LAKES AND MARRIAGE
Yesterday we went on a picnic at Pinecrest Lake, near Strawberry, CA. It was hot and crowded. Nuff' said.
Today is my sister's first wedding anniversary. One down, a lifetime to go.
All in all, I think they're doing a good job so far. Most truly fragile marriages end within the first year (or is it two years? I can't remember)...so perhaps their not out of the woods yet. Are any of us truly ever out of the woods?
Happy anniversary, you crazy kids.
Warning: Long post below
I'll have to admit that I'm of two minds regarding just about everything. Sometimes it feels as if there is literally two or ten different men living inside of me, each one battling the other for supremacy. "Two" minds doesn't even do it justice. I'm a plethora of feelings, thoughts, emotions, impulses, fears, desires, needs, wants and neuroses all wrapped together and sold as a single package. Everything of who I am -- every part of me -- eventually becomes emergent, so to speak, and becomes a facet of myself.
Lately, the religious part of me -- that sacred ghetto deep within the God part of my brain -- has undergone quite a bit of upheaval. My world has been truly rocked as a result. For those of you who haven't been following along (or who have forgotten), my journey has essentially gone like this so far:
Several years ago, I started applying what I would call my "critical thinking skills" to the Christian Faith. I had questions regarding all sorts of things -- the age of the earth, atonement, Biblical inerrancy, the nature of authority itself -- all of them very foundational to Christianity. In the process of discovery, I delved into an enormous amount of apologetic works, everything from .C.S Lewis to Norman Geisler, in an attempt to try and rationally work out my Christian experience.
In the end, I failed. Or Christianity failed. I can't quite decide which is more accurate.
As I began to critically examine the things that I believed, or the things that I was supposed to believe, I started to see that a very great deal of Christianity (the Scriptures, the Creeds, the deeds and sayings of Jesus, etc.) was not exactly grounded in what we would call "reality", so to speak. I'm not going to go into specifics here (that would take far, far too long), but I'd be happy to discuss them later or in private.
In an attempt to salvage my quickly sinking faith, I began to move towards a more relational "liberal" Christianity that wasn't bound by bronze-age myths and Messianic desires. Maybe the Earth really is billions of years old? Maybe Genesis is really just an allegory for God's creative activity? Maybe Noah's flood is an allegory for....ummmm.....God's childish temper? His profoundly indiscriminate wrath?
Anyway... Maybe the virgin birth is an allegory for Jesus' spiritual purity? Maybe the resurrection is an allegory of God's redemptive love? All of these ideas sounded very fine at the time (and still do, I might say), but eventually I came to a rather sad conclusion: In my attempt to make Christianity conform to the reality around me, I had gutted the Christian Faith of just about everything that anyone would recognize as historically Christian.
In short, I followed the road of Free Inquiry until it lead me to the Border of Christianity. Most people stop there, not wanting to find themselves on the other side. Me? I jumped the fence.
This is where the rambling paragraph that opened this post comes in. The intellectual side of me has rejected Christianity as being quite silly -- indeed, that part of me had logically destroyed just about all aspects of theism itself.
Yet deep within me there is still a flickering flame of faith. It's not logical, it's not rational or deductive or anything like that. You might say that it's emotional, irrational or even visceral. I *feel* the Love that other human beings (and even animals!) have for me and each other. I *feel* that there is some higher, greater Love that causes people to help AIDS orphans in Africa or volunteer at a hospice here in America. I've witnessed people overcome great personal betrayal and tragedy at enormous cost to themselves, all while remaining kind, decent people. It seems impossible, but it does happen.
The logical part of me rebels at the idea of supernatural intervention. Love is a collection of synapses firing within the brain. Fidelity is an evolutionary instinct that is common among higher primates. Compassion is nothing more than a group survival stratgey.
I know all of these things to be scientifically true, yet...
I *feel* so much more.
About a year ago, I woke up from a very strange dream with a very strange phrase running around in my head. A kind, gentle, female voice had spoken this to me while I slept:"All children will be your mother's children. All daughters will be your sister's daughters. All sons will be your brother's sons."
Odd, no? The logical side of me says that it could be almost anything. Auditory hallucinations are not unusual before and after deep sleep, nor is religious imagery uncommon in human dreams. Everything that I know about psychology tells me that my mysterous vision is more a product of a chemical imbalance than any deity.
I *feel* somehow that something more is at work in my life. Something more is at work in the universe. Perhaps not the Christian god, or any other god that humans are farmiliar with. I must be open to the possibility that these feelings I have really are just unreal events inside my head. But wait....even if something is only happening within my head, doesn't that still make it real? Even if this Over-Love that I feel exists only in the space between my synapses, is that not a physical reality? Is that not real?
Perhaps so. I need to ponder these things more in the coming days. I'll let you know if I think of anything interesting.
In the meantime, I leave you with a famous quote from Paul Tillich. Enjoy.
"Grace strikes us when we are in great pain and restlessness. It strikes us when we walk through the dark valley of meaningless and empty life. It strikes us when we feel that our separation is deeper than usual, because we have violated another life, a life which we loved, or from which we are estranged. It strikes us when our disgust for our own being, our indifference, our weakness, our hostility, and our lack of direction and composure have become intolerable to us. It strikes us when, year after year, the longed-for perfection of life does not appear, when the old compulsions reign within us as they have for decades, when despair destroys all joy and courage. Sometimes at that moment a wave of light breaks into our darkness, and it is as though a voice were saying, "You are accepted. You are accepted, accepted by that which is greater than you, and the name of which you do not know. Do not ask for the name now; perhaps you will find it later. Do not try to do anything now; perhaps later you will do much. Do not seek for anything; do not perform anything; do not intend anything. Simply accept the fact that you are accepted." In that moment . . . reconciliation bridges the gulf of estrangement. And nothing is demanded of this experience, no religious or moral or intellectual presupposition, nothing but acceptance." -Paul Tillich
WATER, WATER, EVERYWHERE...
...and many drops to drink! It just occured to me how much I love water. I mean, I drink the darn stuff every day. Several times a day, in fact. Sometimes I'll just be laying around, doing nothing in particular -- when, quite suddenly -- I'll be overcome with a tremendous urge to just guzzle me some H2O. Sometimes I feel like I couldn't live without it. Perhaps I'm a hydroholic?
In this weather? Oh yes.
It's been hitting triple digits here in the Valley the past couple days. I must say, however, that I'm much more acclimated to the environment now that I've lived here for the past few years. I figure that if I keep living in the Valley, eventually I'll be acclimated to the surface of Venus or the interior of a volcano.FURTHER UPDATES
: Sister is doing fine now, thankfully. Grandma is still dying. No surprise there. I'm actually doing quite well, considering the circumstances.
My life is just one sigh after another right now.
This morning my little sister was admitted to the hospital with uncontrollable vomiting and abdominal pain.
As of right now, I don't know what the verdict is, but apparently my sister is feeling a little better -- which is good to know. Knowing is beautiful, you might say.
I'll keep you all updated as I learn more.UPDATE:
My sister is apparently being released from the hospital now. The doctors think that she had contracted some kind of food poisoning recently -- which is what I figured as well. Still, it is scary because food poisoning can be dangerous for little kids. Hopefully things will be returning to "normal" around here soon...
is a terrible thing to waste.
When do you decide
that your life is a failure?
At what point does the truth
And what if the truth
(like a terrible houseguest, or your nasty cousins)
refuses to leave?
I think I need to go for a walk or something. Existential angst and crappy quasi-poetry is good for nobody.
I'm beginning to wonder if I've spent 90% of my recent posts apologising for not posting enough.
Yesterday I was told that my great-grandmother is dying. Were all dying, of course, but she is going rather quickly. She's under Hospice care and probably won't last more than a few months -- weeks, even. It comes as quite a shock, and I'm still digesting all the particulars, so don't expect any long-winded posts about it any time soon. I need time to think.
Speaking of time to think, I just got an email from some long lost friends. What do you do when people from the distant past resurface? How do you tell them how much you've changed? What do you say when the person they once knew no longer exists?
Life is complicated, no?
I'm back from my sojurn to Southern California, and I must say that I am very, very glad to be back. My mind is currently scattered all over the place -- I'm trying to absorb a million points of data and make sense of them in a single moment. It's not easy. Maybe I'm just over stimulated?
Gosh, I must be the only guy in the universe who comes back from vacation even more frazzled than when he left.
Here's a thought for you to ponder: If women make up slightly more than half of the American population, why are "women's issues" considered along side "minority issues"? Shouldn't women's issues actually be "majority issues"? Shouldn't women dominate the political landscape?