Rules were made to be broken

I walked into the bathroom last night, where Dave was giving our darlings a bath, just as he wrung out a washcloth and set it back on the edge of the tub.

“Were you using that washcloth? You really shouldn’t have,” I said.

He shot me a look, an it’s-a-little-late-now kind of look. “I thought it was okay. I just grabbed it from right here.”

“Yeah, I put it there,” I said. I was about to graciously remind him of the If There’s A Used Washcloth On The Side Of the Bathtub, Don’t Use It rule, but opted to keep my mouth shut instead.

“What did you use it for?”

“To wipe out all of the loogies you left in the sink.”

“That’s great, babe. I just scrubbed Oliver’s face with it.”


My brain is mush. The fact that it is 111 degrees outside and everyone who lives in this house has a raging cold/sore throat/cough combo going on (except me, knock on wood…although I’m thoroughly expecting to get smacked with it once everyone else’s vim and vigor has been fully restored) has left me with very few brain cells that are actually working.

So I’m throwin’ it back to you. If you’re so inclined, leave your answers in my comments; I’d love to hear them.

  1. You’re stuck on a desert island and you’ve only got one book to read. What book is it?
  2. Still on the island. What one album would you want to have with you to?
  3. Hey, look! There’s a television on this here desert island, and it works! What show would you want to watch re-runs of?
  4. I think she is gorgeous. I’ve never seen her new show nor can I say I’m a big fan of her music, but I think she’s hott-with-two-t’s kinda hot. I feel the same way about him and her. Which celebrities, male or female, do you think are just downright beautiful?
  5. What should I get Dave for his birthday? My gift-giving track record ain’t so good with him. I need some ideas.

We had an interesting time recently at Harvard Hillel. We were invited to do a reading and discussion. Originally the event was going to be co-sponsored by the Harvard Catholic students group. We were told they pulled out when, after reading the book, they were disappointed to read that Scott refers to himself as an atheist. Even though he is a practicing Catholic, they could not lend their name to something that, at least on the surface, was wholly opposed to core Catholic theology, namely a belief in the Resurrection and a belief in the miracles. But we were pleasantly surprised to see a number of Catholic students, as well as a one a priest, were there at the event.

During the discussion, Scott and I spoke of the value of religious language, but explained that while language is one of the most important aspects of religion, it can also function as the most dangerous. Often the vessel replaces the thing it was trying to contain. A young man in the front row asked if we believed that one could be transformed by belief, specifically belief in ideas that are understood by the language. He said that religious language only has meaning for him because he believes in what the words say. This is what makes him a Catholic. Scott tried to explain that all he has is what his experience has taught him, and that experience has taught him to understand these words as metaphor, and nothing else.
Now this is where Scott and I start to separate. While like Scott I believe these words are metaphorical, I also believe there is some referent to which these words refer. Scott does not believe in any referent, except that which we construct with ethics. We tried our best to explain this, but the fellow had such a pained look on his face. He was disappointed that we wanted to talk about God and religion, but mistrusted any words we might use. This is where religious discussion can begin to break down. No amount of interfaith nicety can bridge what ultimately becomes division of words. And I understand. Belief is rooted in the language we use. But isn’t it possible to agree that no matter how closely words might apprehend an ultimate reality, there is no word that can ever name it perfectly?