On learning to not give a rat’s ass

It’s been strange and shaky week. I’ve gone from not sleeping to sleeping in. The weather has been moody to suit. Never had this much trouble coming off a holiday. Wanting to care, but not. Caring too much, wanting not to care. And so it’s come to this rumination:

I suppose if there was one item not worthy of either retention or divestment, it would be a rat’s ass. It’s just one of those things most of us can get through the day without giving or having.

The complicating issue is that in order not to give a rat’s ass, one must first be in possession of a rat’s ass. Of course most of us deal with this as follows: I could give a rat’s ass, but I don’t; but if I did, I would, if I had to, go and find a rat, remove ass, and not give it.

Zap your rats humanely
rat zapper

Procuring rats’ asses so as to then be in a position of either giving or keeping a rat’s ass is a messy and rabies-ridden business. Better to stay clear of the whole Rat’s Ass business.

But as I outlined earlier I think we can handle the whole not-giving-rats’-asses in the abstract. With the exception of exterminators, this works for most of us.

So here’s my admission: Over the years I’ve given countless rat’s asses. I’ve found that the spiritual discipline of not giving a rat’s ass–or if you prefer, "So do not worry about tomorrow…, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own."–is the hardest to cultivate and the easiest to give up on. I find myself not giving a rat’s ass about not giving a rat’s ass. And that double negative brings a big weighty positive.

I need help and I admit it. First step.

I remember a church baptismal service, where, during the prerequisite testimonial, one candidate, after a few preliminary remarks he was trying to read off of a sheet of paper, remarks he had obviously been coached in, simply threw up his hands and said, "The reason I’m here is because God has me by the short and curly’s!" The pastor blanched and the audience cleared their throats. Besides being a great testimony, it was a wonderful moment of not giving a rat’s ass.

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  1. I suggest a new GrowMercy awards program. In the “Rat’s Ass” category I nominate: Britney Spears (for obvious reasons) and Newt Gingrich, who recently appeared on the James Dobson program., where he confessed to adulterous affairs committed while he was speaker of the house and in overdrive slamming Bill Clinton.

    In the more elite “Gnat Strainer” category, I nominate Albert Mohler, quite ready to step in with nanotechnology to rid the world of gays.

    A question: Jesus said “love your neighbour as yourself”. He also said commitment to him may cause you to hate even your own family. This comes into quite sharp contrast when one of your family members isn’t walking with the Lord.

    How should this be handled? Or should I give a gnat’s ass?

  2. All your witty talk of rat’s and gnat’s asses doesn’t sound very Christian to me….but then, one of the most devout Christians I know once told me she didn’t give a rat’s ass about my opinion on something near to her heart, so maybe I should reconsider what Christian-sounding sounds like? (I know, I know, bitterness doesn’t look very Christian either).

    Seriously though, despite my trouble believing God has anyone “by the short and curlys” (she wouldn’t do that), I do admire the sentiment of being hooked on something, and the disregard of convention and establishment. I aim for kind of courage, and I think courage and disregard for the establishment are two things that really are in keeping with what Jesus taught.

    As to Albert Mohler, I think Jeff should take him on—I had a frank e-conversation with John Stackhouse of Regent College last weekend on the topic, and though he was infinitely more progressive and respectful and caring than others so far, it tired me right out.

  3. Hey Dad,

    Just wanted to say that I love you and I admire your dedication. Thanks for going to work even when it sucks. And thanks for sharing your sense of humor with us even in the depressing times.

    By the way, I could probably procure a rat’s ass for you, should you so desire. We’ve got boxes and boxes of dead animal parts in my zoology lab (seriously). I thought I should let you know because, now that you have the means to obtain a rat’s ass, you can decisively not give a rat’s ass about giving/not giving a rat’s ass, which puts you miles ahead of a lot of people still caught up in the rat race.

  4. All this discussion about giving, and I find myself wondering “Who is benefitting from all this philanthropy?” Just coming off a vacation, I suppose I should examine the author’s material more carefully. Also, I do have one new, still in the box, Rat Zapper available for you if you get a yearning to replenish your stock of you know what. Note: it didn’t work on the locals.

  5. The worth and value of a rats ass has been a hotly contested subject in philisophical, socieological, theological and biological circles for time unknown. I for one am glad to see the subject finally tackled with a measure of diligence.

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