Being a part

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.

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