Posted by: jamesthethickheaded | February 21, 2011

Pious Behavior, Attitudes and Even Humor

There’s a lot of us folks who have to get over our narrow notions of the sort of behavior that’s acceptable to God. We all get uptight… even if not especially me. It leads us to think piety looks like one thing and mostly what it looks like tends toward the uncool, rule bound, possibly prudish, certainly without much humor, very little drinking and a lot of reading. ‘Course, this is always the stuff those other guys do… y’know… the  ones we’re not like. Moreover, it probably involves “films” instead of movies, veggies instead of fast food, liberals instead of conservatives (or vice versa if that’s your gig), do-gooders instead of ne’re-do-wells, high collared clothes instead of buck naked whatever… and lots of seriousness. For the record, I’m okay with the clothes. And soap… though it wasn’t listed. And deodorant… for whenever the soap wears off.  And maybe we could sneak a beer in there. Ooops! Got caught.

Okay, let me say that I’m happy that in Orthodoxy we have a wider notion of these things…not that it lets me off the hook. And no, I’m not talking pants size. What I’m talking about is… well, I’m not sure. Frankly, I wanted to say that I understood we have a wider understanding of these things, but I didn’t because I don’t. I tend to get confused.

Let’s take the term pious anger. I wish someone would. I think it’s more a source of mischief – especially when it seems to separate us, one from another – that I’m pretty certain whenever someone justifies what they’re about to say by referencing pious anger, it’s time to stare at the floor and try to remember what your calendar looks like, what’s on the grocery list, or just try to think happy thoughts while you still can.

So I pounded my head against a wall for a few hours, and I think I’ve come to a new place. And no, it’s not on the other side of the drywall either.

Yep. I’m trying to admit that maybe even ad hominem rants have their place as holy and righteous behavior… ’cause I sure seem to see a lot of them on the Orthodox internet and they get a lot of hits. Must be something up with that. So maybe God likes cranky people? Sure, why not? I used to think He just stuck His head in the oven ’til they’re done, or maybe He puts His fingers in His ears and says, “I’m not listening. I’m not listening.”

But that’s pretty self-centered of me, right? Yep. See the real thing is that I’m sure the reason I think this is that I know as we all know… that the crank’s a crank, but heck, I’m a nice guy, right? So he’s crazy and unreasonable, but me… hey… we know reasonable when we hear it, right? Hey… why are you guys inching over to the other side of the room?

“Nice. Very nice. That one was a lot closer than last time.”
“Had my eyes closed. If I wanted to hit you… you’d be more than smokin’ right now.”

So I’m coming ’round. Maybe He digs it, shrugs… “Whatever” and reaches for a couple of thunderbolts to toss at those guys makin’ with the all peace, love, dove Bobby Sherman bits. So  how do we know that God isn’t up there hearing these folks and saying, “Nah… I’m not buyin’ it. Make with the complaints an’ I’ll know you’re serious an’ aren’t just tryin’ to get me to look over at your brother ’cause you threw the Frisbee in the Living Room and broke the lamp. Again. Only you’re hoping to look like all sweetness and light…virtual Mr. Goody Two Shoes… while he looks like… well, I respect everyone’s creativity… even a blue haired Mohawk who makes me laugh from time to time.”

So much for Kumbaya.

And doesn’t God ever want to say, “Hey you guys: Wouldja’ mind holdin’ down for a bit? I get the rants, requests, an’ all the rest… even the ‘thanks’ from the pusillanimous types… but seriously… give us a minute. We’re doin’ a little planning up here… and Jesus…we can’t scarcely hear ourselves think. Gonna be a big show… y’know… fireworks and all that. We’ve got a lot goin’ on: There’s gonna be two teams of elders, a halftime show with the Four Horses, and then there’s all this parking to deal with: buses, cars, tailgating… Heck, we’d really hate to slip an’ getcha into the wrong section.. if ya’ know what I mean. So couldja just try to cool it for a bit?”

So what am I saying? Well…I’m learning to swing with the “Smashin’ Idols” bit (pronounced whine like Smashin’ Pumpkins). It’s not pretty, and it’s not compelling, but I’ve bought a pair of those x-ray glasses that used to come with the comic books that promised you’d be able to squint and see the heart of gold hidden in the attack Dobermans. Okay, mine actually promised you could see through other things, but they didn’t work at that either. So I guess it’s all in my head.

Yes, and I can imagine. Not that I’m trying to put words into His mouth… or anything. No. Perish the thought. Thing is, I’m just wondering if we can’t say anything… maybe what He means is like mom’s old bit about “if you can’t say anthing nice, don’t say anything at all…” only He’s not caring one way or the other: Good or Bad wasn’t the bit. ‘Just pipe down’.” Okay. Got it. So maybe we can pass notes? Oh. We’re already doing that. Right: Blogs., journals, books. My bad.

Where’s that leave us? Not sure. But if you get the word, lemme know. For now? I’m jus’ sayin’.

h/t SP


  1. Yeah, I don’t know where to draw the line either. If I’m silent, my wife complains. If I talk I better say the right stuff, but figuring out what the right stuff is…. hm. And of course silence in the right or wrong places can be hilarious, condemning and just plain mean and rude. So you don’t even get a pass with that “pious activity”. Let me know if you figure it out.

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