Room 53: Aggravation, Christ, and Congress [see previous post on the West]
—I saved you for last because you were the only one Thomas saw as a mentor and I think you complete the religious imagery that is there abut would have been more there if Eggers was religious and had a more religious agenda.
—I understand, son.
—You became a sort of father figure for Thomas. You even called him son.
—I call all young men son.
—Whoah. Hold on now.
—What I mean is, you represent reconciliation with the father. Sometimes Thomas almost achieves, or could have achieved.
—Troubled young man. I pity him. I understand the place he was in.
—He shared a lot with you. As a Congressman, and as a veteran, you touched on many of the areas of life that frustrated him. Society and its rules. Young men sent to do great things for a great cause.
—But I’m missing limbs. That makes me crippled. Just like Thomas felt crippled. Like an astronaut unable to reach the stars. The symbolism is obvious.
—Yes, I know, but he didn’t rub it in our faces like he did with the preachiness.
—So you admit, it was a preachy book.
—Yes, but that’s ok.
—Thomas (or Eggers) isn’t wrong. It’s such a major theme of the book, wanting to be part of a bigger plan, having unity with other people and having a sense of purpose. But I don’t know why he thought it was the government’s job to do that. We can only do so much.
—Look at the figures of his life. He didn’t trust fathers to. And he had an astronaut and a Congressman speak to him. But then police and administration hassled him around. It’s not so much about the politics as about the inner struggle. This is why Eggers’ novel is preachy, but not too preachy. And speaking of preachy, why it hints at a spiritual theme.
—Christ on a cracker.
—See, I know you’re taking the Lord’s name in vain. But it’s also a reference to communion. You and Thomas shared a kind of communion together. You were the closest thing to a spiritual adviser he had, as well as a father. You were willing to save him from harm, like God. You gave a “sacrifice” in Viet Nam. With you he almost found epiphany and atonement in a true, spiritual sense.
—I’m just an old man a disturbed young man sought answers from.
—Of course. You only represent God. You aren’t him.
—The boy had apocalyptic visions.
—He considered himself a prophet.
—He was “prepared for a life that does not exist.”
—He even said, and I quote, “I’m fairly sure I’m being shielded by some divine force,” and that “”a confluence of forces brought me to many truths and a semblance of progress and completion.”
—The boy was looking for answers.
—He was looking for a purpose. His mother said he was drawn to Christ because he was aggravated by existence and his mother’s role in it.
—I am so sorry to hear that.
—He had a martyr complex. And that explains everything in a very total way. Not to be simple about it. But he wanted to be drawn to something great, and suffering unjustly is a great purpose. It gives you a justice to be righted, it makes you feel important, and it makes you feel like you have the right to call out and have someone answer.
—That does make sense. He did tell me that what was worse than being a martyr was being silence and having nothing to say.
—Like his friend Don. And that’s what angered him. His friend was a martyr without a voice. He had no message, and his murder was a cover-up.
—What was it he said before he died?
—He quoted Zecharia: “Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever?”
—Right, the title of the novel I’m a character in.
—It’s the message, from the prophet. When our fathers are missing, and our prophet’s accomplishments fail, we become potential martyrs without a cause to sacrifice ourselves for.
—So the answer is Christianity? I can respect that.
—Does it sound too preachy?
—Not any more than Eggers’ book.
—Sometimes we need preachy.
—That we do.