Rain has taken over my life. I feel like we should be talking about this more. The wetness.
Because I don’t have a car I spend lot of time in the rain, or in slick-floored, steamed-up buses. Because my school’s main block is closed I spend a lot of time walking around between prefabs and classrooms up and down steep staircases. In the rain. I spend too much time with damp feet, and steamed up glasses, in rooms filled with thirty slightly damp jerseys. My enduring memory of the royal tour will be that it rained. Every day. Of mushed up paper union jacks flowing down gutters outside Government House, and two students telling the office ladies at school about handing a sodden soft toy giraffe to Prince William in Civic Square. Also, actually, of how dumb you must feel as a TV journo sometimes standing in a muddy patch of garden for a twenty minutes waiting for the live cross in flawless makeup and a nice suit jacket while the rain sluices down so that the camera crew can get a shot of you in front of the Government House gates. Sometimes the fourth estate really isn’t important.
We tried to organise an after school trip to see Noah at the movies but only two students came. It was probably too wet. I didn’t go myself, but the people who did said it was much better than they were expecting. This surprised me because the source material is fairly unpromising. Reading Genesis and Exodus clears up the differences between a Jewish and a Christian mind set. The students in my class are not into the Old Testament god mainly I think because he comes across as a mean, arbitrary and extremely violent jerk, and gentiles (even non-Christians) are used to the idea that all this god stuff is supposed to be about love, and compassion and heaven. The Noah story is a good example of arbitrary extreme violence. Not to mention Cain and Abel. Or Adam and Eve. Pretty much everything in fact.
I showed God Grew Tired of Us to my class over the last two days. It’s about the Sudanese Lost Boys, about a handful of them who are resettled in America from the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya. Kakuma means “nowhere”. 80-90,000 people live in nowhere. The title of the movie comes from something one of the lost boys – John Bul – says about his experiences. It was one thousand miles from Sudan to Kenya via Ethiopia. One thousand miles on foot they walked, and many of them died. Because John Bul was very tall he was put in charge of burying the boys in his group when they died. He was 13. Trying to understand his new life in America, and the dislocation he feels, he remembers that time and says that “it felt like God grew tired of us”.
We’re going down south for the first week of the holidays to see Christchurch, Queenstown and Dunedin. I see that the forecast is for rain. Cathy had the foresight to book nice accommodation so that should stave off cabin fever a little point, but I already sense the potential for a few meltdowns. My last meltdown was because Eleanor wanted the CD in her CD player changed at bedtime. Sometimes I have a meltdown over the fact that Rosamund won’t put on the pair of socks I have picked for her. You know, really big stuff. Of course it’s not the socks or the CD it’s the fatigue, stress, and the hour (too early or too late). I’m much more under control and philosophical than I was as a new dad and teacher, but the beasts of rage are always ready and waiting, and can loose the leash. The worst in us is always only a heartbeat away.
Next term in Understanding Religion we’re doing Christianity and Islam. I have been reading the New Testament and associated stuff. I like Jesus. He’s my kind of radical. It’s a real shame about Christianity. About Christianity and all the god and miracles and healing nonsense. On the other hand, if we accept that this is nonsense but that a man called Jesus, a Jewish teacher, walked the land we call Israel with a powerful message about social justice then he makes a lot more sense as a hero of the people. Given what he said to the priests at the temple in Jerusalem it also makes some kind of sense that he was killed. Not that it was right, but if you understand how power reacts ordering his execution was to be expected. Now we send the riot police and the drones. Unfortunately this appears to be the “dialogue” between Islam and Christianity at the moment; a bloody one whether it is in Sudan or Iraq or Syria.
While I have been walking around in the rain I have been listening to a lot of Rage Against the Machine. I think they are my favourite band. I find this surprising. I think my favourite band should be the Fleet Foxes or something like that, but they’re not. Rage Against the Machine. Funny. I first heard them on a grunge compilation that I think was called The Trip with their song called Killing in the Name Of. The next time I heard them was at Adam’s flat in Mt Vic. It was a flat of commies and Adam played Bombtrack and told me about the time they blockaded the Student Union building at Canterbury Uni and played Take the Power Back. At the time I wondered why you would do such a thing (the blockading not the music), but now I get it. Right now I am listening to Born of Broken Man, and wondering why the rest of the band would want to do something as lame as Audioslave. Zach’s EP One Day As Lions is great, but I’d rather a new Rage album.
Maybe it’s the rain. Let’s blame it on the rain (sorry).
It’s been coming down and coming down for weeks now. It’s unsettling. Maybe it’s reading about Jesus. Maybe it’s the fury of Rage Against the Machine. I’m not sure much of what we tell ourselves in stories about justice, and love and compassion can be reconciled with what actually occurs in the world.
Although, to be fair, it is nice when your three year old daughter comes into your bed in the middle of the night and snuggles down. It’s nice to hear her breathing settle, and listen to rain tumbling down against the corrugated iron roof and gushing down the drains, before it heads to the sea.