This past week my basement dungeon/office has been under siege. My animal right credentials may be pulled as a result of my response to said siege. Fleas have infiltrated my sacred space, torturing my legs every time I sit down to write. Frustrated, this weekend I unleashed an assault which - I thought - would be sure to bring about a devastating nuclear winter, rendering my adversaries extinct. I went to Feeders Supply and bought the biggest flea bomb I could find. And, since the fleas were congregating by the computer, I sat it right next to my desk. After fiddling with it for what felt like most of an afternoon, but which really must have been only a couple of minutes (time is relative, and when your legs are being eating by merciless insects, a minute feels more like a decade) I finally got the bomb to unleash its fury.
This afternoon, bored with football (Colts thumping Texans, Bears destroying Lions), I finally mustered up the courage to go downstairs to survey the damage. Let's just say that if the Cold War had ever really turned hot, the cockroaches wouldn't have been the only survivors. The fleas may have been demoralized, and they may have suffered some heavy casualties, but they are far from routed. I type this wearing blue jeans, and worse *gasp* socks and shoes. (For insight into preferred footwear, see, say, my pseudonym, or the title of this blog.) Even so, I've already picked more than a few fleas off of my legs.
Until I get this situation under control, my writing will suffer. I simply can't concentrate while having my blood sucked by these parasites. I wonder if the problem of suffering, or the problem of pain, or the problem of evil (pick your favorite title) shouldn't be rechristened the problem of fleas. What constructive purpose do these creatures serve? How do they fit into the interconnected, interdependent and beautifully organic whole of creation? Do they do anything but create misery?
I'm only half joking here. It is easy to excuse God for some forms of natural suffering because we can see how such suffering is the inevitable result of a natural system which is working quite well. But is all natural suffering so easily dismissed as the cost of doing business in a complex world which holds many forms of organisms in balance?
But we'll have to have that discussion sometime when my legs don't look like an cross between an all-you-can-eat buffet and a cheap motel.
In the meantime, I've been working on some thoughts about the relationship between some passages in Mark and some passages in James, particularly Mark 7:1-23 (especially 14-15, when Jesus sounds just like a Reform rabbi) and James 1:17-27 (especially 27). In both cases the focus of religious practice shifts from the ritual or ceremonial to the concrete. I may or may not relate this to some contemporary disputes in Judaism; especially disputes within Orthodox Judaism (between, say, more modern Orthodox Jews and the fundamentalist sects) and between Orthodox Judaism and the other strains of Judaism, such as Conservative and Reform.
That, however, will have to wait until my office looks and feels less like a war zone.
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