Title to come later


I took two Demerol tablets and went to church today, my arm in its sling and the sling under Walt’s extra large pile jacket. My midriff insisted upon exposing itself from time to time, but I could neither get my arm through a shirt nor keep my sweatpants high enough to stay covered. Fortunately—for me anyway—I am not a modest person.

We discussed prayer. “If God is all powerful, all knowing, and perfect in every virtue, is it conceivable that he would cure someone of cancer or bring an end to a war because he was prayed to, but would not do so otherwise?” I asked. Most seemed to think so, but either they didn’t understand the dilemma I posed, or they had no answer for it. In any event, it was not addressed. A few expressed faith in prayer as a means of healing, but I reflected (to myself) that, despite the prayers of millions, many a pope has died well ahead of those who lacked such an advantage.

I told the class that I think of prayer as an opening of my heart as well as a meditation upon, and a dedication to, my highest values, but it was a definition that appeared to fall short in the eyes of many if not all, and I despaired of offering anything more to the discussion. Sometimes, I go to church and contribute greatly; other times, many people—including myself—seem to think I would have done better had I stayed home.

The question of teaching children about prayer was also touched upon. For the first time in decades, I remembered being too young to take communion at church, so I would pray and serve myself Welch’s Grape Juice and Premium Saltines at home. When I was ten, my family moved into town, and I built a wooden altar under a wisteria arbor. I set our big old family Bible upon my altar, preached to the neighborhood kids, and served them communion. My mother fretted over what God would think, but a preacher told her that God wouldn't object. It was about this time that a Negro deacon who worked with my father said that the Lord had his hand upon me, and that I would become “a great man of God” someday. His name was Truly Westbrook, and I felt sorry for him because he had to put up with endless profanity from my father.

Maybe I expressed myself badly today. I meant no disrespect, yet I must confess that I am often at a loss to understand people’s religious beliefs. They often appear, to me, to echo Tertullian’s statement about the Christian faith:

“…it is wholly credible, because it is unsound…
…it is certain, because it is impossible.”

In short: Credo quia absurdum—I believe because it is absurd.

16 comments:

Michelle said...

Okayyy....I wont comment because I dont have an opinion really, except that whatever works and harms none can't be a bad thing.

All roads leading to Rome and all :)

Reasons to be Cheerful 1,2,3 said...

Welcome back! I hope you are gradually on the mend. Take care and stop worrying about the posts, they are great and if they weren't we'd understand. Best wishes x

Natalie said...

I am with you on this one, Snow.
Thinking of you.
From your friendly,
Axe murdering, kangaroo taming, special agent wench.x

Lisa said...

this is an interesting post for a man on drugs dear Snow.
I am going to print it out and give it some thought.
I have trouble with prayer in relation to a Divine power who will allow one child to die and another to live because someone fell to their knees and asked him to.

No, that doesnt sit quiet right with me and my vision of the Divine.

Prayer allows me 'to state an intention' 'or desired outcome' and therefore , release that intention to the universe.

Words have power.

hmmm........ a very interesting post.......

Hope all is as good as can be dear Snow- i am sending my intention to the universe that you will be well- yes, that is pretty much the same as praying...........

over and out
roger dodger xx

Gaston Studio said...

What a beautiful post! I love that you set up your own little church in your yard, complete with family Bible.

Truly Westbrook, what a fabulous name. It sounds as if your father was like my father, old Archie Bunker himself. I hated that as a child and was so embarrassed by him and things he said.

You don't have anything to apologize for; thank God (or whoever) that we're all individuals and each have different thoughts.

Renee said...

Okay now I think I may have to read this about 10 times a day because it is a gift.

'I believe because it is absurd.'

Your question can't be answered so it is safer to dismiss it. That always happens doesn't it.

I could get so carried away in this post, that I almost forgot to ask how are you feeling?

I'm thinking that it went great. Did it?

Okay back to the post because I seriously love it. It is fantastic.

I love the man whose name is Truly.

You are a thinker like my husband, so maybe you won't fit in wherever you go. You know at 60 (happy birthday) that people rarely go deeper than the surface.

I'm going to the hospital for about three hours for some treatment on my bones. Have a good day.

Love Renee xoxox

MarionL said...

I love the mental picture of you having your own little communion as a child. I don't think God's the bully many religions make Him/Her out to be. When I pray, I often get a mental picture of God as this beautiful dove from Psalm 91:2-4: "I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust. 3 Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence. 4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge..."

I recall my daughter at age 4 kneeling at the alter at our church praying for her daddy who was in trouble (it still brings tears to my eyes). To this day, I believe God rearranged our entire lives for the better in answer that little child's prayers.

Thanks for visiting my blog today. Did you ever get to experience the Natchitoches light festival with the fireworks at Christmas-time? That was a big event in our family growing up, the annual trip to the "Festival of Lights".

Hugs, Snow, and get well soon!!! You're a beautiful light in this dark, dreary world.

Snowbrush said...

Thank you all so much for your thoughts and well-wishes. Now for my responses to a few of your points.

"won't comment...whatever works and harms none can't be a bad thing." Renee

I think you commented a lot, in substance I mean. You raised some serious questions about which philosophers are by no means in agreement. I would hold that truth is desirable for it's own sake. In response, you might ask if I would prefer to know a truth that would injure me deeply, or would I prefer to believe a rosy misrepresentation that would hurt no one and would make my life better in every measurable way. My answer is that I would prefer the truth. I do not believe that a deeply held love for the truth can be conditional. I think of truth as a jealous mistress. Do I never lie, then? Yes, I sometimes lie, and other times I exaggerate. I am forever working toward greater honesty, but I also recognize that total honesty about all things all the time would be unkind and unfair. Truth is not a virtue to be worshipped to the exclusion of other virtues.

"...this is an interesting post for a man on drugs." Lisa

I took two of a possible four Demerols yesterday morning, and didn't take any other narcotics until early this morning when the pain woke me up. Still, I place a high value upon remaining as functional as possible even when high. As a young man, I thought that half the point for getting ripped was acting ripped. As a sixty year old, I consider such behavior shameful. Dignity becomes ever more important to me as I age; an older man is without excuse in regard to many behaviors.

"roger dodger" Lisa

I saw the movie for the first time recently. Have you seen it? It's good.

"Did you ever get to experience the Natchitoches light festival with the fireworks at Christmas-time?"
Marion

Yes, I have been in Oregon for most of the last 23 years, but spent nearly all of my first 37 years in the area of Brookhaven, Mississippi. My wife, Peggy, and my mother, and I drove over one Xmas, and enjoyed ourselves very much.

Snowbrush said...

Oops, I missed a direct question.

"...how are you feeling? I'm thinking that it went great. Did it?"

I will save saying a lot about this until I make another blog entry, but for now will say that I am feeling very well indeed, considering. Peggy is home all week, and is cheerfully taking care of all my needs, and I AM ABLE TO TYPE WITH BOTH HANDS. My main problem, and it's a big one, is that I'm worried that I will accidentally move a certain way and rip the stitches right out of that severed tendon.

I look forward to hearing how the work on your bones comes out. For those who don't know, Renee is dealing with stage four inflammatory breast cancer.

Michelle said...

It was my comment Snow, and I stand by it. I have my 'truth' that I live by but I don't think your 'truth' is any less valid than mine. We all seem to search for the same answers and find them in different places.
That is why I don't have an 'opinion' as such on religion or belief systems, as long as nobody is getting hurt.
I seen and experienced much damage from people believing that their truth is the only truth.

Just clarifying a little :)

Snowbrush said...

Michelle, IF I understand you correctly, you are implying that we either (a) each consider everyone's truths equally valid or (b) we run at least some risk of oppressing one another for what we perceive to be the other person's error. My response would be that, if objective reality exists, all "truths" cannot be equally congruent with that reality.

For example, if I say a certain line is two feet long, and you say that it is three feet long, we can both be wrong, but we cannot both be right.

I would also hold that some moral standards are likewise not simply a case of personal opinion. For example, I would hold that some definition of pedophilia is always, everywhere, and in every situation wrong.

Bill said...

Good old Tertullian. Is that statement from before or after he became a Montanist? I guess it really doesn't matter as it is certainly thought-provoking nonetheless. I respect your view of prayer as it seems to be a pretty sophisticated one. There is a lot of misunderstanding out there as to what prayer really is and what is it's purpose (in Christianity at least). I like your view as it has an element of inward transformation and dedication according to your values.

Bill said...

Also, I think people who believe in a God who will save one infant over another just because someone dropped to their knees and prayed are very misled in what they think. As a Catholic Christian who happens to be a semi-theologian, that sort of thing just astounds me. Its a wonder I am a believer at all as I see myself as a skeptic in many ways.

Snowbrush said...

"I think people who believe in a God who will save one infant over another just because someone dropped to their knees and prayed are very misled..." Bill

Bill, I am always delighted when we can agree. In this instance, I don't understand what the rationale is for calling such a God just or compassionate, it appearing that his main motive is being sucked up to before he will do that which is right.

rhymeswithplague said...

Forgive this late comment, but in regard to your comment to Michelle on March 31st, it might depend on what each of you means by "feet"....

I'm not trying to be a smart-a$$, but sometimes I just can't help myself.

Which, by the by, is probably the best reason I know to believe in God.

Snowbrush said...

Rhymes, I'm so sorry to report that I must be missing something here as I don't see the word feet in either Michelle's letter or my response.