It was the type of blasphemous discourse that can only happen when friends have a proper drunk-on, and started with the question, “do you believe in God or some higher power?”
“Why? With all the crappy things that have happened to you, how can you believe in a higher power?”
Simple. If there isn’t a higher power, there would be no reason for all this crap to happen. If there isn’t a Reason, then there can be no hope. If there is no Hope, I would have laid down and died years ago.
Spluttering, he said, “But what kind of reason would a higher power have to allow crap to happen?”
I don’t know. And the not knowing, combined with surety of the premise that there must be + hope = faith. The question is faith in what.
After my friend left after our drunken debate, I started playing playing Dragon Age, a role-playing game on XboxI have now played through several times – there are slightly different variable each time. In “speaking” with one of the main characters, a different set of dialogue came up than I had ever seen: “Call it god, call it spirit, call it whatever you want, you cannot find it if you do not seek it.”
What is the nature of God? I don’t presume to know.
It is not the cruel god of my parents, who gives a set of laws deny me a place in the afterlife. It is not the God of the gold lined churches, bleeding their parishoners dry and raping their children, and sweeping it under the cover. It is not the God overseas now feared here by whipping his followers into acts of terrible war.
But that is not God. That is humankind twisting what they believe to be the truth in the interpretation of their particular holy texts, should they even have read it. Horrible, horrible things have been done in the name of God, and is virtually never about faith, but about human power struggles, and the fear of those wielding the power.
I remember being a counselor and a xtian campground – absolutely halcyon memories. Yet from today’s vantage point I understand how cults happen. When you have a group of impressionable people, and lead a fun, but structured program, you can do devastating things with someone’s head.
The moment you are in it though, all you feel is an acceptance of others, based on the commonality you all share. It is a beautiful thing to be able to fully accept another human being, and having a shared commonality makes it easier to do so.
It was actually a priest in university who helped me break through all the entangled feelings I had with self, and gay, and church. He showed me how to reinterpret every single “anti-gay” text in the bible, and put everything in historical context, as well as pointed out the hypocrisy of those who chose to apply particular sections of the same chapter. The he said two other important things: “walk away from God. Walk away from all churches. It’s a walk in the wilderness. When you are ready to find God, God will call you to seek him. At the same time, find out who YOU are and what YOU want. Because if you can’t begin to understand yourself, how can you ever be ready to understand the nature of God?”
My only response to that was; “what if He is actually a Her?”
The priest merely smiled. “Then some people are going to be really pissed.”
I’m finding my happier self again slowly. The bad stuff in life can make it harder to choose to enjoy the good stuff in life, then I remember that I’m a simple guy at heart, and I don’t really ask for much: good friends, good food, laughter, and puppy kisses.
I am goofy and gullible; loud and stubborn; with a sense of imagination that can take me further than I’ve ever wanted to go physically. I still want to believe in the goodness of people, until an individual gives me reason not too believe in him/her. I believe in love, thought it is not always been something that I have always had.
Even at forty – or maybe especially at forty – I am still interesting, balancing trying to feel safe with being bored, yet exhilarating in the small joys of life, and the large wildness of possibility. I have meaning. I have purpose.
And I have faith. And hope.