Tuesday, December 06, 2016

The Prehistory of Mexitarianism

When I was 11 or 12 I came up with a teleological theory of history: tired of the warmed-over and Americanized Christian discourse with which my Mormon coreligionists went after my beloved Romans for persecuting early Christians, I proposed the antithesis: the Roman imperium was necessary for Christianity to flourish and to expand beyond its Hebrew confines.

With all the seriousness that only makes sense in child's play, I became convinced that my life's purpose was to prove this very bold thesis and, like any good equal parts entitled and precocious kid, wasn't about to let my lack of any real knowledge about ancient near-Eastern religion or even more than a highly amateur in the most literal sense of the term knowledge of Roman history and culture stop me from being right. Nor was I aware that I was simply pushing a caricature of the worst possible reading of Hegel.

Of course, I didn't have to worry about being shown up, since my adult religious leaders lacked even that level of amateur knowledge or, let it be said, any desire to show me up when they could just push me around.

I also had access to a major university's research library, and so I threw myself into the task of acquitting my beloved Romans as quickly as possible. Soon stacks of books filled up my room whilst the overdue fines piled up. I'm not sure what I got out of any of this, but it sure did make me feel like a real scholar the virtues of being which I had not yet realized were overrated.

I'm reminded of this as my equal parts entitled and precocious daughter hits this same age.

Of course, even so none of this would be worth remembering now, were it not also for the fact that this was also how I discovered Lucretius, who put an end to the whole silly exercise and also made it all worthwhile.