Archive for December 22nd, 2021

Blue Christmas


Deliver me from men who are without doubt. Doubt makes a man decent. My most steadfast conviction is that every man ought to doubt everything he holds dearest. Not all the time, but now and then. Sometime.

— Harry Crews, We Are All of Us Passing Through

I am not exactly sure why I used the passage above this morning. I came across it in an biographical sketch from novelist Harry Crews that ran in the Georgia Review back in 2011.

These words from this passage immediately jumped at me.

Doubt makes a man decent…

When you’re uncertain, you not sure how to behave, not sure what is true or accepted. Most times, you tend to be more cautious as a result. Less on the offensive– more reaching out with the open hands of doubt than lashing out with the closed fist of certainty.¬†

More rational, more thoughtful. 

More decent.

In recent times, it seems like so many people are filled with misguided certainty and, as a result, have lost any shreds of doubt they may have once possessed. And along with it, all decency.

Doubt makes a man decent.

Maybe these words struck me so directly this morning because I see people so filled with and hardened by certainty that I believe they have lost the ability or willingness to simply ask themselves: What if these thoughts and beliefs I hold so dear are wrong? What then?

I think we all need to question ourselves, all those thought and beliefs that make us up, on a regular basis. We need to feel the uncertainty that will make us decent once again.

I don’t know where this came from this morning. I was just going to play the new version of Blue Christmas from Norah Jones that was recently recorded atop the Empire State Building. Thought it was a fine version with great visuals. And the song itself, with the even slower tempo of Jones’ version, felt like a fitting match for our current state of mind. So many people have been lost — to death, to long term illness or the indecency derived from certainty that has split apart many families and friendships during these times.

It certainly feels like a bit of a Blue Christmas for us, collectively, again this year. Fortunately, there is still plenty of decency out there, if we can only set aside our own certainty long enough to recognize it.

I’m trying…

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