18 October 2010

The Opposite of Brutish

We are at the beginning of holiday perfection. Get ready. It's coming. And it's awesome.

We've Halloween plans in place - for kids and adults.
We've Thanksgiving plans in place (Fifth annual Cooking of the Entire Feast at my House).
We've even a few Christmas items on the calendar. (Don't laugh - only one of them is my doing).

I surely do love the Holiday season.
And yes, I admit, a big part of that is the food.

But an even bigger part are the rampant excuses to celebrate. In my old age (ha), I've come to really appreciate and desire any excuse to celebrate.

Thomas Hobbes, in Leviathan, famously said that life is 'nasty, brutish and short' - the full quote is even more distressing - "...the life of man: solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short..." - Cheered up, much?

This is taken out of context all the time. He's not actually talking about our life now, but life in the (post-eden) state of nature, in which we, fortunately, do not currently find ourselves.

(Leviathan, the book, incidentally is nasty and brutish, but only because of how not short it is - but it should be read - yes, at least big chunks of it. But I've read it, so now I don't have to - nannynannybooboo.)

Why do we not find ourselves in this state of nature?

Hobbes is talking about it from a political/philosophical stand point - we remove man from the nasty state of nature by forming social contracts (John Locke builds largely on Hobbes's work), basically, "I won't kill you if you won't kill me. I won't take your crops if you won't take mine."

Paul and I quote to each other that nasty, brutish and short bit a lot - you know - when Bee is struggling not to sob over her leggings being 1.3 inches too short, when Eas has fallen off the same stool seven times now, or when the baby has run out of cheerios and LIFE IS OVER.

So, most of the time, hubby and I are saying it tongue in cheek.

But it is more than a joke - it is, what we would be, without redemption.

We are redeeming the world from what Hobbes calls the state of nature; I believe this is an extension of and our response to Christ's redemption on the cross, but regardless, it is us - redeeming every moment.

That's our job. Redemption. Redeeming this world.

And yes, a lot of that is big work. A lot of it is restoring things that have gone seriously awry.

People don't have food. People don't have shelter or clothing or medicine.
There is racism, hatred, bigotry.

It's all enough to make a woman cry over her morning homeschool materials.

But we are not called only to restore life to merely livable.
Livable is not the goal.

What is the goal?

Nothing short of glorious.

I have a dear friend who is a perfectly competent cook - I'd gladly eat a meal prepared by her, and look forward to it, any night of the week. But she doesn't think of preparing food as potentially glorious like I do.

But you know what she can do? Arrange a few flowers into something that is, in a word, exactly that - glorious. And I can put flowers together perfectly competently. Really I can. But no one is ever going to say, "Ann Lowrey - that is glorious."

Redemption is two fold - fixing the errors of the world we live in - feeding the hungry, healing the sick, loving the unloved.
But it is also making everything - each ingredient, each flower, each moment better. More glorious.

It is this drive to redeem that prompts the creation of most art, music and food. It is this which drives us to put pretty dresses on our little girls.

And you know what the holidays are? an excuse to do that more. Yes, you could have a mid-june jaunt or a late-february feast. But from late October through early January, everyone is ready to celebrate.

To laugh. To feast. To eat, drink and be merry.
To serve. To give.

We're all primed for it.
We're all ready to redeem.

And that is why I love the Holidays.

So, get ready.
For menus and crafts and stories of beautiful, priceless children.
For costumes, for tricks, treats.
For homemade turkey placemats and nine different side dishes.
For precise and extensive present lists, traditions, hot chocolate.

Holidays are the opposite of Brutish.
I'm pumped. Are you?

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