First off, I want to say thank you all for reading and providing feedback on my series this week. If you missed my posts on Christian Fundamentalism you can start here.
I put the basic rubric of those posts together last weekend but on Monday started to read a book called The Sacredness of Questioning Everything by David Dark. Surprisingly those posts emerged out of the same spirit which David Dark used to write his book, mainly that spirit of doubting our prejudices.
Like the title suggests, David Dark argues that we should question everything and that to do so is a sacred and spiritual act. Following his thesis, I have to wonder out loud if David Dark is his real name. I mean, come on, any name that alliterates is surely a pseudonym, right? Though, I must say, David Dark is a lousy name for a writer. It is way more fitting for a super villain in a comic book.
Putting my sacred questioning of the author’s name aside, I rather enjoyed reading his book. Or did I “read” it? I mean how do we define “reading” and is “reading” the accurate description for my cognitive interaction with this text? After all, in chapter 6 Dr. Dark (who I presume to be the nemesis of Dr. Light) did say we should question the very meaning of the words we use.
Either way, I did enjoy the book. However, once again I question my use of the word “enjoy” but it is as good a word as any for a book (or was it a collection of essays?) that gave me much food for thought. The book (or maybe “novel?”) outed the brainwashing and cultural programming that goes on in the world and insisted we question everything we think, perceive and say. I was all ready rather familiar with this argument but Dr. Dark (who I presume is currently designing a way to blot out the sun’s light in a diabolical plan of world domination) displayed a level of writing that was quite impressive and profound.
Yet again, I must admit that it was the modern, western, literary tradition that taught me how to distinguish between profound and banal and Dr. Dark’s second chapter taught me to call that tradition into question. But in that tradition (that lousy, imperialistic, brainwashing tradition) the book (or essay, or novel, or collection of symbols on my screen) stands as an exemplary model of great writing. Every word is carefully chosen. Every sentence is painstakingly constructed. By reading it, or rather cognitively interacting with it, I found his words and sayings expressed poetically what I have often sought to say but didn’t have the literary intelligence to articulate.
Dr. Dark (whom I presume has all ready been thwarted by the valiant Dr. Light) uses his poetry to give wonderful examples of contemporary cultural icons who aid us in questioning everything. The book begins by describing in humorous detail an episode of “The Office” and ends by giving similar care to the lives of Martin Luther King Jr., Thich Nhat Hanh, Alice Paul and Ghandi. Along the way Dr. Dark makes pit stops in the endeavors of John Stewart, Stephen Colbert and Woody Allen. He labels these people “Artisans of the Possible” which itself is a gorgeously constructed phrase if you are one of those who has sold out to that mind controlling, imperialistic tradition of modern literary critics. But the overriding purpose is to expose the empires that surround us and the ways they brainwash, violate and control us. We fight them, Dr. Dark argues, in the way of those glorious “Artisans” who questioned the Empire’s vocabulary, structures, mediums and levels of authority.
However, as much as Dr. Dark (who I can only imagine is currently plotting his escape from Lunatic Asylum Federal Prison) looks outward to the empires, he also looks inward to our prejudices. In chapter 3, Dr. Dark talks about the spirits that make us crazy and mean and who use small minded labels to feed our hatred of one another.
Therefore, I must become a little bit serious. While I was thinking and writing about Christian Fundamentalism this week, putting the finishing touches on Sunday’s sermon and engaging in other responsibilities, I was also dealing with an extremely painful situation in my local parish. To go into detail here would be vastly inappropriate but at the minimum I will say the situation left me damaged, off kilter and bleeding for myself, my church and for a world gone crazy. I spent time in prayerful silence where I asked the sorts of questions Dr. Dark recommends. I rejected the stereotypes and divisions that easy answers would provide and I fought with those “spirits” that wanted to make me crazy and mean. I called into question my own opinions, my own calling, my own measures of effectiveness and my very identity. Over the course of that sacred, but painful, questioning I came face to face with our God of infinite possibilities.
In the words of Dr. Dark (whom I just heard has escaped from prison to conquer the world), my sacred questioning led me to the God “in whom love and justice meet, the God whose love radically exceeds whatever low definitions we settle for. . .the God who is most present among us when we’re having a go at that complicated practice of loving one another well.” (p. 51).
So thank you David Dark, if that is indeed your real name, and God bless your efforts at global domination.