Saturday, November 17, 2007

Am I a Christian? Part 4

Freelance Theologian, Will Annoy and Offend People For Food

“I would do it all again. Lose my way and fall again.
Just so I could call again. On the mercy in you.”
Depeche Mode, ‘Mercy in You’

“Yet, I wanted to live in clean air and say Yes, or No, mean what I said and have it understood and no nonsense. I hate half-things, half-heartedness, stupid false situations, inverted feelings, pumped-up loves and hand-decorated hates. I hate people who stare at themselves in mirrors and smile. I want things straight and clear or at least I want to be able to see when they’re crooked and confused. Anything else is just nasty and so my life is nasty and I am ashamed of it. And I have an albatross around my neck that I didn’t even shoot. I simply don’t know how he got there.”
Katherine Anne Porter, Ship of Fools

I think my view of the Divine could best be described as a Cubist painting. I manage to simultaneously hold in my mind that God is at best indifferent. Is a patient father. A wise teacher. Is a demanding lover/master/mistress. A helpful older sibling. A comforting friend. Unknowable and transcendent. Immanent and revealed. And a few other things, depending on recent events. And I don’t have even a fraction of possible angles.
But here’s the important thing.
I’m not scared.
I don’t lose sleep at night worrying about going to hell. A God who would send me to hell for asking a question isn’t a God who deserves my belief or my devotion.
And this is not because I believe I’m right the majority of the time, or because I think I am somehow privy to the mind of God. I don’t know the mind of God. The mind of God is currently unknowable. The ultimate truth is currently unknowable. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t an ultimate truth, it just means that any human who claims to know what is, is most likely lying to you. I don’t actually know what God thinks about anything.
I’m only working with what I got. Which is 21 years of lived experience. That and having read way, way too much. Ain’t much – I know. But you’ve got to act on something.
The chorus of voices just said to act on the Bible.
But in my experience, the Bible is not the infallible word of God. A word of God – sure. The word of God – no.
The chorus of voices just sung something about the faith of our fathers.
But, I’m not my father.
The chorus just erected a billboard reading “Give it up to God.”
No, actually, I think I’m pretty much on my own. Just because God could pull off a miracle doesn’t mean that God will, not matter how earnestly you pray. Maybe we need a metaphor of God as Heartbreaker. Not the God who “pricks” hearts with feelings of guilt, or whatever word the King James uses. God the Heartbreaker, as in the being who crushes you for no discernable reason, and with no explanation. None of this dualism where tragedy, personal or public, is the work of the devil. None of this crap about the end times and an angry, vengeful God. Just God the Heartbreaker.
Maybe God wants us to develop a bit of independence. Grow up.
I’m going to dive into some Biblical exegesis here. Ever noticed how in the Gospels, J.C. typically isn’t wandering around in sandals upbraiding people for believing incorrectly. No, the majority of the time when Jesus is pissed off, it’s because he’s come head to head with a group of hypocrites. People who didn’t live honestly. And, I don’t limit hypocrite to people who say one thing and then do another. I think people who deny the individual experience they’ve been given for the sake of conformity to a creed as just a hypocritical as anyone else.
Here’s the main article of my faith. God isn’t going to send me to hell for being wrong. No matter what, I’m going to be wrong about something. But if I live earnestly. If I attempt to treat others fairly and justly. If I honestly do my very best to sort out the right from the wrong. If I learn from my mistakes. And pay attention. And listen to wisdom, and pain, and experiences that others offer to share with me. To discern the real in the maze of constructions. To defend what I believe to be the good and the just as best I can possibly determine it, given the limits of what I have to work with.
I don’t need or want an eldership or hierarchy responsible for my soul. I wouldn’t mind a community of fellow travelers, so we could gather at the end of the day, discuss the sights we saw and our impressions thereof, filling in the gaps in our individual knowledge with the experience of our comrades. Maybe take photos for each other when batteries die in cameras. But I have no interest in a safe guided tour, where we all see the same sights and are told what to think of them.
And yeah. I’m going to screw up. But, for the sake of getting a little closer to knowing what is fully unknowable – I’m willing to do it.


JK said...

Wow. I think you pulled that entire post directly from my head/heart/soul... amazing writing. I was thinking of starting a "wrestle out my crisis of faith on the internet" blog, you have given me a lot to think about...

theogeo said...

This is lovely. I'm linking to it.