carnival

by Zach Kincaid
The carnival has forgotten its barricade. The telephone poles tilt back to their native forests and gorilla suits hang inside every wardrobe. I guess Flannery O’Connor was right. We are animal without the reach toward divinity grabbing at our soul. Once caught between birth and death, in a tension of belief and unbelief between Christmas and Lent, the carnival is now liberated from any lewd caution and the outlandishly sublime. Subliminal intention is now run-of-course…

The medicine man is expected to deliver moods.
Money travels in the coffers of drug dealers who cram thousands of hospitals with doctor incentives that bend diagnoses to meet and create brand strength.

Marriage no longer dances in the romance of first touches.
The pat thesis “We’re Seeing Whether It Works” rapes morality every time and kisses off what’s unseen by sheer exposure.

Politicians never emerge from under their train-wrecked campaigns.
24-hour so-called news is the immortal beast demanding tons of flesh.

Churches dangle pop mosaics as a disguised bait and switch.

On one hand the broadminded congregation has adapted to a guilt free mode that is not reflective of Jesus’ power. They serve the poor and talk about working hard, but they neither believe Jesus is preparing a place for them (or much in his miracles at all) nor hear any gnashing of teeth associated with judgement. As a result, their compassion is leveled and they educate themselves out of true theology. On the other hand, movie and popcorn churches bring interested people in by the droves with their sweet eye candy and goatee pastors who swim in applause for their three step applications. Both dangle strange fruit not reflective of the fig tree Jesus withered and raised up to be a sign... to be a testimony...

Entertainment has redesigned the couch renaming the family room.
Who are our neighbors next door? That magic window with its big “T” and “V” keeps at bay dysfunction and relationship and invites us to that groovy middle that demands only passive passion (and another CSI no doubt).

Libraries are now media centers.
Consumption has replaced knowledge; it’s far quicker. And these days, who has time to imagine and learn?

Definitions for peace include preventive war.
That Jesus needs his head on a platter like his cousin. Dance Salome. Dance for me here in America. And we’ll spark goodwill with explosives and hide the clamorous woes of others by way of the Atlantic.

On April 12, 2007, Kurt Vonnegut fell onto gravity.
So it goes.

Seung-Hui Cho.
Surprised?

Carnival.
It was coined by the church for that decadent time at the end of Ordinary Days just before Lent beats down its pious feet and points the pilgrim’s way to Jerusalem. Carnival is about manipulation – about putting the mask of life on the face of death. It’s about dipping our feet in the devil’s water never thinking we will drown. Its introduction into church life held it bound to time, but when the calendar is now equalized by mere remnants of sacramental definition, anything can fill it up. There is no boundary (not that bounding in rather than ridding of sin invokes holiness).

If this is the case inside the church, that we’ve created moments to binge on our depravity and bend morality sideways, then why should we be surprised when those with little or no frame of holy reference shift ethics and contexts to meet their own conclusions?

Should our response be Vonnegut’s?
Should our response be similar to the horror related to the Virginia Tech saga?

Maybe we sit in the middle, recognizing the true nature of humanity and hopeful in the life reconciled to its creator, the keeper of daylight and its end.

Perhaps we need contrition and prayer to be resurrected in our stony hearts. We need the prophetic to rouse us away from the sensuality that covers the streets and keeps house in the church malls that we’ve erected. Maybe now all the prophets are commentators or musicians who live too long to make their message desperate, who fear the big fish in the ocean so they live in St Louis or Kazan. Maybe. Or maybe we just like the merry-go-round and don’t care anymore.

(July 2007)