Biblical exegetes have a nice little German phrase that sums up the way we are to encounter the texts of the Bible: sitz im leben. Translated literally, the phrase means “sitting in the living.” The original meaning in German more accurately translates into something like: “the way the story is told.” Hence, the texts of the Old Testament are the way in which the story is told by the people of Israel; the sitz im leben of the Old Testament cannot be understood outside of the sitz im leben of the Jewish Tradition, for this is the way that their story is told.
I chose this phrase as the title of my blog because I am captivated by the double meaning that it holds. On the one hand, I am literally “sitting in the living”—we all are—we cannot step outside of our experiences and oftentimes we fail to recognize the importance of the present “living” moment. On the other hand, blogs are the way in which our stories are told. This blog will be nothing more than an authentic quest for the truth as I journey through life in this chaotic world. My intention is to take a step back and reflect on current events, with the hope of discovering meaning in them, no matter how banal or irrelevant the everydayness of life can oftentimes seem.
Admittedly, I did not plan on writing this blog for some time. I decided to reserve the domain name a few days ago, but I did not intend on writing anything for quite a while, at least until I felt that I had something good to say. However, it quickly dawned on me that it would be inauthentic of me to wait for an epiphany of sorts, especially since it would be contrary to the purpose of this blog (Sitting in the Living not Waiting for Some Stroke of Genius). It also occurred to me that it would be very appropriate to write this blog today, for this is the day that the world was supposedly coming to an end.
As I scrolled through my Facebook newsfeed this morning, I was unsure how to feel. At first, I was laughing to myself at the remarks that were being made about still being alive, but as I scrolled further, my emotions shifted drastically. I began to grow more and more disturbed as I realized how obsessed everyone was with this Mayan “prediction” (which actually was not a prediction at all but merely a failure of language, in which the Mayans did not possess the numerical potential to keep counting after today) and saddened by how subjective and pragmatic our culture has become. This was evident by the way everyone was so quick to assume that the world would end when it reached midnight in their particular time zone, or that somehow, their region of the world was spared from the “apocalypse.”
I do find it quite ironic that in a world filled with religious skepticism and sensitivity, millions of people can be so quick to believe the assumptions of an ancient dead religion that they know absolutely nothing about, other than what they have seen on the History Channel—which only televises the truth, of course. I find it intriguing that every few years or so, someone, somewhere, comes up with some sort of scheme on how the world is ending on this or that particular day. Not only do many people jump on these “end of the world” bandwagons, but some even stockpile on canned goods and bottled water with the hopes that they will somehow survive these apocalyptic events. Then, on the other end of the spectrum, there is the YOLO mentality (You Only Live Once, for those who are not familiar with the term) which has the mindset that, if we are going to die anyway, we might as well have as much “fun” as we can right now—detached from any moral reflection, because life is all about “feeling good.” I find it funny that this form of “New Age Epicureanism,” is miles and miles away from the way of life that Epicurus actually envisioned (which included seeking pleasure and avoiding pain, but in much more complicated ways than we understand this today). Perhaps it is time to pump the breaks and ask ourselves how we got to this point? When did our culture become so naïve? How is it that in our world, which is so overly concerned with cultural identity, we have essentially bred a generation of people who have lost any sense of culture?