Sunday, April 20, 2014

Oh God, Not This Again

At around fifteen I got serious about deconstructing Christianity. My upbringing related religion more to cultural identity than anything else. My immigrant parents instilled in me the relationship of Hellenism to Eastern Orthodoxy. Icons in the house, church at holidays and an annual communion. Christ was infantalized as Christouli, a smaller, cuddlier Jesus. The Virgin Mary in turn was made diminutive. Bite sized for children with the appropriate down-sizing suffix. In Greek, any word can be made diminutive via suffix, even God.
    Since religion wasn't forced down my throat I was able to indulge my interest in it. I would read the bible, a copy of King James with red letters and a zipper that I thrifted. I collected iconography, enjoying the kitsch value of some and the majesty of others. Of course I read Siddhartha by Herman Hesse and explored a cursory overview of the great world religions. I read on the history of the Christian church, it's borrowing of pagan symbols from older religions. I enjoyed and employed symbolism in my art and in my life. I also viciously criticized the Church as a teenager and young adult.
    By my mid twenties I knew it was too easy of a target and I developed a more nuanced critical approach. I didn't believe in the God of the Old Testament, not being able to really get past Exodus. What a total manipulative jerk that guy was. Who can buy into this stuff ? Of course, the Song Of Songs spells things out a little different, romance and sufic flavouring. And Jesus was always ok. I never have confused the religion with it's followers. People are so incredibly disappointing at times, aren't they ?
    I was intrigued with the mystical branches of the big three, Cabala, Sufism and Gnosticism. I knew more about this stuff than my religion bashing friends. Know your enemy and all that, I say. Though I don't buy into Big Daddy, here are some things that I may buy into. A conscious universe, local gods being consciousness on an elemental, planetary, solar, galactic scale, nature being intelligent as a whole. I forget what this kind of thinking is classed as. I couldn't give two shits about any science saying otherwise. Science measures what can be measured. What can't be measured is the province of wonder. I wonder aloud and I feel it's completely allowed to do so. Besides, science is never the problem with these things. The problem rests squarely with those that have convinced themselves that they can speak for science, though science itself can never and will never rest.
    I'm still astounded by atheists my age who are still grinding axes and who have an elementary understanding of theology and mythology. Tell it to the judge. Echo chambers aren't places to hang out in. I'm more than comfortable entertaining notions such as local deities masquerading as creator gods to enslave populations, hierarchies of angelic intelligences popping by once in a while to see how the monkeys are doing, currents fed by long term focus and prayer creating structures that eventually behave like gods, a cosmos that is just doing what it's going irregardless of my opinions concerning it let alone yours.
    Recently I was asked what I believe spiritually. My first written response was a nightmare of complicated somersaults. I put it aside and returned to the text months later. I started over. I don't know what I consciously believe. There must be belief working behind the scenes, under cover. Things I take for granted, an ideology I harbour that informs my take on things. Consciously though, the closest I can come to belief is entertaining the notion that everything is alive. Now this is crazy talk, of course, simply because 'alive' is offset with 'dead'. Maybe another way of putting it is that I believe that consciousness is the ground of all being. That life is everywhere and in shapes we would hardly recognize. That there are invisible worlds that overlap and intersect our own, worlds that are populated. What this stuff has to do with god per se is still unresolved.
    Now religion ain't nothing if it ain't lived and living. A set of dogmatic rules simply won't cut it for me. A living, active spirituality is one that employs a concerted effort, a practice, ritual movement, constant re-engagement with belief, constant updating of opinion, relational interfacing with the wider world. If one lives a certain way, in keeping with the idea that the cosmos is conscious, one renders the cosmos conscious. And again, it doesn't matter what anyone else says because they may be doing the exact same thing but with their cute set of parameters. My story is mine with truth and falsehood both moot.
    It's not that the jury is out, the jury was never in. We are far flung in vastness, vastness of a scale that is incomprehensibly multi-directional. Big Bigness. Small Smallness. In-Between In-Betweenness.
    This person will wonder, speculate, worship nature, write poetry, fall in love, cry for no reason and mistrust anyone who says emphatically that they know the answer, via lab coats or prayer beads. My god comes in fractal expression, often goes plural and only demands occasional ecstatic union with all of creation. Simple stuff but bound to change.