Tuesday, September 21, 2010


[L.E. Leone once again tackles the big questions: the miraculous in various manifestations]

I refuse to look stuff up. Therefore I might have this all wrong, but I have been thinking a lot about something one of J-man’s disciples is alleged to have said while they were practicing for the greatest circus act of all time: walking on water. J (as I recall) was spouting this line of new-age crap about just having to believe, man, blah blah. And Whatshisname, the disciple—expressing a much more human (and therefore meaningful to me) point of view—goes, “Dude, I do believe. Help me with my disbelief.”

We search for words. We think we might know what they mean. As I sit and search for these ‘uns, in 2010, a record player next to my head spins an old Carter Family album of gospel tunes. In my own way, I enjoy their music, but suspect that A.P., for one, was a total asswipe, and am glad (if I accidentally listen to the words) not to be very (if at all) Christian. Joseph Spence, on the other hand . . . I would waltz across water to hold my head for one song next to his sound hole, to dance in his spit and sweat. I would swing from his broken strings, sell my soul to the devil to believe, while I’m still alive, what he’s believing with those bass runs and belly growls.

That his guitar was always out of tune in the exact same way to every other ear but his . . . this is, as best as I can put it, my strongest argument for going on living.

John, you know what I’m talking about. You’ve studied theology, poetry, and music. Help me explain to my little brother Chris about love. How it is both bullshit, and the only thing in the world sharp and hard enough to cut through the bullshit to the beautiful blank space we like to think of as a core. How it can be blind as a midnight chicken, yet still see through walls, layers and layers of winter clothing, and cement-block-fortressed, barbed-wire-wrapped hearts . . . just not necessarily Tupperware. Or wax paper. Or even, truth be told, plastic wrap. How it is worth it.

Without any doubt.


  1. I, for one, look forward to reading your reply John.

  2. Hmmmm... Sounds like a challenge, John!

  3. Hi Alan & Roy: I'm at a loss for words!

  4. I love your writing here, Dani, as I have always loved your writing. Especially the fervently (guess I won't say "religiously"!) alive commitment to authenticity and exploration of human realities like love. As a feminist I have especially loved your body-imagery embawdying the booty - I mean body - of your text.

    As a Catholic feminist, I will give my opinion that your mode of interacting with Scripture without looking stuff up is a time-honored one with great potential. The people are the church - and, ultimately, write the history of the Church, as theology is always folk theology in the process of becoming. (How can you resist the theology enacted by Joseph Spence singing "Sandy Core is Coming to Town" as a Christian hymn?)

    I also love your argument for going on living - "That his guitar was always out of tune in the exact same way to every other ear but his . . ."

    As an outspoken Catholic feminist survivor of incest, that was music to my ears, and thanks. I've been thinking about you lots lately as I am "coming out" more publicly with some of the more interior aspects of identity that were/are the result of my encounters with sexual violence. I'd love to talk or write about this more with you...

    As a feminist Catholic survivor-of-incest folk theologian in troubled times, I think a lot about love too. Your words on love being total bullshit and, simultaneously, the only means of transforming total bullshit are right on - (the guy who is said to have said "Love your neighbor" knew this too, in my opinion.) Yes, if love isn't recognized as a cycle that includes both these incarnations in its totality, it becomes not love but a deadening thing that creates inward and global isolation/alienation.

    As a feminist folk theologian, I would point out that playing with your penetration metaphor can be a healthy activity, despite rumors to the contrary; my re-writing (at this present instant in time) would go like this:(love)is both bullshit and the only thing in the world sharp and amorphous enough to surround the bullshit with clarity and dance the dance of the seven veils that tantalizes with glimpses of that beautiful blank space we call the universe (the "one song" where the double-stranded words of within and without meet as one.)

    I also think you're right in seeing that John knows a great deal about love - as so tantalizingly expressed in his poetry. His courage, like yours, of choosing to encounter this blank space, has been very inspiring to me in my own encounters and coming to know:

    How it is worth it. With and without any doubt.


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