Commonplace Thoughts of a Residual Welshman: Kool-Aid and Other Beverages

I don’t know about you but sometimes, when I engage someone in conversation, it seems that he or she has really drunk deeply of the Kool-Aid of this world. I say this meaning that the person would seem to have bought into whatever the most current trend is, or rather trends are, as there are always more than one trend trending at once, many of them closely bound, by certain sets of presuppositions, to others. To take but one example, marriage has become so flexible that it seems that it no longer has any real meaning. Some people say it’s archaic and unnecessary, others that it can be between a man and an animal, others that it can be monogamous in the most thoroughgoing sense: a person can even marry himself (in which case I fancy even no-fault divorce is impossible).

To get to such a point in one’s thinking one must have imbibed a deep draught of this world’s Kool-Aid, specifically that flavor that assumes meaning is entirely assigned, not inherent. I have a friend who has decided simply to go through the process of having a baby with his long-term girlfriend now and worry later about whether or not to marry. The unstated reasoning is, I think, that we live in a modern world nowadays where standards have been relaxed and the order in which we do things is not really that important. To view things otherwise is old fashioned and outmoded, and probably even sexist or racist or culturalappropriationist, or imperialist or some kind of -ist. (Little do people know that the suffix -ist means “believing in”; thus a feminist believes in women, a racist believes in race [qua superior distinction], a papist believes in the Pope, a spiritualist in spiritual things, and a sexist—well, you figure that one out).

The reason I am pondering thus is in part because I have just returned from visiting another friend, one very dear to me and whom I have known for quite a long time. He recently hosted a conference on old fashioned things: education and philosophy during the Reformation. I attended a bit of that conference and witnessed something distinctly different from the world that my other friend walks in. The first friend is modern, accepting some form of the relativism of this world, and quite easily, I think, adapting that relativism to his lifestyle. That isn’t all that lofty of an accomplishment, as there are few things less flexible than relativism. Kool-Aid is sweet, it tastes good, yet it has no nutritional value, and with the wrong hidden elixir, can produce dire, to say the least, results. I say nothing at this point of wild Georgetown Prep parties and the allegedly spiked drinks allegedly offered to alleged party-going young women: I would allege that you can judge for yourself.

Blood, by contrast, tastes pretty awful. My other friend, the one who held the learned and quite wonderful conference, does not drink of this world’s Kool-Aid. Rather, he drinks blood in the form of wine. That drink is not at all of this world, but of the one to come. He calls it the Cup of Salvation, and with it he eats the Bread of Heaven. There is no moral relativism for him, just justification won on a nasty instrument of death with the most unlikeliest of victories, one in which the Victor dies. He thinks of that every time he takes that wine chalice that carries the blood to his lips. The effects of that cup do not erode values, but rather engender, refine and reinforce them.

From my unique perch as a writer, and therefore an incessant, if sometimes reluctant observer of the world around me, it is very interesting, poignant, touching, and even dolorous to watch the effects of the distinctly different draughts of my two friends upon each of them, one ennobling, even sacred; the other, well, normal by worldly standards, and thus vulgar or profane, in the truest sense of those adjectives. I hope that the Kool-Aid and its contents don’t leave too lasting an effect on the latter. I know that my other friend’s sanguine and salutary drink will leave a lasting effect, permanent in fact. And I hope to share that cup with him many years from now, on the far side of the Jordan.

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