D.L. Mayfield

living in the upside-down kingdom

coping mechanisms

Transition is hard on everyone. We were in the car yesterday, on the way to partake of some deliciousness at the food carts (pizza, fried pie). The baby is screaming at the top of her lungs, crying, inconsolable. Snacks, stuffed bunnies, water, hands to hold--nothing is helping. The food carts are far away. My husband puts on some Ke$ha, sings along at the top of his lungs. I pull out my book (the Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris, which I am savoring) trying to immerse myself in reflections on the Psalms while around me the cacophony of sound is truly deafening. We are all trying to cope, in our own ways, right now.

My husband looks over at me, over the crying, the Ke$ha, the calm words in my hand. "This is kind of funny," he says, meaning the ways we are all coping. "You should put this on your blog or something".

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My new post at McSweeney's is up (also, can I just geek out for a moment and say that Jesse Eisenberg is also writing for McSweeney's and his piece came out today too? So in my dream world that makes us writer friends/bffs. And yes, it is that Jesse Eisenberg).

Nostalgia is such a tricky thing. I knew I would have to write about it at some point, I just never knew it would be so much about me. In my grad school I actually had to take a couple of Seminary classes, and one was on World Religions (and friends, I have taken soooooo many World Religions classes that I was pretty miffed I had to do another one). But this class turned out to be great, where we actually listened to experts from various religions come and share themselves with us (imagine that!). The class also focused on the Palestinian/Israeli conflict as a model to explore all modern religious conflict. I wrote a paper on how nostalgia has been used to convert people on both sides of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict into violent forms of nationalism. It was a wordy, researched-based piece, but the results stuck with me. Telling stories matters. We need to make sure the stories we are telling ourselves do not revolve just around our shared history, but the stories of the work God has done in us.

I also found that one of the best ways to subvert violent, nostalgia-based rhetoric was to focus on telling the stories of those not in the majority of power: mainly, the women and the children. This is something I think we all can do, right where we are. All of us have the means to interact with those on the fringes of power, and to help tell those stories. This is one of the ways we can lesson violence, and stop allowing ourselves to be convinced that we are the only right thinkers in the world.

So, what stories are you compelled to seek out and to tell?

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