It’s the Whole List Thing … November 22, 2011

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In Washington, D.C.

Nearing Christmas again, here come the songs–and some composer decided to write a lyric about Santa having a list which he checks twice to find out who’s naughty and nice.   What’s with all these lists? Here’s a list over here that says you can’t borrow money. Here’s a list that says you’re not qualified to join some club. Still another list we make — of things to do today —  ends up frustrating us because the one thing we forget to add mars the whole experience. Politics has come down to composing lists of candidates who fall into the category of acceptability. And I guess it began with that list of the Ten Commandments. 

First of all, may I state that most of the things on that particular compilation are pretty obvious?  “Thou shall not kill.”  Gotcha.  But I just wonder if that counts the number of times I wished somebody was dead, though I didn’t have the energy to perform the murder myself…
 
“Thou shall not steal.”  Stuff is stuff.  Mine over here, yours over there.  Got it.
 
And of course, the list begins with the one that always baffles me.  “There is only one God.” But it turns out, He’s jealous.  So if He knows there’s only one God, who’s He jealous of?  I don’t get it.  Or is it that He’s trying to promote the idea that He’s the only God, and privately He fears competition?
 
“Honor your father and mother.” I understand that. Must have been exhausting for them to conceive me. But this is a tough one for many folks out there who have been abandoned by mothers and molested by fathers.  Exactly how are they supposed to honor these creatures of intrusion?
 
“Thou shall not commit adultery.” A big plus for this particular step of moral excellence is being granted the grace of unattractiveness. Does that mean that ugly people are more spiritual because they find it easier to put a cork in it?
 
“Do not bear false witness against your neighbor.” Wow. Forbidding lying and gossip? Could you field a choir in a church? Or have a congregation gathered to hear them, let alone a preacher to lead the singing?
 
Seems like every religion has a list. Most religions even believe there’s a final list–some sort of Book of Life where our name has to be written or we end up with what would resemble a forty-five minute wait at Red Lobster, or discover that the heavenly destination has been closed down by the health department. At least for us.
 
What is it with lists? Do I really feel closer to God, knowing that other people are going to be unceremoniously thrown out the back door? Do I really sense the presence of an eternal love by waving Ten Commandments in front of the faces of bewildered fellow-travelers? If serving God and being moral is really such a good thing, why don’t we enjoy it so much that we don’t have to talk about lists that exclude other members?
 
I’m having so much fun in my life that I’d like to go around and invite people to the party instead of thinking up reasons why they shouldn’t come because they’re boring, smelly or lack the intelligence to carry on decent dinner conversation. What’s the reason for all these lists? And where does Santa get off–deciding who’s naughty and nice? Listen, North Pole Boy, from what I hear, gluttony is a sin and wearing red with fur on it … well, talk about gender abiguity… So get off your high horse–or is it reindeer? 
 
 Here’s what I think. If you’ve found something that makes you happy, be happy and don’t make other people miserable because they don’t share your happiness.  If you’re not happy and feel the need to make other people miserable because they don’t share in your complication, you might want to go out and find something to make you happy so you don’t end up being the grumpiest guy on the block.
 
You go ahead and make your lists. You go ahead and exclude people because they don’t qualify and you go ahead and believe that God is going to boil everything down to some tight-knit group of compliant and bored adherents.  Not me. I’m looking for reasons to include you in my life and hope that you do the same.
 
What’s with all the lists? What’s with all the restrictions on membership? Does it really make any difference how we’re baptized, or is baptism really about coming to the conclusion that it might be nice to symbolically wash away the past? Do these things really matter? And if they do to you, I hope you will enjoy compiling your list, following your list and checking off those who do not give homage to your list. As for me, I think I will just take it as it comes, laugh about what I don’t understand, weep a bit about what I can’t change, and enjoy all the rest. 
 
What is it with all these lists? Maybe it’s because we think there’s limited parking in heaven–so it’s a good idea to discourage shoppers.

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Here comes Christmas! For your listening pleasure, below is Manger Medley, Jonathan’s arrangement of Away in the Manger, which closes with him singing his gorgeous song, Messiah.  Looking forward to the holidays with you!

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