I spend considerable time thinking about what it is that I am, what is I, whether Descartes’ God or Spinoza’s could possibly exist, or must if I can have meaning beyond self-reflection, needing a godly mirror, and image reflected. Cogito, on what basis can I draw that conclusion what logical proof, carefully constructed will not fall under the weight of the axiom, cogito cogito but of what? Keys that spit words that fade under a misplaced finger, she caught in the web twisting, unable to pull free, staring at an approaching holiday of praying forgiveness Vidui, as though to posit God is to validate emotions, control impulses which leap synapses and flit and fade, I have sinned and transgressed I have violated laws and statutes and I beg forgiveness that I might live, this I, this cogito who has no external reference save God which makes all things real, all illusion. It is comforting knowing in death the soul is carried on, thought lingers, or does it cease such that I am not for I think not, yet why should I fear, for when it is done, I will not have been save as a reference point, a linchpin from which may hang ornaments of a life, a tidy sum.
God is fixed in the firmament seen as puppet master by some patrician uncle, small child endlessly shifting blocks in new, transitory universes. All things recede from a point, have since the creation and that point, dimensionless is God, vast and infinite. It swings lazily, back, forth a needle in its cusp tracing lines in the bed of sand in constant motion as we and earth, and all of our universe spin slowly around its focus, it swings lazily back, forth, tracing an ever-shifting path marked in displaced sand ponderous from its fine steel tendril which rises to a point without size, shape, or time, frozen a singularity from which all else emanates. God lives, bat-like on the ceiling of the San Francisco Science Museum and the Hayden Planetarium and countless other buildings given to science, omnipresent yet fixed dimensionless and infinite always a ladder’s climb just out of reach.
Getting a headache, are we? You feel like Schrodinger’s cat. It’s really like asking yourself if the Big Bang was the beginning of everything, what was there in that split second before the Big Bang? If God created everything, what created God? If time begins with the Big Bang, what time was it before there was time? And who are you really, if you know your are merely an illusion created by you? And please tell me, what time is it? Find the black hole, for there is freedom.
Once it was fur hats men on horseback swords and torches our villages casting a faint glow falling into dying embers, here, one whose skull bears the mark of the hoof, there an old one who would go no farther.
Once it was a helmet tanks for horses flames contained in crematoria cities taken for the deserving we, merely ashes shoveled into a pit, here a tooth, its gold torn free and cataloged first the old ones who could go no farther.
And so we have learned, we in our kippot we in our planes and if you do not hear we will give you the holy fires of God you and your villages a faint shadow and so much vapor, so much ash carried on his holy breath for we have learned well and we have fused these words in our minds, never again.
First published in The Right to Depart, Plain View Press (2008)
“You know,” she said with a smile, “that you are going straight to the infernal regions when this is over and done with, no doubt.” “I can’t imagine,” he replied, “that He who is all knowing and all powerful would ever let that happen to me.” “Be serious,” she added, “you know that the nether world is replete with scriveners of doggerel, it is their natural home when they are done here.” “But I’m a mere bard, a weaver of tales,” he cried, “nothing more, nothing less.” “Ah, yes,” she smirked, “but the road to everlasting fire is paved with cliches and euphemisms.”
He will tell you he’s agnostic, once he would’ve set atheist, but put to the test, he knows he couldn’t disprove the existence of that which could not be seen. He believes it will, must, get better eventually, he has infinite faith that it will, he says to anyone who will listen, in faith is something, he notes, you
cannot ever have in overabundance. It does not strike him in the least bit odd that a man of no belief in God places his future in the hands of faith, although he would tell you he has no idea what it is, exactly, he has faith in.
Some people say religion is dead, or at least mortally wounded. In my generation, closer to death than puberty, there is some truth to that thought because God seems a whole lot less responsive these days, our peers beginning to fall like lemmings from the cliff. But the young clearly have found what has gotten so far away from us, and they have gone so far as to personalize God, something we never dared do for fear of hell for the wrath of our parents and loss of use of the car. Today, even in school and at the mall their faith is on display on their smart phone screens, secretly genuflecting each time they mention OMG.
He said, “I’m looking forward to heaven for a reason you cannot begin to imagine, and, not that I want to rush my arrival.” She said, “It’s rather audacious to assume you’ll end up there, I place the odds as at best at 50-50 and I’m being generous because I’m still in love with you.” “But you’ll never guess the reason so I’ll just have to tell you. You know how much I love rich buttery sauces, the more butter and ] heavy cream the better? In heaven I can have all I want without worry about cholesterol and arteriosclerosis and that would certainly be heaven to me.” “You realize,” she replied, “that there’s a better than even chance that God as creator of everything might just be a vegetarian, like we all were in the garden, so Just in case, eat your Brussels sprouts.”