Matters of Faith

So, take a breath. Slooowly. Let it out. Slooowly. Now, hold my hand and let’s just jump right into this mortifyingly lethal, scalding hot mudpit of spiritual, emotional and and intellectual chaos, shall we? Yo Mrs. Pandora? Lemme see that box…

So what are the founding principles of formerly red-haired Dave-ism? As I’ve probably suggested elsewhere, I am a dedicated, relentless, committed, and extremely infuriating – for many folks – agnostic. I fully embrace and believe in every fiber of my being in Agnosticism. Don’t even try to start an argument with me about it.

Let me say right up front with as much empathy and sensitivity I can muster: I know discussing religion is a messy danger. I know. People say ‘never talk about politics and religion’. Well, I do both all the time, as you may have noticed by now, and I plan to continue to do so, with your blessing or without, as long as I live. But I’m not an idiot, either, and I still remain a pretty nice guy who is willing to listen to reason, if at least you don’t pester me with authority or dogmatism. You don’t own me. And you have no idea what I know. Or whether what I know is better than what you know.

But one thing I have observed in life: people all over the world have deep and profound beliefs. About all kinds of things. They have for an eternity. Wars have been fought, and won, and lost, and lost, and won again, and millions have died trying to prove that somebody was right about what God is, or isn’t. And still they believe. Holding profound beliefs must be something we really need to do, or we would have just evolved out of it, you would think. Many feel deeply bound to their particular beliefs, and I am the first one to get in line to honor that. I am absolutely willing to respect your beliefs and how important they are to you, if you’ll respect mine and Jasper’s, and how critically important they are to us.  That is the deal. Jasper and I will sign onto right now. Where’s the pen? Where’s that extra large inkpad?

I even have some beliefs myself that are still not backed up 100% by science. For example, I believe in man-made Climate Change, and that we are the culprits. I have a pretty good picture of what we’ve been doing (I think you do too) and I will write about it soon. It’s actually interesting science, built on the backs of some awesome minds. If only there was some way in this seemingly God-damned world you could suck the fear and politics and greed out of it, which may be impossible now (it’s pretty basic really, just10th grade level bio (photsynthesis) & physics (energy math).

No, I don’t yet know that CC is a ‘fact’. An ‘ultimate truth’. You have got me there. I do not know that entirely 100%, locked down. But hey Jack – you tell me something you know for a fact. Tell me what your dog is thinking. I know what my dog is thinking, so there. You know the whole universe could just be in your mind, right? I’m just in your dream? Ho ho ho. There is also something else, however, closely related, that I also believe strongly. With increasing intensity and a medium worry, in fact. We will know very soon for a fact whether CC is real or not. Whatever TPrez and his oily-handed buddies are trying to sell you.

I have a hunch, in fact, that when it comes down to it, there is going to be no doubt. SecRex T and his monied golfing buds will still be trying to make you doubt it – especially so you will eventually forget it’s largely their fault – but eventually, there will be no doubt. Not anymore. All our minds will be suddenly made up, in an afternoon of torrential chaos and sadness. And a really ridiculous, perverse disbelief. Everyone will say, ‘who knew?’. And I will point over there and say, ‘What do you think those guys in lab coats have been shouting at you for 30 years?’.  Yes, our minds will be made up. If our minds – and our suddenly breaststroking bodies – are still here. Maybe they will just be light by then.

Anyway, then finally we will get to see who gets to say nana nana booboo, and be the winner of this silly argument. Jasper says he’s been smelling oil on our greedy human hands for years, and that every animal he talks to is really pissed off at us. They sure look sad and frightened to me. But I only speak dog (and, more recently, cat). Their disappointment may turn out to be justified, I would think. But then, that’s for another day.

Who am I to worry? I have a five acre field, in the bright sun, high in the middle and sloping away all around. I have a roof over my well-drained head, 2 acres of trees, a brand new sawmill and a not-so-old Kubota tractor w backhoe and attachments; I’ve got every carpentry tool in the book, a big barn, a propane generator, and mad woodworking skills. I could build an ark in about a week and a half. What the hell are you going to do? Run from the wave? lol, bring a swimsuit. Even if my ark leaks, I have a 1987 stingray bowrider on a trailer siting in the driveway – Jasper and I could simply load the bow with Kraft mac and cheese, Clif bars, dog food, gasoline, sunscreen, and de-salinator, and live the rest or our days on the landless sea, fishing with my extensive gear set and, in the end, probably making a better movie than that wet mess that Costner starred in a few years back.

But … back to talking about religion. One sunny topic to another, lol. Aren’t I ridiculous? We really should go for a walk instead. But I do believe this: we must to find a way to talk about it, with a big M. We musty talk about it openly and without judgement and with patience and forgiveness.  We can’t all just walk around all day, thinking everybody else is wrong about the world’s biggest questions, and not saying anything to each other about it. That’s just plain bizarre. When I suggested to Jasper that we try that program for a while he went, ‘Ernnhhnn? WTF?’

You believe in God. I totally respect your beliefs, your traditions, your ritual, and your privacy. I always will. I respect that you have reverence. In truth, I was raised a Congregationalist and still get great comfort in many of the New Testament stories. I am a true lover of the story of Jesus, for example. Love thy neighbor? Meek inherit the earth? Turn the other cheek? Those all sound like plans worth making. I’m all in for the Law of the Golden Rule.

But, on the other hand, I’m an Agnostic, so I believe God is – most likely, from a logical, scientific standpoint – an imaginary entity that we have created with to make us feel safer about the size of the universe. About being a tiny atom on the field inside the Astrodome during an Astros game. About feeling as small as an ant, clinging to your future girlfriend’s flip flop.  For an Agnostic, God is just as real and possible and true as the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

A suggestion: can’t we simply agree to disagree until the end of time in peace and harmony? You have your way, and I have mine. Isn’t that good enough? I hate to say this, because it’s really crude, so don’t be offended please – but beliefs are like assholes. Everyone – and I mean everyone and their sister – has one. That doesn’t mean those beliefs are either wrong or right or up or down. That doesn’t mean they’re real to anyone but us. Particularly to the madly scrambling, confused and frightened animals, trees, and organisms of every size and shape, with whom we share this delicate planet, and who literally sustain us – I mean, absolutely keep us from dying tomorrow – every single day.

Beliefs, in the end, are simply not provable. They never were and they are never going to be (back to agnosticism), so there is no point in arguing. We cetrtainly should talk about religion in order to engender understanding and promote empathy : that is so important. But standing here like the ants we are, acting oversized and cocky on this tiny planet in a world full of mystery, arguing about religion for one more day, hoping to eventually prove that someone is absolutely right, seems to Jasper and his friends to be a dangerous, disrespectful, and planet-killing waste of our time.

And so we finally swerve back around to ‘ultimate truth’. Is there such a thing? Who knows. I don’t even like to talk about it. So let me be quick: I believe ‘truth’ is the insecure, pimply, 4th wheel best friend of Faith, Belief, and Chastity. She is pretentious and egotistical and walks around with her eyes closed, thinking she knows stuff. We can certainly agree on some functional, earth based truths and facts to make life easier. The sky really is blue. We agree on observable facts. But if you ever walk up to me and Jasper on the trail, and try to tell us that you actually KNOW whats going oat the cosmic level, at the subatomic level, or really, on any other level at all, big or tiny? Pardon us if we just turn up the volume and walk on by. And give you the paw behind your back. I wish you luck on the trail and I hope you find your way home.

Simply put: I don’t think you know squat, Jack, about the true universal cosmic reality. At Especially as it concerns matters of the Spirit. Stuff you can’t see through telescopes, or microscopes.  Someday, Jasper will take a break from his reveries in the eternal Now for five minutes and explain to you the simple matter of the CDS. Apparently you missed it in astronomy class.

I know you didn’t ask – that never stopped me before, lol – but my advice for you? If all this is making you a little … confused? Go home immediately, roll one up, settle in on the couch and watch, without sleep, the entire Twilight Zone and Night Gallery canon, Kung Fu pilot and all 3 seasons (I can lend you the CD collection), Jodie Foster in Contact (about 5 times, but I love Jodie), and Carl Sagan’s entire original Cosmos series. Throw in CTHD for some Confucian kickass and some Fellini for bizarro mind-bending. I believe 2001 a Space Odyssey should be a requirement, but that you can skip the sequels. Rinse and repeat as needed until you see a light. Any light. Any light at all.

Also, you might want to pick up subscriptions to Scientific American and the New Yorker, and read the damn things. For about 5 years. Buy Bill Moyers’ Joseph Campbell book, find your bliss, and have your heroes journey. When you’re finished with all that, go to India and wander around for a while. Or anywhere in Asia. As long as you go far enough to see that there is another side to this big bright blue shiny quarter we’re living on.

Then? You might be somewhere close to the Cosmic Consciousness Big Idea ballpark. Within walking distance, at least.

*** updated 3/5/17