Beyond the Pale
Tom,I'm not Bible scholar but your poem of supplication led me to poke around a bit. Here is Kings 8:52 (King James version):'That thine eyes may be open unto the supplication of thy servant, and unto the supplication of thy people Israel, to hearken unto them in all that they call for unto thee.'It begins with the idea of God paying attention to his people. No sure thing.-David
David,Thanks very much. I suspect that if when the people were in the business of constructing their gods out of thin air -- the proper and natural realm of the gods, of course, and why any self-respecting gods would wish ever to descend from that aethereal region, or for that matter permit themselves to become construction materials for anybody, I've never been able to fathom -- they may have left out the feature of attention to detail.I've never been able to figure out which of those adages, God is in the details, the Devil is in the details, admits of a more accurate application, when it comes to the details of human behaviour. Probably both, alternately, depending on the occasion.In any case, given the continuing elaboration and complication of all those noisome yet relevant (to the principals) details, gods, or God with a big G, would seem to have an increasing workload. And as with a CEO, or an executive board, there would then come the inevitable delegation of duties to inferiors, and right away the quality of attention would begin to suffer.And then, after a few more millennia, the gods, or God, would grow increasingly remote from the people and their real concerns, worries, pains, burdens and so on.That would perhaps be the stage we are at now.
Tom, What is left to us in a universe where absolutely nothing in the way we live is due to our willing participation in existence? What are we to do if our actions, and even our desires, have been predetermined, our destiny shaped and decided for us and imposed upon us? Surrender seems as meaningless as suicide. Maybe it’s a slow suicide. When I come to a fork in the road do I chose to go left or right? It doesn’t matter; the outcome has already been defined. Celestial puppetry renders personal agency null and void; free will becomes a dodge, a cruel joke. Still, a universe of pure accident, as some also profess to believe in, is equally as fatalistic as a deterministic world, where everything is controlled by an entity outside Time and Space. Fatalism is the default mode for a great many people, even for those who profess submission to an off-planet being; but they would never call it fatalism. Others, such as Lothar Schafer see a participatory universe, where "the mind-like background of the [quantum] universe" joins with the human mind and consciousness. One is part of the other: the drop in the ocean and the ocean in the drop. We give up our child-like dependence to become co-conspirators in reality. We choose to co-exist with chance. Individual awareness and attention are more critical than ever. The intelligence in the universe is not single-pointed, but emanates from everywhere.
"Individual awareness and attention are more critical than ever."This is perhaps the last human epoch in which those qualities remain within the possibility of a singular human to achieve without entrusting the job to machines. (The post recalls generations of people spending a lot of time on their knees before their God -- and doing this for reasons probably unknown to them, and in any case largely taken for granted. I suppose that would be more a matter of culture than of faith finally, still there was the reality of it. At this point in my own degeneration, I can't think of a single good reason for people to be on their knees before anything, at any time.)
I've never been able to shed the faith I grew up with. I have tried. There have been moments of peace but far more of struggle and resentment.Submission; obedience; mute kenotic service. I can't find it in my heart to be thankful for any of that spiel.
I can't say I've taken any lasting consolation from the faith I grew up with; I continue to search, more urgently than ever, for those elusive moments of peace; they are now increasingly rare; increasingly to be grateful for.It might be said in favour of the God of my ancestors that there was a usefulness in the bringing of people together, into a kind of community, with all that a community means; while it might also be said that at the center of this community there was a kind of blank, filled in for the faithful by what after all was never more than a phantasm, created out of need, but, as far as my perhaps limited vision could make out, no more real for that.
How strange, that millions of people for thousands of years will fall to their knees and worship an entity whose existence is and ever has been nothing more than a rumor. What a sad commentary on the mind and emotional makeup of Homo sapiens.
GOD'S IN THE DETAILSIn Spokane, Washington, at the corner of Lily and Tenth, on a dark night,rain-puddles reflecting Victorian casements and cornices, a flutter in the air, flashingstar-shaped yellow burst, Amelia closes her eyes and it'sstill there, writing subtle words inside her eyelids: "Valse suave, Monette, valse vite!"She holds onto a railing and feels like flying.At the back of a warehouse in Copenhagen,behind the latticework shadows of blond woodenplatforms stored on end, Elgar feels inside hissoft cotton undershirt, brushes his hands across his nipples, leans back andinhales the entire afternoon, gnats and ants included, shifts his weight,becomes the sky, hears the words, in Danish:"It is finished, it is hollow, it is full, it isendless."In the Amazon, deep in the forest known by the locals as "Locus of Green Spirits,"a grandfather blows through a blowgun up into a tree to the amazement of his grandson, and a poisoned arrowpierces the skin of a howling monkey whoimmediately leads the chase for three milesacross the treetops until, exhausted, hefalls dead at their feet. "Machoaca, labita, cala" the grandfather says, and they hoist it onto a branch and start thelong trek home. Everything routine, exceptthe boy catches a glimpse of the god. Between two trees. In shadow, The long face. The distant laughter.The wild, red eyes. The green hair.Between trains in downtown Beirut, watching herself in a department store windowreflected between mannequins dressed in newest Paris fashions, Amirasuddenly sees herself multiply like stop photographs ofopening moth-wings, accordion-like, of herself in various blurred replicas, her face on each afull moon smiling like a radiant queen, and the sound of the world drained away for a moment replaced by celestial sighing, cosmic intake of breath,and she had to steady herself on a lamppost until it passed.And it did pass, as all thesebrief Epiphanies passed through theirsubjects, or more precisely, their objects, leaving them brieflyas wide open as morning mountains under brash sunlight,these momentary revelations entirely vaporizing them and turning themnot quite inside-out nor upside-down, butsong came more readily to their lips afterward,a fountain dripped in shadow from somewhere deep within each one of themthat refreshes anyone who hears of them orhears in detail, in divine detail, whatbefell them, whatever it was that filled them beyond their usual capacity, and then passed on. ________________________________3/29/96 (from Miracle Songs for the Millennium)
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