Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Welcome to Love Week!

This piece I'm posting is unusual enough that it requires a little bit of history. When I first started writing poetry in high school, it developed out of a love of the sound of rythm and rhyhme, and I found inspiration not through other poems but rather through music - especially elements of freestyle rap. I know...kind of unexpected coming from me, but there it is. I found a lot of Eminem's raps, especially, to be very powerful and to communicate tone and tension very well. Because of this, my own attempts at poetry were almost all written to an internal rap-rythm, and not to be read in one's head according to standard or traditional meter. It also helped that Eminem was pretty pissed off, and so was I. So my desire to communicate that same level of frustration obviously found an example in his own expressions.

When I arrived at Ave Maria, I was a very different person than I am today. Those who knew me then will probably silently agree with me when I say that I was a much more loving and much less selfish person than I am now. Frankly, I was on fire for Christ in a way that I have not been able to regain since then...though I'm working on it ;). Anyway, upon arriving I found myself very unhappy with the spirit of the place. Those who like to pretend that Old-Campus Ave was absolutely perfect are wrong. It could often be a very welcoming place, but it also manifested a very judgmental spirit. I was immediately conscious of this, and I immediately tried my very best to begin working against it. And, like most things for me, the first few attempts were utter failures, lol. The Kodiak, Benjamin, can attest to how frustrated I was becoming. This frustration peaked during the one and only Ave Maria Love Week.

Now, if you think Ave Maria is a gossipy place today, you would be struck by how incredibly nosy everyone was at the old campus. I'm talkin binocular-level nosy. Love Week, however, avoided addressing this issue at all. It encouraged a higher and deeper level of romance that, simply put, furthered the aura of nosiness because it made every interaction between a man and a woman into a romantic interaction.

Which is bullshit.

Now, there happened to be an open-mic night smack-dab in the middle of Love Week which the entire school attended (one of the truly great things about the old campus was that everyone did everything). And at this point I was so pissed that I wrote a rap-poem that I intended to deliver at said open-mic night. After finishing it, I showed it to Benjamin, who immediately became a whole friggin' cheerleader squad for me (I think he offered to beatbox, too?!). However, I made the mistake of showing it to a senior who discouraged me from presenting it, and who said that I could get kicked out for being this aggressive.

Which was bullshit.

Unfortunately, I bought it and did not present it. Looking back, I wish I had, but who knows: the path I took gave me some regrets but I am sure that there would have been other regrets had I chosen this one.

Anyway, I was looking back through my folders and found this and decided it was finally time for it to be shown to all. It serves as a reminder to me that I need to be all that I was and all that I am meant to be. I hope that it serves to remind you of those same things. And I hope you get a laugh imaging me delivering this in my loudest, angriest, meanest Monty tones. And don't take it too seriously...I was a freshman. 'Nuff said. Enjoy!




Welcome to Love Week

By D. Ledoux Montgomery


Welcome to Love Week!
Warning: Don’t turn around
And look at that guy or girl
That you’ve been thinking about;
Someone will notice,
And someone will talk –
And heaven forbid you ever go for a walk
With a member of the opposite sex
Without wanting or looking for a step to take next –
Friendship? What’s that? Between a guy and a girl?
Who ever heard such a thing? Who do you think that you are?
Courting and dating’s what we’re all about,
And if you want friendship, pack up and get out!
And while those people are leaving, why don’t the rest
Of those people who don’t know quite how to dress
And button up their shirts all the way
Take the walk out with them: there’s a lot of highway,
And it’s our way or the highway, of that there’s no doubt,
And just in case you haven’t figured it out,
This school is the epitome of what Jesus was talking about
When he used the example of a pin and a camel –
Be different and accepted? Never! We won’t dabble
In anything other than how we’ve been raised –
Sheltered is good! Let’s stand up in praise!
And this isn’t a bash on the homeschool community,
I’m just raving and ranting ‘bout the exclusivity
This school is fostering – one faith, one path,
one girl you can talk to, one way you can act,
and there’s only one way to make it through life –
What a joke! It’s funny how people can’t think
About how living this way is making everyone sink
Into judgmentalism, and a sense of superiority,
Which makes us all gossip – doesn’t anyone see?
We are so caught up in who’s looking at us
And what they think, and what happened on the bus ride,
And what did she say? What did he do? He meant it that way?
And we all have our groups, and it’s allllll good…
Except none of it’s Christian, and none of it’s right,
And maybe I’m just looking for a fight,
And maybe Monty’s just got some screws loose,
But I’ve taken a stand cause you have to choose
Between conforming to standards and rising above
Or maybe just being different, and just straight up love,
Without definition, without judgment or thought
Of how you would like them to be. Love is not
Just family and close friends, it’s dying to self,
And understanding others and accepting ourselves.
Being comfortable is overrated, and stretching is good –
Maybe it’s time that we all should
Turn around, and look at a stranger,
And wave, and say hi, and forget the danger
Of smiling at someone because of what they might say,
They will always say something, there won’t be a day
Where you go through life and everyone likes you,
Nor will there be a day where you like everyone, too.
We have to learn how to live in a world of diversity:
Class and belief and religion and ethnicity –
There are billions of people, and three hundred of you,
Are you gonna stay in your bubble? Is that what you’ll do?
Well, keep on keeping on, but please let me through.
There’s a big world out there. And now, in lieu
Of applause, I’ll just accept the stern faces and slack jaws
Because I stood up here and said what I felt,
And sometimes you have to say things, and they just can’t be helped.
Just remember, this week, as you talk about love,
And all the cliques click, maybe you could rise above,
Sit next to someone different in class,
And not with your friends, but an acquaintance at mass,
And ask for their phone number, and actually care,
That someone exists you didn’t really know was there.
Relax, and just chill, and know that God’s here,
And don’t worry about what people think, no fear!
No fear should be the motto of this whole school,
And Christians everywhere, and that means you
And your protestant brothers: I’m not going to get into that now
But next time you laugh at them, don’t think about
How they don’t like the pope and how they have made mistakes,
Be thankful, and grateful, and look into their face,
And realize that they are trying to follow Christ, too.
So I’m wrapping this up. I’m finished with you.
Here come the others: the pianos and sweet tunes
Will help you forget anything I’ve said, I’m just a raving lune.
Good night, adieu, adios, god bless,
And just let me know if you want to hear the rest.


______________________________________________

15 comments:

  1. so first of all, my overall impression is positive- i think this is sort of a limited ode to pluralism in human society, and of acceptance of others.

    that being said, there are a couple of problems that i have with the post and the poem. both are rooted in the fact that, even though the overall message is one of inclusiveness, it also includes exclusionary undertones.

    I think the single biggest problem with "love week" as you described it isn't that it sounds basically like a way to reinforce normative romantic standards, and seems to be very clearly limited to straight, traditional couples. This is problematic in that it represents the church's positions on sexuality, which, no matter what one's religious adherences, are outdated, offensive, and bigoted. There is no other way to describe them. And that a school would be imposing these standards on an entire student body, when although a religious university there are sure to be a significant number of people harboring queer identities, and at a time when identity formation is such an important part in ones's life, is unacceptable. I'm not talking about gay marriage, but gay existence.

    The second problem i have is with the limitation to christianity. there is an effort made to reach out to protestants, but what about everyone else? surely one doesn't need to believe in god to aspire to the goals set forth by Jesus. There are a great number of people of all faiths, and those of none at all, who strive to achieve love for neighbors, and even universal love. This, to my mind, is the message of Jesus and the new testament. The rest of the bible is valuable only for it's role in history and literature; the messages are conflicting and sometimes strange, and the modern interpretations of stories like abraham's willingness to sacrifice is son are at best contrived. at their best they enable communities to preserve a sense of community and identity through tradition. at their worst they result in untold numbers of "christians" engaging in bigotry and ignorance, disregarding the message of acceptance and love, and generally ceding their ability to make moral judgments to a bunch of rules written down thousands of years ago by god knows who, and without the benefit of any real context or scholarship.

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  2. Monty...if you had read this at the open mic night, no one would have forgotten it for as long as they lived.
    And I would have KILLED to see the "stern faces and slack jaws!"

    You definitely made excellent points that the Ave community does not hear enough.

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  3. i dig, i dig.

    i do second cosmo though. this message only goes halfway. free your mind and the rest will follow.

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  4. Ha ha ha!! Omg! So much truth, and so MONTY! ;-)

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  5. Monty, this is fabulous. I think you were one of the only Freshmen to realize this at such an early stage. That's why I was in Austria...;)

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  7. Cosmo, what's wrong with bigotry? Modern Christianity's real problem is that it is not that it is not tolerant enough, but that it is TOO tolerant. Nitzchi calles it "the slave morality" for a reason. Equality and tolerance is mearly a wet dream. If gays take issue with the way society runs things, stop whining to "society" and simply take power. Until then, gays and Catholics alike can shut the hell up.

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  8. Cosmo et al:

    I think you took some secondary elements of the work and made them primary. This was not an ode to pluralism. It was an ode to true and vibrant Christianity - the kind of Christianity which holds its truths high without holding others low. That is a fine balance but that is precisely what Christ himself achieved and what Christians must aim for. Christ loved all but was obviously willing to confront and even attack those who held themselves against him or what he stood for - like the stalls at the temple, some things must be overturned.

    Thus, there will of course be exclusive undertones within. My point is not to claim that every person must be "straight up accepted" but that they must be "straight up loved." Those are two different claims.

    I agree that people will always find the Church's stance on sexuality offensive. And that's too bad, but it's not going to change. The Church has been wrong on some things which we can easily recall to mind - the Crusades, probably; the failure to report pedophile Priests, definately. But the Church's stance on marriage and sexuality is not one of those things the Church has been wrong about. The fact that many people hold the Church's positions to be sexualist is not surprising but not bothersome either. Especially in a world so rife with nihilists (like our dear friend Garrett) and relativists who hold that there is no truth or that truth cannot be determined, it will of course be offensive. But that really isn't the main problem that I'm presenting here. The main problem with Love Week was not that it reinforced normative romantic standards, but that it enforced standards by which EVERY ACT between a guy and a girl was to be evaluated on the basis of romance. It was, in essence, an attack on opposite-sex friendships. The result, as I tried to point out, was that everyone talked about everyone else's business...even when there was no business going on.

    As to reaching out to others, my main point in mentioning Protestants was to counteract the Catholic attitude of, as I said above, "holding them low." Of course others can and do, as you say, aim to achieve love of neighbors in the style of Christ (and I have met many who are much better at it than me and most other Christians I know). However, I wasn't speaking to them or of them as they are not required to be loving in this manner - whereas Christians are required by the very definition of who they profess to be. That's why I focus on them - it's the hypocrisy that was getting at me so bad.

    If we're going to be Christian, then let's actually be Christian!

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  9. As an addendum, there clearly are pluralistic tendencies within the work. However, these pluralisms that I was speaking of remain within the truth laid out by Christ. There is more than one way to pray to God, but praying is good. I am open to almost any way you want to pray; I am not open to not praying. That is how the pluralism within the work should be understood. The people who say that reciting the "Bless us Oh Lord" prayer before meals is the ONLY way to begin meals are wrong. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't pray before meals.

    Hopefully those examples helped.

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  10. Monty, I appreciate the shout out, but as evidenced by my repeated posts on your blog, I'm a sorry excuse for a nihilist. I do take issue to the fact that you see the world as "rife" with relativism like its a plague or something. Isn't it more noble, more human even to question who we are and where we're going than to force your behavior and thoughts into a set of artificial binaries? Next time you're in an elevator, face the back of the car instead of looking up and the numbers w/ everybody else. You'll find that people are never more offended than when someone doesn't fall in to their proper place. Nobody asks why we do it, nobody seems to care either. Essentialism keeps that ball rolling along 'just because'. There can never be love under a regime that "says love. or else."

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  11. That's a really good idea. LET US ALL FACE NEW AND OPPOSITE WAYS IN THE ELEVATOR!
    Questioning who we are and where we are going is the best thing anyone can do. It's a cop-out to say "Everyone is right!" That's not questioning. That's just lazyness. There is one truth, even if that one truth is that there is no truth. However, "all is truth" can carry no water whatsoever, nor can it be respected by any real "questioner" of our society.

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  12. It's true, Garrett, you are a sorry excuse for a nihilist. But since that is your proclaimed ideal I will forgive you your failings and assume you are trying your best.

    OF COURSE it's more noble to find our who we are and where we're going than to fall in line...but that's not what relativisists do, fool!!! They say, in essence, "Screw that, no one can figure out ANYTHING!" Which (to continue the original language) is bullshit. Somehow you have decided that no one who has asked themselves these most important questions could end up...facing the front of the elevator by choice!

    And yes, I see relativism as a plague. It's much more annoying than nihilism. Relativism is almost never as entertaining as nihilism is.

    Finally, the reality of what happens in hell is heatedly debated amongst Catholics, but one thing that has been held standard for a very long time (and which was popularized by Dante) was that failure to love will only result in you living out eternity exactly as you live it now. Which is not so much of a "Love, or else" as it is a "Choose your destiny wisely."

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  13. Daniel, this is hands-down my favorite post so far. Glad that you found your poem and that it finally made its world debut!

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  14. Nice Monty. And I agree. Nihilism is far more entertaining then Relativism. That is the best thing I think you have ever written. Please expand that into an entire entry. Feel free to reference Hitchhiker's guide to the galexy and nitche for support.

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