In Praise of Permanence
“Why make something disposable, like a building, when you can make something that lasts forever, like a greeting card?”In 2009’s (500) Days of Summer (a delightful, and unconventional romantic comedy that reveals from the outset that it is not a love story) the main character, Tom, makes light of his failure to put his architectural training into practice as he spends his days writing banal greeting cards for fabricated holidays and events of little consequence. While Tom uses this self-deprecating line to deflect attention from another embarrassing moment in the movie, he inversely commends the permanent, the physical and the tangible. The disposability of a greeting card is almost a lost reference on those of us (I’m guilty) who have taken to Facebook to wish people a happy birthday with an emoji, meme, or prefabricated electronic message.
I was recently speaking with a friend and referencing a story I had read in our local newspaper, and had to correct myself from making a pantomime turn of a large folio newssheet to the mimicking of a swipe of my fingers across my iPad. Is anything permanent? Or is everything a giga-something, erasable, modifiable and disposable with a click? Here in cyberland, where we meet many of you through blogs, podcasts, tweets and the dreaded emoji, I can forget that we are all flesh and blood. A hasty click of a “send” or an ill-conceived idea posted on a message board can haunt you. They are electronic and impermanent, but they are so easily posted and shared they can leave lasting marks.
So what does this have to do with the League of Faithful masks? And this website? And our podcast Virtue in the Wasteland. We live in an electronic age, and this type of communication can be a boon for us as we share ideas and keep in contact in ways unheard of decades ago. But what about making things more permanent? As you may have seen, I have recently become the director of LFM and I have been tasked with carrying on in the tremendous shadows of Dr. Uwe Siemon-Netto and Dr. Jeff Mallinson. And, whether or not I am a millennial, or whether they even exist, I might be expected to be the first one to push the gas on the “more virtual!” pedal. So please excuse me while I do an about face. You don’t need more blogs- there are too many already (some very good, some very bad and most of them in neither category). You get enough emails already from things you signed up once upon a time ago (LinkedIn? It’s still around!) The initial idea of the “mask” from the League of Faithful Masks was one wherein we, with flesh and blood, did the work of God as his masks. He doesn’t need to wave a wand and make things magically happen when he has you and me, with our hands and feet and ingenuity to serve and love our neighbor.
As we move forward with both the League of Faithful Masks and Virtue in the Wasteland we are doubling down on our intentions to be as physical and tangible as possible. Jeff and I have books coming- and while you can read them on iPads or listen to them, they can come to you in actual paper and ink. While we do the podcast, we are travelling ever more about the country to speak with you and make personal connections that cannot be made in avatars and .mp4 files. Invite us out to your local gathering or have a BBQ and let us join you. What else can we do that uses “e” formats but can express itself in tangible, permanent things and relationships over meals? This is what LFM is working on in the coming months. And so while I ask you to check out our newly redesigned websites as we roll them out, and to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org work on making the “e” only an introduction to things more tangible and permanent. Keep checking us out on our various platforms and we look forward to meeting you in person, printed word or however else we can manage to encourage each other to works of love and service towards our neighbors.
- Dan van Voorhis