Thus revealed, the creature buried its nose in the tire-tilled soil...
January 30, 2004
What happened?
Category: Serious

I wanted to post last night, but I was feeling like crap so I wasn't quite up to it. Physically, I mean, though morale is a problem too. Physically because I was doing the work/taking lots of photos for an upcoming SC feature. I'm like the Mick Foley of these "random crap comedy" websites -- putting my body and health on the line for your entertainment. I really hope you people appreciate it. I don't quite feel like throwing up anymore, but I still feel sluggiiiiiisssssssssshhhhhhhhhhhh. Ugh.

I don't really feel up to writing anything substantial tonight either, but I did write a rather lengthy e-mail earlier, so I'll just excerpt from that. Hope nobody minds...

Speaking of things I miss, do you remember the days when people used to say, "Looks don't matter; it's the inside that counts?" Even if they weren't sincere when they said it, it still means _something_ that they did... I was just thinking about that last night, since I was cooking while my mother was watching that Extreme Makeover show, where they basically give people plastic surgery until they're almost unrecognizeable and then everybody does happy dances. I miss a lot of the nice sayings of my childhood.

Of course, if anyone did actually say some of those things like back in the good ol' days, everyone else would probably just call that person a liar. 🙁

And there's something I've been thinking about, so I'll just mention it now to remind myself (and you, so remind me if the issue interests you) to touch on it later. If you're one of the Christian bloggers who's found his/her way to the page, don't take this the wrong way (and please defend yourself, etc., if you like, by sending an e-mail), but lately I've been reading a lot of "Christian blogs" and the main thing that seems to stand out about them is the selfishness of the writer. Perhaps that's a given and is to be expected from a blog entry, but it seems like even when talking about God and Jesus these people are really only talking about themselves -- and primarily about how "happy" they are. And I've been thinking that maybe (at least in a lot of cases) Christianity necessitates that a person become selfish, because it requires that person to say, in a sense, "Everything is alright with the world; God's in control -- and whatever misfortunes befall people befall them as a result of their own transgressions against Him." Granted, that's definitely a simplified version of what I've been thinking, but it's along those lines. There are shades of this attitude in C.S. Lewis, but rather than fall back on him again I'm going to recount a discussion that I once had. There was a girl with whom I used to converse on IRC and AIM -- I don't remember her name and I no longer speak to her -- who once told me about a dream that she had...

In the dream, there was a wasteland with a number of high plateaus, and she was atop one, and there were other people atop others. Then came a violent storm, and lightning bolts came streaking down from the sky; the earth beneath crumbled and gave away, and many of the plateaus started breaking up -- and those that didn't were shattered by lightning. She recalled that the people on those plateaus were screaming, crying out for help, and some of them were huddled and praying to other gods, but to no avail, and soon they were driven into the abyss. But her plateau remained firm, and a bit of sunlight fell onto her, and she said she knew that in the midst of all of this chaos and death, she would be fine, because God was on her side. In the midst of all of this, she was smiling, and there was something beautiful and good about it in her eyes.

I told her that it sounded like a nightmare.

And yet that's the attitude that seems to emanate from a lot of these Christian blogs and testimonials. Their faith seems to require them to abandon those who might need them -- if not in deed, then in spirit, and definitely where empathy is concerned. They've been "saved", as they say, so how could they identify with those who continue to suffer without consolation? It makes sense, but there's a certain kind of naivety about it. People are always fond of telling me that "I don't understand" things or that I "lack life experience", but believe me when I say that I've seen some horrible things in my short life, and the kinds of things that maybe other people don't see because they've never had to suffer them themselves -- or because they subject others to similar torments and smile while doing it. I can't say that this is a good world. I can't even say that most people are good. And maybe the Christians can't say the latter either, but it doesn't seem to bother them. They just don't care. I do. Even if I can't do anything to help -- even if I were to grant that it's out of my hands and that perhaps only God can fix things, it would still bother me.

I've studied quite a bit about religion, and different kinds, and while I don't much agree with Budhhism either, the bodhisattvas struck me as undeniably admirable figures. There are certain doctrines that say that to become a Buddha -- to enter into the bliss of non-being, while others continue to suffer in the cycle of rebirth and death (samsara) -- is selfish. So the bodhisattva stays on, either reborn as a teacher of the dharma, or as a benevolent spirit of some sort, refusing to accept enlightenment him/herself until the suffering of all other beings has ended. There are tales of the monk Ryogen, who prayed to become a benevolent demon after death, so that he could protect the monastery and continue to teach those who came, so that he could continue to guide earthly souls into nirvana. And I think there's really something to that.

But I ask a further question -- how can we call anyone "enlightened" or "saved" who can look around at this world, see all of the terrible things in it, and not care, and go on smiling?

So that's the short of it.

-posted by Wes | 12:26 pm | Comments (0)
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