10 September 2009

Why Be Normal?


To pose the famous question, made so by bumper stickers and refrigerator magnets:

Why be normal?

What is "normal," anyway?

Ah... actually, a good question. As someone who is consciously raising counter-cultural children, (at least in the ways that matter, I hope) I have asked that question myself, especially regarding the little ones in my care. Several years ago, before her public, predictable and tragic self-destruction, Brittany Spears was the idol of all young girls and teens, or so I was told. When confronted with the surprising news that my daughter didn't even know who she was, my step-brother casually mentioned that I should prepare myself for she would obviously and definitely be crazy about Brittany Spears very soon. I internally smiled. No, she wouldn't. And she didn't. And what a wonderful thing that was.

But, didn't that make her abnormal? Odd? Maybe... weird?

I sure hope so. And here's one reason why, so eruditely explained by Mark T. Mitchell in Touchstone magazine:

...for when one considers the concept of "odd," one should ask, "compared to what?" This moves us in a helpful direction, for if "normal" is merely what everyone else does, then what is normal changes with the times. What is odd in one time might not be odd in another. On the other hand, if "normal" refers to a proper way of being human, and if human nature is unchanging, then what is odd, in the sense of being opposed to the majority, may in fact be normal.

There is always the question of how to live in the world, but not be of it. And how "relevant" we disciples of Jesus are to live and be in order to have entrée into the lives of unbelievers. And so forth. Delving into that facet of this issue deserves the space for its own post. But, suffice it to say for now, if Christians need to be more worldly in order to appear more relevant to those who live for this world alone (a presupposition I do not readily accept), how much more does this world actually need people who are not so, not normal as they misdefine it? Plenty.

Back to Mr. Mitchell's words:

...a normal child is one whose moral imagination is well formed, whose soul is oriented toward a love of logos [language, reason, a moral imagination] and the Logos [Christ], and who knows and loves the best of his own civilization. Such a child will, perhaps unwittingly, become a steward of the good, the true, and the beautiful. In a world where normal is considered odd, such children are desperately needed.

We need children who will be the salt of the next generation. And of this one. Others may mock or despise their weirdness or simply shake their heads in disbelief at their peculiar ways. But they do so in ignorance, unaware that they benefit from the common grace distributed to them in part through these strange vessels. For it is the truly normal people who preserve what is lovely, wondrous and wise. They give taste, even bite, to a world that is becoming increasingly virtual, unreal and flavorless. They are the color in a gray culture that has morally stooped lower still. They are the breath of fresh air in a self-imploding and decaying community. They are light in the darkness.

But only if they are different. Only if they are actually... normal.

Like that old song...

What the world needs now
Is love, sweet love
It's the only thing
That there's just too little of...

And it also needs
more weird, normal people.

The bumper sticker image at the beginning of this post is from Cafe Press.


1 comment:

deb said...

It is so complicated... and I appreciate your wise take on this. Finding the balance, walking the line.. when in the mainstream perhaps leaves us more on the wrong side of it . Yet this is the path of our family. I am assured sometimes as I see my children getting older that things are okay... but I wonder still.
Blessings to you for your lifestyle decisions, and the dignity and grace in opinion of others. We cannot determine how God "uses" us , or when, or if, but knowing His love, and striving to see and share some Light... that is a prayer for everyone