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Saturday, April 8, 2017

Lent / Tarot / The Knight of Wands

The knight of wands is a fiery young guy who is looking for something to live for, something to die for, and something to kill for. He's itching for a windmill to tilt at. He is in the demographic most likely to commit a crime, and the demographic that makes the best fighter pilots.

I've mentioned how unwelcome I, as a queen of swords woman – smart and independent – feel in Catholic church. I think knight of wands men feel unwelcome, too. Their bursting energy, urgent questions, and tendency to take up a lot of space in the room rubs the hierarchy the wrong way. Church, lately, is too much about taming and not enough about cultivating.

When I have a knight of wands in class, and his energy is waylaying the trajectory, I invite the guy to invest his energy and his quest in the academic topic. I don't tell him he needs to submit to me or disappear. I tell him that the topic of our class is important and it needs him.

I wish the church did the same. Yes, we want smart women. Yes, we want impetuous, fiery, sexy young men. Yes, we have what you need. Yes, you have what the church needs and we want you to contribute here. Are you in a garage band? Play in church. Too many bar fights? Mentor youth in self-defense. Spend all night as a keyboard warrior, debating atheism with strangers? Start a debate club.

The tamping down of knight of wands energy isn't just a church problem, it's a society-wide problem. Google "What's Wrong with Boys" and "Where Did All the Men Go?" and you'll find a slew of books and op-eds offering conjecture.

One Dr. Leonard Sax says that boys and girls should be taught separately, and boys should be assigned action-based, violent reading assignments. Some adore Sax; others denounce him as a sexist quack.

Which reminds me of that hilariously funny "tandem writing assignment" that's been bounding around the internet for years. I didn't write it, but I wish I did. It's below.

Professor: Today we will experiment with a new form called the tandem story. The process is simple. Each person will pair off with the person sitting to his or her immediate right. One of you will then write the first paragraph of a short story. The partner will read the first paragraph and then add another paragraph to the story. The first person will then add a third paragraph, and so on back and forth. Remember to read what has been written each time in order to keep the story coherent. The story is over when both agree a conclusion has been reached.

Here's what Rebecca and Gary turned in:

Rebecca: At first, Laurie couldn't decide which kind of tea she wanted. The chamomile, which used to be her favorite for lazy evenings at home, now reminded her too much of Carl, who once said, in happier times, that he liked chamomile. But she felt she must now, at all costs, keep her mind off Carl. His possessiveness was suffocating, and if she thought about him too much her asthma started acting up again. So chamomile was out of the question.

Gary: Meanwhile, Advance Sergeant Carl Harris, leader of the attack squadron now in orbit over Skylon 4, had more important things to think about than the neuroses of an air-headed asthmatic bimbo named Laurie with whom he had spent one sweaty night over a year ago. "A.S. Harris to Geostation 17," he said into his transgalactic communicator. "Polar orbit established. No sign of resistance so far . . ." But before he could sign off, a bluish particle beam flashed out of nowhere and blasted a hole through his ship's cargo bay. The jolt from the direct hit sent him flying out of his seat and across the cockpit.

Rebecca: He bumped his head and died almost immediately, but not before he felt one last pang of regret for psychotically brutalizing the one woman who had ever had feelings for him. Soon afterwards, Earth stopped its pointless hostilities towards the peaceful farmers of Skylon 4. "Congress Passes Law Permanently Abolishing War and Space Travel," Laurie read in her newspaper one morning. The news simultaneously excited her and bored her. She stared out the window, dreaming of her youth. . . . "Why must one lose one's innocence to become a woman?" she pondered wistfully.

Gary: Little did she know, but she had less than 10 seconds to live. Thousands of miles above the city, the Anu'udrian mothership launched the first of its lithium fusion missiles. The dim-witted, wimpy peaceniks who pushed the unilateral Aerospace Disarmament Treaty through Congress had left Earth a defenseless target for the hostile alien empires who were determined to destroy the human race.

Within two hours after the passage of the treaty, the Anu'udrian ships were on course for Earth, carrying enough firepower to pulverize the entire planet. With no one to stop them, they swiftly initiated their diabolical plan. The lithium fusion missile entered the atmosphere unimpeded.

The President, in his top-secret mobile submarine headquarters on the ocean floor off the coast of Guam, felt the inconceivably massive explosion which vaporized Laurie and 85 million other Americans. The President slammed his fist on the conference table. "We can't allow this! . . . Let's blow 'em out of the sky!"

Rebecca: This is absurd. I refuse to continue this mockery of literature. My writing partner is a violent, chauvinistic, semi-literate adolescent.

Gary: Yeah? Well, you're a self-centered, tedious neurotic whose attempts at writing are the literary equivalent of Valium.

Rebecca: Male Chauvinist Pig!

Gary: Bitch! 

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