Monday, August 02, 2010


What, I have been asking myself of late, is an asocial type like myself doing in such an anthropocentric religion as Christianity ?

This must be what I have heard called a "neuralgic" point: one of those body bits that zing unpleasantly when touched, like the carpal tunnel or the not-so-funny bone. Or, by analogy, a philosophical sore spot.

I had nightmares, as a child, of impending, smothering doom accompanied by a sense of horrid, tingling-unpleasantly-all-over paralysis, likely the paralysis that accompanies REM sleep, but terrifying. I'm entering a nightmarish whole-body-neuralgia state in my metaphysical life, and I do not like it one bit.

A good Christian does not regard Jesus as a hypertrophied homunculus sticking like a sore thumb out of the side of the Godhead. A good Christian does not grumble to herself about "the idolatry of the family," during a sermon. A good Christian does not pine for the mystical in the midst of the busily, helpfully practical: that would bring her dangerously close to what the Presiding Bishop calls "the great western heresy of individual salvation." Indeed, a good Christian does not consider the whole notion of salvation -- individual or communal -- as suspect, and does not shudder at the mere mention of eschatology. A good Christian should not find the whole idea of "prayer" as virtually impossible, or regard the concepts of "God loves you" and "God delights in you" with utter incomprehension, or cringe at the words "faith" and "belief."

You get my drift.

The daily lectionary has moved from the merry, God-sponsored genocides of Joshua to Judges, a book so rife with convoluted tales of political and religious treachery, violence and deceit that I find it, I am sorry to say, not only unedifying but unreadable.

Sometimes it seems to me that a single short poem by Ryokan or Han Shan -- a mere haiku by Basho, for goodness sakes ! -- embodies/expresses/points to more metaphysical reality than the whole Bible, and all the turbulent streams of theology that have issued and issue still from it.

Existential emergency ? You bet.

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