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Friday, July 6, 2012

DOUBTING IS SEARCHING

emil nolde, autumn sea


I'm glad to say the issue with mother is the same as over. Email from sister last night told me mother wanted her and other sister to come to her apartment and see what TJ wrote, Rollin Down The River, after the party around the grill and a few fireworks to make the kids marvel. Through the course of the day, mother forgot. Sister didn't remind her. It's as good as over. We'll never get anywhere talking about it. I don't hold with her doctrine, baptist dogma, and I'm hell bound, no two ways about it. There's ONLY ONE WAY. Her way. She has the Truth. Her preacher is the purveyor of that truth. It's the mind of colonialism; convert the natives and put them in bluejeans, tshirts and flip-flops, teach them that everything they know is wrong, everything natural is of the devil. I can't challenge the mind of my mother's religion, because nothing is rational there. It would be like arguing with Rush Limbaugh. Ignorance trumps intelligence every time. This has been the nature of the Reagan Revolution, trumping intelligence with ignorance. It's Gingrich's and Karl Rove's method. It's why Rove is successful at orchestrating Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, W Bush, and republican strategy. He loves that trump card, Ignorance. It works every time.


It gets down to the only real difference between my belief and my mother's belief is she believes her belief system is absolute, the one and only reality. My belief system that allows others their own points of view is tired of fundamentalism that has no place for allowing, the way of love. They're all for control, which is the way of (whoops) the dark side. No, no, no. Absolute truth is absolute truth -- no two ways about it. Jesus died on the cross for your sins. You can't challenge that truth. I can challenge that a friend of mine, a conscientious baptist, was put out of his church recently because he got a divorce. It hurt him awfully bad. It was a knee in the gut by Anderson Silva. The way I see it, they set him out on his own to find what is real for him, because evidently they are not it. He'd been spending his time among bullshitters-in-the-name-of-Jesus. Plenty of that goes around.


All my time in the Baptist religion, it was absolutely against the rules to doubt or question anything about the Bible or what a preacher says. I dared not ever act like I might have a question or would dare to see something my own way. For example, from childhood I saw that in the verse about the "straight and narrow" way (the tightrope), the word straight was spelled strait, a word with a very different meaning. A strait is a narrow passage for a ship between two points of land. It's the passage from rough open sea to the harbor where the water is smooth, tranquility, peace, Jesus's theme. I was told I'm listening to the devil whenever I brought up to an adult that I'd noticed something new, have a question. Doubt. It's a sin to doubt. There'd be no way I could get it across I'm not doubting, just that I noticed a definition of a word.


What it really means is like the preacher said it was. Who do I think I am to contradict a preacher? Maybe I oughta be up there preaching since I know more than the preacher. Another moment of remembering I'd been born among the willfully illiterate. Of all the preachers over the years I've mentioned the distinction of the spelling s-t-r-a-i-t  to, and the people I've mentioned my observation to, not one has even entertained a possibility that a dictionary definition has anything to do with anything. All have told me I'm wrong to question the Bible. It wouldn't do any good to say, "I'm questioning your interpretation abilities, not the Bible. When you can't interpret correctly a simple word that's perfectly clear in the dictionary, you're illiterate. Why would I trust interpretations of scripture from people who don't know how to read?" Of course, they get it from the spirit of God. How could I have such a lapse and forget that?


In my time of discovering Meher Baba, one of his most appealing aspects for me was when he recommended doubt, recommended questioning, testing his principles, made it clear that doubt and questioning are the right approaches to the spiritual life. Find your own truth. Find what works. Doubted, questioned and tested, the words of Meher Baba bear out, become convincing. Questioned and tested, much of Baptist dogma does not bear out, much of Baptist interpretation doesn't work out. Questioning, I found no emphasis on love, the only thing Jesus was about, only emphasis on "works," which Jesus are not where it's at. Do this, don't do that, be very afraid of God and even more afraid of the devil. Live in fear that God might change his mind about you going to heaven because you embezzled in your role as church treasurer and never got caught.

One day in a law office I was working in, I saw two men who were obvious shyster preachers. They were waiting for their appointment. I noticed out the window that both drove red cars, a Mustang and a Camaro. After they left, I said to the lawyer, "Those guys were either preachers or mobile home salesmen." She said, "Which do you think?" I said, "Preachers." She said, "Right." We had a good laugh. One of us brought up the PT Barnum saying, "You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all the people all the time." A few years later, I saw the one with the Mustang in a convenience store sniffing up on the woman at the register. He was in front of me in line. He made me think of a rooster courting a hen, scooting sideways, one wing dragging the ground, one foot scratching the ground, his apparent trance telling the hen he's ready to pounce. It was funny anyway, but it being a preacher made his stand-up routine all the funnier, his waxed red Mustang glistening in sunlight beside the pump, saying, come on baby light my fire. For the record, these preachers were not from this county, but they weren't far from home.


The spiritual path, or honest living, requires doubting, questioning, searching, feeling for resonance. The farther I get along my own Way, the farther away I get from being raised to believe the spiritual path is a tightrope, deviate either way and you fall into hell, the better my life gets. It's like when I look at trees they open to me and welcome me as their friend, instead of telling me I'm a sinner fallen from grace who needs the Lord Jesus Christ to save me from eternal damnation. This is why I prefer the woods to church. It doesn't matter to me if they want to believe that one day the skeletons of the saved will pop out of the ground and float into outer space to be with Jesus, where you're bacon rind on one side and ice on the other. I don't care if they believe the spiritual path is a tightrope. Jimmy Swaggart couldn't walk it. Oral Roberts couldn't walk it. Jim Bakker couldn't walk it. Jerry Fallwell couldn't walk it. It's a straight line of YOU BETTER NOT. Any distraction to right or left: You Better Not. Every step is You Better Not. I can't spend my life in anxiety over walking in a straight line. I'm not drunk and God is not a cop. I cannot live with God the drill instructor, the judge, the executioner, the one who hates any deviance from the tightrope. That's not the God I found when I slipped from under the baptist shroud to have a look around and make some assessments for myself. I found that God is love, not punishment. I'm not going back.


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