Blue Like Jazz Chapter 2 – Problems: What I Learned on Television
I love the first line of this chapter…
Some people skip through life; some people are dragged through it.
While’s it’s funny, it is also really true when you think about it. I’m sure we can all think of people we know who tend to be skipping, as well as those who seem to be getting dragged.
I’ll be honest. I’d have to say I’m doing a lot of skipping. I don’t say it to brag, but more in a sense of gratitude. I’ve been blessed to live the life I have so far and I very thankful that life hasn’t been able to get a hold of my belt-loops and pull me down to be dragged.
I’m fully aware that one can hit the ground at anytime and find them self being pulled. But I’m also aware of the idea that just because we think someone is skipping through life, that is not always the case.
I was thinking this weekend how sometimes our life is like a frozen dinner you might get at the grocery store. Yes, that’s right. I was stuck at home a lot this weekend eating things like frozen dinners while I did some paperwork. But let me explain my thoughts…
You know how you are browsing down the frozen food section and you see that frozen dinner that just looks so good on the box? So you buy it and get yourself all excited to make it for dinner only to find out after those 5 minutes in the microwave that it is nothing like what you expected from the wonderful-looking picture on the front of the box. Not only does it look NOTHING like what was on the box, but it also does not taste a thing like what you expected.
Sometimes I think people can pull off the frozen dinner look in life. On the outside we can look all put together. We can appear to be skipping. We can look GREAT and rather appealing, but the truth is on the inside. Inside we might be nothing like what is on the cover.
Just a thought I had this weekend while I ate some Mexican frozen dinner dish…
I think this was one of the passages my friend Walker mentioned from this book when she first introduced it to me…you’ll have to let me know if I am correct, Walker. And people think I don’t listen… ;)
I believe that the greatest trick of the devil is not to get us into some sort of evil but rather have us wasting time. This is why the devil tries so hard to get Christians to be religious. If he can sink a man’s mind into habit, he will prevent his heart from engaging God.
I agree with the idea behind that thought. Whether in reference to the devil or not, I believe that habit can become wasted time. Habit and routine can become so mindless. Honestly, I’ve given routine a lot of thought in reference to my future, and I’m pretty sure I’m a person that needs a profession that is not so predictable. I need a variety; things to be changed up often. I get bored with the same ole, same ole, after a while.
Miller is right. For a Christian, I can so see that being the case. The way we humans can become so mindless when we fall into our typical habit and routine roles, we are not focusing intently on things. And as easy as it is to get up each day and run through out routine actions at our job, it is just as easy to do the same when going to church.
If you don’t love somebody, it gets annoying when they tell you what to do or what to feel. When you love them you get pleasure from their pleasure, and it makes it easy to serve.
Yep. Enough said.
“I have always agreed with the idea that we have a sin nature. I don’t think it looks exactly like the fundamentalists say it does, ‘cause I know so many people who do great things, but I do buy the idea we are flawed, that there is something in us that is broken. I think it is easier to do bad things than good things.”
I don’t know what I think about this one. I’ve often internally discussed the whole idea about whether mankind is innately good or innately bad. Do I really think we are all born bad and we have to be taught to be good? It’s such a gloomy thought that maybe it troubles me to want to believe it. I like to think we are born good. I like to think good is in our nature at the core, though we screw up from time to time. Is this how it is? I don’t know…
I definitely don’t think I agree with the idea that “it is easier to do bad things than good things.” I think that is totally dependent on the act. I would argue that when we are born, doing a good act and doing a bad act are equally easy. I would say then as society shows us right from wrong, we would consciously see doing a wrong act, or bad thing—in Mr. Miller’s terms, as harder, but who knows.
I think Mr. Miller put this whole idea into a great illustration only a few lines away where he gave this example…
“I wondered, you know, if I ever had a couple of kids and I trained one of them, taught him right from wrong, and the other I didn’t train at all, I wonder which would be the better kid.”
“The kid you teach right from wrong, of course,” I told him.
“Of course, but that really should tell us something about the human condition. We have to be taught to be good. It doesn’t come completely natural. In my mind, that’s a flaw in the human condition.”
“Here’s one,” I said, agreeing with him. “Why do we need cops?”
“We would have without cops,” Tony said matter of factly. “Just look at the countries with corrupt police. It’s anarchy.”
“Anarchy,” I repeated.
“Anarchy!” Tony confirmed in sort of a laugh.
“Sometimes I think, you know, if there were not cops, I would be fine, and I probably would. I was taught right from wrong when I was a kid. But the truth is, I drive completely different when there is a cop behind me than when there isn’t.”
And what Tony and I were talking about is true. It is hard for us to admit we have a sin nature because we live in this system of checks and balances.
Nice, huh? He does argue a couple tough points.
As for the first point. I like it. The thought of raising one child with the concept of right and wrong and another without the concepts of the two. But then I wonder if that is just my experimental side coming out.
Honestly, I like to think we as humans notice the bad that people do more quickly than we pick up on the good. It’s easy to note the bad kids in class. It’s easier to remember how many times Johnny got detention versus how many times he helped Sally pronounce the big words in her weekly reader.
Good acts tend to be noted (sometimes) and forgotten quicker than do bad acts. Because of this, I could see how one child might be viewed as bad quicker than one being noted as good.
As for the second point…I just love it! Is it not the truth?! Don’t we ALL drive differently when we see that police car in our rearview mirror? Even if you are one who never goes above the speed limit, you most likely decrease your speed from being at the limit to lower when you see that cop.
Why is this? Well, when I think about it, I like to think that instance is kind of one of those exceptions to the rule things. Maybe that doesn’t mean we are naturally bad, and so we are having to refrain from our typically “bad” selves when we see the cop arise in the picture, but maybe it is just that we find ourselves with driving to be caught-up in the pace of the American life. Everything is fast paced nowadays here and we can’t let a speed limit keep us from getting in everything we need to get in that day.
I mean when I think about it. When I see a cop in any other setting, I harder ever have to readjust my behavior because I fear being caught being “bad.” I don’t feel like I typically am inclined to be bad, so I don’t find myself having to check myself to be in balance in other situations when cops are present.
Maybe this is because I was taught right from wrong. I don’t know.
I suppose I honestly just don’t know where I stand on the thought of whether we are born bad and have to be taught good, or whether we are born good and are taught by society bad.
I sat there above the city wondering if I was like the parrot in Lewis’s poem, swinging in my cage, reciting Homer, all the while having no idea what I was saying.
I know this isn’t meant to be funny. But my first impression of it is to laugh, but after I get that out, I too can see the depth of it.
I laugh because I think how I have had times where I have sounded so brilliant and so confident and yet beneath the talk I haven’t much more of a clue what I’m talking about than those listening to me do. HA!
But really, how often do we think we know what we’re talking about, only to find out we haven’t a clue?
It’s really kind of scary actually. It’s scary when you find it out after-the-fact. Like you’ve gone along for sometime thinking you know something, only to find out later that you hadn’t the slightest clue.
Sometimes we think we know people and we might talk praises of them, only to find out they aren’t how we thought. Or, unfortunately, we talk bad about someone only to find out they aren’t that way at all.
I suppose the only medicine for this is to prepare ourselves as much as we came. If we want to recite Homer, we need to make sure we have the right Homer and that we know what we are talking about before we go about proud-fully reciting anything.
[Note: All the above text in smaller italic print has been quoted directly from Donald Miller’s "Blue Like Jazz"]