Buckets of tears

I’m in pain, I’m weak, and I’m afraid of taking Yoga (having killed a vertebra in my neck and made my shoulders worse the last time I tried), so Loren and I start our relationship with an exchange of emails about her church-sponsored Yoga class. She thinks it will help me, and her enthusiasm is contagious. (From her first letter, I saw her as bringing the kind of energy to Yoga that Steve Irwin brought to reptiles.) Then, knowing I’m an atheist, she warns me that the class will contain language about God. I go anyway. After all, it’s held at a church where she is a member, and I’m choosing to attend a limited number of events at that church partly because I want to know what religion means in the lives of mature and deep-thinking Christians. After my first class, I feel peaceful and even healthy for the first time since I dont know when, and the feeling lasts for two hours.

We continue to correspond, somedays several times. Loren gives me good advice. I know it’s good advice because I could have given it to myself. As much as possible, she says, stay away from drugs, drink lots of water, and believe that I can get better. Yesterday, she wrote, just promise me that you will pay attention to the feeling better.. practice accepting that god IS all powerful.  that Christ is god and Christ does heal..

Did she forget that I’m an atheist? No, that cant be it, so how am I to react here? Am I mad; am I offended? No. I’m just puzzled, yet my puzzlement doesn’t make me want to pull away from Loren because I believe in her at a heart level. From the time of her first rapid-fire, unedited, and brimming over with support email, I trusted her, and one or two sentences (I can’t tell which given how she punctuates) isn’t going to change that, yet I can’t ignore what she wrote because that would be to invite more of the same. In class, I have to be okay with God-language, if I am to attend, but, depending upon how such language is handled out of class, its continuation could drive a wedge between us. I want so much to respond honesty yet lovingly that I write page after page after page, most of them with tears running down my face and my hands trembling almost too much to type. I often show great emotion when I write, but this time, Im doing my utmost to reach out to another person in a way that will work for both of us, and that multiplies my usual intensity. When I’m finally done, I don’t even know what I said, so the next day I get up and, without reading it, send her the following paragraph:

“Even if I thought that such faith as you possess would help me tremendously, I couldn’t accept it because integrity requires that I live in congruence with my best judgment about the nature of reality. I accept that faith in God represents your best judgment, and I should like it if you are able to accept that unbelief reflects mine. We have two choices. We can move apart because we don’t share a spiritual language, or we can come together in a place beyond language.”

In response, she tells me that she will work with me to find such a place, and then she tells me of the good that religion has brought into her life. Why, I wondered, could I not accept being told to trust God, yet I could easily turn right around and feel a passionate interest in hearing about her experiences with trusting God? I decide that it’s the difference between “I” statements and “you” statements. No one really understands where I’ve been or where I’m going, and they’ve hardly traveled the roads I’ve traveled, and they’ve certainly not sat by my side through hundreds of sleepless nights in which I agonized over religion, so any advice they give me is bound to miss the point. But when they talk about their experiences, they are sharing with me their world, and if I care about them I care about that world, not to change it, but to understand it, and even to love them the more because of it.

She closes with, “See ya tomorrow, you wonderful and blessed little atheist you.” I would have preferred stupendous or magnificent to little, but because I trust this person, I simply take her words to mean that we—the two of us—have successfully navigated around a scary obstacle. If we had failed, there might have been nothing left for us, and my loss of her goodness would have become another wound that I would blame on religion.

I’m bleeding, emotionally. I’m also sick, and I don’t know why. I went cold turkey on every one of my many drugs without having a clue what hell the consequences would be. I had thought I had reached a place of mellowness and near-acceptance of living with pain and disability, somehow overlooking the fact that a diet of the kind of drugs that people rob pharmacies at gunpoint for will do that to a person, and when you take those drugs away, the pain is going to hit him like a train hitting a butterfly, and the physical part of it will be the easy part.

I had my second Yoga class today, and Loren asked me to stay afterwards to talk. I said I would.

Two days ago, I had my first marijuana in weeks. I ate only an eighth of a small cookie, that being half my usual dose. Yet, that eighth of a cookie put me on the floor and took away my ability to make coordinated movements with my hands. I looked, from my place on the floor, at a little statue of Santa Claus, and saw that it was alive, and that it was looking back at me with frightening intensity. Next, I heard spirit voices murmuring overhead. Then came a swoosh, and they were gone. I made my way to the computer and sat down to write the trip out (writing beats the hell out of screaming, I’m sure, not that I’ve ever tried screaming), and that wasn’t easy considering that I was weak, trembling, crying, and un-coordinated. Two days later, and I’m still not back to earth. What I am is raw, hurting, bleeding. All the pain is right on top and threatening to spill over and engulf me. So, I feared class today. The first class was incredibly powerful, and I wasn’t even on the verge of becoming a puddle on the floor then, so I had no idea what such power might do to me today. I was afraid I would cry just from walking into the room, and my belief that Loren would welcome that made me the more afraid I might do it. Still, I went. 

I arrived early and lay on the floor, placidly listening to people talk until Loren started the asanas (exercises) and, with them, the God-language. She would say God, and I would substitute Satan because that’s what the Biblical God represents to me. Halfway into the class, she said, “Let your every barrier melt,” and I responded (silently), “NO! I will NOT do that because I don’t think it would be good for me or for the class!”

As the class continued, I felt ever more centered. I threw myself into the asanas while listening to her voice with delight, because I heard in it the voice of a friend for whom no meaningful words were needed. Then, jarringly, I heard the words:

God be in my head, and in my understanding;
God be in mine eyes, and in my looking;
God be in my mouth, and in my speaking;
God be in my heart, and in my thinking;
God be at mine end and at my departing.”

and I was taken back to the 1969 and visions of a priest I loved, a priest whom many, good Christians all, ridiculed because he butchered ritualistic language (he had a disability of some kind), but whose heart was so pure that I loved him the more because he botched ceremonies that I considered beautiful. I even came to love the ceremonies more because he botched them because botching them made them his ceremonies, and I loved him. His voice then was as Loren’s voice was today. It was the voice of my beloved and was perfect even in imperfection. I became an Episcopalian because of Father Hale (I will never call him Ed nor will I ever call another priest Father). At age twenty, God was already a non-entity for me, but Father Hale took his place.

At the end of every service, he would lead us in singing the 498-year-old words that Loren was now saying, and seeing him in my memory put a small crack in my dam. Then, his white-as-snow ghost entered the reality of the darkness before my closed eyes, and I reached toward it in my heart. Yet, no amount of love and no visions of ghosts could ever make me say his words, Loren’s words, in my own heart. Then, without thinking, I took out the word God and put in The Universe, and suddenly, I could say them, and I could even be more moved by them than I had ever been moved by them before. What’s more, I knew that Loren, at least, would applaud what she, in her effusive manner, might very well call my brilliance in finding a way to make the words work for me.

The universe be in my head, and in my understanding;
The universe be in mine eyes, and in my looking;
The universe be in my mouth, and in my speaking;
The universe be in my heart, and in my thinking;
The universe be at my end and at my departing.”

I have no idea how many people saw my tears, but Loren probably did, and I think Donna did too because they both asked me afterwards how the class went for me. “Okay,” I said, and then I tiptoed from the room (nearly tripping over the threshold and thereby demolishing my attempt at stealth). I snuck out because I didn’t think I could even talk to Loren without crying, and I didn’t want to do that, at least not the kind of all out crying that was welling up within me. Again, Loren was not the obstacle, it was my sense of place and timing that was the obstacle. Putting tears on paper is one thing. Showing them to someone is at another, more intimate, level. I’ve been to lots of peer-counseling meetings in which complete strangers bared themselves, and I learned that I could emote in such settings to an extent that few women, much less men, could, but I finally concluded that sharing tears with strangers is like having sex with strangers in that both have the appearance of intimacy and both feel awfully good, but without any real substance. Loren is not a stranger, but today I just couldn’t give her my tears because I was too overwhelmed, and our friendship was too new. Beneath my veneer of reserve and cynicism, it is sometimes too easy for me to trust people, and I have learned to mistrust myself in order to avoid doing so.

I posted this piece right after I wrote it and pulled it two hours later when it occurred to me that I should run it by Loren first to be sure that it represented her fairly. She wrote just now to say that it was fine.


The Tusk said...

there is a very famous tale of a man who was trying to krishna conciousness, and as he spoke to his deity in prayer every morning, his medtations were'nt getting him to the blissfull state he was working to attain. One morning his wife needed something of urgency, not wanting to miss his meditations and not wanting to dissappoint his beloved, he asked the deity what he should do, as he would ask every morning for help in attaining the blissfull state of conciousness. The deity whom many times would answer him, advised him to attend to his wives needs and that morning the deity would do for him, his morning victuals for his soul in prayer and meditation.

When the study came home to his wife with the deed performed of which she needed, the beloved commented on how possible he could have completed his task, when she had witnessed him in his medtations.

It appeared to the study, that the deity in fact had completed his morning meditation., and his wife had witnessed this and not himself in meditation.

The beginning of the new movie "The Life of Pi",
Discusses peoples belief and trials and tribulation.

I suggest this movie for you Snow.

angela said...

No your not crazy your a person who is ill and in pain, but your mind is agil and you are constantly asking questions and wanting to know answers. I live how you changed god to universe. I too feel its better. so sorry your in so much pain, having to change our lives to accomidate our pain is hard. I too am questioning. if I find any answers Ill let you know just as I know you will post your answers here. xxx

Snowbrush said...

Tusk, it was a beautiful story. You're the second person in two days to recommend the Life of Pi, and I do plan to see it.

"No your not crazy"

While you were writing this, I was deleting the part that you were writing about. I don't fear how much I share, but I very much fear sharing it badly. It's so easy to tip over into being maudlin and sentimental, and since I can't always tell when this happens--especially when I'm writing with great emotion--I try to play it safe and take out anything that even might be over the top, particularly if I consider it a diversion from my main theme. I know this must sound mechanical if not manipulative, but it comes from my desire to do this one thing that I can do well--that is to write--to the utmost of my ability. Just as music or art is life to some people, words are life to me. Photographers write of interpreting the world through a lenses. I interpret the world through words. On the one hand, words are an artificial construct and a limiter, but they also give my thoughts focus and discipline, and I really don't what I would do if I didn't have them. For decades, through all experiences and all emotions, I have turned to words to express beauty, to find consolation, to reach out to others, to understand the world, and even to stay sane. That which is very hard for me to give in person, I can give through my writing.

Myrna R. said...

I am so touched by your words, your honesty and your sincere search for wholeness and health. I love Loren for being such a good friend to you. I can't help but feel that you are not that different from her, but that you use different words to express your human experience and your perception of something that probably no one has been able to identify fully. I hope your friendship lives on.

Anonymous said...

This was beautiful - the story of two people meeting and helping each other. Loren sounds like a very special human being.

lotta joy said...

I was with you as I read your heart in words.

From one athiest to another, this is MY interpretation of your experiences. I hope I can write it in such a way as to not be mistaken regarding my intent. I don't mean to cause insult to injury, and you were definitely injured.

I think your first reaction was due to your feelings that you had, indeed, been snookered by someone you had placed your trust in.

You accepted the invitation much like a person will accept the invitation to "Take the car out for a test drive: no pressure."

Then return to find your car has been taken inside to be estimated for a trade-in.

You felt betrayed. You were given a sales pitch first, then the price.

YOU trusted Loren, then felt betrayed.

Just file it away as STICKER SHOCK.

Loren had good intentions - since she knew exactly what you needed - as do all christians. Her agenda was perfect in her eyes. A betrayal in yours.

Christians do that.

When in the presence of 'full rhythm' christians, they refuse to accept any improvements or feelings of relief as anything less than god's full influence.

You were trying, you were succeeding, you were feeling hope. Then you were told to accept the success and hope as god's blessings.

Please Snow. We've both been there. We both bought the t-shirts.

If they substituted the words 'god' with 'bullshit', they would instantly stop improving because they actually do believe it's god giving the benefits: not the actual work and better lifestyle they're implementing into their lives.

It's the same thing all over again, ad nauseum.

I have no problem attending the functions at Joe's church, because they all seem to be there for the companionship. Every person so far has mentioned how cold and rigid other congregations were - until they found THIS one.

If they were attending church only for the benefit of learning and serving god, any church down here would be suitable.

But they navigated to this one SOLELY for FRIENDSHIP. If there was a push to make it god related, I'd be outta there in a heartbeat.

Birds gotta fly, fish gotta swim, and Christians gotta proselytize.

IF YOU CAN survive this setup and Loren's expectations for a sudden breakthrough for you, if you must chant, I would bet that substituting the word "MIND" would be more beneficial.

And hell, brother, don't feel ashamed and whisper. You'll just add the feeling of being a hippocrit to all the other hurts you've received there.


And that's another thing that christians preach, but don't do.

Joe Todd said...

It's Monday LOL... Glad the yoga etc. seems to be helping... Life is a journey. It has taken me most of my life to be able to live life on lifes terms..sure makes things easier.

Snowbrush said...

"YOU trusted Loren, then felt betrayed."

No, no, no, no, no, my dear friend. Betrayal would be way too strong a word, especially in light of the fact that I came away trusting Loren even more. I could do this partly because I don't think Loren is going to do like many of the more devout Christians do, which is to pretend friendship with a nonbeliever until the moment they give on converting him or her, at which time they do what the Bible commands, which is to shake the dust from their feet and walk away. Now, THAT'S betrayal, and it leads nonbelievers to view Christians as being no better than insurance salesmen who act like really care, when all they really want is to sell a policy.

When someone is at frazzled as I've been lately, not many people are up for that degree of intensity (notice the few responses that this post has brought), and Loren is. I think she might not be taking my atheism as seriously as she should, but since I'm attending a church-sponsored Bible class and a church-sponsored yoga class, I consider it understandable that she might be confused or, at the very least, assume that I am. In any event, I've had two people at this church (two who know of my atheism) reach out to me. Loren is one, and Judy (who, of all things, was born in McComb, Mississippi, one town down the road from where I was born) is the other. Judy is more like I am, intense within but restrained without, whereas there is little to nothing about Loren that's restrained. I've only met one other person who was anything like Loren, and if I don't grow old and die with Loren in my life, it won't be because I didn't want it to be so. Thankfully, there's nothing sexual about our feelings for one another because I, at least, sure the hell don't need that kind of a complication, and given that she's married, I doubt that she does either.

"I ACCEPT YOU AS YOU ARE...that's another thing that christians preach, but don't do."

Are atheists any better, do you think? Is it acceptance to believe, as atheists often do, that Christians are either weak, or stupid, or both? And how would MOST other atheists feel about me if they knew I was going to this church, much less if I came in one day and proclaimed, "Hallelujah, I've found Jesus!" I don't know, Lotta, but if the situation was reversed (especially in regard to finding Jesus), I might conclude that such a person was to be pitied. In fact, I did just that when my friend, Katie, had a psychological breakdown and came out of it a Christian. Yet, to my credit, I wanted to be her friend anyway, but when her proselytization efforts failed, she needed to the dust-shaking bit and walk away.... Even so, was I offering Katie acceptance or tolerance? At the time, I think it was tolerance, but I also think that a really wise person, whether Christian or atheist, would find it within themselves to offer true acceptance.

I've disagreed with two things you've said, but that's good, as I see it, because you always make me think, and being stimulated to think is a whole lot better than being in agreement.

"It has taken me most of my life to be able to live life on lifes terms..sure makes things easier."

I think you mean in the sense of trying to force your will on that which isn't going to change to suit your desires. Is that right?

lotta joy said...

I read my comment several times before I hit publish. To ME it was perfect, but then again, I'm given to writing the way I talk: Shorthand.

I know it seems I paint all people with the same brush, but it's just in the vernacular of how I talk.

In my error of saying all christians proselytize, it is only due to the fact I've never yet met one who doesn't,(including myself when I WAS one). Every church I've ever attended always had a "battlecry Sunday" where we were to go out into the world and bring people back to the church. Nothing was ever mentioned about hog-tying them, but I'm sure some fanatics would have, if told to do so.

I certainly HEARD a wounded heart in your writing. Now I assume it was not from feeling betrayed, but more sadness over the fact we (you and I) are WAY past the point of falling gently into the peace that others claim is christ.

Sometimes I wish I could return to being gullible, but I truly never did swallow everything: hook, line, and sinker. I was, and remain, a person hungry for the facts. I question everything to death.

rhymeswithplague said...

I've been away in the mountains of western North Carolina for a few days, so please do not interpret my absence from this thread as "a shaking off of the dust" because it wasn't/isn't.

You have put your finger on a very good point in the difference between "I" statements and "you" statements. And even though I continue to make my choices and you continue to make yours, I want to be that wise person you spoke of who offers true acceptance.

Saying "Satan" instead of "God" is a bit of a shocker, but the rest I get. I want to love ____ with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength and my neighbor as myself. It sounds as though you do too. When I fill in the blank with "God" and you fill in the blank with "universe" we are not that far apart (except that the universe didn't die for our sins, of course).

Snowbrush said...

"I've never yet met one [a Christian who doesn't [proselytize]...Every church I've ever attended always had a "battlecry Sunday" where we were to go out into the world and bring people back to the church."

Wowzee, you must look a sweeter than I do because they hold up crucifixes and cross the street when they see me coming.. Not counting the two denominations that send people out to knock on strangers' doors, I have been the object of proselytization so few times that I can remember the ones that occurred decades ago, and came with all the ambiance of a used car lot.

"I certainly HEARD a wounded heart in your writing."

No argument there.

"Now I assume it was not from feeling betrayed"

No, but if you thought that, others--especially in this church--might also think that, and I am horrified by the thought. Often when something I write is still fresh, I can see VERY clearly in it what I MEANT to say, but that doesn't mean that other people will be so clear. That's why I usually edit posts for days, and even weeks, before I post them. This went up the same day, and I fear that my haste might have been a mistake.

"(you and I) are WAY past the point of falling gently into the peace that others claim is christ."

I really don't know how much "peace" the average Christian gets from his or her faith versus from the support of the church community. I would guess that if you took a Christian away from other Christians, and put that person down in mostly secular Scandinavia where Christians are considered eccentric if not delusional, his or her religion would become less important everyday. This parish that I'm attending provides its members with so many opportunities for worship and interaction (a Saturday Eucharist, four Sunday Eucharists, and numerous other events throughout the week, sometimes two or three of them a day) that you could fill your life with people who endlessly echo your belief in the power of Christ, the efficacy of prayer, and so forth. In other words, an active church constitutes a sheltered world in which the downside of religion and even the crimes of society can be ignored. Just from going to this church, I can well imagine how horrifying it must be to my readers when I criticize Jesus, because they are so sheltered from anything that might trouble them about their religion. No matter how well I TRY to present my views, I still represent a challenge, and I vey much doubt that they're going to want me there over the longterm, and I would anticipate my main opposition as coming from the priests rather than the people. Paid Christians nearly always represent the status quo.

Snowbrush said...

I put this up, and then felt the need for some editing.

"do not interpret my absence from this thread as "a shaking off of the dust'"

I wouldn't do that. You wrote to me a few years ago that you were here for the longhaul, and I believed you. Now, after all that has passed, I believe you even more.

"Saying "Satan" instead of "God" is a bit of a shocker"

I meant that because I can't tell that the morals of the one are any better than the morals of the other.

"When I fill in the blank with "God" and you fill in the blank with "universe" we are not that far apart (except that the universe didn't die for our sins, of course)."

"Die for our sins," is a case in point, and if you stop reading right now, you will probably like me a whole lot better.

Now...What kind of a lame excuse for a deity was it that got himself pushed into a corner from which his only escape was to either condemn the whole world to everlasting hellfire or else to send "his only son" (his completely innocent only son) to be murdered so that the "guilty" (meaning everyone who doesn't worship said son) could avoid eternal torment? To you--in some way that I can't even begin to comprehend--this represents divine love, whereas to me it makes God sound like a childish, insane, ego-driven, thoroughly depraved, psychopathic monster. I see the Biblical god as the worst being imaginable. He makes Satan look downright cuddly if only because Satan's power is limited, whereas this God of yours can do any stupid and evil thing and fool himself into calling it HOLY. Your God, as I see him, is the equivalent of a father who proclaims himself unable to forgive his child for not eating its spinach until the child's puppy has been chopped into pieces and burned so that "the sweet fragrance of sacrifice" could delight said father's nostrils. The main divergence between you and me comes, not so much from the fact that I see no reason to believe in the existence of your God, but that your God strikes me as so utterly unworthy of love, respect, or any emotion whatever other than boundless contempt. I really and truly have no clue how you can worship this...THING that you call God, because even if I thought he was real, I couldn't worship him. I could fear him in the same way that I would fear any evil creature that had me in its control, but to bow before him in heart-felt adoration! Horrors.

December 11, 2012 10:50 AM

Deb said...

I enjoyed reading this. I always find your views and atheism and your search for answers (as most of us continuously search) amazing. People can preach to you all they want - it's what's in YOUR heart that matters. I was reading Lotta Joy's comment and nodding my head, "I ACCEPT YOU AS YOU ARE...that's another thing that christians preach, but don't do."----- I'm Christian and see many Christians telling me, "I accept you....BUT..." Each person's road/journey/path or donkey trail is so so very different. Many Christians put a bad taste in people's mouths, especially those who are curious about their faith. It's a shame really.

Whatever fits for you --- is perfect. If it's "universe" ---- perfect. If it's "mind" ---- do it. Heal yourself. You've been through enough and wow, you have really taken a huge step toward recovery. I give you so much credit for going cold turkey. Keep it up! Healthy body, healthy mind, and well, maybe healthy spirit? ;)

Thanks for sharing this. Read every. word. -- loved it! Loren's a good egg.. for just sharing of herself with you and accepting you.


rhymeswithplague said...

I put in that parenthesized part against my better judgment and I apologize. It was wrong of me to provoke you in that way, because I knew what sort of response I was likely to get.

I do think that if you take your last paragraph and show it to your new friends down at the Bible study/yoga group you won't be bothered by them any more.

Helen said...

Thanks so much for leaving a comment on my poem ... it was my favorite comment! I never know how you are feeling, what is influencing your words ... I just know I enjoy reading you. Still dry over here on my side of the mountain ....

Snowbrush said...

"I'm Christian and see many Christians telling me, "I accept you....BUT..."

Yes, you and I share an understanding because we are both so often judged--if not utterly condemned and hated--by many people, but by Christians in particular. If someone tells me that he or she accepts me as I am, but that God is going to send me to hell if I don't change, I find the message confusing at best because I don't understand how they're able to accept someone who so obviously (in their view) deserves God's condemnation unless, of course, they disagree with God.

"I give you so much credit for going cold turkey."

Thank you. When you take drugs everyday, you can't help but wonder if you qualify as an addict, so I was very glad to learn that I could stop the drugs and not crave them. Of course, stopping them was hard, but coffee would be a greater problem as far as cravings are concerned. I know, because I've "been there, done that."

"It was wrong of me to provoke you in that way, because I knew what sort of response I was likely to get."

I guess I'm predictable around certain phrases--something like a bull around red capes. Yet, I didn't respond hyperbolically, but honestly. I would never goad you through exaggeration. I believe everything I said about God and Satan looking very much alike.

"I do think that if you take your last paragraph and show it to your new friends down at the Bible study/yoga group you won't be bothered by them any more."

First off, I'm not bothered. Secondly, I've given my blog address to everyone with whom I have regular contact, so I'm hardly trying to keep them in the dark. However, for me to say such things to them face-to-face and in a church setting would strike me as stupid, tacky, and, most of all, cruel. All that aside, I very much doubt that you will find many Episcopalians who believe that Christ died for their sins in order to satisfy an angry God's need for justice. There must be at least ten theories about why Christ's death was necessary, yet not all Christians would even agree that it was necessary.

"I never know how you are feeling, what is influencing your words ..."

"Never"? Given that I'm already going all out, I have no idea how I could be more forthcoming about what I think and feel regarding whatever subject I'm writing about, so to hear you say "I never know what you're feeling," is disconcerting because I don't know if it's just you, or if I'm really failing so abysmally. I wouldn't have you lie about it, certainly, but when it comes to what to do, I'm at a loss. I could about as easily start writing in Chinese as I could be more open about the truth as I see it.

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

I love your posts Snow...because they always make me think and question.

I have rather odd religious views. I think it is more about loving one another and being good to people. But, yes, I do believe our souls go on ...somewhere. I've had too many strange and wonderful experiences with lost loved ones who passed.

When you started using Universe in your Yoga practice... I was screaming YES... That to me is far more honest than any religion.

I LOVED Yoga back when I was healthy enough for regular practice. My aching back misses it!

Helen said...

I should not have used the word 'never' .. what I meant was 'at any given moment' ... in truth, I wondered how you were feeling as you typed the comment .. were you high, in pain, sad ~ a combo of all three?

You are a talented, brutally honest, refreshingly candid writer ~~ I'm lucky to have found you!

(no chinese please?)

Snowbrush said...

This response is so long that I'm going to have to do it in two parts.

"I wondered how you were feeling as you typed the comment .. were you high, in pain, sad ~ a combo of all three?"

What comment, the one to you?...No, it couldn't be that one because I hadn't written it yet, so maybe you meant the one to Rhymes. Okay, I wasn't high, in pain, or sad. I had had a good day and my health was (and is) on the upswing, having been oxycodone, Cymbalta, and Neurontin, free for a month (I've had Ambien twice and marijuana thrice, and have no plans to give either of them up entirely).

I so hate the Biblical version of God that most American Christians accept, that I enjoy trashing him. I worry about offending Rhymes (in particular), but, of course, he's heard it all before and even said he could have seen it coming when he first commented because he knows that NOTHING about his God sets me off like this idea of substitutionary atonement (the "Just As I Am/Amazing Grace" version of God in which Christ dies in our place and for our sins). What he probably doesn't know is that, just as he might see my words about his God as the ultimate blasphemy, I see his belief in such a God to be the ultimate blasphemy (the ultimate DISHONORING of God), UNINTENTIONALLY, OF COURSE. When I attack his--the dominant American--version of God, I'm not attacking a deity whose existence I consider conceivable under ANY circumstances, but rather a despoiled version of the deity in which I would like to believe. You might say that, by attacking what I consider a "fallen" version of God, I am upholding another version of God, despite that fact that I consider him imaginary. I am ever bit as religious as Rhymes. I think we even feel something of a rapport because religion is a very deep issue for both of us. People say that, well, you're an atheist, so why the hell do you think about religion so much. Well, I would guess that a lot of atheists do (based upon the fact that the average atheist knows A LOT more about religion than the average Christian). An interest in God and religion is one thing and a belief in spirits is another. I just hope Rhymes will tell us if he had ever for a single moment entertained the possibility that I see my attack on his God as a defense of what I think the True God would be like IF the True God existed.

Snowbrush said...

To return to your question about how I felt, I enjoy and am stimulated by writing such attacks because I almost NEVER let myself express my feelings so strongly. I want to reach people rather than alienate them, and I realize that no believer is going to look favorably on a statement that immediately strikes him as the "unpardonable sin." Therefore, when I write like I did in that comment, it is nearly always in the moment and in response to Rhymes because he's my only reader who expresses a belief in a substitutionary atonement. When I say that I don't understand how anyone can believe as he does, I mean it, and I would REALLY like to know the answer, although I have no idea that he himself could give it to me. This stuff goes to the core. There are millions of Moslems--and a lot of Christians too if they could get away with it--who would kill me for talking about their God the way I talk about Rhymes' God. His God is the ultimate measure of good in his life, and he would believe this no matter WHAT his God did (as Job expressed it: "Though he slay me, yet will I trust him"). I believe in Rhymes just as much as I disbelieve in his God. I take it on faith that Rhymes is a good and virtuous man (he'll quote the Bible to dispute this) who is doing his damnedest to live a life of caring and compassion, and it is on that level that I feel close to him. When I say that I appreciate Rhymes for being a loyal friend and reader, I mean to say that Rhymes is right up there at the top of readers whom I value. As he said, if I read what I wrote to him to the people in my Bible class, it would be all over for me participating in that class. It's only one person out of millions who can hear my thoughts about his core religious beliefs and still want to know me. I just can't help wondering how to explain the fact that he and I are alike in some important ways, yet we're not just in opposition regarding God, we're in total opposition as to how we interpret God (using faith, in his case; and theory in mine).

"I love your posts Snow...because they always make me think and question. "

Your words make my heart sing.

Robin said...

What a post.... I was spellbound, reading every paragraph with anticipation.

Wow. I am feeling happy that you have met Loren...and have discovered Yoga.

And..yes... please go see "Life of Pi".....


♥ Robin ♥

rhymeswithplague said...

Wow, we had a full bowl of Wheaties this morning, did we?

The True God (to use your expression, and yes, He does exist) certainly does not need your defense, nor is He diminished by your rants.

But He is constantly looking and listening and loving you anyway.

Snowbrush said...

Thank you, Robin.

"The True God...is constantly looking and listening and loving you anyway."

You say that your God is all powerful, all merciful, and all just, yet he did nothing while those children were being killed today. Where was his justice? Where was his mercy? No doubt many parents who had children at that school are calling it a miracle that their children survived, and thanking their God for his great mercy. It is just such a view of God that I consider blasphemous. To say that God is well-meaning but ineffectual is one thing, but to say that he is, as you claim him to be, a God of justice, power, and mercy is to ignore the fact that nothing can atone for his unwillingness to intervene when evil is happening. You would. I would. Yet we are imperfect. You might very well say that his ways are not our ways, and all I can say to that is that I'm very glad that you and I are better than your God, because if we acted as he does, none of us would even try to stand in the way of evil.

kylie said...

when i first read this post i really wanted to comment but then you pulled it and i got busy and didnt come back.
now that i'm here again and finished reading i find i have nothing much to say because i was going to recommend the substitution of "universe" for "God" It's what i do all the time, people find it way more acceptable to talk that way.
I have recently been very disheartened by ignorant and aggressively anti-Christian comments in a couple of places so I am relieved that you are always respectful, I dont expect everyone to believe but i do hope they will respect my view as I do theirs.


rhymeswithplague said...

Since you are holding both sides of the conversation and putting words into my mouth without my help, I presume my participation is not required.

But I do want to say this: Death, every death, is tragic, but the old "if one child dies, where was God?" argument won't wash. As far as I know, the mortality rate is one per person. Everyone is born (you, me, children in Connecticut, soldiers in Afghanistan) and everyone dies (you, me, children in Connecticut, soldiers in Afghanistan). How a death occurs does not alter the basic shock of it. God was before any of us and will be long after any of us. We come from dust and our bodies all return to dust. Shaking our fist at the one who created things that way, though, just makes the journey more painful.