Friday, July 02, 2010

Hanna-Barbera Theology

I’d like to share a serendipitous slip of the tongue vouchsafed unto me via the testimony of a five-year-old concerning an image many might recognize, a definitive image within the Hanna-Barbera tradition. Having spied a certain pattern from tale to tale, the child described the standard operating procedure whereby the figures of Scooby and Shaggy would respond to duress (a man in a monster costume, for instance) by leaping into one another’s arms and quivering together. They hold each other, we might say, but the child put it better: “They hold their ‘chothers.” And with the enunciation of this concept, that of the ‘chother, I believe we’re sitting squarely within the glow of a religious insight. Drawing on the Buddhist principle of anatta (no-self), Harold Oliver once proffered the following paradox: “There is no-self, and it is the relational self.” According to this wisdom, the idea that any of us can have meaning alone or be the authors of our own significance or have joy for which we only have ourselves to thank is a death-dealing delusion, a psycho covenant that implies that a strong, successful few of us might somehow gain our lives without losing them. But if we hold to the ‘chother principle, our sustenance comes to us via the fact of relatedness or not at all. I am because we are. Whatever self I can be said to have is the gift of self I receive from my relation to others, the groundless ground (think of the way Shag and Scoob almost levitate) of the ‘chother. When we’re confronted with crisis, when we join together in song, or when we experience (or receive) a vision of soul, the question of where one person starts and another stops begins to dissolve; individualism takes on an unreal and unseemly quality. In such moments, we’re summoned not so much to act as if the road to life, loveliness, salvation and—possibly--sanity can only be entered into where two or more are gathered but rather to proceed in recognition of this sweet, scandalous, embarrassing fact. We have to find, hold on, and let go within the circle of our ‘chothers. It’s the only life available. Within it, we live.

20 comments:

Chris P. said...

he ain't heavy, he's my...'chother?

jdaviddark said...

oh chris p. now that's what i'm talking about. a much better blogpost title than "hanna-barbera theology."
are you...by any chance...chris peltier?

Anonymous said...

Absolutely thought-provoking. Thank you.

melissa said...

chris...palladino...

Anonymous said...

Are you a Buddhist?

Anonymous said...

So are you a Buddhist?

jdaviddark said...

Ah Melissa. Please tell Chris how pleased I am he stopped by. I seriously hope it isn't too long before we're all together again.
Thanks for the question, Anonymous. I wouldn't claim to be so well-versed in (or even discernibly faithful to) the Buddhist witness to claim affiliation. I'm deeply enriched by it though, and I'd probably accept the description (w/ thanks and a few qualifiers) as a compliment. I hope and pray to God that such a description wouldn't be a complete lie.

julielee said...

and by it we lose lonliness! AMEN David....i am so happy you are my 'CHOTHER!

Debs said...

I needed to read that...

mjaneb said...

Me too, Debs. It felt like permission or affirmation of my feeling that I really needed to re-contact precious friends.

Anonymous said...

So in other words you are panentheist?

jdaviddark said...

Dunno, Anonymous. You do have me reading the wikipedia entry and thinking about 1st Corinthians 15.28 though. And thank you Debs and Julie and Mel for enjoying it and saying so.

Jon said...

far out, man

Anonymous said...

Kumbaya, then.

GBug said...

Still love this. I remember a Samantha Crain song from CMC days where the chorus was "We hold ea'chothers..." I think she knew then what we know now.

(Why are antagonistic questions always asked by anonymous people? conversations need eyes.)

Alex said...

loving the new book. the free audio trickled its way through the 'chother, and man am I glad. THANKS.

--Alex (alexwiggins.com, thesugarfire.com)

Scott said...

Your post reminds me of a line of poetry by Mark Strand from his poem Keeping Things Whole, "Wherever I am / I am what is missing". It is only together that we are made whole. Anyhow, I just finished your book Everyday Apocalypse. And although I found it a bit erudite and occasionaly verbose, I enjoyed it very much and plan to read your other work. As a conversation starter, I am wondering if you consider yourself to be part of the Emerging Church movement? Be well and go carefully.

jdaviddark said...

Thank you, party people. And yes, Samantha Crain...As ever, she goes B4 us.
And Scott, I thank you for the M. Strand deliciousness. Emerging church movement? As it is with so many adjectives we apply to movements, I'd need to parse it all out a little. I've been enriched by the thinking of many people who've been associated (or published within) the brand, a happy participant and partaker (3 or 4 times) within a local, monthly gathering whose signal flare involves the word emergent, and...I like Phyllis Tickle. Haven't been to any of the larger conferences but I'm always glad to hear tell of them.
How about yourself?

Scott said...

I have some indirect knowledge of the movement. My wife (who also happens to be named Sarah and is a singer/songwriter like your wife) attended a conference in N.M. last year. I tagged along, and when not out golfing, attended a few sessions. Phyllis Tickle was there, as well as Francis Rohr and others. The highlight of the event for me was celebrating the Eucharist in the tradition of Iona by offering the elements to one another across a table. I had never given as great a gift to a stranger as this. BTW- What is the "j" for in jdaviddark?

jdaviddark said...

That would be James.