Easter. I woke up this morning thinking of all the ghosts of Easter's past. Easter is one of those strange holidays for me now, I think because my thinking has continued to evolve and maintain the idea of a perfectly structured universe, while pondering the inferior structure of the struggle we call humanity. (A beautiful paradox!) For years now, after first reading the biography of Albert Einstein, I've tried to coach my math challenged brain to understand the physics of the universe, and am little by little learning what I can, often having to repeat documentaries and pour over facts in books and information I can find on the internet. For the third time, the other night, (pre-Easter preparation), I watched the PBS 'American Experience' documentary on Albert Einstein, and am getting closer and closer to understanding the general theory of relativity. For most of my life, I've searched for the spirit of God in many things, in many places, as well as in books, churches, and other human beings.
In my twenties, I had what I would call a born again experience. After several near death encounters, it made sense for me to turn over my life to a benevolent God who was much bigger and in more control than I certainly was, this leading to eight or nine years of fairly devout study of the bible and all things Jehovah. I even enrolled in a Baptist college for several semesters, taking Greek, Old and New Testament Survey, Old Testament Poetry, and Harmony of the Gospels, to name just a few. I was also a preacher chaser, taking in any evangelist or guest speaker that happened to be in town. I especially loved the Pentecostal tent preachers, who would sweat, wave towels over their heads and pretend to run in mid-air. Arthur Blessed, (known as The Sunset Strip Preacher) once came to Phoenix and stayed for six weeks, starting a downtown revival that had me ready to carry my cross across all seven continents as he had done. At one point, I was sure I had been called to preach the gospel, going as far as working as a street evangelist for Teen Challenge, setting up PA systems in the housing projects downtown and bearing my testimony for anyone who would listen. But, it was not to be. Being a veracious reader, I slowly but surely read my way through the other side of the theology I was reaping from my experiences and studies, (thanks a lot Karl Marx and Will Durant!) ending up a forlorn backslidden Christian, to the dismay and disappointment of all my Christian brothers and sisters. I have often wondered what would have happened if I had turned away from my intellect and continued to mine the faith of the supernatural, but alas, I finally could not hold up the cross of singularity in such a big world, and no one was more disappointed than I, when I had to put down the cross that was much to heavy for me to carry. The paradox of this backslidden state is the notion that mining Christianity was too hard for me to do, that backsliding back into the easy existence of heathenism was merely a lack of discipline, I can assure you, it was not. I had to work very hard at keeping my secular faith and reasoning directed out of being the Christian I longed to be, and for years had to fight the guilt that was instilled in me during that period. (I believe that the smoking gun of Christianity is guilt.)
The analogy I've always used to explain this is the dilemma of the drunk or addict. For I have heard it said, "How easy it must be for him to lose himself in drink and drug, and not have to face the drudgery of the common man like the rest of us do." I assert that being a drunk or addict is one of the most difficult jobs or occupations that one could ever choose, (or not choose at all) for it is a relentless job, ceaseless in its pursuit, unyielding, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week for those who have made it a full time occupation. Sick, tired, and cunningly unmerciful are those who get hired to do this job. I won't even get started on the nasty disposition of the boss, supervisor or the pay scale. When I see the reality show, World's Worst Jobs, I've often thought that they should showcase the job of a drunk, for it is certainly one of the world's worst jobs. And this I know, for I've been hired for the job several times myself, only to quit when it became too difficult. (Sigh). (I've also been fired several times.)
So, now I feel I'm standing on the threshold of understanding the great discoveries of science, an existentialist who believes in God, or a Creator, but am inclined to focus my logic on the laws and physics of the universe that does not give me the option to break its rules with supernatural interloping, for in the wonder of this universe, there seems to be no earthly, (or heavenly) reason for the need to break these rules, (the realities of the universe are miraculous enough). I was brought up as a child primarily in the LDS church, and I remember even as a small child it was very difficult for me to adjust to the stories of angels visiting so often, and especially God the Father, Jesus the son, and The Holy Ghost, all visiting the Prophet Joseph Smith at the same time. For me, it was even a greater stretch of the imagination than Rumplestiltskin or Cinderella, and it seemed that each story I would hear in church would trump the last, until fairy tales and church ideology were one and the same to me.
Every few years I take another stab at understanding the church of my tribe, but always get caught napping early when the missionaries begin the doctrine of the several celestial kingdoms, (synonymous with the sun, the moon, and the stars). Now, for those in my family who may be secretly (or openly) reading my writings that are LDS, I do want you to know that my intent is not to shake your faith, (being presumptuous) and I really wish I could believe in The Book of Mormon the way that you do, but alas, I cannot, and short of a supernatural visitation from the three personages of the trinity, you will have to just love me in spite of my lacking. For like you, I have prayed many times, (as it asks in The Pearl of Great Price) to reveal the truth of the gospel in The Book of Mormon, (gospel being the good news) but for some reason, the truth of it is never revealed to me. However, for your sakes, I will keep trying to understand why the shackles remain upon my eyes. However, I can tell you that slowly, the gospel of physics is beginning to take hold of my addled brain, and believe me when I tell you as these truths are revealed to me, it is just as exciting as when I first had the revelation that Christ died for me as a twenty year old heathen. (I do believe devoutly that the laying down of a life for another is profoundly powerful, and is the apex of human morality).
As I begin to understand that space, time, and gravity is the cornerstone of my existence, and that distance, the age of all things in the universe, and red shifts can be measured, there is a comfort pondering these concepts as I lay me down to sleep. In fact, I remember as a young Christian just having found God, how urgently I felt the need to share my experience with anyone who might be near me, and believe me, I did. The saddest part of that time was that my Mormon family would not except my revelation, for it was discovered outside of the ward, and outside of the LDS church, and it is indeed, family, a discovery that can be made in ALL faiths pertaining to the great precepts of love conquering death.
The only rancor I still hold, however, is what was done to my father when at an advanced and fragile state, once more entered the church of his tribe. Instead of letting him discover the sweet and soulful interaction of the social connection that he longed for, a Mormon bishop told him what he must do to win back his salvation. He left immediately afterwards and never returned again. But he did return to the universe, and to the desert dust, and the stardust that made him. Oh, you say, this was an isolated incident made on the part of the ignorance of one man, but I promise you, it is collective malfeasance, for I have experienced it myself. This is not say that I do not love the people of the church, for they are indeed, my people, just accept the idea that I must live out here, and that in my humble and unrighteous life, I have also somehow been able to find love for those who many would deem unlovable. Am I better than you? Surely I am not, for there were none worthy, not even one.
I suppose today, that my subconscious mind has been pondering Easter, and its always good to write and study what does come out, for this tells me that there is still a river running in my soul, and that my faith has not stopped at the notion that my salvation will only come through the good works of the faith of my fathers, for good works are done each and every day by those who simply love humanity and want to somehow do their part to alleviate suffering. I am however, some how moved to strive to understand a universe that perpetuates a perfect order of things that are made of matter, as well as things that are not. The not being dark matter, or dark energy, which makes up ninety-five percent of the universe. The vernacular of the church would perhaps imply that dark matter may just be the devil? Contrarily, as I try to wrap my mind around the concept of dark energy, it occurred to me the other day that this may indeed be the creator himself, and that the light moves through him and around him. From the beginning of time, there have always been humans who have sought to find the truth in thinking another way around the box, and in doing so have discovered, that the universe is indeed expanding, and faster than the speed of light, try to wrap your mind around that angel… (there is so much more to say here, but not tonight, Easter was over an hour ago, and I've probably said too much already.) Goodnight. "Greater love hath no man than that he lay down his life for his friend."
A side note: Every time I tell my dog, Baby that "I love her," she blinks her eyes, EVERY TIME. It is a miraculous thing, I tell you, and in fact, defies the laws of physics. So, do you see my painstaking dilemma? I believe that animals know all the answers, but they keep them close to the fur, letting us know just enough to keep us searching...