Monday, May 12, 2003

I really haven’t felt like blogging lately. I haven’t a lot of concentration. My thoughts are all disjointed. I can’t even pick a theme to write about.

I had to write a paper on Ecclesiastes this morning. You know, the paper that I’m supposed to do every weekend, but put off until the hour before I go to school each Monday. Yeah, that one. Today was worse than usual. I even read the book before school instead of the night before. But it doesn’t matter. I finished it and it turned out okay. It was a little hastily written, but the subject matter was solid.

Ecclesiastes is my favorite book in the Bible. It doesn’t quite fit in. It’s so nihilistic and out of place. I can relate, in a way. Or I fancy that I do. The Preacher amazes me because he pretty much discards the idea that there’s any real meaning to anything and then he shrugs it off, continues to study and teach, and lives his life joyfully. I have the first half of his formula down, but I’m having a bit of trouble on the second.

When I think of my spiritual development over time, I find it a little amazing that I am where I am. Maybe it makes sense. Maybe this is what I’ve been wanting all along. But it would have been pretty damn difficult to tell that to the ten year old me who, totally without fanfare, woke up one morning and decided there was no God. Or to the fourteen year old me who found the Buddha to be the most revolutionary character in man’s history. Or even to the sixteen year old me who believed in God, and hated Him for creating a stupid world full of suffering and pain.

I can’t chart where I’ve been. I can say that when I was ten I didn’t believe in God. It’s factually true. But that’s such an oversimplification of the issue. It doesn’t capture the essence of the thing at all. And the proper words escape me if I try to describe myself today. Do I believe in God? Yes. Do I admit that it’s mostly wishful thinking? Yes. I can’t be intellectually honest and try to explain myself otherwise. Who is God? I don’t know. What does it mean to be a human being in God’s universe? I don’t know. Maybe I don’t even want to know; perhaps that’s why I’ve been so slow in finding out. Does any of that describe my inner state? It doesn’t. It’s a statement of fact. Like that I have brown eyes, or long hair. But having brown eyes and long hair doesn’t define me; it can’t. It’s the most base of descriptions. But I am something so much more.

All I know for certain is that I want this life to have meaning beyond what I see. I want the unloved to be loved somehow, even if I can’t bring my stupid and sullen soul to love them myself. I want there to be justice in the universe. I want to see the prideful brought low; even, and especially, when I’m one of them. And most importantly, I want there to be mercy. I want to see all of those brought low restored to goodness. I want the world to work like it did when I was five, and there were only little sins, and nothing so bad that it couldn’t be forgiven over a game of hide-and-go-seek where the offender offered to hide his eyes first, and the offended gleefully forgave and forgot. I want God to simply punch the hardened atheist in the arm and say: “So I don’t exist, eh? Bet you feel foolish now, buddy!”

I don’t think the universe works the way I want it to. I believe in hell because it’s part of the belief system I ascribe to; if it were only the issue of hell alone, I would certainly not ascribe to the belief system, but the overarching thrust of the thing baffles and amazes me and I can’t help but accept it, even and especially the parts that I don’t like. But I have such tremendous difficulty believing that God could punish sinners in hell for eternity. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. How could God? How could God create a world such as this? I know that God created the world good and that it was man who introduced sin. But isn’t God’s goodness enough to erase whatever insufficiencies man’s created in himself? Doesn’t God’s light drive out all of man’s darkness, whether man wants it to or not? Does freewill mean that God has to allow innocents to suffer? And if it does, is freewill by any stretch of the imagination worth it?

I wonder what it would be like if I could give up my questions and just declare my faith. What faith, I wonder? Is it faith to have a vague belief, and a sincere volition to believe? Job believed, and when he was afflicted, he simply said that God was God and surpassing finite minds. Jeremiah, or whoever it was who wrote Lamentations called God his portion, and turned his eyes from such suffering as I can’t even begin to fathom, and trusted God. I don’t. I stub my toe and I start to doubt that the heavens give two damns about me, if they’re capable of giving damns at all.

It’s a funny thing, but if I were certain that life had no meaning, I would kill myself. I have the weakest damn will to live. I want to love everyone and everything, even if it doesn’t matter. I want to be idealistic and romantic. But I’m a pragmatist. If it doesn’t matter, then I’m done. What the hell do I care about beautiful sunsets, as an end unto itself? What do I care if my neighbor dies, if all it means is that the world has a smaller population to sustain? What do I care about the little blades of grass, if they really are just little blades of grass?

It’s such a weakness in me and I despise it. I’ve never been someone who loved pragmatism. I’ve tried for years to love because I did, and that was all. I’ve tried for years to awaken to myself. But I don’t think I’m going to awaken to myself, unless I first awaken to something other than myself. And I don’t know that I can define the other until I define myself. And therefore, I’m conflicted always. It’s a difficult thing.

April called. I’d rather talk on the phone for now, than blog.