Tag Archives: sinless perfection

Kody’s Wives.

The Plymouth Brethren were, amongst all Christian fundamentalists, the most exclusive; amongst all Bible-believers, the most scholarly; amongst all patriarchal sub-groups, the most suppressive. They raised me. Clearly, I was conceived in the wrong ooze.

When not at this screen penning my life thoughts for all the world to [endure], and avoiding performance deadlines, I binge the occasional Tv series.  And, Kody’s “Sister Wives” has had me since day one.

For benefit of the uninitiated, Kody is a polygamist. Hailing from some derivation of the Mormon throng, he has, to date, four wives. They share some seventeen children, each wife with her own, newly-built home in a cul de sac in a remote corner of Las Vegas.

Meri is Kody’s first wife. Meri and Kody have one daughter, Mariah. Meri is particular, in noticeable need of some degree of control over her domain; even when a whole house is built for her, with no publicly disclosed financial contribution toward it on her part, she still insists that its every angle and accoutrement be exactly as specified. Meri says to the Tv interviewer that she is completely happy in her relationship with Kody. But, although Meri does not say so, I wonder how content or happy Meri is with her life, taken as a whole. Meri may never fully disclose herself. She reminds me of a man I once knew.

Janelle is Kody’s second. I am not privy to the circumstances which have led to Janelle’s appearance on Kody’s scene, having missed the first few episodes and played catch up thereafter. I do however know, and notice, the stark contrast between Janelle and Meri; Janelle is laid back, accepting of the big picture, never sweating the small stuff. While Meri has somewhat of a designer’s aesthetic, Janelle appears to have no regard for any. But, Janelle has produced several children, close in age, and perhaps her hormone panel is what distinguishes her most from Meri. She reminds me of a girl I once knew. Interestingly, Kody has enjoyed a kind of second honeymoon with Janelle, of late, reasons about which we viewers can only wonder. Perhaps Janelle’s active attempts to get her overweight body in shape have inspired her husband. And, Kody has never tired of her kisses – something he’s told the world.

Again, I can’t comment as to the time lapse between Kody’s marriages, only that I must point out that Meri is Kody’s only legal spouse. The other three wives are spiritually committed to him and the family, recognized as his wives only from within the parameters of the belief system they all share. A belief system, namely one they call a faith in God, their heavenly father, and Christ, God’s son. Go. Figure.

As such, I don’t know when or why Christine joined the family. But, Christine also has several children with Kody and, while she seems to struggle with either personality or emotional mood issues, seems equally happy being mother not only to her own but the entire collective of children. At family gatherings, she is clearly the leader, reveling in entertaining them all with carefully planned games and activities. She reminds me of all the good elementary school teachers I have known. I notice that, when Christine goes into her act, Janelle sits back comfortably in her seat on the sofa, and Meri looks on from what seems to be an emotional distance, perhaps with gracious tolerance of what she would otherwise be uninterested to endure. Meri is not a team player or a social animal, and Janelle is just happy to remain quietly entertained. Christine, however, together with Kody, gets highly involved in all the childrens’ reactions and responses whenever the whole family is in the room.

Robyn is wife number four. We can all tell, those of us who have ever been in love or married or both, that Robyn is still enjoying her role as Kody’s newly-wed. She may also be of the belief that her position is powerful. When Kody presents all the wives their custom made jewelry pieces, she makes each wife’s receipt of his gift a matter of her own interest, exuberantly commenting with praise even as the wife in question quietly opens her own gift. Robyn is probably unaware of her own transparency, and we gently forgive her because, well, to expose her might be hurtful or damaging. She reminds me of myself, at about age thirty four.

That was right before I met my ex-husband, and everything changed for me. Before that, I’d felt socially empowered, my career on the rise, important figures in my sphere taking notice, my personal life showing promise. But, we aren’t talking about me, right now.

Or, maybe we are. I have recently, and with significant surprise, fallen in love again. The man who enjoys being the object of my affections claims the same about me. And, he possesses nearly every trait I’ve ever admired or sought in a man, with the possible exception of a degree of inner peace. About that last part, I should probably withhold judgment as, after all, who ever accused me of possessing inner peace?! Nevertheless, he is very nearly the perfect man for me, and I adore him.

I, on the other hand, having been raised by those aforementioned patriarchs, was taught to assume that men in their trek toward becoming Christ-like could achieve a form of sinless perfection; women, of which I had been born to become, would have a far deeper and more individual struggle for value. As such, I hesitate to reveal to my beloved the full scope of my shortcomings. He cannot know the degree to which I see myself as undeserving. He must never know how disparate the woman I was expected to become is from who I really am.

Meantime, it’s compelling to ruminate about the numerous variations on cohabitation which American society tolerates. What about polygamy? What might it be like to have three or four husbands, on my own cul de sac, in a corner of neverland? I am, after all, completely aware that I am probably as particular and socially wary as Meri; as teacherly and child oriented as Christine; as interested in devotion to my man as Robyn, and a real kisser with encroaching weight issues, like Janelle. But, to spend a lifetime with only me, if history is any indicator, would wear a man down to a shell of what he ever thought he could be. I’d easily share him with somebody else, if only to get him out of the house when we both become intolerable. That, I would do.

But, right now, I’ll enjoy my bliss. It’s been a long time coming, indeed. Maybe society will move its unwieldy ass, in the meantime, toward some broader magnanimity. But, I can wait for that.

“Apres Un Reve” beckons from the music stand and my cello sits, quietly floating in resonant frequency with the room, until I am ready to let it sing. The Plymouth Brethren still meet, fewer, yet much more globally integrated than ever before, a haven for the disenfranchised of every culture, still earnestly dictating reality at every breath. And, outside, mainstream society lumbers along, thinking itself the real mover yet, always, about ten years behind the Bohemians, who really know.

Yes; we can wait. About that, we really have no choice. Or, do we?

Absolution.

 Absolution.
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This morning, John Paul Downey, priest to St Paul’s Episcopalians, exhorted his congregation in prayer. He asked God to renew our hearts to look “beyond our absolutions.”
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I heard this from my seat at the cello, near the pipe organ and the rest of the musicians. And, as is so often the case during one of John Paul Downey’s homilies, the Spirit set my mind to contemplation.
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On Good Friday prior to this Resurrection Sunday ( now so – called by the Church, lest we confuse Christ’s triumph over death with the holiday otherwise celebrated),  the atmosphere had been emotionally charged. Pastor Timm, of the high Presbytery at First Covenant, had embodied Christ on the cross like nobody since my own father, and was a much larger and more cavernous resonating chamber than dad could ever have hoped to be. My whole body’d reacted to his thunderous declaration of the Son of God’s final words:
IT.IS.FINISHED!
and, I’d spent the rest of the service in tears.
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But, “absolution”.
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After a brief stop for Russell Stover creme eggs, I came home and went for the Webster’s. First, the root:
Absolute:

free from imperfection; perfect; not mixed or adulterated; pure.

free from restriction or limitation; ultimate; positive; certain; complete.

And, then this:

something that is not dependent upon external conditions for existence or for its specific nature.
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Buzzwords come and go in our society, and I’ve lived long enough to witness many an incantation. Perhaps we can credit the talk show circuit for these trends, but somewhere between 1997 and just last week, the response: “Absolutely!” locked in as the only hip retort to any pursuit of affirmation. We had all become, for reasons I have no authority to cite, ultimately, positively, perfectly sure  – and, remained so for over a decade.
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But, “not dependent upon external conditions for existence………”……now, there’s a state.
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One of the most baffling aspects of Christ on the cross, as he had come to be recognized by Christians over the centuries was his having taken, upon the body he bore, the weight of all the transgressions of mankind committed against his father, God. Or, Eloi, as he’d called him from Golgotha (and, probably earlier, in the garden of Gesthemane.) Jesus had agreed to die in exchange for the entire creation’s absolution. Yes. Complete, total forgiveness. And, he being believed to be uncorrupted, was the absolute sacrifice – pure, perfect, complete, AND: believed to be holy and divine, not dependent upon external conditions for his existence.
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Now, I’m neither linguistics expert nor historian, but the source indicates that the term “absolute” first appeared in the 13th century. Thirteen hundred years after the birth of Christ. I don’t know what earlier thought evolved the concept, but its embodiment in the form of an omniscient God who, paradoxically, needed no body to house His Spirit was sufficient for me from my birth. Perhaps this is merely indoctrination (the source of any faith?) ; tradition, the result of its practices. Yet, I do have science on my side.
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Because, I also consider the state of utter and complete distinction, of total independence from external conditions. Apparently, such “absolutes” exist in nature, in chemistry and mathematics. But, when did we first lay hold of, and then depart from, a “belief” in Absolutes? Were there external influences affecting this? Can we blame Relativism for whole generations of entirely too much flexibility of position? Have we weighed both sides of every issue for so long that we can no longer come to any decisions that will hold up under the fixed scrutiny of finality?
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One thing seems clear: When we read the words of Jesus, we never find ambiguity. Whenever he is challenged, he responds with the conviction of inner authority. And, neither is he shy of leaving one with a question as an answer. He had a gift for knowing when to declare, and when to let a query be the impetus for further inquiry. Could this be because he knew the answer was absolutely discoverable?
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Father Downey urged us to look beyond our having been forgiven. I should be so thankful that, more than once a year, I am called to witness Christ’s declarations from my seat in the musical ministry. I should be so grateful that he still provokes me to search out the truth. Most importantly, I am truly and deeply moved to be certain when I have found it.
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Absolutely.
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© Ruth Ann Scanzillo
4/5/15  all rights those of the author. Thank you. Selah.
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