Amy and I talk a lot about religion, having bonded over shared Kool-Aid. We got started on it again today, in part because I’ve had a coincidental lot of people asking me questions about God, and God managing our worries (I make a very poor Shaman, by the way), and because the narrow part of me–the Elese Williams in me–is spitting mad that certain of my former friends and colleagues will take the publication of a vampire novel as evidence that I was, indeed, an Ishmael sent from Satan to distract the fool I nearly married from his ministry.
I said this to Amy, and she understood. She said, “”Lane, you can’t stop him from being wrong. According to [him] what is ‘right’ is if you have no personality, you adore your man and submit blindly, if you blissfully throw your glasses out the window believing for a healing of your eyes, if you shut the door on gays and divorcees so that they may be turned over to satan, and you take money from the mentally ill to store up for them their treasures in heaven… It’s a freaking honor to be told by [him] that you’re Wrong. I only hope I can live my life more Wrong than I have to this point.”
Amy and I are alike there, thus proving them right that I do have a “spirit of rebellion” on me/in me/oppressing me. If being Right means being one of them, bring me the chicken bones and the voodoo stick. Actually, it’s not a spirit of rebellion. It’s a genetic gift from those Williams Girls.
We’ve also been talking about all things turning to the glory of God. The other day, I had to explain to someone that I am pretty much a heathen now. I am as bohemian in my beliefs now, as I once was zealous.
I believe in a Creator. I believe in the person and the godhood/Divinity of Jesus. I choose to follow Jesus’ message as mine, but I also choose not to follow other biblical non-godhead (i.e. Paul, Moses, Jeremiah) edicts about the roles of women in religion, homosexuality, divorce, racism, or–since I’m putting it all out there–genocide, of which the Old Testament is full. See, I’ve been around people who called themselves prophets, said God spoke to them, and built followings on their charisma. I don’t trust any of them. Dead. Alive. Canonized. Dismissed as heretics. I don’t believe in the concept that a man, or group of men can come together and determine which parts of a written narrative are Divine. What you see is my spiritual narrative unraveling before your eyes.
I do realize I am at issue with myself here, because dead, non-godhead people wrote the Gospels. I am afraid if I look at that too closely, I’ll be consoling myself with a version of, “It’s okay. You know how Santa is the ‘spirit of Christmas?’ Well, that’s like how Jesus is the ‘spirit of Christianity.'” I’m not ready to go there yet, though I have a strong suspicion that’s where I’m headed. And maybe that’s all right. I won’t know until I get there, will I?
I’ve always believed that Hell was separation from God. I don’t feel separated from Him. In fact, I feel closer to Him than I ever have. I find gratitude and humility welling up inside me daily, thankful for the blessings of my life, and so very, very humbled that this is the life I get to live. My mornings are filled with thanksgiving that comes from deep inside.
I digress. I said to Amy, regarding God handling your troubles, and all things turning to God’s glory: I believe that if we handle all things in a godly manner, good is bound to come out of it somewhere because…karma.
I mean that in whatever situation we find ourselves, our responsibility is to manage it in such a way that we are purely intentioned, peaceful in delivery, willing to listen in case we have it wrong, patient, careful with the feelings of others, loving, and not hypocrites. If we manage our situations according to those guides, good [no matter how small] will inevitably come, and that goodness is the glory to God.
It isn’t about angels with fiery swords mowing down enemies, so we can dance victoriously on their heads. It’s about a carpenter with a gentle spirit, speaking loving words so that his enemies changed their ways. Meekness.
Amy said: I believe there is a god and he protects the grand scheme of things. I believe he maintains balance in his universe. I believe the earth maintains balance in herself. I do not believe we are individually significant in the greater scheme of things. I believe a system of rewards and punishments has been set up (karma) and we all abide by it whether we like it or not. I do not believe god is handing out pardons like a benevolent governor. I do not believe god cares about your college basketball team. I do not believe god cares where you left your car keys. I do not believe god is so concerned with your “suffering” as you are—I think that after all god has seen, he sees your suffering as “living”.
Then, she said something that turned one of my sacred cows over on its ear. See, for a decade I’ve been saying, “It’s about following the example of Jesus, and living up to the example of his life.” I can bang that drum like nobody’s business. Amy said: “Jesus cannot be anyone’s example because he was a god. People need to get over that. To say he came to earth as a man so we could follow in his steps… look. He turned water into wine. Only kids at Hogwarts can do that, last I checked. And he multiplied loaves and fishes to feed 5,000. To suggest that if you only had enough faith you too could accomplish this is to spit in the eye of the women whose babies are starving.”
Clearly, she and I are talking about different things in Jesus being an example, but I think we both make equally valid points. We aren’t gods, and we can’t perform magic. We can’t expect to be able to wave our hands around and cure cancer like Jesus did. What we can do is open our arms and embrace the sick and work toward their health.
Amy and I know a little bit about spit in our eyes. Amy knows more about it than I do, having had it said to her that it was her lack of faith, and her religious short-comings that made her daughter sick. I was just told that I was spiritually defective for asking questions.
You know, I don’t know where my spiritual journey will take me. I don’t know where I’ll end up in eternity. (Although, I feel like I should be afraid to say that. I’m not. It’s a statement of fact.) All I know is that I can’t ever stop thinking or asking why I believe what I believe, and I have to examine the answers. And I am surprisingly unconcerned. All I can say is that it is well with my soul.