I'm wondering why lately I have allowed myself to comment at length about my spiritual beliefs, where they coincide with another's and where they don't, when in fact, I long ago promised myself never to get drawn into religious pissing matches or any kind, that nothing good could ever come of asking someone who doesn't believe as you do to acknowledge your perspective.
So I'm really stunned by my impulse to respond when my beloved Mary Moon, who knows very clearly her reasons for not believing, sets them down, as she did in her brilliant and searing post yesterday. In some crazy part of myself, it made me want to say to her, but you are one of the most Godly people I know, you are goodness and honesty and courage and radiant light, you welcome everyone onto your porch, you bless us all.
But maybe it's just semantics. Maybe Godliness is just a word some people use to label a certain way of being in the world, and Goodliness works just as well.
I do believe in God, but not the fire and brimstone God of the Old Testament, who Mary aptly calls an asshole, which made me laugh out loud. My mother is a religious woman. Her faith has been a great comfort to her, and as advancing age takes more and more from her, I am grateful she has it. But while I was growing up, she gathered us each morning to read the Bible as a family, the four of us kneeling around my parents' bed, reading the scriptures of the day. Some of those verses horrified me. How could we worship a God who would permit a man to offer his daughter to random men, who would condone genocide and other atrocities? And yet, I have always felt the presence of a loving spirit in my life, and so I decided that the Bible was merely a book written by flawed humans with an agenda, and as I got older I learned that this book had then been revised again and again by men in positions of power, who deleted and added to the stories in ways they thought would achieve their own ends.
Don't get me wrong. There are verses of great beauty and poetry in the Bible, alongside the murder and mayhem. But for me, it is still just a book, not the unfiltered word of God. For me, God is love. That is the beginning and end of it. The words God and Love are synonymous in my understanding. God, for me, is not a deity in the sky with a flowing grey beard but rather the Love we express in the world.
I could get into all manner of other beliefs I flirt with, the possibility of past lives, of parallel universes, karmic ties, conceptions of life after death, but I won't. For all I know we're all lying hooked up to virtual worlds via electrodes a la The Matrix, creating our own realities for reasons only we can know, and sometimes not even consciously. I mean, anything is possible, which is why belief is personal. We have no absolute way of knowing what is true or not anyway, and it could be that whatever we believe becomes true for as long as we believe it, because our thoughts are just so powerful as to make it so.
I am not endeavoring to convince anyone of anything. Not at all. I have always resisted it myself when someone tried to proselytize to me. I am merely trying to understand what has driven me to engage in religious discussion when I so explicitly promised myself decades ago not to do so. I think what I have arrived at is that I am sometimes overcome with loving, and in those moments I feel such a powerful sense of connection and oneness it is as if the external realities are illusions, a parlor trick rooted in our limited human understanding, and if we could see fully, we'd know that we have never been separate at all.
See what I mean? Why am I even writing this here?