Clinging to the Wreckage

Four months ago I wrote a post titled In Praise of Feeling Utterly Confused. I said confusion, self-doubt, feeling like you're treading just above water, deep uncertainties about things others seem so certain about: this is part of life, or at least part my life.

Andrew Sullivan has a thoughtful meditation on this topic on his blog. He reflects upon his internal angst and confusion by noting the failure of some of his most cherished institutions: the Catholic church, conservatism, and America.

After describing how those institutions have failed him, he ends:

Maybe this is adulthood finally arriving a little late: the knowledge that everything is flawed and you just need to get on with it. But a church perpetrating the rape and abuse of children through the power of its moral authority is not a flaw; it's a self-refutation. A movement betraying its core principles in office and then parading as a parody of purists is a form of anti-conservatism as I understand it. And a democratic country using torture to procure intelligence it can use to justify more torture, and prosecuting a war that never ends against an enemy that can never surrender: this, whatever else it is, is not America as its founders saw it. Again, it is a kind of self-refutation.

Where to go? What to do? You read me flounder every day; and you can find many less conflicted bloggers to read. Maybe I should take a break and live a less examined life for a while. Or maybe I should do what I am still doing: trying to make sense of where I belong, stay praying in a church that has sealed itself off from modernity, cling to a conservatism that begins to feel like a form of solipsism, hang on in the hope that America can reform itself and repair the world a little. I think, in fact, that this is obviously the right and only serious choice. Life is always a temporary and losing battle, an engagement with the deadliness of doing. It just feels deadlier than usual in these past few years of brutally unsentimental education.

Or maybe I should laugh more.

Teach us to care and not to care. Teach us to sit still.

I think there's some truth to the idea that "everything is flawed and you just need to get on with it."

As Martin Buber said, "The world is not comprehensible, but it is embraceable."

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