Monthly Archives: December 2013

didn’t know that i was lost

I don’t particularly care for Avicii.  Not that he’s bad.  I just don’t care.

But this video is a fantasy of mine.  🙂

Don’t judge.  I’m a sucker for cheesy music videos, ok?  🙂

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcrbM1l_BoI

Feeling my way through the darkness
Guided by a beating heart
I can’t tell where the journey will end
But I know where to start

They tell me I’m too young to understand
They say I’m caught up in a dream
Well life will pass me by if I don’t open up my eyes
Well that’s fine by me

I tried carrying the weight of the world
But I only have two hands
Hope I get the chance to travel the world
But I don’t have any plans

Wish that I could stay forever this young
Not afraid to close my eyes
Life’s a game made for everyone
And love is the prize

[2x]
So wake me up when it’s all over
When I’m wiser and I’m older
All this time I was finding myself
And I didn’t know I was lost

Didn’t know I was lost
I didn’t know I was lost
I didn’t know I was lost
I didn’t know (didn’t know, didn’t know)

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“Even the comatose, they don’t dance and tell…”

The fields were going past the windows.  Half melted, half frozen, dark plowed soil, clotted with snow and spiked with stubble.  The sun was shining on it all.

“Can you answer a question- honestly?”

My week long visit home had been a blur of social visits and playing with the little kids, and my mom going back and forth in the background, keeping everyone up and running. The day before I left I had volunteered to go on a grocery run with her. So that she and I would get to visit. We had talked about stress and the holidays and the friction between her and my sisters, who are still living at home.

She had told me I shouldn’t have low self-esteem and shouldn’t avoid people out of fear of offending them.

This sounded serious.

Not that those other things aren’t serious.

I hesitated then said something that sounded polite, but neither confirmed or denied anything.  I hope.  I don’t quite remember.

“How is your faith?  I mean… how far are you along…” She hesitated, trying to make it not sound bad.  ‘How close are you to apostasy?’  was what she was trying to say, and she eventually said some thing like that.

“I want to know so that I can pray” she finished.

The fields went by for a long time.  Our house is a long ways off from any place that sells in bulk.

“I have a lot of questions”  I finally said.  “I think that if this is all true- answers must exist.”

“But are you looking for answers? Or are you waiting for God to reveal himself?”

This is a trick question.  There’s a verse somewhere.  “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and he will direct your path.”  It was a memory verse she had taught us when I was young.  The idea (as we? I? then understood it) was that if you try to figure things out by yourself it is the result of evil self will; pride, that first and most fundamental sin.

Adam and Eve tried to figure things out by themselves. They were cursed and damned by a righteous God.  They and all their descendants were condemned to death and eternal torture.  The innocent animals and all their descendants were condemned to death as well, so terrible was that crime. Like a werewolf falling under the light of the moon, friendly flowers were wracked by the hideous transformation into thorns.  Entropy began.  The stars started to cool and burn out.

But if you wait for God, then eventually he will give/show you what you need.  Like when our Aunt decided to sell her car but not advertise in the paper or tell anyone she knew, but then a week later a guy walked up out of the blue and offered to buy it.  Or when our Aunt decided to become a missionary in England (that horrible hell of darkness and suffering, ungraced  and innocent of the slightest knowledge of Christianity) and then after living there fifteen years someone proposed to her and she got to have a baby and be a mother and that is what she had really wanted all along.   Or how every time our dad made a little more money than we actually needed to survive, something would break or go wrong and we would need the money to fix it, because God only gives you things when you need them.

I thought about this for a while.

“I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive.”  I said finally.

After all. How can God reveal Himself to you if you aren’t looking already yourself?  If you weren’t already looking for Him yourself, you might think that all this evidence of Him was actually evidence of something else.  Like human intuition.  Or pure chance.

(And whatever happened to, ‘pray to God, and keep your powder dry’, anyway?)

“How do you pray? What do you pray about?”

The phone rang.  One of my sisters needed to know something, and only Mom could answer.  When the call finished, she reoriented herself, and the conversation went on.

“I pray… dear God- please don’t let me crash this car!”

I do pray like this sometimes. Praying is a deeply ingrained response for me, and when I’m frightened, I pray without consciously reflecting or deciding to do so.   I didn’t mention the fact that my instinctive prayers are now followed by lectures to God on why he really ought to be less imaginary and less evil.  Or by cussing myself out for having asked an abusive genocidal maniac for help.   Maybe that part doesn’t matter so much.  She asked me what I was praying about, not what I think about the fact that I’m praying.

“Hm… foxhole prayers. That’s good. Not crashing is good.” she said meditatively, her eyes on the road.  “But do you pray about your questions?

This time, even more fields went by.

My throat felt creaky.

“I used to pray so much… so intensely…” I looked out the window “I feel like…”

A verse, something about praying on street corners and pagans using many words flew through my mind, and was immediately canceled out by a verse about an unjust judge and a widow.  But I have to say something.  Why not the truth?

“I feel like he either heard me then, or he was never really listening in the first place.”

“What did you pray about so intensely, back then?”

“Well.”

Pages swim before my eyes. Swathes of lined notebook paper, swarming with words.  All of them,  I had written. “Dear God- please, change my heart.  Please, make me want to want you. Please, make me want to love you.  Please make me into the kind of person who will follow you.  Please- let me find you in the end.”

Over and over.

“Well. To know God.  To find him”

“Do you think you have?”

How does one say yes?  That, yes, you found your long lost God.  And you found out he’s a myth.  A dream.  A Nightmare.

“I don’t know.”

“Do you read your Bible?”

Yes.  For the purposes of research.  To see if God is really as creepy as my memories of him now make him out to be.   To try and piece together where the delusions end and reality begins.

“Yes”

“But do you read it academically?  Or do you get anything else from it?  Does God speak to you through the text?”

Do tears of rage and shame and long silences of  despair count?  I try to read as academically as possible now.

I don’t really know how to spin that.

“Well… do you believe that Aunt and Grandma Speak in Tongues? Or do you believe they’re just making up sounds?”

“No… I don’t really.  But there was this one time with your Aunt.   She and I were praying together, and she saw visions while we were praying.  Things I hadn’t told her I was worrying about because they didn’t seem important, but they were important… she went on to tell the story.  It was a part of our family’s history that I had heard about in other contexts, a time when she had been very uncertain of herself.   “…and the pictures she saw that she described to me were exactly what I was worrying about. ”

So… Aunt is a Psion?  I suppose that explains the car thing.

“While we were praying, God must have plucked those thoughts up out of my heart and just plunked them down in hers!”   She paused and got a little quieter.  “That, for me, gives credence to some of the… crazier parts… of Aunt’s spirituality. Things I am too proud for.”

Well that was like a bottle rocket going off in a trash can.  So my Aunt could possibly have gotten in to Hogwarts (that or else she’s just massively intuitive).   And my mom- who had eight children on the salary of her mechanic husband because she believed there was nothing a person is justified in refusing God… has things’s she’s too proud to do?  And my mom believes its pride to refuse to fake spiritual manifestations that she doesn’t actually experience… not integrity?  Or is she really only refusing in order to avoid social embarrassment and not because its a lie?  And if so- what were her actual reasons for having all these kids?  She suffered a lot of social embarrassment over that.  Or did she simply word it that way as a tribute to her sister’s dedication to a certain way of life, without actually believing that its right to fake stuff?

Not as grandiose as God Being Dead. But still.

“Reading the Bible is hard for me to describe.   I don’t know what part is God and what is my own reaction… what is spiritual and what is simply psychology…”

She seemed to accept that. I don’t remember how the conversation ended.  It seemed to end on good note- a much better note than I thought it would when she asked me if I could be honest.

I don’t know what to think about the fact that I didn’t tell the full truth. Was it wrong? Should I have told, and just let the chips fall where they may?   If I had forced my parents to deal with my difference of belief and opinion, would it be easier for them to consider other view points in general?

Or would they have kindly… lovingly… prayerfully have cut me off?

Would I be allowed to see my little sister again?

Or would I be abandoning her to a Nightmare God?

I suppose I will tell everything, eventually.  When there is less at stake.  But not today.  

We pulled up in the driveway and hop out. We’re Home.

We live in cities you’ll never see on screen
Not very pretty, but we sure know how to run things
Living in ruins of the palace within my dreams
And you know, we’re on each other’s team.

I’m kind of over getting told to throw my hands up in the air, so there
So all the cups got broke shards beneath our feet but it wasn’t my fault
And everyone’s competing for a love they won’t receive…

Dancin’ around the lies we tell
Dancin’ around big eyes as well
Even the comatose they don’t dance and tell

-Lorde

what she said…

My dad was in the basement, watching TV. It seemed like the nine other members of our family were all upstairs. The kitchen was noisy.

My nine year old brother started shouting at my mom. She had just given him his lunch and it included a piece of bread. Now she was doing something else and wasn’t reacting to him anymore.

“Mom! Mom! Honey!? Mom?”  He wanted to know if he could have honey.

She finally had a mini-explosion. She slammed some random item down.

“Sam!  I am not a slave!”

She handed him the plate she had just finished preparing.  A sandwich and chips.

“Now take this down to your father, and tell him a drink is on the way.”

Child abuse and God’s lack of protection

Speaking When the World Sleeps

I was always taught that God would protect me. That part of being a Christian was the belief that God was looking out for my well-being, that I should praise him for taking care of me and being there for me everyday. That he would hold me in his hands and keep me safe.

But at what point are you allowed to realize that God isn’t going to protect you? When every day the abuse doesn’t stop? When your father makes you wait for your “punishment” and in that moment of time you know that it’s going to happen and there’s no way out? When your abusers make it clear to you that they can do whatever they want to you, whenever they want to, and you can’t stop it? When it lasts for years and years? When you beg God for it to stop and it doesn’t?

This isn’t…

View original post 925 more words

Cursed be Canaan!

Today’s Bible story is from Genesis.  Genesis 9 to be exact. But before we read today’s Bible story, let’s look at some charts.   Painfully boring I know- but hey!   Life is pain.

Semitic-Language-Tree

http://rharriso.sites.truman.edu/semitic-language-family/

Notice the relative positions of Canaanite and Hebrew.  Here’s another.

117850-004-D5B94B61

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/media/117464/

This one is from the Encyclopaedia Britannica.  Cool, huh?  Again, notice the positions of Hebrew and Canaanite languages.

And one more.  Just one.

semitic-languages

http://blog.eteacherbiblical.com/2008/01/02/language-and-genre-hebrew-amongst-the-semitic-languages/

This site teaches Hebrew.   Here is a quote from the article that come with this chart.

“Hebrew is defined as part of the more specific family of North-Western Semitic languages, a branch including Arabic, Aramaic, Canaanite languages and Ugaritic. Most similar to Hebrew are of course her fellow Canaanite languages (or possibly even dialects) such as Ammonite and Moabite. These languages have close vocabulary, grammatical and morphological ties. For example, in all these languages, a long ā sound found in other Semitic languages becomes a long ō sound, a clear-cut characteristic that enables us to identify whether or not a language is Canaanite.”

Now.  For today’s Bible story.  Sit back and get cosy.  Oh, and this story seems to involve primitive incest porn/ incest, so viewer discretion is advised.

The story begins after the Flood.  The God that Noah and his family worshiped had decided to wipe out their race- and they were the only survivors.   They were living, alone, in a destroyed world. 

So the story is told.

18 The sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem, Ham and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.) 19 These were the three sons of Noah, and from them came the people who were scattered over the whole earth.

20 Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded[a] to plant a vineyard. 21 When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent. 22 Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father nakedand told his two brothers outside. 23 But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father’s naked body. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father naked.

24 When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, 25 he said,

“Cursed be Canaan!
The lowest of slaves
will he be to his brothers.”

26 He also said,

“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Shem!
May Canaan be the slave of Shem.
27 May God extend Japheth’s[b] territory;
may Japheth live in the tents of Shem,
and may Canaan be the slave of Japheth.”

28 After the flood Noah lived 350 years. 29 Noah lived a total of 950 years, and then he died.  Genesis 9

In the next chapter, this ‘son of’ stuff is explained a bit further.

The Hamites

6 The sons of Ham: Cush, Egypt, Put and Canaan. Genesis 10

15 Canaan was the father of Sidon his firstborn,[g] and of the Hittites, 16 Jebusites, Amorites, Girgashites, 17 Hivites, Arkites, Sinites, 18 Arvadites, Zemarites and Hamathites. Genesis 10

The Semites

21 Sons were also born to Shem, whose older brother was[h] Japheth; Shem was the ancestor of all the sons of Eber. 22 The sons of Shem: Elam, Ashur, Arphaxad, Lud and Aram. 23 The sons of Aram: Uz, Hul, Gether and Meshek.[i] 24 Arphaxad was the father of[j] Shelah, and Shelah the father of Eber.  Genesis 10

Eber, is the fabulous and obscure person from whom the Hebrews take their name.  Eber. Heber. Hebrew.  See?

From this story and this genealogy, people who take the Bible to be literally true (such as Young Earth Creationist) derive these *obvious* facts.

Semitic languages are associated with the descendants of Noah’s son, Shem. Shem. Shemitic.  Semitic.  See how well that works?

(As a disclaimer- some of these sites are heavily racist.  Others are less so.  I do not endorse or promote any of them, as I find them vomitous as well as being an affront to reason.  I post them here only to prove I’m not making this stuff up)

http://creationwiki.org/Hebrew

http://www.biblebelievers.org.au/nation03.htm#TABLE 3. THE LINEAGE OF SHEM

The Canaanites are descendents of Noah’s son, Ham.   For various reasons, it’s easier for Creationists and their friends to talk about Shem and Japheth, but they manage to come to a conclusion about Ham’s descendants as well.

“Next we come to the sons of Ham: Cush, Mizraim, Phut, and Canaan (Genesis 10:6). The descendants of Ham live mainly in south-west Asia and Africa. The Bible often refers to Africa as the land of Ham (Psalms 105:23,27;106:22). The name of Noah’s grandson Cush is the Hebrew word for old Ethiopia…Noah’s next grandson mentioned was Mizraim. Mizraim is the Hebrew word for Egypt… Phut, the name of Noah’s next grandson is the Hebrew name for Libya…Canaan, the name of Noah’s next grandson, is the Hebrew name for the general region later called by the Romans Palestine, i.e. modern Israel and Jordan…”  http://creation.com/the-sixteen-grandsons-of-noah

Others put it like this.

THE LINEAGE OF HAM. The peoples of Ham’s line populated parts of Asia Minor, the Arabian Peninsula, and eventually the entire continent of Africa – once known as the Land of Ham.”

http://www.biblebelievers.org.au/nation02.htm#Table 2. THE LINEAGE OF HAM.

The more reserved ICR puts it this way.

“There were three basic streams of nations (Semitic, Japhetic, and Hamitic) and although there has been much mixing and proliferation, these three basic streams of nations (not “races”!) are still roughly distinct.”

http://www.icr.org/article/21856/

Some go further.

“The eighteenth verse in the Table of the Nations reads,…. and afterward were the families of the Canaanites spread abroad.” This terse remark may be telling us that the vast populations of Asia, Africa, and the Western Hemisphere are descended from Canaan.”

And then conclude that-

“…the descendants of Japheth are the same people as those from whom come the Indo-European languages, the Shemites those from whom come the Semitic languages, and the remainder [are] the descendants of Ham, through one line or another”

http://www.creationism.org/csshs/v07n1p05.htm

Thus- the Hebrew language (and the Hebrew nation) are descended from the Semitic language group, and the Canaanite language (and nations) are descended from the Hamitic.

Except, my brave reader, you already know part of what’s wrong with this.  Do you remember those charts at the beginning?

You do!   THE HEBREW LANGUAGE IS A DESCENDANT OF CANAANITE!!!

To illustrate this another way, (and I said only one more chart but I lied) behold the following.

family tree

http://bashapedia.pbworks.com/w/page/13960069/Afro-Asiatic%20Language%20Family

Ladies and Gentlemen, Hebrew is a member of the language family spoken by “…the vast populations of Asia, [and]  Africa…”.

Semitic IS  “Hamitic”.

Now.  The ancient Hebrews spoke a Canaanite language.  They lived in the same small region as the Canaanite nations.   They were competing with these fellow Canaanite for resources and seem to have been almost continually at war with them.

According to Hebrew records, whether literally true or literally false, they once attempted the genocide of all other Canaanite groups.

Why would it be important, dear reader, to not be related to people you believe you once attempted to exterminate?

Why would it be important to believe that they were cursed?

The Light Within You

“Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength.   Acts 9:17-19

Among the people I grew up with, the ‘scales falling’ from some one’s  eyes referred to their conversion.  The heart was considered deceitful, above all things.  Before conversion, through the deceitful twisting of their own heart, a person would be blind to important facts that proved why God was good and why they needed to follow him.  At the moment of conversion, God would take over their heart with his Spirit and protect them from its evil attempts to portray reality its own way.   From that point on God would begin to make sense to them in a way he never had before.

A few months ago. I was reading in the Old Testament.  I came across this.

19 When you lay siege to a city for a long time, fighting against it to capture it, do not destroy its trees by putting an ax to them, because you can eat their fruit. Do not cut them down. Are the trees people, that you should besiege them?  Deuteronomy 20

This was something God is supposed to have told the Israelites.   It sounds rather environmental friendly of him.  I don’t knock signs of environmentalism in anyone, particularly God, given his world destroying tendencies.  But here is the context.

…12 If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. 13 When the Lord your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. 14 As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the Lord your God gives you from your enemies. 15 This is how you are to treat all the cities that are at a distance from you and do not belong to the nations nearby.

16 However, in the cities of the nations the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. 17 Completely destroy[a] them—the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—as the Lord your God has commanded you. 18 Otherwise, they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do in worshiping their gods, and you will sin against the Lord your God.  Deuteronomy 20

(In case you missed it- not leaving alive anything that breaths includes the women and children. I’m not sure if that’s better or worse than being treated as plunder by a conquering army)

Theoretically- the Hittites, Amorites and related groups are being punished.  For their sin.  Their religions involved human sacrifice- child sacrifice even- and because of this, I was told growing up, they deserved to die.  Quite apart from the mental disconnect it takes to believe that murdering innocent children is somehow a just response to murdering innocent children, there’s another problem.

Its that footnote. Footnote [a].

  1. Deuteronomy 20:17 The Hebrew term refers to the irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the Lord, often by totally destroying them.

The phrase comes from Leviticus 27.  The chapter is a list of the various things that may be dedicated to God and the rules for each type of object- fields, houses, people, clean or unclean animals.   With the instructions for each type of thing come instructions for ‘redeeming’ it: giving its monetary market value (this applies to the people as well) and keeping it for your own use. Then come verse 28-29.

28 “‘But nothing that a person owns and devotes[k] to the Lord—whether a human being or an animal or family land—may be sold or redeemed; everything so devoted is most holy to the Lord.

29 “‘No person devoted to destruction[l] may be ransomed; they are to be put to death.

In case you were wondering here are foot notes [k] and [l].

  • Leviticus 27:28 The Hebrew term refers to the irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the Lord.
  • Leviticus 27:29 The Hebrew term refers to the irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the Lord, often by totally destroying them.

There is one other place where the phrase occurs, the story in Joshua chapters 7 & 8.

Joshua commanded the army, “Shout! For the Lord has given you the city! 17 The city and all that is in it are to be devoted[a] to the Lord. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall be spared, because she hid the spies we sent.18 But keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring about your own destruction by taking any of them. Otherwise you will make the camp of Israel liable to destruction and bring trouble on it.  Joshua 7

Footnotes:

Joshua 6:17 The Hebrew term refers to the irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the Lord, often by totally destroying them; also in verses 18 and 21.

It would seem that, far from viewing human sacrifice- and child sacrifice!- as wrong, there are certain occasions on which God actually demands these things.  The sin of the Amorites, for which they were being destroyed, was to have sacrificed to the wrong God.

Here is the troubling truth.  Despite anything he or David ever said about God valuing humans, in practice, God doesn’t care about them.  For him, humans have about the same level of importance as houses, fields and animals.

And in certain circumstances, even trees deserve more consideration than we do.

I have never seen scales falling out of anyone’s eyes when they converted.   But I certainly feel as if, slowly and surely, something has been falling out of mine.   For my whole life so far, I thought of this God as good and loving.  Something had gone wrong, surely, that he treated us this way, but the fault was ours.

My whole life so far I have thought of this God as the light.  The Light of the World.

Now, a cryptic phrase of Jesus’ is making more and more sense.

22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! Matthew 6

If the Light within you is darkness, how great is that Darkness.

What is all this God stuff about anyway?

Alright, let’s go back

Our song escapes, on little silver discs
Our love is plastic, we’ll break it to bits
I want to break free, but will they break me?
Down, down, down, don’t mess around

I thought, I found a way to enter

It’s just a reflektor (It’s just a reflektor)
I thought, I found the connector
It’s just a reflektor (It’s just a reflektor)

It’s just a reflektor

It’s just a reflektor (It’s just a reflektor)

It’s just a reflektor (It’s just a reflektor)
It’s just a reflektor (It’s just a reflektor)

Thought you would bring me to the resurrector
Turns out it was just a reflektor (It’s just a reflektor)

If this is heaven
I don’t know what it’s for
If I can’t find you there
I don’t care

Arcade Fire
Read more: Arcade Fire – Reflektor Lyrics | MetroLyrics

My Life in a Shell

“Imagine if you suddenly learned that the people, the places, the moments most important to you were not gone, not dead, but worse, had never been. What kind of hell would that be? ”   -Dr. Rosen, A Beautiful Mind

So.  

When I was a young child, as soon as I was old enough to talk and ask questions, I suppose, I don’t remember it, my parents explained to me about Santa.   They explained to me about the big funny man at the store, or the drawings on cards we got, or my great grandparents’ remark.  There was a story, they said, that other people tell their children. About the North Pole and presents.  They tell their children this story, and they make it look like the story is true.  They tamper with the evidence- hide things from their children and make it look real.

My parents wanted me to know that they would never lie to me about Santa.  Never.

So that I would never have to wonder if they had lied to me about God.

I was a horrible child.  An evangelist.  A proselytizer.  I would stop other little children in the street and tell them that Santa did not exist. I would explain the trick.  The lie.

The years I spent growing up were in a house in the country.  There was nothing around us.  Nothing.  There were wide, wind swept fields. Sometimes an old farmer, wrinkled like a sunset apple, would smile and wave at the children as he went by. When you went for a walk, the sun hung in a circle overhead and the horizon hung in an even huger circle around your shoulders.  No matter how far you walked, it never came closer.

No matter how far you walked, you would never get anywhere different.

But it was alright.  Hidden in the quiet was God.

We didn’t go to town very often.  We had moved to get away from town.  My mom didn’t like it.   The neighborhood where we had lived was decaying, and the school nearby was frightening.  I don’t know what the school would have been like out in the country.  From kindergarten on, she taught us at home.

When I was about eight, we stopped going to church regularly.

We visited churches, often.  But we never went anywhere more than once or twice.   By that time, we would have found something wrong with them.  Or they would have found something wrong with us.

We would never seen them again.

The church we went to before hadn’t liked us much.  The church ladies hadn’t liked my mom.  My lasting impression of church from before is a horrible sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.  I was too young to understand the reasons, but I felt it. Oh, I felt it.  We were not wanted.

Their eyes would look through us when they turned our way.

It was the Sunday Morning Feeling.

Many Sundays we didn’t try to go to church.  My dad would get out his guitar and my mom got out her black folder of praise choruses.  My two sisters and I would sit with her, and to gentle guitar music, we would sing.  We sang the same songs every week.  The songs were simple and beautiful.  She taught us harmonies.

We sang as the years went by. We sang to God, who would hear us.  Who sees what’s done in secret, and, in secret, is there, like a  bright cloud, whenever two people meet in his name.

The Sunday Morning Feeling never went away.

Our house was an old farm house.  It was made of wood and plaster and wires that the mice might chew on, starting a fire while we slept. I often laid awake wondering what one thing I would try to take with me, if there was a fire.

When I was quiet small, no more than five or six, I had a toy elephant.  It meant more to me than anything else I had.  I couldn’t imagine how terrified and abandoned it would feel if I left it behind.  In a fire.

I could never have left it.

As I got older I thought less about the elephant. My books weighed more and more heavily on my mind.

We always had books around the house.  Mom read to us a lot and I learned to read pretty quickly.  There were always books.

They were color and voice and sound.  They were the scent of the jungle and the ice floe groaning around the hull of the ship.  They were the cry of an outlaw trapped in a cave- not knowing if he would ever come out alive- tormented by thirst.

“Oh, that someone would get me a drink of water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem!”

In books, you found God.

We had a lot of books about God.

We had books about how God had made the world.  He had made everything and was the reason for everything.  He was grace and beauty and truth.  He had made people- he had made them because he loved them and they were precious to him.  They were his image. But things had gone wrong.  They had done wrong.  He had driven them away, and they could never go back and be with him again.

Except there was a way after all.   A way that we knew.  It was a hard and terrible way, but it was possible.  God loved us, so much, and longed for us to come to him.

One day we could go and be with God.  Where he was.

As I got older the book became more complicated.  They never stopped being about God.  I read all the books my mother considered science.  They told me that it was all true, that there was a God and it all had happened the way the stories I’d listened to at night had said.  While the wind had moaned in the siding.

I read about the Flood.  I read about layers of soil and volcanic ash and trees buried upright.  I read about a warm moist world swarming with strange life and the strange terse accounts that ancient people had written, describing it.  I read about a sun always peering through a halo of rainbow light.

I knew that some people in the world did not believe these things.  But they weren’t like us. We knew the secret.

We knew the way to God.

I think the trouble is that I didn’t stop reading.

As I got older, the books became more complicated.  They were books of theology.   They were complicated arguments about the nature of being and morals and forgiveness and death.  I was lucky enough to go to a college, a small and weird place.  I suppose it would hardly have worked out any other way.  I read philosophy and the different versions of theology that have been created.  How they shifted out of and into each other.  I read about geometry and I read how people had spent generations attempting to square the circle.  About how some things are simply not possible.  How some questions have no answers.  Not because there are no answers.  But because the question is wrong.  Because sometimes we don’t even know what to ask.

Then I was on my own again.  Maybe I should have stopped reading then.  I didn’t.  I kept having dreams.

I started reading Jung. And then Claude Levi-Strauss.  I read about anthropology and the structure of the mind and myths and I started reading myths.

The dreams became vivid.

I read more myths.  I read, not the Greek and Roman stories I already knew, but Akkadian and Mayan and Chinese and Canaanite myths.  Canaanite- religion.  I read strange terse accounts of things that sounded at once utterly alien- and as familiar as my mother’s face.

I wasn’t reading for fun.  Not anymore.  I was reading because my life depended on it.

And I started reading science. Real science. I read geology and biology and anatomy and as much astronomy as I could wrap my mind around. I read things that my mom wouldn’t have let into her house in a million million years.  For fear that it would keep her children from finding God.

Life is different now.  Most of the time, it feels emptier and more cold.

But the God I loved was Grace and Truth.  I am not going to turn from him now.

Now that he’s dead.

I’m going back to see my family again in a week or so.  I don’t know what I’m going to say to them.  Should I try to explain the trick? The lie? Will nervous laughter or pointless anger give me away? Will they see change on my face?  Will they guess?  

If they guess, will they disown me?

If they don’t guess- If I don’t tell them- will I have disowned myself?

Which would be worse?

God has gone further from me than I could ever have imagined.  He’s gone further into the sunlight than I can see, and deeper into the quiet than I can reach.  Someday, I suppose, I will follow.  Maybe I will  go to him. Maybe he will be there, after all.

I don’t think he will come to me.