To me, “faith” implies optimism, I suppose. I have faith that drivers will yield right of way to me as I cross a street. I have faith the captain of an airliner will keep me safe. I’m optimistic these outcomes will be positive.
I’m sitting in church right now. Catholic church. There’s a ritual called adoration that’s taking place as I type this. The priest places an edible wafer into a shiny gold display medium, called a monstrance. He sets it on the altar, facing the parishioners, where it sits for a few hours, allowing the faithful to sit in the presence of “god.” Here’s a pic.
Pretty snazzy. If I was the creator of the universe, an undefinable mystery that has baffled human minds for thousands of years, I could hang out in here while hungry worshippers dreamt of eating me.
The wafer, in the Catholic tradition, is the actual body of Jesus, which good catholics eat at mass in order to be one with him. There are at least thirty people in church right now, adoring this wafer as they bask in the presence of the creator of all that is.
Here I sit, part of this…why?
My “faith” isn’t what it once was. For decades, I accepted what I was told, that “god ” required conformity and submission, and certain punishment awaited those who doubted and disobeyed. Optimism – the faithful believe their adoration and adherence will result in eternal reward. Cry out to “god”, and he will help you.
My concept of “god” is so different anymore. More of an agnostic, I believe there is or was an intelligence involved in the creation of all that is, and we are too stupid to understand it. So we write stories about it, about “god”, and we live within those stories in order to exclude and label those who are different from us. These stories are our exclusive little clubs, and their rituals are the bylaws that order them. And they are all just so much damn rubbish.
Faith is optimism. Reality is…what? A mix of optimism and pessimism? I don’t know.
I only see what I see anymore. War, chaos, anger, hate, division, happiness, rainbows and kittens, sadness grief and misery, acid rain and corpses, smiling children, hopeful parents, corrupt politicians and deceitful evangelists all hell bent on agendas. I see a species of hairless human apes making a fucking mess of their planet, and now slowly expanding their distinguishing characteristic of excessive garbage and detritus into space, as our collection of space junk grows by the year. We are a bunch of selfish pigs, we are a bunch of caring, kind souls, we lend one another a hand, we strike each other down in the name of skin color and various religious and secular ideologies, all while attempting to define and characterize “god” based on the limited abilities of our narrow and only slightly-above-simian minds.
I suppose that’s the best we have to offer.
I’ve had to redefine my “god.” Whatever it is, if it even exists, if it’s responsible for “all that is”, it’s clearly ok with sitting by as we run around like imbeciles creating our own misery through our petty prejudices and hatred. It could give a rats ass about your suffering, it could care less whether you prosper and enjoy life, or sleep under a bridge wearing filthy clothes covered in lice. It watches as presidents and politicians cheat and steal, and it watches as charity workers bathe the sick and dying in third world countries. It watches as generals direct armies to maim, kill and destroy. It watches as doctors open skulls and repair intricate human brains, restoring function. It watches as we do the only thing we know to do in our abundance of short sightedness, and it doesn’t involve itself – “god”, whatever it is, sits and allows universal life to play out according to the rules that govern it, and those rules mean suffering and prosperity to varying degrees for all of us.
To have faith that “god” is walking with you is…optimistic. For many, it is to key to survival. I don’t mean to disparage the faithful. For all I know, what I think and believe is absolutely incorrect. Who am I to define “god?” I’m just one of all of us, with my opinion…but the “god” I conceive of remains the fuzziest enigma ever presented to me. I have no idea what or who or how it might be, if it even is. The stories we create are nothing more than cultural conjecture. They don’t explain anything real – they just mean to convey hope, create structure, allow for judgment and control through fear of eternal punishment, while fueling exclusion, hate, and division. And they’re a good front for Saturday bingo and other forms of fellowship.
Yeah. Here I sit, in St. Vincent’s church, looking at a wafer in a monstrance that is believed to be the flesh of the creator of the universe. “God’s” body, conveniently packaged for my dining pleasure. I come here to feel a connection to something outside myself, in the hopes that I will find meaning. The teachings of catholicism, the dogmas and concepts are meaningless to me. Mere words written by generations of curious cousins of chimpanzees, hell bent on determining origin, reason, destination. I’m no different than the faithful who are gazing at this edible wafer and imploring it to deliver them from all manner of suffering and bless all their loved ones. I’m no different at all. I’m hopeful that my misery has meaning. I’m hopeful that I can find peace of some kind. I’m scared, lonely, angry, sad, depressed…and I’d sure like to believe that somewhere, in a distant place far above the limits of the universe some omnipotent thing-a-ma-jigger had my back. That “god”, the myth, the legend, gave a shit about me.
But all I see as I look around this planet leads me to belive I’m just being overly optimistic – if there’s a “plan”, there is no denying it is meant to involve suffering. Lots and lots of it. Yup. We’re here to have good days and bad days, to smile and cry. Our pain is our own, we must bear it alone, sure there’s relief in fellowhip, but there’s death in life too. It’s just part of the plan, like it or not. I have questions, we all do…and I see no clear answers, dreamers. None.
Now, go in peace to love and serve your “god.” Refreshments will be served in the parish hall, and don’t forget bingo on Saturday at 4 pm. A-freakin’-men.