Day 1 with House at Princeton was adventuresome and fun. No doubt it was House, but it was fun.
I was a little disappointed that none of his staff were in town and he was actually on a vacation. His department shuts down for 10 days each summer where he takes no patients at all.
So it looks like I was part of his holiday fun and his infinite appetite for distraction.
The man lives in serious pain. I admire his strength of will, his rare intellect, and his ability to function despite the pounding pulses of pain that surge through his thigh. No doubt that he is on edge due to that pain. But it doesn't take any time at all to see that it runs much deeper than anyone can decipher.
The first day, he called all the shots. He ran me around campus until I was sweating. We never stopped to eat- and though he wasn't serious about giving me the 10 cent tour, I was impressed about how much he knew about the history of Princeton. He rattled off chapters and verse of information- dates, significance- the weird part was that is was so non-chalant.
We finally stopped for coffee (He paid- which I am still most confused about and it seems most out of character for him) and sitting down I knew that there was finally going to be a meat and potato talk.
"Ok", he said, "Here you are. You wanted to be here. I have put you through some paces. Now go."
"I'm very surprised to be here," I answered, "because I have only seen you from a distance, there was always a part of me that wanted to get an inside look, get to know you better, and my heart tends to want to encourage people..."
"No, you already are dodging. Come on- you are hedging. What people call southern charm and grace I call wussiness. You are beating around the proverbial bush- I invited you here- you have my attention- GO."
"It's not that simple and I don't think you know my real motives."
"NO, You don't know YOUR real motives." He was very forceful- still closed and waterproof.
My head was spinning.
He was getting very impatient....
But suddenly I found a few words....
"You are right, no one can know the motives because I believe our hearts are deep and twisted- maybe too nuanced for words. But I am no charlatan and I don't regard setting context as wussiness."
I have no clue why, but that one comment, maybe it was a facial expression, maybe it was strength or transparent weakness- broke right through the veneer. He finally looked at me as a human being and not an oddball sideshow for kicks.
He nodded his head in approval. "Good". He then began that staring off to the side lean, eye flickering back and forth. as he held the coffee in both hands now. His can hung on the back of his chair and he pressed into me.
"I have read everything you have posted. And I do think you are genuine. Naive yes- simple yes- and you do have an agenda- you pick postings to persuade and because you do it publicly, you desire for them to justify you- you desire to be validated. You show a care for people- an olive branch- because it brings back affirmation and significance. You reached out to me because I am famous and if you can get a famous person to validate you, that is a big ole stamp of universal approval."
I interrupted him for the first time, "And does that put my faith as false?"
"Ah so you agree with my diagnosis?"
"Well.....I think about intrinsic motivation all the time. My question is more about how your evaluation of me connects to evaluation of faith."
"You know my stance- I have no doubt it is delusional and likely harmful."
"You have no doubt that there is no God."
"Pretty bold, I know you are a brilliant man, Dr House, but your faith in NO God goes beyond your powerful logic."
"Stop playing games. I know all the arguments and debate. Your best debate for God is trumped by best reasons for no God. I have ultimately sided on the transcendental argument for the non-existence of God."
I laughed when he said it. It is not a unique position. Christian apologetics has become more grounded in a line of though called TAG or the transcendental argument for God which basically proclaims that without the existence of God you have no grounds to argue the truth of anything at all because God is a necessary precursor to anything universal like the laws of logic.
Skeptics responded with TANG which plays off of TAG which seems to support TAG, but skeptics would say NO- TANG stands on its on.
So what do you do when there is the rock and a hard place disagreement? Give up and agree to disagree? Keep pressing until there is a cry of uncle?
I sipped my coffee. Had a brief pause. We looked at each other.
"So why am I here? You are smart. You have thoroughly studied the issue and landed on a premise. You are unswayed by anything you have read and not impressed with anything I might say or do. Why did you bring me here if you are so sure?"
"I guess I wanted you to see my pain up close. I want you to see deep in my soul and consider the darkness and watch your southern nice gospel grace be extinguished in the deep darkness of world hunger, brutality, fanatical religion, destitution, and my throbbing leg which has to be explained to the absent God."
"Well then you failed. Because the light is not overtaken by the dark."
"The darkness remains."
"Well then, Dr. House, let's try to turn on all the light."
He laughed and I laughed. We touched our coffee cups in a toast and I felt more alive than I had ever felt before.