(This started out as a journal entry, then I started to get engrossed in it and decided to cut 'n' paste and see where it took me. In a pretty cynical direction, as it turned out. Some day I will try to write about the profound spiritual experience I had in 2005 that changed everything for me, forever. But not today.)
Oh well. We had today “off”, but as usual it flew past. It just goes. That’s OK, maybe even good. But I yearn, I yearn. I’ve been yearning for a very long time now. I remember the times before I was published at all, I mean in novel form, when I just thought I was going to die, I wanted it so much and it seemed so far away. Then somehow, it happened twice, but now I seem to be farther back than I was before the first one. I keep bouncing back and forth: some part of me that wants to keep me from suicide insists I have a chance. Then the other side, gloom, just comes in and crushes me.
I try to pray, but I seem to have lost the knack, or else I just don’t believe in it any more. I don’t see what it does. It doesn’t change anything. If you’re asking “God” to give you what you want, it’s pretty ludicrous. "Mother, may I?" Also, what if you get two opposing sides praying for different things? Does the more holy side win, the more worthy side? The Christian rather than the Muslim? What a bunch of horseshit!
So why pray, and what does it mean? Does it mean anything at all, or is it just “wish upon a star”, or “favour me, God, because I’m worthy, besides I want this and you’d better give it to me or I’ll stop believing in you”? Can we change the laws of the universe just by saying, “Now I lay me down to sleep”, or “Our Father”? Can we bend reality to our own will? And if that’s not what it’s about, then what IS it about? Isn’t it about changing reality? And can anyone actually do that by muttering certain magic words, or squinching their eyes up real hard?
I guess there is another form of this, the one that always appealed to me the most, which I'd call the Saint Francis method: Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. It's kind of like Gandhi's exhortation to be the change you want to see in the world. But how realistic is this? How many "instruments of peace" do you know? I've known one in my entire lifetime, my grandmother, who was love, and never once uttered the word or even demonstrated it in any tangible way.
I don't know, I think I got myself involved in a very deep case of religious poisoning. I know any number of people (and believe me, I'm tired of these bloody gasbags, but they have no idea how obnoxious they are) who insist that "I'm spiritual, but I'm not religious." So what does "spiritual" mean then? That they squinch up their eyes and try to bend reality to what they want more effectively than their neighbor, whom they supposedly love "as themselves"? Does it mean they are more caring (usually not)? More sensitive? I think I know three sensitive people, and that's in 57 years. Very bad. I think in many cases it's lucky rabbit's foot stuff: I'm protected, I'm special, God will never give me any more than I can handle, and besides, everything happens for a reason.
Where is the evidence? There isn't any. Suicide happens every day, so God does give many people more than they can handle. Many things happen for a reason, but not everything, surely not everything. Anyone who has borne witness to the appalling tragedy of someone losing a child surely can't adhere to that facile truism.
But we have to give thanks to the Lord. Give thanks, no matter how appalling our reality is. Why? Sometimes life is atrocious, hideous beyond words, but we're always supposed to be grateful. Oh, and forgive! Forgive our enemies, and everyone who has ever hurt us. That means if someone ruptured your hymen when you were three, you're supposed to forgive. Oh, you'll feel so much better when you do!
I wonder sometimes, what happens when everything falls apart. Everything at once, I mean. When you lose your longtime community due to profound alienation, when you lose your health and four of your friends (to death, I mean), and many more due to circumstances that are uncontrollable. The whole universe turns into a flaming molten ball and slowly turns inside-out. When you crawl out of the wreckage, everything looks different.
That's because everything is different.
The old hymns are wheezy and boring, unbearably stultifying. Your old church is a spiritual disaster area, so you try again: not once, not even twice, but three times, with three different churches. No one seems particularly friendly, and when you try to sit down the old lady in the pew puts her hand on the seat beside her, shakes her head and says, "No. My family sits there."
No. Don't come in, not in here. Who are you?
You're not one of us. You don't know the ropes. You don't know the words to say. You don't know the responsive refrain. You don't know the hymns. You don't know the gospels. You don' t have anyone to talk to after church. You aren't on any committees. You don't bake for the bake sales, you don't count the money after church. You don't do anything but sit there with an odd look on your face. Like you're not happy. Like you might even cry. What is wrong with you? You are different. Stay out, stay out, you are a threat to our practice of acceptance and unconditional love!
It seems, it really does seem like an "I'm-in-and-you're-not" thing. We all band together every Sunday to be stuck to each other like glue and feel better for a while while we keep reality out. We send a few old socks to the poor. Things like that. Jesus would spit on that. Jesus would be on the Downtown Eastside RIGHT NOW, just talking with people, maybe making the sign of the cross on their foreheads or hugging them.
Handing out clean needles? I don't think so. I think he might put his hand out and say, "Why don't you give me those." To lighten the burden, so to speak. Or at least, that's what he said.
He didn't aid and abet. He healed. Didn't he?
I don't know what Jesus was like, I don't even know if there was a Jesus, and if there was, I know he wasn't much like the Gospel version of him, and NOTHING like the interpretations that have been layered over him for centuries like so much poisonous muck.
I don't know why people give their lives over to him, but then, there are plenty of UFO sites on the internet, aren't there? "Look at all the people who have followed Christ over the centuries," a minister once said to me, trying to convince me that Christianity's validity could be confirmed by sheer numbers.
I don't live by numbers. I don't live by "everyone's doing it, so it must be good", because it can all too quickly lead to yet another soul-numbing statement: "I was only following orders."
And in God's name, where is the grace in that?