Saturday, November 17, 2007

The trap I set for you

Sometimes it seems like dozens of separate events are conspiring to force me to think about one thing, chance conversations, books read and YouTube videos happened upon all focusing me on a single idea. Its odd that I think of it like this, as though there is some agency manipulating my world, even though I don't believe that the world works that way. I suppose it's part of what makes me human, the tendency to view unrelated things as part of a plan that centers around myself. Perhaps there is something at work in my subconscious, working out my opinions on things without the help of logical thought.

If that is the case today, my subconscious isn't finished, as I have no coherent opinion. I read this post today, though, and thought about prayer and the nature of God, and remembered all the things that have pointed me at this thought, and so I am writing this.

I have been realizing lately that I don't remember a great deal about my life. Perhaps this is natural, although it seems 22 may be a little young to be realizing that I'm losing huge gaps of memory; perhaps I'm just tired. Either way, it upsets me when I search for a memory and it isn't there. Yesterday (or the day before, or earlier- it all blurs together) I searched for a memory of my faith at the moment I lost hold of it, and the memory wasn't there. It makes me wonder: was it ever there? Was there ever a moment when I knew, when I stood up and declared my unbelief, when I took my fear in both hands and held on? Maybe there wasn't. I don't know.

I do remember some things, though.

I remember Josh and his black hair and ugly smile, and I remember learning that God's presence among his people doesn't affect the quality of character. I remember learning that either God isn't present or God isn't good and there is no other choice.

I remember hearing the silly excuse for faith that goes: either Jesus was a madman or he was the Son of God, and since he was obviously wise and good he must have been the Son of God. And I thought, well, what if he was instead some wise and good man manipulated into death by a God who desired to start a force of history that would get millions and millions of people killed? Maybe God thinks religious conflict is amusing. It fits the facts of history better, though it's a little melodramatic.

I remember being all fired up with missionary fervor until I realized that the Good News meant one of two things: either God condemned to death people who had never heard a damn thing about him, or it would be better for missionaries to be silent so as not to condemn those who heard and didn't believe.

I remember believing that God would help me when I needed him, all the way up to the point where I needed him, and then it was like the air was empty.

I remember knowing that God always answers prayers, with the often unspoken assumption that if all you heard was silence it just meant he was denying selfishness or foolishness. If you hear nothing, it just means he said 'no.' So I cried out to him to know if he loved me, and there was nothing. He didn't speak.

I remember being taught that perfection in Christ means the erasure of the self, and realizing that this is nothing more or less than death without eternal life.

But none of this was the tipping point. I don't know what the end of it was. Maybe I'm searching for the wrong thing, maybe I'm expecting a tense and emotional, gripping moment when really it was more of a drift, a gentle letting-go. It seems like I ought to remember, though.

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