Thursday, October 1, 2009


1. I've lost track of how many appointments I made with various contractors, but I think it was either five or six. Two of them showed up. They both seemed well qualified, and they both came up with workable plans to install a shower without taking away any of my bedroom. Sadly, the plan that I liked best (it involves taking away a closet, but it's a closet that was mostly useless) and that was bid 30% lower than the other one came from the not-so-cute Latino rather than from the tall and buff Korean.

I believe that, upon coming to the end of a relationship with a tri-lingual Ph.D. who reads all the time, it's entirely reasonable to fantasize about striking up a flirtation with the sort of guy whose twice-weekly presence at your house might be heralded by the sight of his workboots standing outside your bathroom and the sound of the shower he'd installed removing the day's soil and leaving him slick and wet. But it's probably not reasonable to pay an extra 30% because of such a fantasy. Besides, I can still fantasize about the tall and buff Korean even after I hire the not-so-cute Latino. In general, I don't go for tall guys, but while my fantasies are straying to the blue collar, why not?

My new neighborhood is mostly populated with blue collar types, many of whom are both Latino and handsome, though some of them are only one of the two, and I'm sure at least a few of them are neither. In any case, there is plenty of eye candy. But then, I find eye candy everywhere. When I'm by myself in the car, it's very rare for me to drive more than half a mile or so without saying, "Oh, pretty!" -- aloud -- about one or more of the passing men. Fortunately, I only do that when the windows are closed.

2. I still can't decide whether the end of my relationship represents a moral failure or a moral success. Maybe it's some of each, but maybe not. This is a question of the utmost interest to me, and probably nobody else, but I suspect that it's not really answerable, so at the same time, it's extremely tedious. I start to think about it and then stop. Again and again. I've decided that the answer to all of life's really big questions is, "Oh, whatever."

3. Earlier this week, I was sitting through a presentation about likely tax changes under the Obama Administration (Bottom line: nobody knows what's going to happen, but everyone has a guess, and he or she is willing to discuss the guess at great length.) and it became clear that one of my colleagues is some sort of supply sider. He's always struck me as something of a dick, so that wasn't a particular surprise. Anyway, between what he said and what the presenter said in response, I was put in mind of a particular passage that turns out to be in Matthew 25:
Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

And here is the same passage, in context:
31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

This seems to be a passage that cries out for socialism, or, at the very least, for universal health care and a highly progressive tax structure. And that made me happy because even though I don't believe in the divinity of Jesus, or even that he ever said much if any of which he's said to have said, it pleases me when the Bible reinforces my own moral and political beliefs.

Alas. I read back a bit in the very same chapter, where I found this ringing endorsement of capitalism:
14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.
15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.
16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.
17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.
18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money.
19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.
20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.
21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.
23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:
25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.
26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:
27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.
28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.
29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.
30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Is a puzzlement! Jesus was not much of a political philosopher, I fear, or perhaps he anticipated Emerson's pronouncements about consistency, hobgoblins, and little minds. Oh, whatever.

I think I would probably have differently divided Matthew into chapters. It wouldn't have eliminated the contradictions, but it would have made them less glaring. The twenty-fifth chapter begins with the parable of the virgins and the lamps, which doesn't seem to have any political point of view at all. In fact, as far as I can tell, it's only message is that it's better to have sex with the lights on, but frankly, that's another area where I'm fully agnostic, so I won't go there.


  1. The end of relationships is always unsettling. I think it's inevitable. There's self-doubt, a feeling that more could have been done to rescue the situation, etc. Are you open at this point to a new relationship should the opportunity for one present itself, or are you going to let the idea lie fallow for a while?

  2. It's my intention and expectation to remain single for the foreseeable future, Will. So -- merely by way of example and completely hypothetically, you understand -- if there were a web site dedicated to facilitating meetings of various sorts between men, and if I were to have a profile on such a site, and if there were a list of choices for what sort of encounter I were seeking, my choices would not include relationship. Similarly, I would not have, in my hypothetical profile, any phrase resembling "not really looking for a relationship but open to the possibility" or any of those other equivalents for "aching to be part of a couple but pretending not to be desperate."

    I don't want to sound like I'm hostile to the idea of partnership, but it's really just not on my radar screen these days.