I sat back on the bed, reclining more fully into the arm that held me up. It was late morning and the light filtering in through the blinds of the small rectangular window was soft with the promise of a sun filled day. I had just realized something very large and a sense of awe had come over me akin to looking up at the star filled night sky and sensing the enormity of it all and my very small place within it. My words were stolen with the impact of the realization.
"Everything we know about Jesus comes from the book. There are no other sources that verify his existence."
I saw the bloody bodies on the path made by the crusaders. I saw the witches burning and the missionaries in the tropics. I saw the abortion clinics in flames and men strapping bombs to their chests. All of this, and so much more…all starting with a book. The written words of scribes cast two thousand years ago.
The planet we live on, amongst countless stars and endless phenomena, is the source of many questions. Why does the moon cover the sun in a total eclipse? Why does the earth sometimes shake and why did my sister die under piles of broken bricks and mortar? Why does the sun come back every morning?
Humans need a reason for the mystery, an explanation for the unseen. The answer most often given is God…God’s will that decided it, God’s will that made it happen. God is the answer to the unknowable. The answer to the questions that burn and consume. Without an answer, the enormity of the Universe is lonesome.
The mechanical impulses of birth, copulation and death are too gray and stark. Humans need a reason. A reason to be good, a reason to be clean, a reason to exist; otherwise, what is the point of the suffering? The supposed word of God has been used as a foundation for all endeavors.
Circumcise your males…because God wills it. Bury your dead in three days, because God wills it. Abandon your olive groves and pyramids… because the real God wills it. Vote for this man… because God wills it. And always, it is the masses following the words of the few.
The ancient rabbis were considered to be the most educated among all the people, and perhaps they were. They used the idea of God, the threat of God’s wrath, to control large masses of illiterate peasants. Judaism has over 400 rules of hygiene and all of it is directly practiced and enforced under the permanent threat of the fearsome wrath of God.
In the United States, there is a huge political force of Christian fundamentalists who do as they’re told. They follow the word of their preachers who are supposed to be in direct contact with God. They follow an ancient book written for a distant time and a different people.
The believers follow the interpretations of rabbis and priests, but it is still a book. Is there direct experience with something like God? Is there real evidence in their lives of the promises that the Bible prescribes? Religion is a set of dead answers to living questions. They provide the comfort we seek, the final death to our sense of yearning and the hope of a clear explanation to all the mysteries of the Universe. The word is considered absolute, the modern interpretation easily molded to fit into specific current ideology.
We do not ask for faith. We ask for an open heart to experience the Absolute without interpretation or ancient dogma. We do not want to believe. We do not want to have dead answers, we want to drink deeply of the living questions.