Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Crime of Inhospitality

Last night I dreamed that I was on trial in Cincinnati, a town I've never been to in real life (though I've performed in several other Ohio cities). I had committed the crime, it seems, of having come to town as a visitor and failed to show proper hospitality to its citizens. I acted as my own lawyer. Where, I asked in my defense, was the crime in being inhospitable, especially when I was a visitor? Wasn't it incumbent, rather, on the citizens of Cincinnati to be hospitable to me? And if lukewarm welcomes for strangers were prosecutable, there wouldn't be too many free men walking around, would there?

In spite of my efforts, it appeared that my conviction was likely; the prosecutor was also the judge. I planned to appeal.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Jemand musste Pentimento verleumdet haben!

Otepoti

Pentimento said...

Otepoti, is this a literary reference that I'm missing? Sounds Brechtian.

(Translation: "Someone must have slandered Pentimento.") Good thing I'm saying that Litany of Humility, which includes a prayer for deliverance "from the fear of being calumniated" . . .

Anonymous said...

First line of Kafka's "Prozess".

In full: "Jemand musste Josef K. verleumdet haben, denn ohne dass er etwas Boeses getan haette, wurde er eines Morgens verhaftet."

I hope you didn't wake up and find you were a beetle.

Cheers

Otepoti

Janet said...

I hope you really want to be humiliated, Pentimento. That seems to be an especially efficacious prayer.

AMDG,
Janet

Pentimento said...

Janet, in fact, I am neurotically afraid of being humiliated. My pride is extreme, and it just feels so . . . brittle. But I think a prayer like that demonstrates a radical trust in God, which I also sorely need. Are you speaking from experience about the prayer? I'm happy to see you here again -- Happy New Year to you too!

Otepoti, I hadn't exactly become a beetle, but I feel like Josef K. on many mornings, come to think of it.

Janet said...

I had a friend who seriously prayed that prayer for a long time and she had some things happen to her that were just devastating. However, you could see her making great spiritual gains during all of this. I prayed it for a while, but then stopped for no apparent reason.

I THINK that I don't mind being humiliated too much, but then something happens and I find I'm wrong. For instance, I can be at the head of a class and give the correct answer ten times a day, but if I ever give one incorrect answer, I stew about it. How dumb!

Thank you for being happy to see me again. If you hadn't been, it would have been humiliating.

AMDG,

Pentimento said...

Janet, I am all about those things that the Litany of Humility asks God to free the person saying it from (now I'm humiliated by my bad syntax): the desires to be esteemed, loved, extolled, honored, praised, etc. etc. I often find myself making bargains with God about these things. I've wondered for a long time if I shouldn't stop singing, since when I started singing seriously (in my teens), it was in order to gratify all the above desires, and more, to derive some sort of power and agency through it. I've been told by some audience members that my singing brings consolation to them, and it's a fine line between being grateful to God for the ability to bring HIS consolation to others, and feeling special for doing it "myself." I believe God wants us to use the gifts he's given us -- certainly Christ instructs us so ("So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven"; Matthew 5:16), but it's a struggle to know how to use one's gifts truly, in a way that is for and about Him rather than for and about the self.

So, if I say the Litany of Humility, am I asking God to take away everything that I cling to? Am I asking him to allow me to die to self, and all those other things that I hate? This is my struggle.

Do you think there's an association between the difficult things that happened to your friend, and the prayer? Perhaps she was telling God that she was ready to trust him him completely and radically, and ready for what he was pleased to send her?

And yes, of course, I'm happy to see you, thus blowing your desire to be freed from the desire of being esteemed, if in fact you have that desire . . .