i have called you children
i have called you son
what is there to answer
if i’m the only one?
If I go looking for proof that Jesus was Christ, does that automatically rule me out of the Kingdom of Heaven? Christianity is, after all, primarily a religion of faith without the need for proof. Sola fide. Of course, there are four other solae, which to me makes no sense at all. “By faith alone” means by faith alone, not “…and then there’s scripture, Jesus, grace, and the glory of God. But who’s counting?” Rather a Spanish Inquisition sketch of a doctrine.
even if i come back
even if i die
is there some idea
to replace my life?
I don’t think Jesus was it, somehow. Wouldn’t our lives look a lot different today? Wouldn’t the ideas he espoused have taken root and flourished? Because I do have a hard time believing that a whole two thousand years of people continuing to suffer was what the prophets of old had in mind. These aren’t the end times. They’re no worse than what came before, after all. So it’s two thousand years and counting, and all the while we hurt. This world does not make sense to me as a post-Messianic world, big M because we’re talking about one subject of a lot of prophecies.
He had some good ideas, but human nature is stronger than those ideas. Were a divinity involved, somehow I expect the ideas would win out, that the Messiah is the healer of all of our ills. I’ve read plenty of testimonies and they were all so full of justifications and coincidences that I couldn’t believe. If you have to reach that far, you’re overreaching. That’s not God. That’s luck. And what about all the children who die of cancer, and the mothers and fathers who write about those children’s slow decline? Some live and some die; it’s arbitrary. The most desperately ill child recovers from a procedure that kills another who began the journey in better health. Faith isn’t a cure; faith is a coping mechanism. Atheists’ children live and die the same as Christians’, as Jews’, as Muslims’, as Pagans’ — shall I go on?
And having asked all of this, can I ever give in to any impulse to belong to a church? Even if I know it’s comforting bunk, but bunk just the same — no, no, I can’t. Not unless I find a way to reconcile suffering with the things for which Jesus died. How do Christians justify everything that’s happened outside their own worlds? That’s really God’s hand in our wars, our corruptions?
But it’s so tempting, I think as I watch from the outside. It’s so pretty in their shadowbox. It always was, even when I was a girl feeling out the world for my place in it. Even as I built my morality on the principles of a society building itself, I looked over my shoulder at the traditional values I was leaving behind. Then as now, I asked so many questions. I couldn’t stop asking questions. Question everything. Is that engraved on my family’s coat of arms? (As I’m listening to a documentary on the Georgian era in England, asking questions: why does our textbook not elaborate on the problems of workhouses? Why doesn’t it emphasize what a punishment they were?) I want to want the things they say I should want. Life is so much simpler wanting those things. (As I’m listening to the story of Dickens and his mistress, asking questions: if my world falls down around my ears, can I shave off the last eighteen years and blend in somewhere new?) I want to look forward to babies instead of dreading them — but of course I can’t forget what a disaster those babies would be if I let them grow up. I only have to look at myself. I want to trust one man to stay faithful to me forever and I to him, but a salesgirl catches my eye, and I know that at least I would be mistaken to attempt monogamy, never mind most of the people I’ve met.
What am I: flotsam, jetsam, lagan, or derelict? Can I be retrieved? Am I bobbing along or sunk under the sea? How did I get into this mess — was I wrecked or cast away? Speaking in more and less concrete terms at once, was I made this way? How and why? By what god, for what purpose? And if the shadowbox people are the right model, why create the rest of us at all? Cosmic joke, perhaps?
I often feel like the punchline.