Sunday, December 21, 2008
This is My Truth, Tell Me Yours, Part 6
I'm gonna get me some peace some day Guess I missed the boat when the cradle started rockin' From the womb come a newborn baby Is the light of day any better than that? Tell me I'm not alone. I'm too tired for sleepin' Fast asleep but I'm not dreamin' I look for truth in aberration Sinned too much to be forgiven --Dead Hot Workshop, "A" There was a man of the Levant some three thousand years ago that you might have heard of. He had an entire book of the Bible written about his marriage. See, one day Yahweh decided that he needed to remind the Israelites about something. Most of the time when Yahweh did this he sent the Philistines, or the Hittittes, or famine, or plague across the land. The Israelites, you see, were the Chosen People, but they had wandering eyes. Yahweh decided that there was need for a different tack. He called a man called Hosea and told Hosea to marry a woman named Gomer. Gomer was a prostitute. Respectable Jewish prophets did not marry prostitutes. It wasn't kosher. But Hosea did it. Over time Hosea came to love Gomer. Than one day she got a little restless and went back to her whoring ways. Hosea, it seems, was relieved. Then Yahweh said to go get her back. By this time Gomer had popped out a couple of kids and was, shall we say, a bit long in the tooth. She wasn't worth much as a prostitute. Still, Hosea went, found her pimp, and paid him four times what she was worth. "This," Yahweh concluded, "Is how much I love you." I always read that book with a fearful certainty that god would one day make me marry a woman I would have to learn to love just to prove something. I think I missed the point. There's an old Rabbinical tradition that it was woman, not man, who marked the pinnacle of creation. Eve, after all, came last. Two thousand years of Christianity have gradually moved Eve from the position as ultimate to afterthought, kind of a little present for ol' Adam to play with. Even the feminist movement rejected Eve, though. We got stories of Lillith, the forgotten third party, the bad girl, Adam's first, real love. But the real reason that the tradition says that woman is the pinnacle is that the woman was born perfect, without any need to change. Men, however, are born slightly imperfect. This is the true meaning behind the tradition of circumcision. I found it funny that there would be such an idea when I first encountered it. It flew in the face of most of human history and the fact that women were blithely regarded as a second class, relegated to the status of property. Now I see that it's not mutually exclusive. I think there are a lot of men in the world who secretly or openly fear that women, or at least that one woman who is most important, are better than they are. That if she had her druthers, she'd go somewhere else. So men who don't understand this fear make property of women, beat them in to submission, accept the value of a diminished woman who will stay over a whole woman who might leave, who would if she was smart. In this, god is a cipher. See, Yahweh looked across creation and saw that it was good. Yahweh then created Man in his image and created Woman in his image. In his image, Yahweh created both. When Adam and Eve ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, Yahweh cast them out of the Garden, but not for their transgressions. Yahweh, you see, looked across the Garden to the Tree of Life and realized that if they ate of that fruit, they would become as gods themselves. Later on the world decided to build a tower tall enough to stretch to Heaven itself. At the base of the Tower of Babel Yahweh cast confusion over the peoples, giving them different languages so they couldn't work together, for fear that if they did achieve their goal they would become as gods themselves. Yahweh created Hosea and Gomer. In his image, he created both. Yahweh, you see, had gotten tired of trying to beat the Chosen People in to submission. Hosea pursued a whore and Yahweh pursued Israel, each pursuer loving his bride in spite of himself. Yet in his image Yahweh created man and woman, Hosea and Gomer, cheater and cheated. In the Garden of Eden, Yahweh refused the chance for creation to become creator. At the cornerstone of Babel Yahweh refused to let creation decide its own fate. Time and time again, Yahweh treated the Chosen People as a recalcitrant lover. "I did all of these things for you. How do you not love me?" Smack. The carrot and the stick. The recourse to which a violent, stupid man turns when confronted with a woman who is better than him in every way, yet loves him for reasons he'll never understand. So what of Hosea? For that matter, what of Jesus? Were they, or at least their biographers, the exceptions to a book ostensibly about god written by violent and stupid men? Or did they understand something that even god didn't? See, we make god in our own image. This is an idea that's been around for a long time, but one that constantly evolves in meaning, at least for me. In his image Yahweh made them, man and woman both. In our image we make god. So what of me, the guy who read the book of Hosea and took away from it the notion that god would make him marry someone he didn't want to marry? What image did I hold of myself to make god in such a way? At some point, and I know approximately when that point was, I divided the female gender in to two categories: the girls I wanted and the girls I had a chance with. If you drew these groups in to a Venn diagram I can guarantee there was a lot of white space between the circles. This was a problem. So I created a third category: girls who I wanted but were, in some way, fucked up, generally in the head. I was, in short, creating my own category of Gomer. It was a category that said way more about me than it did about any member of the female gender. Every once in a while it worked, too. A girl came along who took what she wanted from me until she decided to leave. This, I assumed, was the pattern. This was Hosea and Gomer. This was my punishment, my purgatory, payment in full for my sins. For the life of me, I can't figure out what those sins were. Hell, I only just figured out what my real Gomer was. See, I'd assumed that my Gomer would be someone to whom I wasn't physically or intellectually attracted. She would be a Loathly Lady who never got around to transforming in to a beautiful maiden. In reality, though, she was a prostitute, giving herself to me for a time in exchange for more than I could well afford and more than she was worth. My last Gomer would have been there for me if I'd given her the chance. At least, I think so. It's hard to tell now, especially since she found ways to remind me that she had one foot out the door at all times and no matter how I tried to say I'd be there for her, she could never make the same promise. I think, too, that extracting that promise would have required a Faustian bargain that, by the end, I was unwilling and unable to make. She wouldn't have been in to a serious relationship with a non-Christian. I couldn't maintain the facade any more. When we move to escape from our problems we tend to find that it doesn't work. Our problems go in to the suitcases first. I left religion to escape from a petty jackass of a god who didn't like me very much. It didn't work. The petty jackass who didn't like me very much is me. I just blamed it on god for all these years. I still divide the female gender in to Gomers and Golden-Haired Women. I hold the latter at arm's length and tell myself that it's because I'm afraid they'll turn out to be ordinary, boring. I tell myself that the Gomers are the crazy girls, the ones who are interesting and fun. Truth is, I see the Golden-Haired Woman and assume that she doesn't need me. If she needs me she won't find it necessary to use me, to suck me dry. If she doesn't see the need to do that, I don't think she'll want me around. Yahweh made me in his image. I made him in mine. God and I are one. This is my truth. This is my therapy. And none of it matters unless theory becomes praxis. Knowing what I am doesn't matter unless I have the balls to change.