One of the things I didn't realize about my apartment until very recently is that it doesn't have heat. Well, it doesn't have heat per se. What it has is a gas fireplace, pictured here. It requires me to get on the floor, brandishing both a lighter and a large screwdriver which, when applied jointly and in the proper order, creates a satisfying POOF of bluish flame.
Luckily my place is very small and California, even in winter, is very warm, but I have a new appreciation for all the tricks of the heat trade: hot showers, hot beverages...and I'm doing more baking than is technically healthy. And once again I appreciate how much I take for granted---heat, water, light--that I assume should be instantly available to me.
I'm embarrassed to report how long it took me to realize there WAS no heat in my place. That's how warm it is here. There's a thermostat on the wall and I would fiddle with it and think, "My goodness, I'm cold!" but think that my natural cold-bloodedness was keeping me from appreciating the 68 degrees I was sure filled the house. After all, it was colder outside. Truly, it took me a day or so to actually believe rather than suspect that the thermostat made no difference whatsoever. Which says something, I think, about the triumph of belief over experience. Or about how slow I am.
I am coming to believe that one of the themes of the Bible is telling the truth--what's really happening, not what ought to be happening in theory. A while back, I heard an interview with Karen Armstrong (author of A History of God, among other things), who talked about her time in a convent. In the interview, she describes her convent experience as a kind of brain damage, deflecting her brain, as she says, “From its healthy bias of seeing things as they are.” That's what I'm trying to say about the Bible, is that there's a constant struggle within the Bible between the voices of people who see things as they think they ought to be and the voices of people who are trying to see things as they are. It seems to me that's a lot of what the prophets were about, with their denouncing of those who say Peace! Peace! where there is no peace. And I think that's what Jesus is about, too, with his denunciation of those who keep the law but don't understand it.
One of the reasons I changed my mind about homosexuality is that I moved from a theory-based understanding to an experiential one -- what I hope is that healthy bias of seeing things as they are. I started meeting openly gay people in college. The people I met, many of whom became my friends, weren't strange, twisted, angry or evil. They weren't willful or perverse. They did not fit the theoretical mold. I suppose I could have spent a lot of energy continuing to believe something that didn't match my experience, or worked to make my experience conform to my expectations, but I have to say, it's a lot warmer just to admit that thermostat don't work and get the heat some other way.