Scrooge wanted to believe his dream was not real. I’m often the same way.
Last night I dreamed I was in a large, multi-story apartment complex. I could see the whole thing from my dream-world exterior perspective: As I saw myself in one apartment, I was struggling to fit all my stuff into drawers and storage bins – but there was too much – it wouldn’t all fit. In other apartments, I saw people whose plumbing was broken and apartment flooding, others whose electricity was out, and then some who had left their apartments to help those with problems. Meanwhile, there were several apartments where people were doing nothing but standing around making threats at one another, or even hitting each other, and finally a few apartments where people were reclined in their oblivion, comfortable eating pizza and watching tv. A very busy complex.
All the busyness came to a halt when a group of baboons, or gorillas, or some sort of apish thing (it’s a dream) came loping down the road. Everyone in the complex stopped what they were doing to peer through windows and even walk outside to gawk at the primates. The lead monkey (pardon my insensitivity/ignorance as to the types of creatures) was, oddly, holding a cell phone, and typing madly with his thumbs. The congress of baboons (that’s actually what you call it) was being chased by zoo-keepers, but they were never caught. It was just so odd that these monkeys managed to capture the attention of all the people in the apartment building despite their engagement in important activities, and delay the good or bad that they were doing, mostly because of the fact that the lead monkey had a cell phone. Weird eh?
Anyway, London was a whirlwind – We saw King Lear at the National, The Homecoming in the West End I think, heard the London Symphony play Tchaikovsky and then Elliot Carter and Stravinsky, visited the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Oxford University and saw another play at the National: Trackers. I remember little of the plot of this play. I do remember that it was a work of rhythmic art with actors playing either Satyrs (goat-men) or disciples of Apollo. The Satyrs moved about to either hard, syncopated or simple, basic rhythms and looked – well – obscene, while Apollo’s characters moved fluidly and gracefully and looked beautiful. The two groups were quite different, and the disciples of Apollo wanted nothing to do with the Satyrs, out of fear and disgust. As I remember it, at the end of the play, the characters worked out their differences, realizing that the best music was made by combining their assets. It was only then that the characters shed their costumes, revealing that the satyrs looked like homeless people and the disciples of Apollo looked like wealthy theatre-goers. Then to drive home the point, a screen overhead showed us, the theatre-goers, in our dressy clothes in the seats, and then to our embarrassment, showed us walking into the theatre, carefully avoiding the homeless people all around us to reach a “safe” place where we chose to be entertained rather than help people who seemed to need the money. Just when we thought we were sympathetic to the Satyrs and agreed that Apollo should not be so snobby, the producer showed us that we were the “disciples of Apollo.” Lesson learned, at least for that evening.
Another excerpt from my journal at the time. I had, and still have, some serious cognitive dissonance on this point. As an economics student, I knew I was no socialist, as I agreed with Adam Smith’s ideas more than Mr. Marx’s ideas – especially when applied to real people, as opposed to simple theoretical concepts. But as a Christian, which I had still only recently become, how could I turn from the “least of these?” That struggle never ends and my only conclusion is that people should solve the homeless problem through individual generosity, as suggested in the Bible. But if Bible-followers or simply generous non-bible-followers don’t do it, should the government ignore the problem as well? Finally, if Christians do not want the government of their nation to be generous to “the least of these” are we maintaining a christian government, or a secular government? (revolution) And then who is insisting on it following the secular road as opposed to the christian path? Hard questions. Or are they? Some of my best education has not come from books.
Next stop was a to be a few weeks in a residence in a London suburb with a British family. Stay tuned.