Friday, July 13, 2018

Is there a God?





As one who can't chew gum and walk down the street at the same time, this impresses me. 

I took a crack at violin - more than a crack, I lasted nine years - and didn't get too good at it, but I persisted. We're supposed to persist at everything, aren't we? Try, try again - and again - and again, even if nothing is happening.

I guess reality is different. My violin experience was mostly attached to my teacher, who became a spiritual mentor for years. But the beliefs he espoused are so far from what I believe now that I wonder why I lasted so long.

It was just different then. I was not only a churchgoer, but a lay minister. It seems incredible now, as I have completely discarded organized religion and see it as something which did irreparable harm to me. The story of my former church was such a nightmare that I can barely stand to reflect on it. Leadership fell apart to the extent that no one would even admit how awful it was. TV  cameras came in the sanctuary during worship services to raise the profile and further the causes of our minister and his wife, who later appeared on CBC and talked about their  experiences in the bedroom.






If you didn't want your face on TV,  you had to speak up and say so. If you didn't mind it, you had to sign a waiver. Or maybe it was the other way around. A few years back, such an intrusion would have been unthinkable, jaw-dropping. There would have been tremendous protest. It at least would have been discussed and voted on in council. In this case, it was just "done" as a way of  promoting a certain agenda (theirs).

Things had been bad enough for long enough that it was time  for me to go anyway - long overdue, in fact. I made a stab at finding another church, and found a sort of death march of calcified old people who most certainly didn't want me there.

It sometimes occurs to me that I lost God somewhere along the way, and Jesus too. I just wonder when that happened. Those people in my former church shouldn't have bothered, because it wasn't ever about God to begin with. It was about human ego and insularity and bad decisions and conformity and fear of speaking up, in case we triggered another disastrous meltdown.





And so. All this, from a video of a woman playing a violin and dancing! My joy in that place was long gone, but I stayed and stayed, trying to make it work. It was like a bad marriage that I couldn't let go of. When I did finally leave, I was completely shut out. The hole closed over immediately, and it was as if (after fifteen years of intense involvement) I had never been there at all.

It's all very well to say, "Oh, none of that is God. It's human beings with a corrupt or too-limited idea of God." But God who? God what? I no longer believe in any sort of freestanding force that cares about us, that counts the hairs on our head, etc. etc. As a child, I learned the only theological statement worth paying attention to: "God is love."  If there is a God of love at all, we must carry it and harbour it and share it with each other. WE are love, or we are not.

Not exactly an original idea, but it's all I can do on a Friday afternoon.






Meanwhile, we have this song - and it was monstrously difficult to find, by the way, and I nearly gave up on it - by a mediocre pop star called Andy Kim. 


Who Has the Answers          Andy Kim

Is there a God? I really don't know,
Does he have a son? I really don't know.
But when I'm down, and things are all wrong
I turn to him, to help me be strong.
And so I pray Lord..shine on, shine on, shine on, shine on your light.



God made the sun.
At least that's what they say.
The waters and trees.
He made night and day.
But who made the child who's hungry and blind?
And who has the answers that I cannot find?
And so I pray Lord..shine on, shine on, shine on, shine on your light.
And let me see.
Please let me see.

Oh people everywhere, living in despair, no one really cares if they're dying.
Politicians swear that they really care, everybody knows that they're lying.
People cannot find any piece of mind, even though they have the almighty dollar.
And so they live and search, never find a Church, everyone is fine 'til the final hour.






People everywhere, living in despair, no one really cares if they're dying.
Pray a little louder now children.
Polliticians swear that they really care, everybody knows that they're lying.
Pray a little louder now children.
People never find, any piece of mind, even though they have the almighty dollar.
Pray a little louder now children.
People everywhere, living in despair, no one really cares.

And so I pray Lord..shine on, shine on, shine on, shine on your light.
And let me see.
Please let me see.
Please let me see.
Is there a God?
Is there a God?
I really don't know.
Who has the answers?
Is there a God?
Does he have a son?
I really don't know.
Who has the answers?


Post-mortem thoughts. I remembered a few things about this obscure song. It wasn't  played on some radio stations (too atheistic, I suppose). Almost everyone who remembers it, which is not too many, thinks it was sung by Neil  Diamond. And it's true: in almost every respect, it sounds like a Neil Diamond  song, the plaintive tune and yearning lyrics. But it isn't.

I've even had arguments about it. It goes like this:

Oh yeah, I love Neil Diamond.
Um, it wasn't by Neil Diamond.
Oh yes it was! I remember what album it was on. Cherry Cherry.
Um, you can look it up if you l like.
I don't have to look it up. It was Neil Diamond. I remember.
Um, I'm pretty sure it was by Andy Kim.
Who?
Andy Kim.
I've never heard of an Andy Kim. What else did he record?
Umm. . . Shoot 'Em Up, Baby. How'd We Ever Get This Way. Rock Me Gently. Sugar Sugar.

SUGAR SUGAR? 
Yeah, I remember -
(Then, if someone else is sitting  at the table):
No, I remember, it WAS Andy Kim.
Oh? It WAS Andy Kim?
Yeah. It was him.
Oh! Thanks for telling me.

This happens to me all the time, making me wonder why I seem to lack all credibility.




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