Much to my surprise, I have been participating in a Zoom church for a number of months. The path to that group was both unusual and for me, as easy as water trickling down a hill. It is actually made up of individuals who floated down many different streams to pour into this little pool of sparkling water. That is among the factors that stimulated my interest.
I was raised in a fundamentalist Baptist family, and I grew up with the belief that my parents were so dependent on their connection to the dogma and form of this fundamentalist belief system that they would disintegrate without it, and my survival mandated that I keep their pieces assembled in the proper order. However, I was never totally convinced that I could be included, and there were always questions in my heart, even though my mind tried to overpower those questions, I never entirely succeeded.
I remember the day I decided to undergo baptism. I was seven years old. Although our branch of the church did not believe one was automatically placed on the downward shoot to hell if not baptized, yet it was still an important life contract with God and a confirmation that one publicly acknowledged Jesus as one’s “personal savior.” Those were words that never congealed into meaning. What are we being saved from, and why must there be a personal savior? God and Jesus also had a very strange relationship. Because we humans are imperfect and God is perfect, he has to condemn us, even though he made us, but he has a human son who is also a God in flesh, he will sacrifice this beloved son in place of us who deserve it. Now, that always seemed like a major guilt trip to me. I secretly resented being in that situation. One can certainly fear such a God, but never honestly love him, but we had to pretend, and of course, God is male and has a big ego. I came to believe all love was a pretense for survival.
Baptists don’t believe in infant baptism because infants can’t make the conscious choice to follow Jesus as their savior. That made sense to me, but many words were as dry as dust and I could never soak them in enough baptismal water to infuse them with conviction or plump them up like soaking dried fruit. If I had been honest with myself, I would have accepted that the dogma was indigestible and no matter how hard I tried, or how sincerely I prayed for God’s help to explain it in a convincing manner, I remained remorsefully doubtful. I didn’t believe I would go to hell, because I had made a commitment in action if not by faith, but heaven was dismal. It would be like church every day forever. Oh, why was I ever born into such a rigged situation?
I could never bring myself to participate in the Pastor’s rallies to attract followers to Christ, but nevertheless, I felt guilty for my lack of commitment to a faith that I felt duty bound to believe in. Apparently, I was born on the outer margins of the book of life. In my early teens all pretenses collapsed. I lost faith in every social construct I knew about. My conceptual reality imploded, dissolved into dust, and blew away in the wind. I tried desperately to keep this from happening, prayed until I overheated, and instead of feeling confident that my prayers went to the right office, I knew they never made it through the ceiling of my bedroom where I prayed in secret each night. Then one day, the Devil laughed out loud at me and made it clear that all my prayers would just bounce off the ceiling because he had surrounded me with an invisible net and would never let them get through. Since then, I’ve come to regard the devil as god’s shadow, in the Jungian sense of the word, and both are concepts incased in a culturally generated belief system.
I’ve told this story before from various angles, but it has taken many years to accept two basic facts about myself. I’m afraid of exposure, and I’ll never escape exposure. It actually is my fate. I’m ashamed to say that I’ve had to live a long time before accepting that struggling through contradictions is the engine that drives me. This is my karma that must be repurposed into dharma. I’ve also come to believe that determining the basic conflict in one’s life and accepting it as one’s life work is the engine of creative progress. That is why we are in this mud ball again and again and again until our personal dilemma is resolved, and we can graduate to the next level. Along with that recognition comes the concept that God is continuously creating the universe, and we humans exist as products, tools, and organs of the master. We are important in the creation of our world, and perhaps our little world and its siblings comprise an atom in the cosmos. A crude image perhaps, but a starting point that worked for me.
The me who cries out in pain, frustration, and fear, is God within me generating the will and impetus to progress through the many broken pieces crushed along the road to a better model and more encompassing reality. It is the birthing pains of the next reiteration of Gaia, and Gaia is a cell in the great cosmic body. On that note, I’m going to propose that atheism is a necessary step in the process of God’s evolution in the human soul. Our version of God is never God, but much less, can only be less. The only problem with atheism is the human propensity to make of it another belief system with an orthodoxy encased in tight wrappings. Right now, that orthodoxy is called Scientific Materialism. In academia, it is dangerous to go against the tenets of membership in this religion in which the old-time religion of the regressive masses is the devil. There is always a devil. He (usually he in our tradition) is necessary for a proper drama. After all, duality is the engine of creation.
I’m proposing that we are religious because we as humans are in a difficult stage of our evolution that places us between two (possibly more) levels of influence. We are influenced by an expanding experience of existence that connects us to trans-dimensional cosmic frequencies pushing us toward greater conceptual complexity on our evolutionary journey. And yet, we still have one foot in gross matter as we are being compelled toward a more multidimensional state of being. Perhaps, another way of conceptualizing God is as a cosmic force that exists within everything but can be hypothesized as willful intention. What I’m trying to say is that creation is an endless process.
I was just listening to a podcast discussion between two famous atheists, Christopher Hitchens, and Richard Dawkins, about the problems with religion and how much safer and just the world would be without religion. I understand their wish, but of course, there is an intellectual and emotional imperative behind their concern that is based on the enormous damage done to our world and each other in the name of religion. Generally, these religious disputes are based on the absurdity of two groups who each believe the other is an abomination to God’s plan for humanity and must be converted or eliminated. I can paraphrase a common saying as, “a miss is as good as an eternity”. All I can say about the argument that the world would be better off without religion is, it ain’t gon’na happen. The best we can do is look through religion as a conceptual process in the attempt to understand where we fit as a species in relationship to everything else. In that sense, even theoretical physics is a religion and mathematics is its language.
When Nietzsche said, “God is dead” he was recognizing that God dies at the end of every evolutionary stage. The God inside the human mind must die again and again. God is also resurrected again and again. Was Jesus really God? Yes, and no! I perceive the death of Jesus as the making of Christ. And those who understood recognized that the Christ within Jesus recognized that we are all sons and daughters of God, and we have the opportunity to be born again and again and again just as God is the trans cosmic force of creative evolution. Will this world come to an end? Probably, just as each end is like the cosmic snake Ouroboros always swallowing its tail. And is this just a tale? Of course, it is, all tales are part of the artistic urge of creative forces within, and all barely miss their goal which is constantly just beyond reach. These are merely my thoughts on the ineffable, which can never be pinned down. I will keep writing where I live, as comments on the margins of the book of life.