“I am the man who has seen affliction under the rod of his wrath; he has driven and brought me into darkness without any light; surely against me he turns his hand again and again the whole day long.” (Lamentations 3.1-3)
This is the exact type passage from The Bible that I seek to remedy. ‘Tis also the exact type passage that allowed religion to keep its grubby, filthy fingers squeezing hard against my emotional esophagus. I am often caught saying, “It is an angry universe.” But, I say this as metaphor for the struggle inherent in survival. This particular passage speaks of prophecy and the destruction of Zion.1 The surrounding passages give the notion that it is permissible to think that trauma can be preordained by god, carried out as you wither and plead. As the book of Job2 shows us, god will spare no child or loved one when it is time for you to be crushed by his awesome, unjustified, and inescapable wrath (or whim, “Remember Er!”3)
Wrath. For lack of a better exclamation, “Jesus Christ!” I am not going to blame religion for all of my personality shortcomings, but, “Jesus Christ!” I needn’t imagine where my anger and self-destructive path comes from when you think about growing up in a western religious culture; the evidence is everywhere.
I encourage anybody who’s ever felt this pressure from a religious source, like I did, to let it go. Difficult request, I understand.
Of course, I escaped this abusive way of thinking about the universe and myself via the study of several sciences. Science points to inherent violence in the biological world, but that is emergent from benign physics, which is utterly incapable of original anger. In other words, the passage above is voiced from an unreliable narrator making sure nihilistic prophecy (What, the Babylonians? Who fought endless wars in the area over an era. It must be prophecy!) fit with a current problem—the sacking of his city and the dead, cut down, still lying in the streets. Scary stuff, and if it were true we would live in an angry universe. But, what should I tell you to help you to heal? Um, how about—
“The exponential number of chemical reactions in your body gives rise to the property of consciousness. Therefore rendering the biblical account of mind false. You are free of all that nonsense, and are instead now held accountable to your fellows. Morality is in your hands. The only anger in the universe will be your own, and that which others attempt to enforce upon you. You are condemned to death by physics, but there is no reason it should come specifically now or later. Your mind will attempt to try and make reasons for your life, and future death, in the here and now, based on behavior. Think on it, you change the very course of the universe with every twitch. Mostly minor effects, granted, But over a lifetime, one will become more powerful than any god thus far, for you, unlike them, exist.”
Will that help? I can hope so. My concern for the brainwashed, there is no coming back with just my heartfelt and hopeful soliloquy.
That said, I believe there is evidence of a healthier demographic within the religious who would blame the attackers, people, for the destruction of Jerusalem, rather than the rantings and/or efforts of their mad deity. There is sickness in that too. A truly dangerous sickness, but, I will not attempt any healing endeavors in regard to this today. I have something else to talk about for a moment.
Last evening, I went to a bar to partake in a couple of beers for the first time in ages. In truth, I think the last time I drank at an establishment may have been in late August. In the spirit of adventure, I took the bus. The bar had a sparse population who seemed, at a few social junctions, to be familiar with one another.
I laughed to myself. New personalities emerge, the names of the establishments change, but the behavior is quite predictable. The adorable couple on a date just a table away from me and my friend whose freshness with one another increased at a concurrent rate with alcohol consumption, the two third–wheeled groups playing pool at the tables, and a couple of hipsters at the bar all moving and shifting, changing the course of the universe and the nature of the information we radiate. The Street.
Nothing left such an impression as to inspire a decision to start frequenting bars more often. I have served my time. Other things call to me in modernity.
Homeboy asked if I wanted a ride home, I told him I would take the bus, but after about three minutes of walking, I decided to walk the roughly two miles back to my place. We’ve a wonderful North/South bike trail here in Fayetteville, so I was home in just over an hour. I hadn’t been on the trail since graduating last May, and I kinda think I needed this. After spending six years traversing the trail daily, I admit to having missed it.
I had brought my Mala, so I did some walking meditation on the way home.
The night being cold, I had dressed the part of a polymer ninja with faded jeans and brown New Balance. Over the course of the meditation I noticed how tensely I carried my shoulders. After the last five years, how could I not be tense.? Shit, after a few nights ago, I should‘ve been expecting some longer term physiological repercussions. This observation is the very reason I encourage and invite others to try meditative practices.
The quieting of internal chatter allowed me to observe something about myself, which then allowed me to continue on with my walking meditation in a new posture. No more observations laced with epiphany would come to me, but I have taken this with me into this morning and will be monitoring how I carry myself. I predict this will lead to a less stressed demeanor based on the neuroscience of mind-body connection.
The mystics would be proud of my self-awareness, and the doctor will thank me for making his job easier. No soul involved. No deity to command me. Still seeing a healthier way to be.
1 May, Herbert G., and Bruce M. Metzger. The Oxford Annotated Bible, with the Apocrypha. New York: Oxford UP, 1965. 991. Print.
2 May, Herbert G., and Bruce M. Metzger. The Oxford Annotated Bible, with the Apocrypha. New York: Oxford UP, 1965. 613. Print.
3 “Genesis” 38.7. May, Herbert G., and Bruce M. Metzger. The Oxford Annotated Bible, with the Apocrypha. New York: Oxford UP, 1965. 48. Print.