Wednesday, 22 March 2017

On Hearing That A Radical Atheist Is Now A Radical Christian

On hearing the news that an old friend is now a born again radical Christian preacher.

(Haiku with the wrong number of syllables.  I am told that I can get away with that by calling them modern haiku.  Perhaps I should look up some other syllable structures and spend some time playing.  Playing is a most excellent pastime.)

Didn't you jeer at me
When I fervently believed
My father was God?

You called me idiot.
Said I'd taken leave of all
Faculties of reason.

You lived so proudly
Placing your atheism
Above my raw faith.

You spat on Bibles
Recrucified my saviour
Mocked him once again.

Said you could not see
How anyone could be so
Stupid as to believe.

Shaking your big head
Despairing because your friend
Was one of those fools

Even though you knew she
Had two well earned college degrees
And genius IQ

You would have prayed
For her to see your great light.
If you had her God.

So tell me what happened.
How did we get here from there?
When did it all change?

Turning on turning.
Hurting, I lost certain faith.
And you picked it up.

Nothing really changed.
You are still evangelist.
Strong in conviction.

And I still cherish
That you have made up your mind
To live to the full.

You called me Jesus Freak
Now fallen freak, lost in sin,
Everything is the same.

We exchanged our creeds
But in that unforeseen swap
We remained ourselves.

Theism? Atheism?
Neither creed maketh the man.
Neither changes the heart.

When all is said and done,
Religion doesn't make the saint
Or a lack make the sinner.

I'm not against religion.  I'm not against faith.  People find comfort in faith.  Direction.  Some people find survival.  They find meaning and belonging.  They find an impetus to be nice people.  I found all these things and more.  Catholic prayers helped me a lot in providing some central order to my life.

Believe in your God(s).  Follow him/her/them and for you that can be the path up the mountain to whatever enlightenment is.  I hope the Hindus have it right when they say that enlightenment is the realisation that the core of our being, our true self, is a state of pure bliss.  Like the Upanishads say:

I am of the nature of consciousness.
I am made of consciousness and bliss.
I am nondual, pure in form, absolute knowledge, absolute love.
I am changeless, devoid of desire or anger, I am detached.
I am One Essence, unlimitedness, utter consciousness.
I am boundless Bliss, existence and transcendent Bliss.
I am the Atman, that revels in itself.
I am the Sacchidananda that is eternal, enlightened and pure.

Isn't that wonderful.  Yep.  In short I am God.  And so are you.  And so are we all.  And so is everything.  And we are one.  And we are bliss.  It's a stunningly beautiful philosophy.  That doesn't necessarily mean it's true.  But it's beautiful.  Certainly more beautiful than the Calvinist concept of the total depravity of mankind.

Yes, believe in whatever happens to be your path up the mountain.  Follow deities.  Or don't.  Be part of an organised faith.  Or don't.  Wear garments of faith.  Or don't.  Sing hymns, psalms and spiritual songs.  Or don't.  Pray.  Or don't.  Meditate.  Or don't.  It's all okay.  As long as it's the right path for you, without coercion, without fear, and based firmly on love for all people and the rest of the world on which we live.

What I am against are aspects of religion that I used to follow:
The view that one path up the mountain is the only one.
The view that anyone not walking on that path is damned in some manner.
Views that lead away from equality and social justice.

Apart from that, keep your faith.  Cherish it.  And it can be very beautiful indeed.

A confession: The friend mentioned above is a figment of my imagination.  I have though known some rabidly fierce evangelists for their version of Jesus who were previously equally rabidly fierce evangelists for their version of anti-Jesus.  Conversion doesn't really change you.  It just changes your views about what might be right.  And thus you set yourself to live differently.

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