Wimps & Whackos


Winter is scaryThe old farmers and their Almanac got it right this year: Looks to be a cold, nasty winter.

They called off school for my son—again. It’s just December, folks. Anytime school is off during December and it’s NOT the Christmas break, something is wrong. I know the state of Ohio mandates that schools close when 10 percent of the roads in a district are considered “impassable.” I know we live in a rural area where everyone seems to have a snowplow on his truck, yet the county is always behind in thoroughfare cleanup.

I know.

But when did a little frozen water become some kind of Kryptonite with a healthy dose of flesh-eating bacteria added for extra toxicity and gruesomeness? I mean, do people really melt into a gelatinous ooze should they venture outside and some tiny, six-pointed daggers of cold death rip them to shreds, slicing them down to the very cellular level?

It sure seems that way.

This weekend, I was out doing the most deadly job any 51-year-old male of suspect physical conditioning can do: shoveling snow. Peers, you know what I mean. Anyway, I somehow avoided a cardiopulmonary event, though there is a stitch in my side now and a troubling cough. I guess I better run for the bottle of NSAIDs and the Mucinex.

OK, so I’m tougher than some couch pilots, but I don’t feel like it. I feel like something vital has gone out of the American psyche when a gentle snowfall causes despair, and everyone is downing rainbow-colored handfuls of Advil, Aleve, and that stuff left over from that last kidney stone (you know, the GOOD stuff) just to make it through another day.

Meanwhile, our political helicopter parents on Capitol Hill are mandating ways to grant workman’s comp to the gal who got a paper cut while sorting files, or to the guy who accidentally ran a staple into his pinkie because the office bombshell walked by in THAT OUTFIT and he was too “distracted” to concentrate on connecting two sheets of paper together safely.

We pout when the grocery store is out of our favorite K-cup.

We whine when the Internet goes down.

We buy $1,000 North Face Everest Expedition parkas so we can endure a trip to the mall.

And yet we’ve never had more superheros in the cineplex or grittier protagonists in our TV programming, people who seem less and less like us even as we spend more and more time and money watching them fight The System, The Unseen Evil, The Alien Threat, The Future Scourge of Humanity, or whatever The Opposition of the Moment might be.

Here’s the spiritual takeaway: a coddled Church is useless. When it comes down to comfort or Christianity, we’re choosing the former while we talk up the latter.

Worse, the peer pressure is so strong that we can’t even support those who eschew comfort and choose to step out and be the Church, even if in being the Church those people take some serious lumps. Such stepper-outers are weirdos to the majority. Sincere, yes. Earnest, sure. But whackos nonetheless. And whacko is a good word when you want to label someone as a deviant outlier. Labeling people is an easy way to dismiss them and to feel better about ourselves.

Let’s give it up it for the whackos, though, because the wimps aren’t accomplishing anything other than complaining online to FOX about the new judges on American Idol. One of these days, Jesus is going to come back, and it won’t be the wimps who hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

6 thoughts on “Wimps & Whackos

  1. Linda

    Hi Dan,
    I had some laughs at things that you wrote in this post. I also shovel my own snow here in Alberta, Canada. We have had a lot of snow since the 1st of November. There’s snow 4ft high in my front yard from shoveling off my sidewalks.

    We have the same problem here with school closures. It’s probably not a stretch to say that students in high school in my town attend considerably less than the usual 210 school days per year.

    The psychic has a definitive effect on our behaviour doesn’t it? When we are forced outdoors we come to realize that it’s not always as cold ‘out there’ as we think it will be. After a bit of shoveling, I’m sweating!

    My son has complained to me that all there is on movies these days are superheros. He avoids them. Reality is being pushed aside for wishful thinking in our media these days. Talk about a downer for kids when they realize that they are never going to be ‘batman’, ‘spiderman’, etc. That these superheros are totally ficticious.

    • Linda,

      The reasons for all the superhero movies are three-fold:

      1. They make a LOT of box-office money.
      2. They make a LOT of licensing money.
      3. All their “mythology” has already been written, and many people already know it, which makes writing a superhero movie a piece of cake.

      I will add this (which is foreshadowing a future post):

      The power and strength of any community is in its shared story. The Bible drills this home, especially in the OT. God is perpetually trying to remind us of the story we find ourselves in because of Him.

      When a society or culture allows its shared story to disintegrate, EVERYTHING is lost. Everything. All the linking bonds weaken and the society collapses. Without a shared story, human beings are adrift.

      One reason why superhero movies are so popular today is that they are the last vestiges of common experience and common selfless morality that most people know. It used to be everyone knew the story of the One True Hero, but now people are more likely to recall that Superman came from the planet Krypton and was raised by Ma and Pa Kent in Kansas, or they know Batman protects Gotham City and fights the Joker, Penguin, and a host of other criminal maniacs, and that he, too, was an orphan like Superman.

      Those stories of superheroes are ingrained in the culture of today, and people find them attractive because they are about the only commonality we have left. The Pilgrims came over on the Mayflower and founded America? Columbus discovered the country in an effort to find a trade route to the Indies and to spread the Gospel? Those stories have been undermined by revisionists, and most people today reject them as worthless, seeing in them oppression of native peoples and so on. It doesn’t matter if the current stories are fictional and the past stories were genuine history, we have so polluted history’s well that perhaps we think EVERYTHING a fiction today—and the superhero fiction has better special effects than a storm-tossed boat transporting a bunch of religious malcontents to a place they should have left well enough alone.

      Sad, isn’t it?

  2. We always laughed that when we lived near Cinci school was called off for snow way more often than when we lived half an hour from the Mackinac Bridge in northern Michigan. Back in those days we had to snowblow our yard and it was chest deep in places and the kids had school and went out to recess.

    • I was told by the transportation director of our school district that it was Ohio law that a school close if 10% of the total roadways in the district coverage area are considered treacherous. What defines treacherous is questionable, but it’s one reason why some districts in hilly regions and those with limited salt crews are closed when others around them are not.

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