Wednesday, September 2, 2009
I like the idea of spaghetti.
I almost broke a rule today. A young man who was in my cabin at camp a couple years ago posted the following verse in his Facebook status:
Isaiah 57:15 For this is what the high and lofty One says— he who lives forever, whose name is holy: "I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the... lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.
I almost responded with this phrase. "Zephaniah, chapter 1, verses 7-18 . Be comforted." (a fellow blogger, The Unwelcome Guest posted this on his blog recently, I recommend going there and reading it if you are unfamiliar with the passage.)
I detest people who use scripture as a method of lifting themselves out of their self-hatred. There is insufficient evidence in the Bible to suggest that we should trust the will of God. Which side am I on? The Israelites, or the enemy? I don't know - by the miracle of birth this reality is chosen for me. I could be slaughtered tomorrow by a fleet of people that God prefers. I doubt it, but scripture tells me it has happened once already, and there is no promise of a rainbow to prevent it from happening again.
My unwritten rule is this - I cannot step into anybody else's spiritual life, particularly those of youth, when my idea is likely going to be harmful to their worldview. Despite all desire to be harmful to that worldview. The rule becomes even more strictly adhered to particularly when it reveals me, a person who has been of spiritual guidance in that person's life, to be a man with a desperate lacking of faith.
But the reality is that I don't believe in a flying spaghetti monster in the sky. I cannot prove his nonexistence. It could be there, shaking its starch-based arms around and searching the universe for a meatball to mate with. But I don't believe in it. And I don't believe in this God, either.
I am undeniably Christian.
But let me explain this idea a bit, because to many the belief in God is central to being a Christian.
I can't get rid of God, despite my attempts. Because somehow I manage to think of God as a good thing - somehow I manage to think that the idea of God is a good thing - and, particularly, somehow I think the social contract that can potentially develop out of God is a good thing.
When I think of God, I think of how puny I am. How entirely unimportant I am. I don't imagine how he could have envisioned the creation of the world, or how he knit me in my mother's womb, or how he allowed the United States to become one of the most successful military businesses in history. Because God doesn't exist. He didn't do all of these things.
But I don't think bad things come out of the idea that I am puny, expendable, and, ultimately, not of specific import. Because this allows me to realize that the world will go on without me. And also humbles me - God is bigger than me, even if he is just an idea. And being humbled is a good thing - because it places me on equal grounding with the rest of the world, makes me more aware of my excesses and pride, and forces me to invest in my community because it is necessary for the things in life that are most important for others. Because, as a result of the idea of God, I am their equal.
God isn't about grandeur, or glory, or providing a hurt person compassion. God isn't devoted to me as a human being, and if he is, then he is no more devoted to me than to anybody else. God is about being tiny and expendable, and about being equal with everybody else.
But ultimately, God doesn't exist, but the idea of God is enormously powerful and ultimately valuable.
So long as one doesn't start talking on his behalf. Because he is just an idea - he has no behalf for which one can speak.
My brother, who presented to me the satire of the flying spaghetti monster, doesn't believe in God because he can rationalize his nonexistence.
I can do the same.
But my belief in God is not because I can rationalize his existence, but because I see that the idea of God - the admission that there is something bigger than me out there - is probably actually good. Because I see being humble as being good.
And I know that I am anything but that which is good.
And thus, I am undeniably Christian.
Now come, let me wash your feet before we worship a spaghetti monster searching for a mate.