Thursday, July 31, 2008

I feel like preaching.

This generation asks for a sign! I get it all the time as a teacher of religion. If God cared about us then why doesn't he show himself? Where's the proof, where? Why should I bother? This doesn't mean anything to me; this doesn't affect me. People can believe anything they want to.

To paraphrase Al Pacino's Satan, if God is in the sky, he's looking down at us and laughing. We're demanding miracles, magic, violations of the laws of physics. Why? Did it ever occur to us that the trash in front of our faces embodies wonders that befuddle Stephen Hawking? That the dirt under your fingernail contains buried within it the secrets of the entire universe? The irony! We imagine that for God to be God he must break the very order he created--and even more humiliating, to do so on demand for the sake of our spectacle. Why? Because we're bored. Bored of creation, bored of ourselves, bored of the world. Unfathomable mysteries unfold before us and we yawn.

God isn't TiVo.

Forget magic tricks for a moment. Want a miracle, look at a jewel, a rock, a speck of dust--don't even bother with an organism, we don't want your mind to explode. Repeating crystalline patterns, circular dances in the air, a vital part of the vast ecological whole, not even alive but containing more intricacy and beauty than we usually envision within ourselves on a daily basis. Amino acids, proteins, organelles, life, heat, energy, water, growth, adaptation, symbiosis. You could live three lifetimes studying a single leaf and beg for more time in the end for fear of not having done it justice.

Don't look for violations of the laws, look to the laws themselves! Heck, forget the laws, look at anything. Don't wonder at why things are the way they are; wonder at why anything is at all. Why is there something, and not nothing. None of This had to exist. And yet It is. And none of it had to arrange itself into self-replicating organic matter; and yet it did. And that matter didn't have to create an intelligent being, one who for the first time self-consciously takes part in the vast mystery of which itself is born.

If you're not thanking the One Mysterious Origin of All for every breath that flies into your lungs and miraculously preserves the felicitous operation of your organism for another 10 minutes, based on the bewildering interwoven dynamisms of the respiratory system, then you are Blind, Oblivious. And to live in oblivion, and to die in oblivion, are not such separate realities.

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