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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Puddleglum the Marshwiggle and why this blog?


Puddleglum the Marsh-wiggle (as depicted for C.S Lewis' The Silver Chair)

 Why this blog?


The Marsh-wiggles are pessimistic creatures, always expecting the worse so that they are surprised when things go well. Over the years, I have come to the conclusion that I am, gulp, a pessimist, in spite of not wanting to be one! 

We pessimists like to believe that our way of seeing things, namely that the glass is half-empty, is more accurate, more realistic than that our optimist counterparts. We don't like to be disappointed. We hide behind our "realism" to avoid the negative attribute "pessimist." After all, who really wants to be around a pessimist? Negativity is not "in." The views of a realist, however, might be considered constructive and helpful. We also like to believe that our criticism and judgments are neutral, hence contributing positively to any conversation. In the end, though, our neutral criticism does not seem to be appreciated by others because, try as we may, our pessimism does percolate through our arguments. 
We have a love-hate relationship with optimists. On the one hand, they excite us, motivate us and give us a glimpse of things we cannot imagine. On the other hand, they frustrate us to no end because their upbeat spirit not only seems to us to be out of touch with reality, it rubs our noses in the muck of our own negativity leading us to feel even more critical of ourselves. And who of us wants to be around someone who makes us us feel even worse about our nature?

The thing is, I did not choose to be a pessimist. I do not consider myself to be an unhappy person either. It is just the way I view the world. I'm no philosopher, but I am someone who likes to think about things and sometimes my own thoughts hold me captive and spiral me down. That is why I need to keep moving up and out of my pessimism so I don't get bogged down in the marshes of worry or fear. Puddleglum the Marshwiggle is described by his own kin as a kind of "optimist pessimist." There is a scene in The Silver Chair in which the witch casts a spell on Puddleglum and the children and tries to convince them that their world, Narnia, is but a dream, that the sun is merely a lamp and that Aslan, the great lion is only a cat.  In the end, it was Puddleglum who was able to see through the lies of the witch, and, with his bare feet, stomp out the fire that was causing the spell. In the end, he had the strength of character to doubt his doubts, to rise up over the spell of hopelessness and be true to what he held most dear. Puddleglum may be may be a doubting Thomas figure, a realist who cannot quite get his mind around God's goodness, this love that appears too good to be true. But he has to cling to that goodness, in spite of himself, in order to make sense out of anything.

I want to move in that direction. I don't want to miss out on the joy in life and my Christian world-view holds me in check. It acknowledges evil and the mess of this world as well as holding out hope for change and renewal, including in me. This Eowiggle is a work in progress when it comes to the pursuit of joy. I know it can be found and I will pursue it. This blog is a tool for me (and maybe others too) to reflect on how we view the world, how God views it, and how my views have to change in order to become a real and joyful realist.

This blog will not focus on one single topic, rather, address numerous ones from Eowiggle's experience and perspective. Because of this, it may seem eclectic at times,  but there will be an underlying theme in each post: How does the Gospel and God's renewal cast light on tough issues that cause us doubt? Some of these issues I don't even really want to face and write about, but that is how I will force myself to do what God does. He doesn't look away from the mess of this world. He has redemptive plans for it. Eowiggle welcomes comments and critiques.