i dreamt of Christ as though he was mocking me for losing my faith
i dream sacrilegious.
Christ stands before his people,
before my people,
before people without faces,
i am omnipotent but sin has corroded my memory; why am i here?
there is a wound in my head where faith has left me and
there is a puncture in my lungs, a cracked rib, from breathing something other than holy righteousness, sacred flames.
i blow into his hands as he raises them;
the stigmata fester;
the faceless crowd opens a thousand hidden mouths and gospel comes pouring forth.
he makes some grand speech; i do not remember it.
words like saviour and father and love pepper his proclamations like dried blood on his crown of thorns.
(he no longer wears it
but his hair hangs thicker,
his brow cut sharper;
he has swallowed their cruelty and it has made him bitter.
but holy men cannot say unholy things;
he keeps talking, but his mouth never truly opens.)
two men stand by his side,
one kisses him and the other shakes his head.
i do not remember their clothes or how they spoke
but of the three of them,
the Nazareth-born scapegoat looked more human than all those men and faceless bodies combined.
When I was little I knew there was no God. But, now I'm not so sure.
There is this feeling I get when I read the torah - this big swell of emotions that crash over me and leave me breathless. This overwhelming presence of a hug, tight around my shoulders, and a voice telling me I am safe.
I used to look toward the sky and beg the universe to tell me why, if there is a God, He would be so vengeful, and wicked, and hurtful. Why He would kill my grandfather, a holocuast survivor who spent his entire life dedicating himself to good and to helping people, with such an arduous and horrific disease like cancer. I wondered why He would let me be hurt and taken advantage of. I wondered why He, this alleged allmighty powerful omnipotent being, would let people die or kill or hurt. I knew that I would never do that if I were in His place.
But then, a few months ago I sat down at my family's seder dinner, and I picked up the Haggadah, and I began to read. The presence of God became so overwhelming that I had to run to the bathroom and I began to cry. I finally undersood.
God doesnt have the power to rewire human beings. God cant change disease, or natural disaster, or trauma, or the way you and I live our lives.
God isnt omnipotent. God isn't all powerful. God doesnt have pronouns, or hamnoid qualities the way people say They do. God just is.
God is a means of finding your way back to peace. God is a means of articulating love, and purpose, and good. God is the amalgamation of what it is and what could be, should you choose to follow Them.
God is a hug, and safety, and a promise. God is a kiss, and empowerment, and knowledge.
My God may not take the form of the God we talk about in the torah, but not a day goes by that I dont get a hug from my God. And I think that the younger me, who was so anti-God, would feel really okay with that.
Existence Has No Substitute
is as much so
as the real thing
and just so
stirs this mug
with devil’s grin
is what it is
in the mourning
we brew like
Folgers the same
of doubt and
sip it all for
good or bad...
beside my angel
and this crooked
on the frame
seems more evenly
call it as you will.
Create/describe your God(s) or your substitution for such beings challenge @Beaver
All The Better To Hear You With
Perhaps we can chalk it up to dyslexia, but my ideal god would be a dog.
Nothing all powerful; only a companion, innocent and ever watching, fluffy and fervent.
When I am angry, it will not answer with anger but will cower. I must quell my own anger lest I hurt it.
When I am sad, it cannot right wrongs for me. It can only provide quiet comfort until I pull myself back up.
When I am happy, it can wag, shake, and smile for me. But its happiness is eternal; it doesn't need me, just as I don't need others to make me happy.
When I am lost, it can pretend to guide me but only so far as either of our senses allow. It cannot bring me past where my own two feet take me.
When I am lonely, it is always there at my feet as a loyal, unswerving partner to my journey.
When I face hardship, it cannot help me. It can only remind me that I have a greater responsibility to make the world a kinder place not only for me, but for those less powerful than I am.
When I judge myself, it never responds because I know it will always see the best in me. It is up to me to face my darkness on my own.
When I tire and decide that life has had enough, it cannot tell me what lies ahead or whether my soul lives on. It can only accompany me into the darkness.
All the best parts of the gods I hear others praise can easily be embodied in one small, four-legged form.
All the other parts - the arrogance, the divine wrath, the trickery, the demand for supplication - well...
...we can give those to the cat.
beasts of all
the giants walked past
on legs taller than trees.
they had no heads
for they were too far to see.
we huddled in our town
smaller than ants.
our prayers whispered
through fearful chants
it was curious, i found,
how the giants moved on.
heedless of the many lives
below the watercolor dawn
and i was brought to wonder
just what they were fleeing
from. because if we cower before
these monstrous beings
what, then, would send them retreating?
All you want to do is trace your finger over the ribbed outline of Mother Mary, trapped in cathedral glass. But she is exalted on the wall, the kind of beauty that you can never really reach. Shapes tessellate the window, like sunlight at the bottom of a rockpool, but in beautiful cellophane colours, and warmly translucent. Regardless of one’s religion, who could argue against the extraordinary beauty of cathedrals. Of course people marry here.
The glass is stronger than brittle. The white light allowed through is humbled into its constituent colours, painting the floor iridescent. A holy high roof occasionally blessed by birds. I was baptised in a cathedral, and all the rest, and will likely marry in one; have my funeral in one. I don’t think I believe in God, and I’m not sure of any Providence, but for me, Mother Mary is not a spirit, but a warm blanket on cold nights. Jesus is not a god, but that reminder in your head, when you’re caught in a downpour, to smile at the decision to leave your umbrella at home, because you haven’t had a true shower like this in years, and you have never felt more liberated. I think that’s what the disciples were talking about. The Buddhists, Taoists, Judaists, Muslims, I think that’s what they meant when they spoke of enlightenment and faith, but it all got muddled somewhere along the way.
Reign of Angels
The divine creator presided over the mortal realm and he delegated the realms of the afterlife to his five archangels. Despite bearing the title archangel, they were more akin to gods. Each archangel could do anything the creator could do.
The infamous fallen angel Lucifer presided over the abysmal depths of Inferno and Archangel Uriel, the divine judge, was tasked with guarding its gates. Heaven was left under Archangel Michael's eye, for he was the creator's most trusted confidant.
Meanwhile, Archangel Gabriel and Raphael shared duties. Both of them oversaw Mount Purgatory, the place where lost souls traversed to in hopes of achieving salvation. They would assist souls that they deemed were worthy and then proceed to guide them in the realm of Utopia.
Utopia was the lesser known of the four realms in afterlife. Often times, purgatory wasn't enough to cleanse one's sins. Affairs in the mortal world had a penchant for preventing souls from reaching heaven and the only way for that struggle to cease was divine intervention in the mortal realm.
Utopia gave lost souls the opportunity to travel back to the mortal realm. It held a theater that allowed them to witness and influence the actions of their reincarnations. This was their opportunity to reverse their grave mistakes and finally ascend into heaven.
At least, that's what Archangel Gabriel and Raphael preached. It wasn't that simple.
If one succeeded in reversing their mistakes, they were permitted to go into heaven. However, they were not given the luxury of basking in heaven's ammenitities. They were turned into saints- guides for lost souls. Saints would take on the duty of accompanying residents of Utopia and helping them achieve their roles.
Humans were arguably the most influential beings. They were sculpted in the Creator's image and given free reign of their lives. They had no obligations to the Creator. Their circumstances and luck were the only things shaping their lives. That was, if their lives weren't being influenced by their past selves.
More often than not however, it was.
For God to have any meaning, there must be an afterlife. If life now is all that is or can be, nothing else matters. But if there’s more, God can’t be dismissed.
On the other hand, what would this afterlife need to be like for us to live there for ever? It could start with the earth in all its glory, but now without storms or volcanoes, poverty, squalor or disease. And the same goes for us. There’d be no murders or lust or stealing or envy or lies. For heaven to work, we’d have to be sanitized. If not, we’d end up fighting again. Without perfect truth, goodness and beauty, heaven would be a war zone, but if this heaven’s a place worth having, it must be run by a God worth having.
But why would a perfect God want us? Perfect implies He’s complete as He is, so why would He need admirers, especially failed creatures like us? As we are, we’d be repulsive to infinite goodness. For Him to want our company, He must have a love that is kind and endlessly patient, never self-seeking or easily angered, a love that protects and trusts, hopes and perseveres. So that explains who God is, but why would He bother with people like us? With love there’s no secret agenda. Any God who loves that strongly would also be good, and someone that decent would also be hospitable.
But what about us? Would we live on as particles in an ocean of infinite understanding, all life’s mysteries now explained? Sure, we’d have knowledge but where’s the fun in that paradise? Stripped of our own identities, how could we hope to explore for ourselves a world of endless adventure? And that’s the heaven Christ promised. Like Him, we also get born again in our own perfected bodies.
And now to the crux of the matter – this promise only works if Christ really rose from the dead. We know that in our natural world, no one returns from three days dead. For Christ to be resurrected, there must be a supernatural power. Death doesn’t negotiate, but on the other hand, is the Resurrection nothing but a myth?
Now a myth is somewhere and nowhere, some time and never, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.... The Resurrection tells a different story.
Crucified and then buried three days, on the Sunday after Passover in Jerusalem in AD 30, Christ rose not as spirit but in His human body, nail holes still scarring His hands and feet. That sounds like a concrete event. For it to be real, there should be some record in history. Let’s hear from the Roman historian Tacitus.
Remember that Rome excelled at quashing rebellions, but that Christianity showed a remarkable resilience despite intense persecution. Why did it survive? Tacitus reports:
“Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judæa, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome....”
“Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired....”
Now ask yourselves? Would such numbers in so many places be willing to endure such persecution for the sake of a long dead and discredited human leader, or did their courage reflect a greater faith? Did they perhaps believe in a risen Christ leading them to paradise? This is inconclusive, but why stop there with so much evidence for and against on the internet? What if Christ really did conquer death? That would demand your attention.