What do Margaret Atwood, Bono, and myself have in common? Namely, the “dog latin” phrase that serves as the title of this blog: “Nolite te bastardes carborundorum,” which can be translated as “Don’t let the bastards grind you down.” In Atwood’s dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale, the title character, Offred, finds it inscribed on the inside of her wardrobe. Wikipedia currently describes the book this way:
The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian novel by Canadian author Margaret Atwood, first published by McClelland and Stewart in 1985. The novel explores themes of women in subjugation, and the various means by which they gain agency, against the backdrop of a totalitarian evangelical-Christian theocracy which has overthrown the United States government in the near future. Sumptuary laws (dress codes) play a key role in imposing social control within the new society.
Bono, on the other hand, uses the phrase in the U2 song Acrobat, the lyrics of which are:
One interpretation of the song’s meaning can be found here, though looking at Bono’s use of the phrase in tandem with Atwood’s and the larger themes of her book and much of U2’s music, one could, I believe, rightly see Acrobat not only as a lament against marital hypocrisy but also against politico-religious hypocrisy.
I, at least, see it that way, which brings me to me. I suppose I often feel pretty ground down, and have much ire towards the politico-religious powers that be. Like Bono, “I’d join the movement if there was one I could believe in. Yeah, I’d break bread and wine If there was a church I could receive in.” Likewise, “I have spoke with the tongue of angels” but fear I am but a clanging cymbal, and though “I believe in the Kingdom come, when all the colors will bleed into one,” I know that in many ways I am “still running.” Furthermore, I can echo Bono’s affirmation: “You broke the bonds and you loosed the chains, carried the cross of my shame- oh my shame, you know I believe it.” I do believe it, but “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.” God’s kingdom has not come fully in me or in the world I live in every day. This blog, then, chronicles my journey- in spite/because of all of that- as I yet struggle to follow Jesus, dreaming with him his dream for the world and working to bring it about, however poorly I may do so.