Social Issues

notes from the bleak midwinter

Hi.

It’s been almost exactly a year since my last post, when I announced my pregnancy. I didn’t know a year ago how hard the intervening twelve months were going to be– which feels like such a trite thing to say nowadays. My last post was in The Before Times, When Times Were Precedented, and golly has there been … EVENTS. Even just the last week has offered up a bevy of issues that I would have ordinarily been jumping on– Ravi Zacharias, Rush Limbaugh, Ray Fisher and Charisma Carpenter. I do, indeed, have Thoughts on this miasmic swirl of misogyny, religion, politics, and geek culture …

but I’m also tired, as I’m sure are all of you. There’s just too much. And recently, it’s been easy to convince myself that I don’t have anything of value to add, that what I could say is already being said by better, smarter, and more famous people with wider audiences that I could never hope to reach.

Apparently this is a symptom of depression says my therapist. It’s February, so that at least tracks.

However, I did write an introduction to my book yesterday– a memoir following my journey from KJV-onlyism to whatever I think about the Bible now, a book I’m still in love with and yet increasingly heretical about. I’m working with legislators and departments around the country on how to better ensure the wellbeing and success of homeschooled children. On top of all that I’m a mom to a six-month-old who is not yet sleeping for any stretch longer than a couple hours. (How does she do it? My partner’s siblings live with us at the moment, so I have live-in baby sitters; my partner also works from home. I am so incredibly blessed and it is amazing.)

I opened up my “draft ideas” doc today, and it is indeed still filled with a ton of things I want to talk about. I want to get back into the swing of writing as a habit. I want to reconnect with an audience, as I realized recently that many of my casual-yet-fulfilling social interactions were with my readers in my comment section. Y’all feel like coworkers, and my comment section a water cooler. I want to stop feeling like my life is in a holding pattern, and even though the pandemic is ongoing and I am staying the fork inside my house, I want to see how my life from Before the Pandemic and Before the Baby works for me now.

***

So. Let me crack my knuckles and see how this feels.

I wanna talk about Rush Limbaugh because oh dang. Some of the emotions I’ve felt: relief– the world is genuinely a better place without him it. Glee– it’s legit hilarious he died of lung cancer. Couldn’t have happened to a more apropos person. There’s echoes of grief here, too– not for him, but for every single person I know who was incredibly damaged by his ubiquitous presence in their childhood. I’m grieving for all the people who have lost their parents to Qanon and other far-right conspiracy theories he sucked them into. I’m grieving for all the queer kids who grew up encountering his cruelty on a daily basis, having it constantly confirmed how much our families would hate us if they only knew who we are.

After all that comes resignation and dread. Rush is dead, but the people who listened to him every day are still alive. Trump is no longer the president, but Congress is full of people who want to continue hollowing out our democracy in his stead. All the people who voted for him are still my neighbors and family members, and the movements he emboldened– the ones I was groomed to be a part of– are not going anywhere. Limbaugh’s legacy is with us, and I’m sure his radio show will still be in syndication for many years.

Maybe it’s the depression talking here but that is bleak.

The Pandemic we’re all still struggling through? I don’t see it ending anytime this year. The militia movements and everyone else who wants to be a part of “The Storm“? Well, March 4 is looming ever closer.

On New Years Eve, I did that meme thing were you start watching The Two Towers so that King Théoden says “and so it begins” exactly at midnight. This year, as I sat through the Battle of Helm’s Deep once again, hearing what can men do against such reckless hate? felt more true to me than it ever has before. Aragorn’s response “ride out with me,” usually so inspiring, only had me feeling intimidated and hopeless. Ride out and do … what exactly?

I guess… what I’m doing. I heard about how Joseph and Jennifer Wofthal tortured their three children and decided I was going to do something about that, so I am. Biden is being exactly what I expected him to be, refusing to rescind two of Trump’s worst executive orders and thousands of immigrants are about to lose everything because of his cowardice. I’m doing what I can about that, too. I’m going to plant some native blueberry bushes in my yard this spring to feed the birds and squirrels. I’m writing a book.

None of that is really about Rush Limbaugh or Trump … and yet it is. It’s the best hope I have to offer: we keep living, keep trying, and one day it’ll be enough.

photo by Hilke Kurzke
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