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Language Log

Thursday, Jan. 03, 2013 - 5:51 a.m.

Went to the big city and visited with friends; then the in-laws met up with friends they hadn't seen in 35 years and it was all very nice.

Their friends have 3 children. There was a bit of a family tragedy because the oldest, who had been planning to go into the Navy Seals, decided he didn't want to kill people, and became a Greek Orthodox monk instead. He did this without consulting his family. Now he's in Greece, and his mother can't visit him because no women allowed.
They both sounded disappointed and utterly disgusted by his choice. According to MIL, part of it is that his mother is child of Baptist missionaries and feels that to serve God, you should get out and help people, not just lock yourself away from the world and pray. (Wait, I thought prayer was highly effective. No? It's pointless and doesn't actually help anybody?)[removes tongue from cheek]

My first thought was that it sounded like a very peaceful and fulfilling life for someone of the right temperament. And of course linking it up to the introversion issue. The mother also said something at some point about "timid" children, and how to get them involved. So I don't know these people at all, and it's a bit presumptuous, but all I can see is this quiet introvert looking for his place in a world where he's been told he's timid, needs to put himself out there, and who finally wakes up one day and says to hell with it.

And to join a line of work with a long history of academic and intellectual achievement--even if he's just raising the carrots and not writing treatises or illuminating manuscripts-- hardly seems like a waste to me. I guess there's a part of me that can easily imagine making the same choice, in some alternate universe. (You know-- if I were religious).

It's a bit maddening that people think that everyone can and should find God/meaning in the same way.

I understand that they must miss their son terribly, but I feel sad for him, too, that his parents don't understand him better, or at least accept him (or appreciate that they have raised a son who can think and act with great independance, and presumably self-discipline). That kind of decision doesn't come out of nowhere and suggests a lifelong disconnect that perhaps they never even noticed.

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