Bor . . . ing!
“I hate that word!” burst out the remarkable woman who is my wife. As an educator she has grown weary of hearing children saying “boring,” in that sing-song-y and dismissive way, that elongates the first syllable.
We were watching the Newshour on PBS. Normally, we enjoy their “Politics Monday” segment with Amy Walter and Tamara Keith. Asked about Biden’s first cabinet appointments, which we had found not only reassuring but impressive, Amy Walter characterized them as “experienced and boring.” At which point, said Linda, “I hate that word.”
Part of Trump’s legacy is the expectation that presidents and politicians will now entertain us. The stock-in-trade may be the outrageous as was Trump’s, but we’ve become used to the titillation of it all. So normal people, decent people, are “boring.” And issues that are complex and demand some thinking and learning are also — you guessed it — “boring.”
Linda’s further observation is that kids invoke “boring” when something is hard for them. Moreover, they know it is often a way to goose their parents. If school isn’t entertaining their kid, it’s the school’s or the teacher’s fault.
They’ve learned it from us, the supposed-to-be adults. It is the sorry lament of those who have come to think they have a right to be entertained. To the world, this world of wonders, we say, “You must amuse me.” We are, it seems, entitled to be stimulated, having “fun,” at all times.
Earlier in the evening I had read the lessons for the First Sunday of Advent, which comes this next Sunday, November 29. Advent isn’t what we think it is or make it out to be, a prolonged period of busy-ness and “getting ready for Christmas.”
The Scriptures for this Sunday open with an extraordinary poem from Isaiah chapter 64, verses 1 – 9. It begins, “O that thou wouldst tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at thy presence.”
These words are a cry of utter desperation. Humanity at the end of its rope, calling out for God. Pretty much the opposite of the the dismissive “bor-ing.” We don’t like desperation but it is a far sweeter state of the soul than the lament of the entitled.
Isaiah 64, verses 6 – 9 (in the King James) are an extraordinary cry of human desperation and surrender.
“6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
7 And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities.
8 But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.
9 Be not wroth very sore, O Lord, neither remember iniquity for ever: behold, see, we beseech thee, we are all thy people.”
These are a palate cleanser, an enema for the soul. They are like the First Step in AA, or whatever recovery program may (could, should) be ours.
“We admitted we were powerless over (fill in the blank . . . alcohol, worry, anger, eating, sex, drugs, work, stuff) and that our lives had become unmanageable.”
This is the very worst — and the very best — thing in the world, this First Step. Torn open. Utterly vulnerable. All pretenses, all excuses, swept away. Throwing ourselves on the mercies of God, kneeling at the foot of the cross. This is the way Advent begins.
Not “bor-ing.” Not entitled.
Nothing to say for ourselves, save “We are all thy people.” Come, Lord Jesus.