Friday, November 04, 2011

I don't believe to get to Heaven

"Profit," probably "benefit" in the original French, is the most common reason given by Brother Lawrence, a seventeenth century Carmelite, for living "in the presence of God" (or roughly in utter contemplation and obedience). It's a common theological transaction.

You believe in God to get saved or to get to heaven or experience blessings, or whatever -- all of it by and by, because everything here and now remains as nasty and brutish as ever, and you are no better. "Primitive" people (unlike those about to destroy the planet today) danced to the gods for rain and ate the flesh of others.

In my many years of religious belief I never believed for that reason. Nor do I now, when I find religion highly questionable and at heart ignorant of God's unimaginable wonder.

A believer I know says this is my, and her, arrogance. Probably it is.

I probably think myself above the salvation crap that satisfies the religious rabble. The hoi polloi can pray to get a parking space, a good grade, a good job, a spouse, a house with a white picket fence, a painless death and the 70 virgins in Islamic heaven. Not me.

I don't think God is a reality "for me," in the relativist sense that things can be true for me, but not others. This is the same as saying there are 7 billion unique universes with entirely different laws of gravity, each depending on the personality of the human being at its center.

Nor do I think that God wastes too much time on whether I get a convenient parking spot. I usually do ... people say I have "parking karma." Or maybe, to borrow from Justine Labalestier, I have a parking fairy.

One would think that's not God lavishing her bounty on me. God has better things to do, or not do (she hasn't told me which) ... that do not include monitoring whether I masturbate, lie, steal, cheat, etc., all of which I surely have done at one time or another.

The truth I find plausible isn't so because I find it convenient, indeed downright profitable. Just a right and wrong aren't determined by what I choose, or are biochemically impelled, to do.

To my mind the truth I posit as true and the good I propose as good is quite independent of where I "go" after death, other than, say, the crematorium. Or where I park my car.

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