I am, I guess, a bit of a careerist. It is not so much wealth that I am pursuing but attention through passion. How can I engage what I am passionate about and also achieve recognition through it? But I am aware, a la Levinas, that I will always be occupying a place in the sun and, as such, potentially casting a shadow over or taking the place of another or many others. I still have thoughts of academic ladder climbing. I contemplate a shift towards more direct political or social action. I think about how to better position myself in church ministry. And in all these things I am keenly aware that there are other people more deserving, equipped, and needed in these areas. Perhaps a bit self-deprecating (or patronizing), but by and large I need to consider John the Baptist’s vocation of becoming less.
By and large I am still quite comfortable in pastoral ministry because, to be honest, I am less hopeful of those coming up the ranks in this profession. In any event, reflecting on what responsible path I could take the true calling of the white male finally came to me. The white male of virtue is to become a poet. What better path of downward mobility? What better path of losing respect and social status? What better missionary field than the dilettantes and literary snobs? If we would answer this calling what better way to lose our marketable skills and sabotage our resume so that entry level jobs would be all that would continue to pay the bills. Ahh, we would become true working men!! What better fodder for the poet?!
What hope lies here! If language is to have power for the white male then let it come from the infinitely dense crucible of poetry. We have inhabited the halls of logocentric power for millenia. Let’s discard those privileged forms and consider our words as atoms, letters and phonemes sub-atomic, chase the linguistic Higgs Boson. See if there is power in splitting. Then sit in despair over words’s inadequacies, lament your poor shepherding skills as lines scramble or balloon in an unwieldy and cliched form but don’t be tempted infuse them with your capital. Let your words stand or fall, let them be mocked for what they are not.
So get into training. Have your ass served to you at a poetry slam. Hit the dives where local rap authorities still preserve the canons of rhyme. Unleash your inner high school melancholia!
So this season, Good Christian (white) men rejoice! Our God, the Word, can still be made flesh. May we be found naked and trembling in a barn, at the mercy of your mother, at the mercy of the elements, at the mercy of the animals, fugitive from authority. And if something emerges, one simple parable in a lifetime, or one lifetime as a simple parable then good.
And if nothing comes, perhaps it is all the better.