Tuesday, January 27, 2009


I have been lost in contemplation for the last month or so.

Christmas break was good, just very full.

How sweet that inauguration was. I watched it on Fox News at work (the channel of the TV cannot be changed) with forty other people. I only laughed once. President Obama was talking about restoring the rule of law, and Fox cut to former President Bush. The latter had this look on his face. Otherwise I was kind of on pins and needles. The last week has been pretty riveting for me.

It's not because the president is a liberal president. I feel a profound sense of relief that we might have truth, justice, science, and the American way back on our side again. Changes in tone like that come from the top. It has been good so far.

Sarah and I finished watching Six Feet Under. Every six months or so, we happen across a TV show and we decide to watch it together, cover to cover on DVD.

It's a hard show to watch in many ways. I would rate this show adults only for all the regular adult reasons, it's a hard R at the minimum (D L N S V and so on). But that's not what was hard for me. It challenges your sense of balance, your emotions, your personal meaning of life. It reaches from the vulgar to the sublime, the hilarious to the heartbreaking. 

I think I mentioned before it's about a man who returns to his boyhood home when his father, a funeral director dies. Little by little, he decides to become a funeral director alongside his brother, and to rejoin his family. The show juggles all their stories deftly, and has many surprises in store along the way. It is just about note-perfect television.

I have never dealt well with death. Whenever I've encountered it, it has always been an occasion for soul-searching and pain. I didn't become a Christian because I was frightened of dying, but the deaths of friends and family in high school set me on the path of thinking and living that led to my Christianity.

While I talked to Sarah about it, I noticed suddenly that I had, for a long time, been using my Christian belief as a way to ignore my fear of dying. I found things like the following comforting:

I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory."

"Where, O death, is your victory?

Where, O death, is your sting?"

-- First Letter to the Corinthians

And I do still find such beliefs comforting. It's just that I don't want to use them to avoid the grieving and the pain that also come with death. As the show's creator said in a retrospective on Six Feet Under, yes, the title of the show is about burial, but it's also about the emotions that we shove below the surface of our behavior and our consciousness. As the funeral directors say repeatedly in the show, sometimes people like to view the body of their loved one to feel a sense of closure. Similarly, our emotions and our pain need a viewing before we lay them to rest.

If you can bear it (and you'll figure out pretty fast if you can), I recommend this show as highly as possible. It's basically perfect.

I'm heading back to Seattle for two nights only on Thursday, for Dad's 50th birthday. It sounds like we are blowing the doors off on Friday night, not sure what's happening yet.

Oh, and my personal data was involved in two major breaches in a week, on a website and compromising my debit card. So far I do not appear to be the victim of fraud. However, this goes a long way toward explaining how quiet I have been on Facebook. If I can get over it, I'll start updating my statuses (statii?) along with the rest of you.

Hope you had a nice hiatus over your break as well.