The Pathological Truth Journal

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Archive for the ‘family’ Category

For a few months before I found a permanent job I did a temp job in the marketing office of a retirement community.  The people who worked there were genuinely nice.  The facilities were wonderful.  They treated me as a member of the team even if it was only for a couple of months.  All in all a great experience.  Still, I was glad that it was only temporary.  The community offered comprehensive care (independent living, assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing).  The retiree was guaranteed this care and could not be turned away even if they ran out of money.  However, that meant that the marketing and sales department was constantly running the numbers.  How much money could they make or lose if a prospective resident is accepted.  Would they die before or after they ran out of money?  While I understand that it was that money that paid the salaries for all the staff, paid for the upkeep of (really nice) apartments and paid for all of the great amenities it still felt weird to talk about a person as if he or she was a basic threat assessment equation.

Why am I telling you this?  I recently lost my job.  That is not such an issue since I decided it was time to move anyway.  But when I lost my job I also lost my health insurance.  If you have lived more than 35 years then congratulations!  You probably have a pre-existing condition.  For Pete’s sake, some companies count sinusitis as a pre-existing condition.  I happen to have spondylolisthesis.  I was diagnosed when I was 15 and had two stabilizing surgeries.  Meaning, I’m not going to go to the Olympics anytime soon but I can walk, exercise and do pretty much whatever other people do.  Barring any accidents that would break all of my bones anyway I will be healthy for years to come.  But I still have spondylolisthesis.  It isn’t gone.  So, I put it down with the explanation on the application.  My rate doubled.  Screw me for being honest.

Unfortunately, this happened with my husband and it was fatal.  While he was working and insured through the church he had a heart attack.  He survived and he was actually doing pretty well at the time.  His heart was damaged and eventually he would need something more but the cardiologist was optimistic for at least 5-10 years with proper care he would be fine.  Then, the church voted to close.  We lost the insurance which would have cost us (outside of the group) about $1000/month.  The insurance that we might be able to afford either rejected him outright or inflated prices to a place we couldn’t afford.  Not only that but they wouldn’t even cover anything heart related anyway.  It was pre-existing and the most reasonable of the insurance agencies weren’t going to pay for any heart related issues for at least a year.

His cardiologist and family doctor did the best they could to load him up with the medication he would need.  But two years after not getting proper treatment he died.  My greatest regret is that my husband thought that I was worried that he didn’t make enough money.  What I worried about was making enough to insure him.  What I worried about was losing him.  I wish I would have been more clear about that.

In those two years my husband did work.  He wasn’t a lazy bum sitting around all day.  He had a side job that brought in money.  The pastors in the Phoenix area were also very generous and offered him everything they could to help his exposure.  People loved his intellect and outgoing nature.  He was so close to the point that he would have insurance again.  He didn’t sit around eating cheese fries either.  While he did gain weight after Christmas he was on track to losing it again.

Beyond his work and responsibilities to his own health my husband was generous.  He never made light of the problems the kids at church brought to him.  He never spoke down to anyone.  He was forgiving.  He hugged me every time I was scared no matter how he felt.  He was an excellent and often funny writer.  He paid the taxes on time.  He had a family, friends and people who loved him.  He wanted to care for all of them too.  He wasn’t perfect by any means but he wanted very much to be good.  All of his good qualities, any future benefit to others and the grief at his loss was not sufficient against the money that they would make off a monthly payment.  He would cost too much so it didn’t matter if he died.

I don’t know the answer to this.  I have no clue.  I’m not a financial analyst or a medical expert.  The only thing that I do know is that this isn’t right.

I have been going through my husband’s documents.  He had begun writing a few interesting pieces.  Drama in theology and scripture had always been a topic that had fascinated him.  He had hoped to do more work in that area.   My husband was mildly dyslexic.  I have tried to correct the major errors that I found as this was an unfinished work.  However, I found it interesting and it reminds me of speaking with him and how he tied together his love of the great philosophers and his love of God.


Theological Tropes:
The Structure Of The Spiritual Life

An attempt at a systematic theology by Rev. Gerard T. Sparaco


The origin of this present inquiry began more than twenty-five years ago with my first encounter with Plato.  The reading list for the fall semester of Freshman year at St. John’s College is dominated by the author.  Following Homer’s Illiad and Odyssey in seminar, the first work we read was Meno, followed by Phaedo, Theatetis, The Statesman, and of course The Republic and the Symposium.

Reading these works for the first time were one of the most confusing and frustrating experiences in my life.  There were two issues specifically that intrigued me.

The first was the very form of Plato’s writings.  Instead of laying out his philosophy in tightly argued prose, he chose rather to write in dialogue, as if he were writing a play.  Each interloquer played his particular role, asking questions and answering the questions Socrates posed to them.  These were  real people from the fourth century BC Greece whose identities were well know at the time of writing, but who were largely lost on readers today.

And sometimes, it seemed to me, the topic of the discussion would meander and take various unexpected twists and turns.  (But in general, it was far from what I was expecting philosophy to be.  later in the semester, when we began to read Aristotle, I felt more at home. )

Insight into why Plato chose the dialogue form for his writings was a topic of discussion.  It is meant to replicate the so-called “Socratic Method.”  Through questions and answers leading to even more questions, the reader was firmly placed in the process of enlightenment, to be trained how to think philosophically.  And, a productive way to read the dialogues is not necessarily to “capture” the concepts (to use an image from Theatitis), but to place yourself in the roles of the people in the dialogue other than Socrates.

This ran against what I was doing.  I wanted to try to understand everything Socrates was trying to say and truly understand his philosophy.  But, once I began to imagine myself as Meno asking about whether or not virtue can be taught or Alcibiades speaking about love in the Symposium, it made much more sense.  I was brought back into fourth century Athens and Socrates became more real to me.  It was written in dialogue form, one that mimics drama.

In  the second year of St. John’s we moved away from the Ancient Greeks into more familiar territory.  Much of the fall semester was occupied with copious readings and seminars on the Old and New Testaments with prolonged discussions on the Gospels.

What struck me about the gospels was all of the questioning.  This is most obvious in the Gospel According to John which is a series of questions.  Yes, Jesus preached more than he questioned, but the questions Jesus asked lead to the revelation of his very identity as God.

But much of my early reading of the Gospels, even during my time in seminary many years later, focused upon the words in the gospel as doctrinal propositions.  I focused upon the languages and tried to find the meaning behind the words, and thus understand why doctrines were formulated from such words.

It wasn’t until much later when I saw the forest for the trees.  I never really questioned why the gospels were written as they were.  The Evangelists, in wanting to proclaim Jesus Christ, didn’t write prose documents detailing their beliefs and decisions and teachings.  Rather, they chose to write about their witness of Christ in the form of a dramatic narrative with dialogue at the heart of the story.

As such, instead of focusing primarily understanding the words of Christ as sedes doctrinae, it became more productive to read Scripture as if I were one of the interloquers.  Instead of imaging myself as Christ, I put myself in the role of Peter, John, James, Judas, etc, and see Christ as they saw him.  In short, by placing myself in the narrative in one of the minor roles, Scripture began to open much much more to me.

Much reading the dialogues of Plato by placing yourself in the role of the audience, so does reading the Gospel as one of the initial disciples of Christ reveal a much more clear understanding of who Jesus and what he has done for us.

This revelation should initially teach us that the spiritual life, the one where we follow the Lord, is basically dramatic in form with Christ as the substance.  In popular theology there existed mystery plays and others that would deal with the lives of the saints to edify popular piety, but Christian theology never really paid much attention to the dramatic narrative nature of revelation.

Early Lutheranism practiced an early form of narrative theology.   This can be seen chiefly in Martin Luther’s appreciation for music an hymnody and the seventeenth century theologian Johann Gerhard, who wrote his Examination on The Suffering And Death Of The Lord as a five act play.

It wasn’t until the twentieth century when narrative theology began to be formulated.  The earliest articulation of this hermeneutic arose out of the historical-critical method of biblical interpretation including Davis Strauss and Rudolf Bultmann.  They viewed the bible as literature and appreciated the literary form and style.

But their agenda of “demythologizing” scripture actually served in detracting in any real attempt at narrative criticisms.  Instead of inquiring into the literary merits and themes of Scripture, their work served only to speculate about the motives of the authors.

Narrative criticims as a viable hermeneutic was formulated by George Arthur Lindbeck

Advancing further, theologians began to look at the totality of the written works, and to notice similar patterns and themes in scripture.  Ultimately, an full-blown theological aesthetic was formulated by the Catholic theologian Hans Urs Von Balthasar.

Ultimately, an full-blown theological aesthetic was formulated by the Catholic theologian Hans Urs Von Balthasar.

(There is a break in the pages.)

What also struck me as strange was the constant discussion of “love” and “beauty.”  My prejudice as a seventeen year old wanting to read philosophy was that it dealt with big concepts such as “truth,” “God” and “being.”  It seemed to me at the time all this talk about “love” and “beauty” were a regression into junior high school discussions of crushes and the like.  But I learned that the heart of the Platonic dialogues is that “beauty” is a quality of being that reaches into you, changes you though love, and makes you a better person.

(There is a break in the pages.)

The importance of narrative criticism as a valid method for Scriptural hermeneutics.  Bathasar’s theo-drama.

His basis in Catholic theology lends a heavy emphasis upon a particular ontological foundation.  But the issue for Lutheranism is our basis upon a forensic theology.  Martin Luther’s Babylonian captivity of the church.