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No bullshit

And they'll live happily ever after (of course)

In the close quarters of Irwin's, I can't help but hear every detail of wedding planning taking place at the table next to me. It's a bride and her wedding coordinator, I think, because the conversation is all about logistics, with the one of the women taking notes and answering questions. While I recognize that the presence of a Y chomosome gets in the way of really being able to appreciate their excitement, some of the exchange just makes me sad. It's a directionless smorgasbord: "No God," Maya Angelou readings, parents all walking with the bride and groom and breaking a glass "like in the Jewish tradition—I have this book...", and "I don't want to be announced because I might keep my name...I'm not sure...".

How the people at the next table plan a wedding is their own business, no doubt. What saddens me isn't what they choose to do, but how clear a reflection they are of how so many of us believe (in large or small ways) we can approach the world. We take what we like and throw out the rest. Reality is customized and personalized, and when it fails to conform to our wishes, either God is answerable for it or it's a proof of His non-existence. There is no Word outside ourselves. There is no Truth but what we choose.

Part of the rub is that many of us have the material means (whether obtained by cash or credit) to maintain this illusion. We can surround ourselves with people who are committed to the same kind of life, and if we ever start to suspect it's a lie, they can affirm it and us until we're past the crisis. Mobile phones, instant messages, and emails keep us connected to whomever we choose, whenever we choose. Sports and style magazines keep our minds occupied and diverted. Video and music pipe into every corner to ward off the quiet. Even if there were a God (and if there is one, we can tell you all about what we believe about him/her/it and why), that's of limited importance (probably connected to our personal spirituality). We've already got it all figured out—just ask us. And if it's all bullshit, so what? Chances are we can make it work most of the time until we die.

We even see the symptoms, but can remain willfully ignorant of the disease. Is it possible that we're so exhausted because we spend our days trying to be little gods over our personal universes? Could that be why we can never work enough, play enough, eat enough, sleep enough, do enough, be enough?

That wedding will go on, just like all of our days and lives will. And I dare not do anything but wish them well, because there may be no higher crime in our culture than opposing happiness. The Matrix has us. But some of us are waking up.
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Comments

whoa.
This is the best response to a Matrix reference one could hope for.
Every time I hear a woman who has never been in a serious relationship in her life say something like "oh there's not going to be ANY ______ in my wedding," or "I'm going to have ______ at my wedding," I want to slap them and scream "wake up! That has nothing to do with real life!"

But as for your assessment, I might say something like "you took the words right out of my mouth," but that would imply that I can formulate such an abstract thought so succintly. However, I will say "Well spoken, sir." (And excellent Matrix reference I might add.)
I thank you, sir.
You want to know what's a crying shame? I know the Matrix is a lie and yet it still has me.
You know, I know this steak doesn't exist. I know that when I put it in my mouth, the Matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy and delicious. After nine years, you know what I realize? Ignorance is bliss.

—Cypher, The Matrix
The other day in class one of my profs made a statement-- kind of a sidenote to the lecture at hand, but it hit me hard-- he said, "People are slipping into eternity watching their TVs."

Your thing about warding off the quiet reminded me of it.

Neo.

They need TiVo.

(Not really.)
This is my favorite of your recent reflections.

1) Warding off the quiet. 2) Keeping connected to whomever we choose. Yeah, these are habits of our lives ... but right now I'm realizing how neither one does a favor for us. The first is easiest to reflect on, I think. The second hits much harder for me, and my thought in agreement with you is that, by choosing our social contacts, we cripple our ability to commit to whatever relationships God puts in our paths. If I can pick and choose every friend, weeding out the "uglies," then friendship often is nothing more than mutual popularity.

Neighbors ... who needs 'em, I will find "community" in whatever church happens to catch my interest at the moment. Coworkers ... after I leave work, I don't have to see them so why should I really care about them? Children ... bothersome, so I'll just send them away to daycare. Senior relatives ... ugh, let the people who go to school for geriatrics take care of them!
That was confusing. Sorry.
Isn't it amazing? Somehow the wedding industry is able to convince women that they must have a huge, impressive, mind-blowing ceremony without ever raising the question of why they are getting married at all, what it means, & what should happen in terms of "the rest of your lives." Capitalism at its pinnacle. All looks & no substance-- exactly the Matrix.