The Real Disabled List


I live a rather storied life, it struck me this week.  I know a fairly large number of the celebrated.  I live in St. Paul.  I walked by Garrison Keillor’s house twice today.  He moved about 3 blocks further away this summer.  I have a fondness for the writing of F. Scott Fitzgerald and the themes he wrote about.  In reflection, I see I have lived a life a lot like Fitzgerald.  I now live in the neighborhood he grew up in.  I went to a prep school on this side of the river not all that different than the one he attended, with the sons of the pillars of this society.  I call a plumber named McQuillan and learn later it was the family of his maternal grandmother.  I drink in the same establishments that he did, almost 100 years later.  But not like he did.  And my liquor store is where he took dance lessons as a kid.  But I don’t really dance.  I do attend birthday parties with live music of nationally acclaimed bands in backyards, when I feel like the Great Gatsby must be in the crowd (where I still owe thank you notes, two months

later).  And today I read where F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald had lived where I now live when daughter Frances was born in 1921.  Yeah, the same buidling.  


After the Roaring 20s, Fitzgerald wrote in troubling times.  He never had quite the success again in the 1930s as he did before the Great Depression.  Maybe his stories no longer reflected real life to struggling people.  Maybe people couldn’t afford to buy books or magazines.  Maybe the people that Fitzgerald wrote about, schooled as Fitzgerald was schooled, who earned incomes way beyond anyone’s worth, spent lavishly on things they never really needed, the leaders of their day, the people who created the mess, no longer mattered to the populace.  The rest of the people were busy looking for scapegoats, more so in Europe than in the United States.  


The world had changed.  A lot of thing no longer felt relevant in the real world.   


Financial cancer.  Denial.  Anger. People and their capacity to change. 


Recessions and ill health seemed the same.  Rest and recovery.  And look around at the world.  It was a lot like the landscape.  There was always change.  It was part of the mystery.  The world was always changing. 


“What does it matter.  You can’t do anything anyway.”  About the system of money.  About the rising or falling values of homes, of stocks.  Or the fall. 


We all have a spiritual nature.  For the most part, it is tied into lifelong relationships and the Truth.  A relationship is either true or it is not.  


Ernest Becker in 1974 won the Pulitzer Prize for The Denial of Death.  The idea of death, the fear of it, haunts the human animal like nothing else.  Death faces us with annihilation, a loss of self.  In a new day of fear over shelter, these fears are spreading to food and to basic survival.   Death faces us with annihilation, a lot like a really bad recession.  Some helped others in times of storms, those caught on the seas, of those caught in burning buildings.  The image of this decade was that day at the World Trade Center.  Now we were moving to a new day when business was in effect throwing workers out of buildings, to try and survive.  We had lived through times of mergers and acquisitions, leveraged buyouts, when business were more concerned about saving the boats caught in the storms than the people caught in the boats.  Over leveraged businesses concerned about saving their boats, choosing who to save.  When the boats did not seem sturdy.  Watching all of this, watching the people in the boats was worse than feeling pain myself.  On the seas, the rule once was women and children first. 


Suffering taught something mysterious.  Salvation was not some far off concept but was real.  It was all about suffering and helping those caught in the storm.  Darwin’s Theory was in the end wrong.  We were all gonna die.  Some live longer.  Suddenly, Darwin’s Theory is better understood.  In tough economic times, nobody had health insurance.  What bodies best adjust to cold temperatures when there is no heat?  Health care for few.  Life like in most of Asia.  Suffering is back.  It never really left.  It just seemed like a mirage in the distance.  But ultimately, death that haunts the human animal like nothing else was supplemented by hunger, thirst, and by cold. 


The Gospel reading on Sunday had been based on the release of fears and finding riches:  trusting God whose suffering taught something mysterious. 


Ill health.  No one knew how severe the illness.  Rest and recovery was the prescription.  Moving towards gradual acceptance.  


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