Thursday, September 29, 2005

they still got it...

Just when you think the Simpsons might have gone slightly downhill…along comes episode GABF09 “The Father, the Son, and the Holy Guest Star”.

father son holy guest star

Homer’s reaction to Bart’s expulsion from Springfield Elementary:

Homer: I can’t believe you got expelled! Well don’t expect to spend all week lying around on the couch like a bum, cause that’s my thing! We’re going to send you to another school! And if you get kicked out of that school, you going straight into the army, where you’ll be sent to America’s latest military quagmire. Where will it be? North Korea? Iran? Anything’s possible with Commander Coo-Coo Bananas in charge!

Homer discovers confession:

Father Sean: But if you do break a rule, you can always find absolution in the sacrament of confession.
Homer: Wait, wait, wait wait wait. No matter what I did, no matter how many people lost their pensions, it’s forgiven like that?
Father Sean: If you truely repent, then, yes.
Homer: Oookay, let’s make some magic here. I wiped a booger on your shirt, I made a dog and a cat kiss, I swiped a bolted-down TV from a Holiday Inn (Cut to Homer in confessional box) I coveted the wife in Jaws 2, I lied to a waiter, I masturbated eight-million times, and I have no plans to stop masturbating in the future. (Darts out confessional door) Wahoo I’m clean! In your face Lord!

Typical Homer:

Father Sean: I understand, but can it wait till after Bingo?
Homer: Bingo, that’s my favorite game. I just can’t remember what to yell out when you win.
Father Sean: Bingo.
Homer: That’s my favorite game. I just can’t remember what to yell out when you win.
Father Sean: How bout you just say “Yaay I won!”
Homer: Bingo!

Marge and Homer on Catholicism:

Marge: All that sitting, and standing, and kneeling. It’s like Simon says, without a winner.

Marge: Catholics can be a peculiar bunch. No birth control, no meat on Friday.
Homer: No meat! What do they eat? Lightbulbs?

Homer: Is it true you priest guys can’t ever… you know?
Father Sean: I’ll admit the vow of celibacy is one of our sterner challenges.
Homer: Celibacy?! I was talking about the meat on Friday thing. Man you guys got more crazy rules than Blockbuster Video.


Thursday, September 22, 2005

doctors and conspiracy theories

I’m healthy. Or so my blood says, anyway. My headaches have stopped since my last post on headaches too. What the? I really don’t know how you can have two weeks of headaches and then none at all, but hey – I must just be special or something. Anyway, I guess that’s good.

It’s really hard to know whether getting a clean bill of health from the doctor is a good thing. I mean, if feel unwell enough to take the trouble to go to the doctor, I want them to make it worth my while. At least tell me I had a 24 hour bout of the plague or something. Just don’t tell me “you’re perfectly fine” when I don’t feel perfectly fine. If I was perfectly fine, I wouldn’t be at the doctor in the first place – I’d be at home. It’s not like the waiting room is a fun place to be. “Ooh excellent – the June 1984 edition of New Idea! I’ve been dying to read this!”

But then, I really am grateful for good health, so…I guess I have to put up with this slightly disappointed feeling every time the doctor says, “You’re fine. Maybe you had a virus or something.” Yeah right, a virus – I reckon they reall don’t exist, they’re just a thing they teach doctors in doctor’s school when they don’t know what you’ve got. “Sheesh, this person’s symptoms are a mystery…must be a virus. I’ll tell them to go home and see how they feel for a few days, then to come back in two weeks so I can give them this news-that’s-not-really-news.”

Okay, I’m done now.

the green, green grass of home

I love grass. Some would say I’m obsessed with grass. Not the ‘spark up a doobie’ type, the regular, lawn type, just in case you’re wondering. There’s something wonderful about a nice patch of lush, springy, green grass that I just can’t get enough of. When we arrived at this place, the backyard was not in particularly wonderful shape – the grass area particularly. In fact, it should more accurately have been called the dirt area, or maybe the concrete area, because the dirt had been compacted so much from heavy wear it was virtually impossible to crack the surface. And so one of my first acts as tenant here was to remedy that situation, and create a nice, thick, lush lawn for Chelsea to play on.

I did it in sections, making sure each section was good and thick before moving onto the next, and just recently, it’s gotten to the point where it’s about as good as it’ll get, given that it’s in a fairly shaded spot and under a tree. And so I am rather proud of my patch of grass, as humble as it may look to anyone else.

Sure, I’ve been called ‘crazy’ for growing patches of grass in pots and discarded meat trays. But those patches have filled in some of the gaps and given me great pleasure in clipping and shaping them into perfect patches of turf.


So it’s taken almost 5 months, but here is my lovely, luscious lawn:

lawn 1

and from the other direction, our whole backyard:

lawn 2

Truly a yard to be proud of. And with summer coming, it’s likely this is as good as it’ll get, so I’m enjoying it while I can.

Friday, September 16, 2005

ordination retreat

went away for the last 24 or so hours with those who are being ordained along with me on November 6th. It was a great time, they’re a fun bunch.

Since we had several times of reflection, I thought I’d record some of my thoughts in those times. Particularly significant for me was the chance to reflect back on the journey of the past four or so years and the events, people, and decisions that have shaped me over that time.

One of the earliest memories I have of this process was having my psychological profile taken by the BUV psychologist. It was the Californian psychological index, and had something like 630 questions, and then an hour’s interview. I remember the test vividly, but even more I remember getting the results. I was devastated by what came back. I was completely convinced that was the end of that pathway for me: that no way would they ever let anyone with a psych profile like that become a pastor. Not because I was a psychopath or anything, just because it said things like, “Simon (or those who tested with scores similar to Simon) is more likely to be a follower than a leader,” or, “Simon prefers to be alone than with people”, etc, etc. I remember being adamant that most of it was not true, that it didn’t reflect me at all; yet when I went back and re-read it recently, it’s all pretty accurate. They let me through anyway – in fact, reading it now, it’s really not that bad, but I remember at the time just feeling like that was it, that this would destroy any chance of going down that pathway. So that was one memory.

People like Frank Rees have been so instrumental in my formation as a minister and as a person. He has consistently challenged me to go beyond what I want to do, has pushed my buttons at times, but I’ve always appreciated it (usually only in hindsight, but still). He’s not only brought out the best in me, but he’s been responsible for most, if not all, of the significant theological insights I’ve had at Whitley.

Another was the whole process that ended with us being at Whitley. I don’t entirely remember the order of events, but I do remember that simultaneous to Julie and I feeling dissatisfied with our middle class, house-in-the-suburbs life, it was suggested by Frank Rees that we consider going to Whitley as residential tutors. Around the same time, Simon and Brenda (who had earlier visited us and decided not to ask because they thought we’d never leave such a lovely situation) also asked us to come as residential tutors, a position that morphed into the chaplaincy. It’s fascinating to me now because all the events conspired to make the choice so easy, even though it was a hard decision in terms of giving up so much in terms of space, lifestyle, etc. But it was still the best life choice we’ve made, and it will have lifelong consequences (including setting up what I’m doing for the foreseeable future).

An argument with Daniel, a friend of mine, over how negative I was at the time, was also significant. That culminated in an incredibly significant experience of having a thought that was not my own pop into my head after some heated prayer time. “I am the God who made you” was the phrase, and I’ve never forgotten it.

Even the whole conversation/argument I had with my grandma which culminated in her snapping “Well if that’s what you think, why don’t you just go and be a minister, then?” is given new meaning in looking back.

It hasn’t all been easy: my depression was a tough time, especially while we were away in Cairns which I should’ve enjoyed, but couldn’t. We’ve barely made it financially most of the time, we’ve had our car broken into several times at Whitley, and I broke my leg as well. We had the time at Mentone that was so significant in shaping me as a leader, and yet involved some of the toughest decisions I’ve ever had to make. So many events, too many to talk about here, that have brought me to this point, and so many that are yet to happen. But I’m grateful, profoundly grateful, for all of them, and think I can honestly say that I don’t regret any of it. All of it has shaped me to where I am today. And for the moment, that’s a very good place.

So while I couldn’t have honestly said it before the retreat, I’m looking forward to November 6 now. Bring it on.

my penchant for destroying wonderful experiences with ridiculous analytical conversations with myself

I have this tendency to analyse everything whether it requires it or not. Maybe I’m crazy or maybe it’s just my personality, but I drive myself mad because of it. I wish, just once, I could not do it and see how that goes, but I can’t help myself. So I offer this: my thought process upons seeing a rainbow yesterday:

“That’s a nice rainbow.”
“I wonder if it’s just a rainbow or if there’s something more to this rainbow being right here for me to see, right now. Maybe the rainbow could be a metaphor for something.”
“Why does it have to be a metaphor for something? Why can’t it just be a rainbow?”
“Well, it could just be a rainbow. But what if I’m missing something else, something more significant, if I just sit here and look at the rainbow?”
“Or maybe you’re not missing anything and that’s all there is to it. It’s just a rainbow. Beautiful, to be enjoyed, but just as a rainbow.”
“But once I’ve seen it, looked at it, enjoyed it, I really don’t know where to go from there.”
“Why do you need to go somewhere from there?”
“Because it lasts longer than just my seeing and enjoying it, and I feel like I’m not getting as much out of the experience if it doesn’t go further.”
“So maybe it’s a metaphor then. The original rainbow in the Bible story was about hope for the future. Maybe it’s supposed to be about hope for the future?”
“Or maybe you’re just an idiot and it’s just a rainbow. Seriously, why can’t you just enjoy a freaking rainbow?”
“I really don’t know why, but I just can’t. Clearly.” (rolls eyes at himself)
“Maybe giving it more significance is a way of preserving the moment.”
“Why do you have this need to preserve the moment? Why can’t it just be a good moment, and then let it go?”
“Because it’s rare. I like the feeling I have at this moment, and I want to preserve it and enjoy it later.”
“But maybe it’s valuable and wonderful because it is only fleeting.”
“Maybe. But I can’t shake the feeling that there’s more significance to it happening right here, right now.”
“Well surely it would’ve happened regardless of whether or not you were there to see it. So maybe it has no significance.”
“Ah, but I am here to see it. The fact that I’m in this place, at this moment, suggests there must be some significance.”
“Or maybe not.”

Etc. Etc.

And in so doing, I somehow destroy the experience of seeing a rainbow.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

disturbing, hilarious or both?

you decide.

don’t forget to check out the profiles.

“don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone…”

second day in a row without a headache. gotta love it.

scott parkin 2

ok, so now they’ve revealed why they’re deporting him: apparently, he encouraged ‘spirited’ protest and was intending to teach ‘techniques for preventing police from taking protesters away for arrest’. In the context of someone committed to non-violence, we can safely assume those techniques were non-violent, so I still fail to get what he has done that is illegal, or even close to a ‘threat to national security’. how dare he encourage spirited protest? only boring, unenthusiastic protest is allowed here, otherwise you might actually have some kind of effect. seriously, surely protest, even resistance, is still a legal right in this country? just because you disagree with the government and make efforts to express that disagreement, seems now to mean you forfeit all rights to being here. that’s not just wrong, it’s downright disturbing. unless there’s something they’re not telling us about this story – and there seems to be no reason not to defend this decision – there’s every reason to be not just alert, but very, very alarmed.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

that old chestnut

for some reason I’ve been battling again with headaches for the past four or so months, culminating this week in one every single day for two weeks. Today’s the first day in a fortnight I haven’t had one, and I feel terrific to be able to function. I thought I had them licked two years ago when I stopped drinking orange juice – immediately they stopped for almost a year. but recently it’s gotten bad again, and combined with a general feeling of unwellness, I finally succumbed to the idea of going to the doctor. A big step for me with this, because I’ve been dealing with it for a long time.

About 4 years ago I went on migraine prevention medication, but that lasted only a week, after I found that they made me so sleepy I could not physically stay awake. After falling asleep in class a couple of times (which is really embarrassing when you’re one of about 6 in the class), the last straw came when I fell asleep while doing 100 on the Eastern Freeway. Luckily I woke up in time to avoid an accident, but it was clear I couldn’t function on them.

Lately (as in the last 4 or 5 months), it’s been accompanied by a general feeling of constant tiredness, like I have no energy at all, and frequent nausea too, usually accompanying the headaches, but not always. It’s clearly not stress, because I am loving my job, and it’s not particularly taxing. Nor can I put it down to changes in my eating habits, or any other changes I can think of. It just doesn’t seem to make any sense. even the doctor called me a puzzle, which is not an overly encouraging thing to hear from your doctor. I’d much rather hear her call me any number of other things that imply that she knows what’s wrong and how to fix it. So anyway, yesterday I finally went to get it all checked out and was sent to get a blood test this morning.

I don’t do well with blood tests. There’s something about the idea of having something sucked out of you that’s meant to remain in you that doesn’t sit well. I mean, I understand why they need to do it, but that’s why we have skin in the first place – to keep it all in there. So after my usual “why is the floor rotating around the ceiling?” routine, I stumbled out of there.

I get my results next week. it’ll be nice to have a resolution to this, even though you could (quite accurately) say it’s my fault that it’s taken so long so get one since I haven’t sought one till now. Personally I’m hoping they tell me I don’t eat enough junk food, but I’m not holding out a lot of hope.

scott parkin

what is our country coming to? I guess we always knew it would happen, but really…this is incredibly depressing.

the short story is that scott parkin, a non-violent peace activist, has been detained and is awaiting deportation due to what the government has called an ‘adverse security assessment’. they refuse to give any more detail than that. scott was here to travel and while here linked up with greenpeace and then was asked to help out with some non-violent activist training with Pt’chang. now I’m not going to enter into any conspiracy theories about scott’s enemies at halliburton putting political pressure on the australian government, but the injustice of his detention alone is apalling. Iain Murray, the guy who had him out here and who was with him when he was arrested is one of the facilitators of Pt’chang, the group I did the non-violent activist training with a few months back. He led the training day, and he’s the one who’s been interviewed in all the papers. I have no doubt that they are 110% committed to non-violence, and Scott therefore poses no threat to Australia at all. It’s just staggering that this can even be allowed to happen.

any sort of resistance to this government is crushed with brutal and increasingly fearless impunity, and no-one seems to be willing or able to hold the government to account for it. we are becoming a dictatorship and the majority don’t notice, or don’t care. is this what we are coming to?

Monday, September 05, 2005

nick hornby on music

this guy writes like I think. it’s eerie, uncanny, and homely and comfortable all at the same time. I recently finished his book 31 songs which is basically just him writing about how he thinks and feels about music, through 31 of his favourite songs. I have this deep and abiding love of music (as evidenced recently by my irrational panic when my mp3 player went down for the count) and in so many ways Hornby describes that love better than I ever could. It’s also a useful apologetic for pop music, which is my main musical diet. I’ve picked out some of my favourite quotes from the book (some of them rather long, admittedly, but worth the read):

Songs are what I listen to, almost to the exclusion of everything else. I don’t listen to classical music or jazz very often, and when people ask me what music I like, I find it very difficult to reply, because they usually want names of people, and I can only give them song titles. And mostly all I have to say about these songs is that I love them, and want to sing along to them, and force other people to listen to them, and get cross when other people don’t like them as much as I do…

So seriously…why doesn’t everyone else get how incredible Sullivan St or Anna Begins are? “Her kindness bangs a gong” may be the stupidest lyric ever on paper, but I still say it’s the climax of the most incredible four minutes of anyone’s life. Maybe that’s why I love Counting Crows fans too…they just…get it, with no need to explain the unexplainable.

On the snobbery of music fans:

That’s the thing that puzzles me about those who feel that contemporary pop (and I use the word to encompass soul, reggae, country, rock – anything and everything that might be regarded as trashy) is beneath them, or behind them, or beyond them – some preposition denoting distance, anyway: does this mean that you never hear, or at least never enjoy, new songs, that everything you whistle or hum was written years, decades, centuries ago? Do you really deny yourselves the pleasure of mastering a tune (a pleasure, incidentally, that your generation is perhaps the first in the history of mankind to forgo) because you are afraid it might make you look as if you don’t know who Harold Bloom is? Wow. I’ll bet you’re fun at parties.

I remember someone asking Adam Duritz outside the Palais in Melbourne, “I’m trying to write music. Do you have any advice for me?” Adam replied (and I’ll never forget it, because it redefined what was “good” or “acceptable” music for me) “Just make music that you like.” The girl goes, “But how do I make it good?” and he said, somewhat exasperated, “It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about it – make music that makes you happy. It doesn’t matter it if it’s happy or sad or whatever – if you get a kick out of it, what does it matter?”

It was an incredibly liberating moment – because if a song’s catchy but was performed by a boy band, who cares? You don’t become fun at parties (or in other words, enjoy life) by denying yourself such simple, cheap pleasures.

on pop music’s disposability:

...a three-minute pop song can only withhold its mysteries for so long, after all. So, yes, it’s disposable, as if that makes any difference to anyone’s perceptions of the value of pop music. But then, shouldn’t we be sick of ‘Moonlight’ Sonata by now? Or Christina’s World? Or The Importance of Being Ernest? They’re empty! Nothing left! We sucked ‘em dry! That’s what gets me: the very people who are snotty about the disposability of pop will go over and over again to see Lady Bracknell say ‘A handbag?’ in a funny voice. They don’t think that joke’s exhausted itself? Maybe disposability is a sign of pop music’s maturity, a recognition of its own limitations, rather than the converse.

On generational musical snobbery:

There is no doubt, though, that lyrics are the literate pop fan’s Achilles heel. We have all lived through the shrivelling moment when a parent walks into a room and repeats, with sardonic disbelief, a couplet picked up from the stereo or the TV. ‘What does that mean, then?’ my mother asked me during Top of the Pops. ‘”Get it on/Bang a gong”? How long did it take him to think of that, do you reckon?’ And the correct answer – ‘Two seconds, and it doesn’t matter’ – is always beyond you, so you just tell her to shut up, while inside you’re hating Marc Bolan for making you like him even though he sings about getting it on and banging gongs. (I suspect that this humiliation continues, and that it makes no difference whether the parent doing the humiliating was brought up on a diet of T. Rex, or Spandau Ballet, or Sham 69, and therefore should avoid the literary high ground altogether. My mother, after all, belonged to a generation that danced – danced and smooched – to ‘How Much Is That Doggie In The Window?’ and if she felt able to be snooty about ‘Get It On’, then surely snootiness is a weapon available to all. Rubbishing our children’s tastes is one of the few pleasures remaining to us as we become old, redundant and culturally marginalized.)

I have this memory of trying to decipher the lyrics of Peter Blakeley’s “Crying in the Chapel” (which I found immensely engaging at the time), and thinking that what I heard couldn’t possibly be the real lyrics, whereupon my mother entered the room and confirmed for me just how inane they were. Then she said they used to dance to “Do the hot potato” and somehow that admission was enough to destroy any credibility she might’ve had in her generation being musically superior.

Theological reflection, Hornby-style; his chapter on Rufus Wainwright’s ‘One Man Guy’:

I try not to believe in God, of course, but sometimes things happen in music, in songs, that bring me up short, make me do a double take. When things add up to more than the sum of their parts, when the effects achieved are inexplicable, then atheists like me start to get into difficult territory. Take Rufus Wainwright’s version of his father Loudon’s ‘One Man Guy’, for example. There should be nothing evoking the spirit about it, really: the song’s lovely, but it’s a little sour, a little sad, jokey – the joke being that the song is not about the joys of monogamy but is about the joys of solipsism and misanthropy, a joke that is given a neat little twist by Wainwright junior’s sexual orientation – and it’s hard to imagine that God has time to pay a visit to something so wry and self-mocking. And yet, weirdly, He does. There’s no doubt about it. (And of course, in doing so, He answers once and for all the question of what He thinks of homosexuality: he’s not bothered one way or the other. Official.)

For me, He comes in at the beginning of the second verse, just when Rufus and his sister Martha begin to harmonize. Perhaps significantly (or perhaps He is merely demonstrating a hitherto unsuspected sense of humour), His presence first makes itself known on the line, ‘People meditate, hey, that’s great, trying to find the Inner You’. It’s the harmony that does it, although whether that’s cause or effect is a moot point. Does God come in because Martha and Rufus are singing so beautifully together – does He hear it from afar and think, ‘Hey, that’s My kind of music, and I’m going to see what’s going on’? Or does He enable them to sing together – does he spot what they’re pitching for and help them along the way?

When I say that you can hear God in ‘One Man Guy’ by Rufus Wainwright, I do not mean to suggest that there is an old chap with a beard – a divine Willie Nelson, if you will – warbling along with them. Nor do I wish to imply that this surprise guest appearance at the beginning of the second verse proves that Jesus died for our sins, or that rich men will have difficulty entering the Kingdom of Heaven. I just mean that at certain spine-shivering musical moments – and you will have your own, inevitably – it becomes difficult to remain a literalist. (I have no such difficulty when I hear religious music, by the way, no matter how beautiful. They’re cheating, those composers: they’re inviting Him in, egging Him on, and surely He wouldn’t fall for that? I think He’d have enough self-respect to stay well away.)

I’m not sure what difference it makes to me, this occasional vision of the Divine in the music I love. OK, maybe it comes as a relief, because a lot of people I have a lot of time for, writers and musicians and sports stars and politicians, have a great deal to say on the subject of God and hitherto I had felt a bit left out; now I have something, a little scrap of spirituality, I can wave back at them. Oh, and as a writer, I don’t normally have patience for the ineffable – I ought to think that everything’s effing effable, otherwise what’s the point? But I’m not sure there are words to describe what happens when two voices mesh (and isn’t the power and beauty and sheer perfection of a simple chord a bit, you know, Outer Limits? It’s no wonder Pythagorus got so worked up about harmony). All I can say is that I can hear things that aren’t there, see and feel things I can’t normally see and feel, and start to realize that, yes, there is such a thing as an immortal soul, or, at the very least, a unifying human consciousness, that our loves are short but have meaning. Beyond that, I’m not sure it changes very much, really. I’m not going to listen to stuff like this too often, though, just in case.

I love this chapter because although he’s coming from a different perspective (atheist as opposed to theist) we share something in common. God is never more real to me than in moments like that in music – in the tinkling piano and harmonies of the “Did She Wanna Run” alt to Sullivan St, in walking along the street to the bouncing guitar riff of The Ramones’ “It’s Not My Place (In the 9 to 5 World)”, in the blasting horns of “Kick” by INXS. There’s a sense in which the pure joy of human life and expression is not so much transcended as intensified (sometimes a thousandfold) in such moments. But then, like he said, you can’t make the ineffable effable.

On thanking God in the liner notes:

The single biggest influence on most of these artists [British Top 10, August 2001] according to the acknowledgements in their liner notes, is…Actually, let’s see if you can guess. Who do you think is at least partially responsible for such songs as ‘Where the Party At?’, ‘Bootylicious’, ‘Bad Boy for Life’, ‘American Psycho’, ‘The Girlies’, and ‘Pimp Like Me’? Who do you think inspired the rapper on D12’s ‘Ain’t Nuttin’ But Music’ (‘Independent women in the house/Show us your tits and shut your motherf***ing mouth’ – a chummy reference, presumably, to Destiny’s Child, whose hit ‘Independant Women Part 1’ opens their Survivor album)? Give up? OK.

You may well be surprised to learn that the very first person thanked in the liner notes of the CDs containing these gems is the Almighty Himself. He gets thanked on seven of the ten albums, by sixteen different contributing artists. Brian, of Jagged Edge, for instance, declares that without God ‘we wouldn’t be here doing this third album’ – incontrovertible, according to much creationist theory, but a somewhat reductive view of the universe nonetheless. Let’s face it, without God the first two albums would have been pretty tricky, too. In a similar spirit, Michelle, of Destiny’s Child, is moved to point out to the Creator, ‘There is no one like you!!’, which is, on reflection, one of the tidiest ontological arguments you could wish to hear.

You really do have to wonder at the credentials of those who thank God in their liner notes, or in their awards speeches…somehow singing “I put it right there, made it easy for you to get to/Now you wanna act like ya don’t know what to do/After I done everything that you asked me/Grabbed you, grind you, liked you, tried you/Moved so fast baby now I can’t find you” and then saying how God made all this possible (or even, in many cases, Jesus) is more than just misguided, it’s literally blasphemous. I’m not even just talking about personal sexual morality; these people usually have no concept of who Jesus is or the way he treated people.

On why he has little time for shock art (or noise music):

That’s the real con of shock art: it makes out that it’s democratic, but it’s actually only for those who can afford it. And some of us, as we get older, simply find that we don’t have that much courage to spare anymore. Good luck to you if you have, because it means that you have managed to avoid more or less everything that life has to throw at you, but don’t try to make me feel morally or intellectually inferior.

I guess this book just goes a long way towards explaining why his novels strike so deeply home for me – he gets it in the same way I get it, and it seems that’s a rare thing. Sharing such a love, even with someone you don’t know and have never met, is a profound bond.