It Would Be Even Better If I Had Red Hair

10:03 AM Edit This 14 Comments »

It may not surprise anyone that I am considered somewhat of a Bible scholar - having worked for the church for 10 years. I'm a smarty pants, so it interests me to know the backwards, forwards and inside out versions of what I'm teaching. I read all kinds of literature that explained meaning and historical significance. I did research on translations, I took classes in the Old and New Testaments - always the heckler in the front row. Because I can never take anything at face value. Don't tell me something's what it is unless you've got the information to back it up. If you can't prove to me that the sky really is blue, then don't bother telling me.

But that wasn't enough. It's never enough. I decided that I wanted to make my own meaning. I got tired of a bunch of old guys with beards telling me what the Bible meant. So it began. Hebrew lessons. Right to left squigglies that I learned to recognize and write. And I was thrilled. Absolutely thrilled that I could finally decide on my own what the Bible meant to me. Hebrew is made up of picture words. One "word" can encapsulate an entire phrase. And it's up to the translator to figure out which phrase the original word intentioned. Liberated! My OWN meaning! It was going to change my world!

And then about two years later, it dawned like the piercing light of a bad, bad hangover morning, that the person who teaches you Hebrew? It's their fucking worldview that you're learning. And guess who all the Hebrew scholars are? Old men with beards. It crushed me. So I never bothered taking the Greek necessary to translate the New Testament. I figured the old dudes were going to win, no matter what I tried. And there went just a little bit of my spirit.

See? I'm curious. I'm curious about so many things. That's why it was so painful to pick a major for my undergraduate degree. I wanted to learn everything. I started out as a Biology major. I LOVED IT. Physiology, Chemistry (Which was all the more interesting because I could light things on fire during lab. Yes. I did that. I was THAT student.) Plus, I adore electrons. But I couldn't handle Physics. Nope. My brain couldn't go there. Trains coming from Timbuktu at the speed of light and cars coming the opposite direction at 40 miles an hour? When will they crash? Um. In my world? Never. On to the next thing. History! But that's a bunch of old dudes with beards pretending that the Native Americans are perfectly okay with being on reservations. So, no. When I graduated, I had enough credits to be a music major, but I didn't want to give a recital. So - forget THAT. Plus, music is my hobby. If it became my job, it would cease to amuse me. Somehow, I knew that.

But somewhere along the way, one of my liberal arts requirements - Interpersonal Communication - struck my fancy. And it was born. Rhetoric and Critical Thought. Race and Rhetoric. Hermeneutics and The Other. Derrida and Michel Foucault (Discipline and Punish remains one of my top five books even after all these years), Post Modern theory and my brain was on fire. Burning. And that was that. Critical thought was born. Taught by whom? Old men with beards.

And it all boiled down to a conversation I had with a co-conspirator that I graduated with, a year after the fact. "Kate, did it ever occur to you that we learned nothing about how to live in the real world when we were in college?" To which I answered, "Of course we didn't. We learned how to tear things apart and reduce them to meaninglessness and concluded that no one will ever truly understand another human being because no two people's words are informed by the same experiences. How's THAT for entertainment?" So I quit tearing things apart and started trying to "play by the rules" of the world. The rules of the old men with beards. And my spirit died just a little bit more.

But guess what? That is SO not fun. Not fun at all. So the rule breaker? She's coming out to play. With her skirt flying and skinned knees, her pigtails and mud. She'll go screeching by on her bike, crashing through forests chasing foxes and slipping into the creek to corral the tadpoles. Because that girl? That's ALL me. She's tired of living in the world of old men with beards. It exhausts her to be polite and sit still and look pretty. In fact, I may not even shower tomorrow. THAT'S how exhausted I've gotten with the trappings of this world. Hrmph.

14 comments:

BrianAlt said...

Jews don't learn how to translate Hebrew. We just learn how to read it.

You were doing what's called Rabbinic studies. Yes, you could have been a Rabbi. And the interpretation of the Torah is what it's all about!

CatKrny said...

Everything is better with red hair!

justjp said...

My entire undergraduate degree is based on po-mo theory and rhetoric. I love it! Slavoj Sizek is one of my favorites. And right on with Foucault and Derrida.

Jeff D'Antonio said...

Thats' exactly why I stopped going to church many years ago - the old men with beards trying to convince each other and everybody around them that their interpretation of the Bible was the "correct" one. Pfffft! I never went so far as to learn Hebrew and translate things on my own, but I did learn how to draw my own conclusions about God and Heaven and Hell and all that stuff. Independent thought - those words send shivers down the spines of the old men with beards. The church has no place for independent thinkers. That's why I don't feel like I belong there anymore.

Hey, and about physics...what I love about physics is that it's all concrete (at least until you start getting into the realm of theoretical physics and quantum mechanics and such). There's something comforting about things that can be precisely explained and predicted through mathematical equations. No old men with beards involved.

Oh, and the sky? It's not really blue. That's an optical illusion caused by the scattering of light by the atmosphere and the way our eyes interpret the resulting light rays. So I guess in that sense, our eyes aren't much better than the old men with beards.

Bob said...

the old men with beards - funny thing is, each old bearded man has his own interpretation. he became an old man with a beard because he started with what he learned from his old men with beards and then - made it his own.

The challenge for you is to: use many old bearded men, not just one; then use what you learned from your old bearded men - as a starting point, then proceed to make it your own.

blakspring said...

as a fake redhead for years and years now, i would suggest Devilish by Special Effects. it would look amazing on you since your hair is already so light.

morethananelectrician said...

Just a suggestion....

Challenge everyhting else, but stick WITH daily bathing. ;)

G said...

Yes, do stick to the daily bathing. Gotta tell ya, if I hear the term "post modern" one more time, I will vomit...yes, you heard me! VOMIT!
That said, I have no fucking idea of the significance of the term. I once spent some time with a woman who had taken courses in English at university and she couldn't stop letting anyone within ear shot understand that she was hip to post modern shit.
OK, I'm off my reason for responding to your post so here it is: Be yourself, love yourself, love the world and all its creatures (except ones with stingers and AK47's). Pee large volumes on those who challenge your right to BE.

JoLee said...

I didn't shower on Tuesday.

G said...

p.s.

I love your smile!

CatKrny said...

Good advice from Bob up there.

Julia said...

Watch out world - here she comes!

carrster said...

You're so interesting to read. Dahlia misses you.

twinkie said...

You go girl! The only thing missing from this blog entry is your theme song? What theme song should we listen to while reading this post?