Thursday, March 31, 2011
I Don't Know What to Believe
I've been to church three times in my life. As a ring bearer in my parent's friend's wedding when I was five. Palm Sunday with Patrick Ewald when I was, maybe, 9? Once for an Armenian wedding, sometime in 1998.
We are not religious folk. Solipsism runs big in my family, for one thing, so I think the idea of any one member seeing the world as having a force more interesting than their own belly lint is highly unlikely. Also, they are bourgeois lefties. So, organized religion is out of the question from an intellectual standpoint.
Ohio, though, is God-ish. I have delightful friends who are churchy. Some because they were raised that way, and it's a habit, and others who believe, I presume, in the presence of God. Bully for all of them. Truly.
Somewhere between those two extremes is a whole lot of fudgey goo. I live in there somewhere.
I don't believe in God, but I think atheists can be kind of a downer. I believe there are powerful forces at work that I don't understand and I am highly tuned to miraculous moments. But I'm likely to assign those miracles scientific benefit-of-the-doubt.
The universe, of course, has these stunning, transcendent moments too. Like when you are sitting on lawn chairs, discussing the finer truths with your best friend, and a massive flock of small-winged, migrating birds flies overhead - a flock so large that it casts a shadow across the grass and causes a small current of air to blow down on your hair. The moment is the finest amalgam of science and nature, but let's face it, it's also fucking Godly. So who am I to say?
Sometimes its awkward. Especially raising kids. What to say to kids about any of this? To say you don't believe in God is like denying there is a Santa Claus. It's like you are discounting the existence of magic. I do believe in magic. Magic and puppets.
The universe, you see, is magic. Like when you hear your friend's writing about grief, written and spoken with that most accessible and nimble kind of language, the kind that cuts you down the center like a laser, so clean, that you hardly know you're bleeding out and being cauterized all at once. The universe serves up these beautifully plated moments.
When I read about Anne Lamott's God, I am a believer. Her God seems like someone I'd want to hang out with. A guy who totally gets it all, has that omnipotent humor -is in fact the funniest person in the universe -and who loves you no matter how big a fuck up you are or think you are. I could believe in that guy.
Also, and this is a minor point, Love is God. Not the other way around. That's why I'm doubty and skeptical.
Also, I believe in manners. Doing a kindness. I think being truly open and kind is its own religion and can change the world.
I believe laughter cures by shining warm light into your dark places. Laughing airs you out and removes fungus.
I believe in loyalty. You, all of these people, I'm with them. These are the people on my life raft. You're all coming with me.
What happens when you die? You live in all the good memories people have of you while your body becomes dark soil in which other, smaller things, grow. I'm totally good with that. I think its perfect and beautiful. Who am I to complain?
As for God, I wish them well.