Saturday, May 14, 2011
That there is something rather than nothing.
Note that it's a declarative, not a question. We can interrogate that declarative, but we must not transform it into a question, especially one prefaced with "why." That way madness, or at least mauvais foi, lies. Leave "how" to science; let science run with it as far as it can go, into complex regions light years beyond my understanding. I appreciate the parables science provides to the innumerate such as myself so we can catch a glimpse of these nether regions, these farthest fields -- astral fields, quantum fields, neural fields: the expanding universe is like a rising loaf of raisin bread.
That irreducible, dizzying, even nauseating declarative is the abyss beside which I've lived my life; it is what prompted me to become churched. Surely the word "God" can be used to indicate the vast and vertiginous "that there is" -- like a chord that contains all sounds, or white light that refracts into all possible color, and, at the same time, like the most perfect silence and most utter darkness.
So if I allow science its parables, then why do I chafe at In principio creavit Deus cælum et terram ?
It's a small step from that to the anthropomorphism and androcentrism of the religion of the benevolent (or angry, if that's your bag) Old Man in the Clouds and His henchmen, always men, writing on His (and their own) behalf and declaring their writings Truth, and not just Truth, but infallible Truth. Volumes of meticulously codified Infallible Truth in the name of the (god)fellow who had proposed simplifying the code to two commandments: love God, and love one another.
And, you know what else: I'm tired of stories. Of beginning, middle and end. Of plot, thick and thin. Of themes and characters and morals, of tragedy and triumph, of the throbbing pulse of human emotion. I am sick of the horse and rider thrown into the sea, of the babies dashed against the rock, of the Yahweh-sponsored genocides and land grabs, of the women bidden to veil and keep silent in church, of the psalmist's God's endless, tiresome and capricious rewards and punishments. I stare at the page and the words become opaque and absurd, letters like stick figures waving fingers at me, or ideograms from an extraterrestrial civilization. They jumble, fray, reassort, then, tissue-thin, disappear. Vocabularies and liturgies undergo the same dissolution: the elevated host, already wafer thin, becomes translucent, transparent then gone, thanks be to God.
Which may be the point, or at least one of the two points between which religious matters oscillate, the chatty and the dumbstruck.
And then there is the Tiber, the ever beckoning Tiber, my idée fixe, my louche paramour, my longed-for and detested stalker. "Sink or swim," he calls in the seductive tones of a Merman. I watch as that infatuated part of me wafts off toward the Call.
What she does not know is that I have stuffed her sweater pockets full of stones.
And, without her, what is left ?