the negative side of the scale.

    I love your experience, and I love the way you talk about it. I think, though, that you are pretty darn unusual among the human family in your response to difference: most humans, across time and presently, respond to difference with hostility and fear. I wonder whether the sort of homage to difference you pay here—which is the larger, structuring principle of many of the various kinds of multiculturalism–might, on the largest scale, be counterproductive, encouraging people to emphasize differences that in the end will only be handled with fear and aggression.

  53. arJ,

    I like to think that at some point someone will write a post on prostitution. And you’ll weigh in with a comment.

    And havoc will ensue.

  54. I didn’t know internalize wasn’t an English word. I find it very descriptive of a process that occurs within my head and heart fairly regularly.

    I also never noticed John Fowles was sandpapery, I don’t often disagree with him–well :) I often don’t understand him, either. Sorry to speak of you in the third person, John, well, and then also Mark, and anybody else I ever did that to, can we say that’s covered? I just know from being excluded, either intentionally or by my own hangups.

    Melissa, I should have said “measure ourselves against each other, and finding ourselves wanting by those standards.” I judge myself, as I think many of us do, which I find terribly sad, and also very difficult programming to overcome. Does that make more sense? I tend to compare myself unfavorably with other women who are thin, spotless, and completely serene, as far as I can tell…unless I know them and their “terrible burdens.”

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 8,413 other followers