Change Means “Mangled Guts Pretending”

Ann Voskamp, writing from a conservative Christian viewpoint, reflects great depth stemming from having endured great loss in her life. And she notes in her book, “One Thousand Gifts” that, “awakening to joy awakens to pain”, and describes joy and pain as “two arteries of the one heart that pumps through all those who do not numb themselves to really living…Life is loss.” She also interprets Jacob’s wrestling with God as an inner spiritual battle that we all risk if we desire to change into the expression of our inner essence that so many of us fear. She describes the quest for wells which hold living water, noting that these wells don’t come without first seeking them with desperation and that “wells don’t come without first splitting open hard earth, cracking back the lids. There’s no seeing God face-to-face without first the ripping…It takes practice, wrenching practice, to break open the lids. But the secret to joy is to keep seeking God where we doubt he is.”

But, now I want to share the same truth in the words of someone from a vastly different perspective, Tony Kushner, the noted playwright and author of “Angels in America” and more recently author of the screenplay for the movie, “Lincoln.” A character in “Angels in America” poses the question, “How do people change” prompting the following answer:

Well, it has something to do with God so it’s not very nice. God splits the skin with a jagged thumbnail from throat to belly and then plunges a huge filthy hand in, he grabs hold of your bloody tubes and they slip to evade his grasp but he squeezes hard, he insists, he pulls and pulls till all your innards are yanked out…and the pain! We can’t even talk about that. And then he stuffs them back, dirty, tangled and torn. It’s up to you to do the stitching. And then you up you get. And walk around. Just mangled guts pretending.

Wow, that is intense! “Mangled guts pretending!” Notions like this is enough to deter anyone from changing, to opt for the status quo, personally or collectively. Or, as Shakespeare put it in Hamlet, to, “cling these ills we have than fly to others that we know not of.” (Shakespeare, in Hamlet)

And I can’t help but apply this to our country in its current turmoil. As Bob Dylan sang decades ago, “The times they are a changin’” and it is producing great political and social turmoil. And one point made in the brilliant movie Lincoln was the tremendous social unrest that Lincoln knew the country faced when he broached the subject of the 13th amendment.

 

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6 thoughts on “Change Means “Mangled Guts Pretending”

  1. Sandeep Bhalla

    I can make it simple. Lose self find god. Find self, strengthen it and only talk God. That is the conundrum but we have to find the key yourself for each lock has its own combination. No priest or guru has the key other than his own.
    Turmoil is there but so is exploitation in the name of religion.

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    1. literary lew Post author

      Well, we are back to this! And, I’m glad as the issue of “talk” versus “silence” is a critical issue for me…and I think for mankind.. The more we “talk” about God, the more we avoid Him…or “Her”. To wrap a word around something is to avoid the experience. But, being mortal, we are confined to words and have to acquire the humility to use them without being submerged in them. “The finger pointing to the moon is not the moon.” There are Holy men (and women, I presume) who take the vow of silence and I suppose that has a place. But for most of us we must “chatter on.”

      Now I will admit that I am more “trapped” in this verbal jungle than you are. (Don’t tell anybody I said that! wink, wink) And I’m more trapped than most people are. To be honest, and speaking as a clinician, I’m so “trapped” in that jungle that I should have ventured into pathology at some point, but I have not. Beneath the “split” that has captured me….that subject-object split…there must be some unity that keeps me organized and highly functional.

      But, there I go again talking about my favorite subject…myself!

      Just discovered the thread of you and Victoria. Enjoyed reading it. I think you guys should be on local cable-access late night television, you know….one of those 3:00 am grainy video shows….

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      1. Sandeep Bhalla

        Excellant idea about cable. Now people will know why I left watching TV many years ago alongwith the newspaper. That would be ultimate revenge or should I call it ‘just retribution.’

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    1. literary lew Post author

      I agree. And I know that agreeing appears inconsistent with the earlier post when I lamented re being a “pain mongerer.” I appreciate your observation. I have another thought or two I’ll share via email. Have a good night.

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