by Caleb Hardy for Mary Bartholemy’s Writing Class
“I have just now come from a party where I was its life and soul; witticisms streamed from my lips, everyone laughed and admired me, but I went away ———————————— and wanted to shoot myself.”
Will I still joke around and still dig those sounds(those rock and roll sounds)? When I grow up to be a man? -The Beach Boys
Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised. Proverbs 31:30
Do you ever find that you think someone is cooler or better because they are better looking?
That you would rather be friends with them than with someone not so good looking?
If so, the Bible might be right for you.
It is my opinion that, a lot of the time, when we explain why we do what we do, we don’t tell the truth. How many people actually say that they are voting for a particular candidate because he is the taller choice? Yet I hear that, whether we realize it or not, people tend to vote for the taller candidate. And, whether we really think it is a good reason or not, we usually don’t try to justify our vote on those grounds. We talk of “war,” “welfare” and “international relations,” but In general in a general election I don’t hear people talking about the benefits of a tall leader.
The first king of Israel was named Saul. “[A] choice young man, and a goodly: and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he: from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people.” (I Samuel 9:2)
But after a time of disobedient kingship (even kings have to be obedient) Samuel the prophet told him “[T]hou hast rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD hath rejected thee from being king over Israel.” (I Samuel 15:26)
God then sent Samuel to Bethlehem to anoint a new king from among the sons of Jesse the Bethlehemite. Look at the account of Samuel “sizing up” the sons of Jesse, and particularly at what God says:
“And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the LORD’S anointed is before him. But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.” (I Samuel 16:6-7)
I do not think I am alone in feeling somewhat bound to vanity. Particularly the vanity of judging by outward appearance.
On the night of March 11th my little brother emailed me a video about Dede Koswara, the Indonesian man who is famously known as “Treeman” because, through a horrible disease, he became covered with strange tumours. His hands and feet in particular were covered with huge hard tangly growths.
Both with surgery and drugs the doctors worked on him, and by the end of the documentary, though he was not cured, so much of the growths were removed from his hands that he was able to hold a pencil. The video along with the pictures of deformed people I saw among the related videos shook me. How do I look at people?
”Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.”
My little brother sent this video to me because he knows I have an interest in deformities and skin diseases. I think the reason I have an interest in deformity is because I want to be shaken from the vain view of valuing based on outward appearance. “That could have been me,” I try to think when I see an armless, legless baby, attached by the head to her twin. “I am no better, she is no worse for our different forms.” We had no effect on what shape our bodies would be.
As is often the case with the deformed, Dede had family members that could see past his deformity – this is so common; don’t you find that the longer you spend time with someone the more you forget what they look like? It is like their soul starts to to shine through, and their clay fades by comparison.
The night before I watched that video, I had been trying to stay up studying for a Physical Science presentation on acoustics. Naturally I spent the night listening to recordings of the Beach Boys. Do I look like a Beach Boys fan? I’m not really on the inside, but I love vocal harmony and I think they have the most sophisticated harmonies of all those 60s bands….blah blah blah blah, and I was listening to extracted acappella versions.
Anyway, I think that the videos of deformed people on Tuesday night were made all the more jolting for having bathed in the Beach Boys music Monday night. In general the Beach Boys let us be happy and delight in vanity and make it easy to forget that which the LORD looketh on – “the heart.” I am not saying though, that they were completely unaware of things below the surface (“surf”-ace.) In the song “When I Grow up to be a Man” are the reflective lyrics “Will I look for the same things in a woman that I dig in a girl?”
On the video of this song Mike Love tackily moved his hands in a way suggestive of curves whilst singing the line “what I dig in a Girl.” This is crude of course, but it does not seem out of the mainstream. Maybe I was wrong when I wrote that we do not admit our rationale for what we do – many pop songs seem totally unashamed of shallow ideas like curvy girls being digable.
Let me tell you about March 12th.
When I got to school Wednesday morning, March 12, the first person I saw, whom I was at all acquainted with, was a girl from writing class. When I had seen her the Monday before, she had said, “see you next Monday,” so this was unscheduled. We smiled and acknowledged each other, but I was already sitting at a computer trying to write this paper, and did not seek out any conversation with her. Last Monday, for the first time that term, we had been in the same small group in writing class, but she had been too bashful to give any of us her draft for peer review, and I had not brought any draft at all. You get to know a lot about people from their writing. But obviously we did not get to know each other that way. Still, I form impressions of people, and my impression of her from class was that she is not one of the hard-nosed, go it alone, “I know what’s up” type of students, but more of a “will you help me?” “who can I go with?” type of student. She liked to ask math class related questions of the two writing students that were in the same math class as she was, even when it seemed to me she knew the answers well enough herself.
While we were peer reviewing, she lamented to the group, “I have to find a church to go tonight for women’s studies class and I can’t find one.” I thought to myself: “You were probably not assigned to go to a church on a Monday night, you probably have a report due Tuesday morning based on your experience in church, which experience your teacher assumed you would get on Sunday.” Most churches do not have Monday night meetings. My church does not meet on Monday night… except for that very Monday night.
Of course the general consensus in student conversations is that assignments are dumb and unreasonable and overly onerous. Even if you do not really feel that way about a particular assignment, this is the general frame for discussions about them among the PCC student population. It is the expected tone. I did not catch what the connection in the conversation was to this, but one of the students suggested “When you go, wear really squeaky shoes and drag them along the floor sque-e-ek, sque-e-ek.” This was not just the student’s general disrespect for an assignment at play however. This was about this particular student’s relationship with Church. I understood it to mean “Those Church people are going to make you uncomfortable; better strike first.”
I know I have been in the woods at night and been afraid, and then it has occurred to me that whatever I’m afraid of, lurking in the woods at night, could be afraid of me, lurking in the woods by night.
This is what we are all taught to do – make yourself look big, and that which would try and bring you down will reconsider its attack. Do people try and look put together so Christians won’t disturb them them with preaching? “The Christians might preach down in Old Town to the bums of slovenly appearance, but they won’t have the chutzpah to preach to the rich and beautiful up here on 23rd or to the learned at PSU”
As I said, we at my church usually do not meet on Monday night but this week there were Revival Meetings with a guest preacher Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at 7:00 pm.
At the end of class I wrote “2653 N Lombard 7:00 pm Mon. Tue. Wed.” on a paper and gave it to her. “You can come to my church tonight,” I said. She acted like a gift had just been dropped in her lap. “I can go to his church,” she said with happy relief to the girl with whom she whom she was heading off to math class.
It was like she had felt a looming deadline that she was unprepared to meet, and had sought for relief in vain, until I gave her the address of the church. She did feel a deadline. Her women’s studies class provided her that. But we Christians think that everyone has a deadline that they are unprepared to meet. I remember one time going door to door in our neighbourhood, and a particular guy, (why do I remember him?) wearing a Pabst Blue Ribbon t-shirt. The moment he heard we were from the church, he said: “I’m not interested.” and my thought was,“you are interested, in the the old sense of the word interest, which is to have a share in something.” Everybody has a stake in the the matter of God and his kingdom. Will you be shut out or welcomed in?
“Afterward came also those other virgins saying Lord! LORD! open unto us. But he answered, I know ye not.” (Matthew 25:11-12)
But maybe he truly was not interested, having no part, or share in Jesus and not hungering for or desiring Jesus. When Charles Wesley was converted and found that Jesus’ mercy had reached all the way to him, he was so excited he wrote this poem in wonder :
And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain—
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
He left His Father’s throne above
So free, so infinite His grace—
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race:
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!