Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Hate Christmas Shopping Like I Do? Here's Some Poetic Inspiration For You...



When doing some Christmas shopping it never hurts to use one's poetic imagination in the service of this painful task. For example, whenever I go Christmas shopping at the mall, I tell people that I've just been to hell and back again for my wife. If they inquire further, I simply point out that for me the Netherworld consists in enduring the local mall, beginning with the general limbo of being anywhere outside during this time of year, and then progressively moving from the parking lot (which may in fact be the outer rung of hell), all the way to the inner sanctum, or bowels of hell the mall, if only to redeem one of the few worthy items that have been surreptitiously confiscated by some beast out of the Apocalypse.


Perhaps this is a little bit heavy-handed and self-serving, but there is a real point here. So often we lose a sense of the beautiful and heroic in our day to day actions because we fail to recognize that whenever and wherever we exercise virtue it is always dramatic and heroic no matter the circumstances. After all, the very same virtues that we exercised when we first fell in love (and it came easy), are the very same ones that we employ when we perform some everyday task (after the initial thrill wears off), and that includes those tasks which are particularly displeasing. In fact, generally speaking, the more unpleasant, the more gallant and noble the behavior. Yes, it is impressive for a man to stand out in the rain when he is in love, but how much more so is it when he has been in love for 20 years, and he is holding a shopping bag instead of an engagement ring?


If one could only see one's actions in this manner, one might just find greater inspiration to be more romantic all of the time. Indeed, if man could just recognize that what makes his life beautiful is not merely a set of harrowing circumstances (like some Christmas DieHard film), but rather the resiliency he demonstrates in fighting the day to day "armageddons" that are waged in our hearts, those that threaten the very existence of our true happiness. Ironically, the biggest threat to man's triumph in this battle is not even the fearful opponent that he faces, but rather the odd detail that before anything else, he must be convinced that he is already fighting the battle (or failing to fight it). 

The "fantasy genre" frequently attempts to make this connection. Consequently, I suppose it is appropriate (in a sense) that Fantasy Football, via Pepsi, might assist us in articulating this point:    


The true purpose of "fantasy", as introduced here, is not mere escapism. To the contrary, it helps us in seeing our lives, however mundane they may seem, as God sees them. In fact, as it is depicted here, one man's mundane, may be another man's fairytale (and vice versa). And they are both right! They are champions to each other, as well as champions in their own right.

A healthy Christian imagination knows that the battle for goodness may simply involve one amazing act of courage, though it is far more likely to involve a whole series of tiny martyrdoms; like working a job that you don't like out of love for your family, or caring for some family member that lacks any appreciation for all you've done for them. It is this boldness and bravery that ultimately gives one the courage to persevere against the greatest foe, death. Indeed, whenever we exercise these muscles of virtue (as opposed to letting them atrophy), we are truly becoming strong in the spirit, or rather we are going to hell and back again, if only to bring back a jewel from the jaws of the beast worthy of one so beautiful as our beloved bride. 

The Mall



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