Archive for November, 2012

Faith in the Giant

Saturday, November 24th, 2012

Noah, offering balance to our lives, is exuberant in his Christianity. He counters Evan’s quasi-scientific condemnations with good old fashioned proofs: “I know God is real because when I pray for things they happen.”

I get a little scared and warn him away from this. I’m familiar with seeing belief as a way of getting what we hope for. I point out it’s pretty easy to run that line of hopefulness straight into a wall.

But Noah is cheerful in his faith (and happy to repudiate his brother). The family sits before dinner with hands held, ready to give thanks. Evan grumbles and growls and keeps his on his lap. Noah raises the arm of a parent on either side, and beaming toward heaven, gives loud thanks to the Lord for the meal.

Being a part

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

I listen to my conversations with Evan about religion, and I feel it’s all been said before; that it’s always said, in each generation. While we appear to be moving along in so many ways, in this discussion nothing has changed at all. Evan is young, and feels there is something true about his world – true and necessary, the facts of reality, to which all of us necessarily must respond identically. I’m basically telling him stories; stories people have received from our ancestors which explain who we are and how we must live.

I think we like stories. I’ll easily believe we can’t, in fact, think in any other way. This seems obvious nationally, and raises the same deep question – about who and what we are – being wrestled with by Evan and Dad at the kitchen table. It was known of a certainty who would win the recent presidential election, yet all were riveted by the ‘story’ of Romney’s possible success. There is zero probability of calamitous policy change on January 1, yet all are riveted by the ‘story’ of a ‘fiscal cliff.’

I tell Evan how religion explains suffering and offers hope, how it justifies our desires and legitimates our anger. He tells me how truth can be discovered through inquiry and how we just ‘know’ the difference between right and wrong. He hasn’t been drawn into the crossfire. He hasn’t been forced into giving two opposing answers to a single question. Maybe this is why the young occasionally actually do something: they’re operating closer to reality. They haven’t quite assimilated the script.

Once we believe our story we’re done for. Evan would say, ‘once you believe in religion, you’ll just do what you’re told.’

I hope there comes a moment in our experience when we can know this, when our allegiance to the tales of ancestors and friends lifts, and we can act in a world as it is. In the ancient text the lawgiver asked the Lord, ‘who shall I say sent me?’

‘I am that I am. I am sent me.’

Everything ruptures. All things fall apart. We move, for once, on solid ground. We build a new city. We are doing. We are being. We are a part of what is becoming. And in the breath it takes to tell it, we become our children’s next ‘true’ story.

Belligerent atheism

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

I watched a comic anti-religion movie with Evan. The host/narrator laughed his way through common-sense interviews with a range of religious characters, all awkward and absurd in their convictions as such people inevitably are. Evan, who’s keen for me to see the light and abandon my love of Jesus, waited silently at the end. And I waited. So at length he asked, ‘so, do you think he’s right?’

‘Yep. I pretty much agree with everything he said.’

‘So?’

I wondered if he was waiting for me to stand up and make a renunciation right there.

‘I think, Evan, that unless or until you feel a private need for faith in your life, this is the best approach for you to take.’

He looked a little let down. His dad apparently hadn’t budged. But we’re getting closer to covering the point. I think the basic fact of living experience is someone loves us. On the whole, we continue to exist because this is true. Furnished with biological imperatives alone, we would decline and cease. We do not. We perpetrate the worst horrors on each other, but our survivors are healed and forgiven and warmed to love again.

I don’t like any other versions of the story. My life is purely an echo of love – not just from others (though I am indebted forever, thank you all), but from something that feels like love itself.

My life is a foxhole, and I’m going to worship something. Evan stands so strong and healthy and beautiful in the sunshine, and knows nothing of hate or personal defeat. I’m pleased the Lord has put him in the hands of the atheists until he is ready.

Election day

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

I asked the boys what they think of the election. Evan was pretty quick with the prevailing pop-culture analysis:

‘Well, Romney’s just going to do the rich people thing, and he could always hear some voice in his head and think it’s God, and do whatever messed up thing it tells him to.’

I asked him about my perception of a monolithic governing structure store-fronting a plutocratic technocracy, and whether he sees any sense in simply voting against the entire system. He shrugged me off.

‘There are only two possible winners. You choose the best one.’

When I questioned Noah, he jumped up with a broad grin and raised one arm, shouting, ‘I think we should take money from the rich and use it to protect the environment!’

So I prodded, ‘who does that mean you’d vote for?’

He replied, ‘I think Obama would be better for that.’