“I told her to play it cool for a little while and pray to God for advice, because he knows her problems deeper than either one of us and can sort it out better too. She decided that that was best for her and she felt a lot better too.”This shows a complete lack of doubt — a full assumption on my part that God was real and in complete control of everything, not to mention easily accessible. This pervades my early journals; if anything went wrong, it was either our fault for being sinful humans or part of God’s larger, ever-mysterious plan. Nearly every journal entry mentions either prayer, church, or Bible study, and many also mention my struggles to maintain or attain a Godly life (July 8, 1987: “I think I will always remember this summer as the time I unofficially rededicated my life to Jesus”).
“I prayed that the Holy Spirit would tell me if she was the one for me. He said to wait and see. So I waited, she stayed open [available], and I never found out one thing.”After further prayer, I related: “He said ... I’ve got some problems that He wants me to clear up.”
High School Years
“...I got a little depressed... I complained to God... I got bold and foolish enough to say that I didn’t like His timing... I was so distressed, I couldn’t sleep, so I went outside and prayed. I even started doubting if God were really real. I told God that if He were real, He’d give me a sign, like any thing that would be undoubtably (sic) from Him, to let me believe for the rest of my life. I promised to be an atheist, if He didn’t do it. He didn’t. I went to sleep that night, still distressed, and woke up sick.”1990.07.06, poem: MLASP:
“I will soon be lost, Yet once I was found”1990.08.05, journal:
“I really want to grow up to do great things for God, and I think I see it in my future. Almost everyday, I have visions and daydreams of evangelizing the world. I see myself singing for God, preaching his word, ministering to all kinds of people. I pray that God would let me do great things for Him. Please, Lord.”1990.11.08, journal:
“I spent a lot of time standing out in the rain, praying. I prayed that God would somehow, in some way, show me what to do, or where to turn. I really need direction in this matter of finances for [Bible college].”1991.04.08, journal:
“It seems lately that the evil spirit of Despair has taken me over the coals, as I search for meaning in my life... Despair has almost convinced me that there is no hope for the souls of those other people... I then, will ‘wait upon the Lord’ and ‘renew my strength’. It is all I can do.”
Bible College Years
“Now, I will have to pray more often, more seriously, and for the right reasons, so I can become intimate with Christ, and know him in a fuller, more complete way. I want to know Christ for who He really is, in all his power, in all the reality of who He really is. Lord, grant that I may know you in this way. Amen.”1992.03.05, poem: So It Seems (the whole thing)
“I prayed a lot, asking God for some kind of special revelation of Himself, to endue me with power, and vision, and real faith. Well, what God ministered to my heart was that if He revealed Himself in some great glory-cloud to me, and filled me with so much of His spirit that I would see visions & heal people, then, I would stop praying. I would forget that I need daily fellowship with God... I felt refreshed though, from all the praying.”1992.04.20, poem: the call
“Somewhere along the weary way
The voice I heard has gone away”
“Lately... when I pray, I start to feel like God is not real. Of course, you will ask, ‘if you were praying, didn’t you have at least a measure of faith?’ No, I think lately I’ve only prayed because of three reasons: 1) It’s habit, 2) people are watching me, and 3) My life is falling apart from the inside, and I’m vainly hoping that whatever power is out there will hear and end my misery.1992.11.03, journal:
So, this morning, I thought to myself, ‘With all of the inside knowledge I have of Christ, and my sense of sarcasm, I could make a great comedian, or dissuader of Christians.’ (Of course, my thoughts did not take on those exact words, but that’s the gist of it)...
So, after all this mental debate, I came to this conclusion: There must be an omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient God, but I don’t know how to contact Him, or talk to Him, or serve Him correctly, or why He lets me walk on in confusion.
God, dear God, whoever you are, and wherever you are, please come to me. Talk to me. I need to hear your voice. I need for you to grant me enough faith to believe you are there.”
“I would love to know Him completely, but I guess I’m just too blinded by the material world.”1992.11.26, journal:
“Yet when I pace my floor, and call His name, speaking to Him, I don’t feel as if I’m being heard. And even if I am I don’t feel like I’m being spoken to.”
“Reaching out a hand, feeling for something to hold1993.02.22, journal:
Finding only garbage, when searching for gold
Eyes looking up into empty air
Hoping, wishing answers were there”
“My question in prayer is, ‘God, what ails my troubled soul?’ There must be something deep inside me, either emotionally or mentally, that is causing my problems.”1993.09.28, journal:
“As long as I hold to a definite and concrete belief in the God of the Bible...”1993.11.07, journal:
“Shadows haunt the hallways of my mind, dancing in mockery, leering at my foolishness... The Word of God, pure and holy, leans over my shoulder, witnessing my conduct, and keeping record. How wonderful that this same Word offers complete forgiveness for all sinners, and even backsliders... [O]bvious boundaries were carelessly crossed, leaving me empty, hollow, wishing to be pure again. But God’s Spirit has assured me that though my sins were as scarlet, they are white as snow, though they were red as crimson, they are as wool. He has washed my spirit clean, but my mind retains everything... [S]hould I crumble inwardly, utterly destroying my God-given sense of self-worth? I choose to rest on His grace, being led by His Word.”1994.02.03, letter to JLB:
“...I know God is answering my prayers.”1994.02.10, letter to JLB:
“As I've told you many times, I believe God is in touch with mankind, constantly waiting for us to pray, to reach out to Him in some way, thus showing our great trust in Him... God's not just part of someone's vast imagination, or just an emotional booster shot. He's real, and He loves you. He waits on high to have compassion on you.”1994.09.22, letter to my family:
“It seems like it's harder and harder to trust Him as the years go by, even though He is constantly proving Himself trustworthy to us.”1994.12.02, journal:
“Today, earlier, she was really depressed, and then later began having doubts about God, etc., just like I used to.”1994.12.30, letter to JLB:
“I have seen God answer so many prayers... I KNOW it's real. I live it every day... Don't neglect the Voice in the Wind that's calling you. I KNOW it's there. I've heard it during the darkest times of my life, when I was the farthest from God. It draws you. Listen to it.”1995.02.24, journal:
“Of course, there is still a hollow place in my heart that cries for fellowship with the Divine... [S]o somehow I merely ‘muddle’ along, hoping that something miraculous and extraordinary will happen that completely changes me and thrusts me into the life of a Christian minister ‘super-hero’. But, obviously that extraordinary phenomenon is not happening... The only problem is that the flame of passion within me for Christian perfection has died.”1995.03.25, journal:
“The other night, as I walked home from work just after midnight, I prayed to God, trying to piece my life together. I thought of all my memories, all my experiences, all my pain, all my joy... and I asked Him, ‘What does all this mean?’ I’m still waiting for the answer... So I’ll restart my engines. I’ll keep reading in the New Testament just before I go to bed. I’ll keep praying on my long walks home at night. I guess I have no other choice for true happiness.”1995.04.18, letter to DY:
“Remember, even when everyone else on earth has left us, and even our conscience has disappeared, there is still a Right and a Wrong. There is still the Word of God.”
“God is doing a marvelous work in my heart AGAIN, pointing me in the right direction AGAIN, and I thank Him for His mercy.... Our lives depend on His grace, and I, for one, am glad He gives it to us abundantly.”
Post-College Years (Arkansas)
“If we truly desire God’s presence, then we’ll beg for it in prayer, and He’ll respond.”1996.03.10, poem: I Am Small (the whole thing)
“I was still plagued with guilt, as can be seen in my poem I Am Small, written during this time. A large part of my mind was still convinced that Christianity was the ‘right’ way, yet my will refused to go along with it... Religion had failed to completely satisfy me, and I was finally ridding myself of the delusion that it could. It would take years, though, before the guilt would completely go away. And there would always be flashbacks.”1996.06, journal:
“I visited [a church] in Jacksonville [Arkansas] for a while, trying to see if God would jump out and grab me, but nothing happened.”1996, treatise: Want Versus Need:
“In a more practical sense, I ask, is God necessary for life today? Since we have stipulated that He already set everything into motion, and designed the environment we live in, must we also stipulate that He is necessary for its continuance?...1996.07.31, treatise: Future Possibilities Of Evolution:
I am saying Mankind does not need God for the day to day existence he calls life. Everything I did today could have been done without God’s direct intervention...”
“But even if one holds to the unpopular beliefs of Creation Science — and many do, albeit in widely differing forms — almost all of us believe, take for granted, and even admit that some forms of ‘evolution’ actually happen.”1996.10.03, letter to SAJ:
“Speaking of the Pickle, did you know that I started a cult in High School? Yes, the ‘Honorable Worship of the Green Gods From Waldo’s Vegetablic Kingdom’. Well, actually, we just called it the Pickle Cult. But now, just last week, I wondered about the truth of such a thing. What makes my religion less feasible than the accepted ones? Is it any more probable that a bodiless being called ‘Yahweh’ created the universe than my theory?1997.03.12, letter to SAJ:
‘In the beginning, the Gardener of the Skies created the Garden, and called it Terra.’
What’s so wrong about that? And is it so unbelievable that his first three plants (the cucumber, the avocado, and the cabbage) would become the proper deities in a universe ruled by vegetables?”
“...a part of me still holds to the belief that everything happens for a reason. The only thing wrong with this belief is that I’m always looking for the reason, instead of just enjoying life as it is.”1997.06.12, letter to SAJ:
“I hate myself for being unsure of life, the universe, and everything. How can these people be so sure that the Bible is the inspired, infallible Word of God? How was I so sure of the same damn thing not two years ago?”1997.12.09, poem: Questioning Man (the whole thing, but especially):
“So be cautious of the answers you seek1998.06.14, letter to JDB:
And wary of the truths that can be bleak
But never let your deep questioning cease
And the RAW, COLD TRUTH can still bring release”
“Ever since leaving Bible College, the only times I’ve wanted to get back into ‘organized religion’ is when my life was going badly, and I was searching for some peace of mind. I kept looking back at something that had solaced me in the past, and hoping it would fill the hole in my soul once again. But now I realize that the religion of my youth will never again be what I need it to be.”1998.06.21, journal:
“Not to say that I don’t believe in a ‘God’.”
“I could believe evolution brought about the Solar System, with its gases and rocks, and the burning brightness of our nuclear sun. I can even see how one species might possibly, over billions of years of trials, develop into a newer and better species. Man himself even, just maybe.”
“Somewhere, sometime, somehow, there must be a Being so much higher than ourselves who appreciates such things, and had the wisdom and compunction to create them.”
“But when you start talking about forbidden fruit, angels with flaming swords, animal sacrifices, the Ten Commandments coming down on the mountain top amid thunder and lightning, the endless slaughter that the Israelites perpetrated when they drove the natives out of the ‘promised land’, or Jesus dying on the cross for our ‘sins’, or an eternal Heaven and Hell, that’s when I get suspicious. And now I’m wondering how ‘speaking in tongues’ fits into all of this. Where did that come from? Was there some ‘holy man’ that suddenly had an epileptic fit, and everyone else started imitating him? I don’t know about all that.”
“Some say that losing your faith in ‘God’ and giving in to humanism will inevitably bring on thoughts of worthlessness, insignificance and a conviction that everything is meaningless. Perhaps this is true. Yet, I don’t want to believe in ‘God’, just to have meaning in my life; this would only serve to prove the atheists right: that religion is only a crutch for those too weak to survive on their own. I want to believe in ‘God’ because He’s real, not because I’ll kill myself if He’s not real. I need to want to live, whether or not He’s real, then worry about His reality. I don’t want to lean on God, just because I’m weak, and can’t live without Him, although that’s what ‘religion’ says I should do.”1998.08.16, letter to ALA:
“Last night... I almost decided to go back to what I had been before — a ‘Holy Roller’. I only barely remembered all the troubles that caused me, and all the unanswered questions I’ve always had... But, some days, it does seem like the thing to do. Still, I feel deep down that would be just another form of giving up... I would be trying to force myself to believe in a God that I don’t really believe in, just to gain some kind of emotional solace... It doesn’t make it any easier to believe that there is some great Cosmic War going on out there.”1998.09.22, journal:
“Many preachers (and certain passages in the Bible) emphasize that ‘God is there for you’, at your weakest point, when all other hope is gone, when there is absolutely nothing else on which to lean. Perhaps this is true. Perhaps it’s also true that God is there beside me, whether I feel Him or not. But I have grown used to behaving based on feeling. Many times I ‘sense’ or ‘feel’ the presence of ‘God’, or something like Him, and in those moments, I speak to Him, sometimes thanking Him for the goodness in my life, sometimes asking for a ‘sign’, or at least an explanation for what goes on.”1998.12.07, letter to CH:
“Life has been like that for me lately. A lot of strange coincidences that appear to be organized, directed, planned out. It gets harder and harder to believe that even the little things happen by accident. Of course, we believe that the Whole Direction of Things is governed by a higher power, but now I’m coming to learn that teensy weensy little every day things may be Planned Out as well.”1998, fiction, “Hope” (quoting characters):
“Maybe I’m convinced that God gave up on me.”
Petr Novgorod: “I hope we never have to explain how all of this stuff is true, yet completely separatist and contradictory!”1999.01.14, journal:
“[I wanted] to numb myself to a life that is unexpectedly disappointing... I was born into this world, expecting a lot more from it. And I had a good start. Whether it’s me who didn’t measure up to the world, or the world that didn’t measure up to me, I’m not sure. All I know is that I don’t fit.”1999.04.19, journal:
“RECENT RELIGIOUS INSIGHTS: I think it’s obvious from spring flowers and showers, from... etc., that some kind of ‘higher power’ or godlike being had a hand in creating everything that we call the universe. The organization of matter, from the tiniest microscopic particles all the way to galactic clusters, shows that an Architect was at work. However, this in no way proves to me that this godlike being is still at work, or overseeing anything. Many times, things happen in our lives that make us think that maybe, just maybe, there is a GOD. When I was driving my Dad’s VW Bug on Dec. 23, 1998, and slid on the ice, going all the way across the highway median, across the lanes of oncoming traffic, and ended up facing the opposite direction on the opposite shoulder, I was not hurt at all. Incidents like that can lead one to believe in some kind of higher power that watches over and protects. Others come to believe in ‘luck’ or ‘fortune’ or ‘fate’. I reserve judgment at this time. Coincidences happen all the time. Sometimes bad fortune is due to poor planning, or an oversight of some kind. Sometimes good fortune is the result of good planning, thinking ahead, being prepared. Other times, things just happen. Perhaps there is a guiding being, but I am finding it difficult to believe that He/She/It is the speaking, interacting, loving, judging, forgiving, protecting, destroying God that is found in the Bible or Koran. Who is He? Where is He? What is He? What is He doing? Why does He do it? These are questions I’m finding hard to answer.1999.04.19, letter to CH:
When we see things on the TV News like the shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado, where teenagers assaulted their high school with pipe bombs and automatic rifles, it makes us question the universe’s purpose. Of course, it reminds me of things in the Bible like when some kids outside Bethel made fun of Elisha’s bald head and Elisha called down a curse on them in the name of the Lord; bears came out of the woods and ‘mauled’ 42 of the kids (2 Kings 2:23-25). To me, this does not seem like God is fair or just. Why are innocent children being killed? Why don’t these horrible things happen to mafia (sic) kingpins or hardened criminals? Why can’t crooked politicians or wife-beaters be the victims of gruesome crimes?
So, I’m reserving judgment on things like that for now. I try to be nice to people, to help people when I can. I don’t steal from people, whether they’re my friends or not. I try to be politely honest, and so forth, and settle disputes between my friends... I try to be fair when playing games. This is the extent of my religious activity right now. I guess that makes me a ‘humanist’.”
“But, no matter what you’ve heard, I have not become a debaucherous lecherous infidel. I have not renounced my faith in God, or become an atheist or agnostic. Closer to the truth would be the following statement: I have reevaluated my adherence to man-made religious systems, and introspectively searched my own heart and mind. Some things have become clearer, while others have become less sure.”1999.04.26, letter to no one:
“Around the same time (Aug ‘96) I began getting reacquainted with God. Or at least I began to reevaluate my opinions about Him. Not that my opinions matter to Him, but they sure as fuck matter to me. Who is He? What is He up to? I began thinking seriously about all that.”1999.06.04, letter to SAJ:
“I've even picked up the Bible a few times in the last several months, and it only convinced me that I was completely blinded for most of my life.”1999.07.29, poem: This Mountain:
“The verdant hills are alive with the creation of the benevolent creator”1999, fiction, Time Boy (.pdf, 523kb)
Clint: “Please, God, or whatever deity is out there...”1999.09.05, poem: Soul to Break (most of it)
Clint: “Hadn’t thought about it, baby. I guess it doesn’t add to or take away from the possibility of God’s existence.”
“Perhaps I was just really bad in my last life... Perhaps by suffering through this one, I’ll earn a little better life next time around.”1999.09.06, journal:
“The band U2 sang about ‘I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.’ Maybe that’s my problem. Perhaps I’m still looking for something that I haven’t found. The scary thing is that maybe I CAN’T find it. Maybe it’s not in the cards for me. Maybe I will live out the rest of my life pretending that I’ve found it. Perhaps I will have to act constantly as though I’m complete and whole as a person. Maybe I will have to always live with this emptiness that abides in me. If so, I’m not too impressed with whoever is in control.”1999.09.07, poem: Enough:
“I wonder1999.09.18, poem: Prostitute's Smile (the whole thing)
Is there more to this?
Something more than just a badly written story-line in a low-budget film...
That bliss which all men seek
Is not to be found
And I am only one more soul that has walked that road, and found it to be lacking”
“I want to raise my voice, and wake the deafened ear of God”1999.10.02, poem: Portal (the whole thing)
“And the genie grants none of the wishes...1999.10.28, poem: Languish (the whole thing)
But still I seek it, I search for that ungraspable mystical wisp of nothing...
Closed are the doors of the chapel, for God is sleeping”
“Before the questioning comes the sin...1999.11.27, poem: A Path Is Set (the whole thing, but especially):
Not quite what I expected or hoped...
Sincerely doubting that there ever was a REASON for all of this...
Where were you, God?
In all of this.”
“Paths of misdirection, I know1999.12.05, poem: No Disney People:
Led me to misery and woe
Lusts of flesh, and of eyes and life
Fed me daily and led to strife
Protecting what now still remains
I regain control of the reins
A path is set, not tried but new
Steps taken toward what is true”
“Who knows what the Purpose is?1999.12.27, journal:
“I’ve... prayed to every known deity... changed every opinion I ever had at least once...1999.12.29, poem: Too Much To Mend:
I spend a lot of time thinking about love, death, true beauty, the supernatural, spirits, et cetera... I believe in ghosts, in a deity who created this universe, in angels and demons, in reincarnation, and a lot of other things...”
“And still, I can’t feel Heaven’s touch”1999, fiction, “Prichard’s Choice”:
Author’s Note: “...my Creator — whoever He or She may be...”2000.02.21, poem: Dirty Snow:
Jewel (robot): “Suppose you humans finally found ‘God’, and scientifically proved His existence.”
Jewel (robot): “That, then, may be the purpose of your human race, Nate. Reproduction.”
“Dirty snow tells the truth: it all breaks down as time goes by2000.02.24, poem: I Am A Movement:
Yesterday you were born, but tomorrow you’ll surely die
In the end, the corpse will lie, still and stiff and cold
And we see no moral to the story that’s been told”
“The words at which I marvel and which I contemplate are my own...2000.03.07, letter to EP:
I am not Catholic. I am not Protestant...
I am not an agnostic. I am not an atheist...
You won’t put me in a box, for I’m not a labelist...
I am a movement. I am a religion of my own.”
“We may never know God’s reasons, but we can invent some of our own that sound pretty plausible.”2000.03.15, poem: Evil Twin:
“As for me? Off the ‘family’ record? While most of the Family seems to think that I’ve abandoned the idea of God altogether, or that I’ve backslidden completely, it’s simply not true... Basically, I just decided that I am a human being with God-given desires, and that ‘Rules, rules, rules’ isn’t how life should be. What good does it do you to ACT like you’re serving God, when every minute you want to try something else? That’s not serving God, is it? Yet, for much of my time at [Bible college], I was craving other things. Things I couldn’t do, because I might get kicked out of school, or abandoned by the denomination. I was trapped inside a human-built bureaucracy and I was miserable. I decided to live in the world that God made — and that humans screwed up. And I decided to enjoy it.
I got my ears pierced. If I was still at CBC, they’d kick me out for that. I got a tattoo. Of a cross. But they would’ve kicked me out for that, too. I drank beer. I smoked cigarettes. I loved women. I went to rock ‘n’ roll concerts. I watched rated R movies (which you can’t do as a CBC student or A/G preacher.)
I guess I really changed when I decided that the Bible wasn’t completely literally God’s Word. I still read it. I think that perhaps God’s character and His attitudes remained mostly intact through all the translations, etc. And I found that the God of the Bible is not exactly Who the preachers always told us He was.
I really don’t want to (or have time to) go into a full biblical treatise on my new opinions, nor would it really enlighten you to read them, but that’s where I am.
I believe there is an ultimate power of some kind that built our universe — it didn’t just appear. I am comfortable calling It/Him/Her/They ‘God’. I believe that God wants us to be kind and considerate to one another. Why? Because we were created to want that. All of us are happier when people treat us well. So we should treat others nicely. Stealing doesn’t help anyone, it just makes prices go up and wages go down. Rudeness, haughtiness, jealousy, hate, murder, adultery: all of these things cause pain. So I think it stands to reason that God is against them...
I don’t have any problems praying privately, or in public. I still talk to God from time to time, but I don’t get any more answers than I used to get.
I try to do the best at whatever I’m doing, whether it’s working..., helping a friend move to a new place, driving a drunk home from the bar, writing, reading, loving...”
“We are what we feared and2000.03.18, poem: The Beauty Of Life:
We embrace what we once despised...
Having disposed of your heart-felt convictions
You are the evil twin of your former self”
“...all those fanatic, right-wing, Nazi, sin-hating, devil-chasing conservative Christians... I wish those [redacted] Christians would just leave us all alone sometimes... but somehow they always get back on their powertrips... and point their fingers and say I’m going to hell... since the BIBLE says it’s wrong and so I’ll burn in hell for having fun... even though it was ‘God’ who gave me these horrendous desires that plague me...”2000.04.16, poem: God Went Bowling:
“In this technical age, some believe in fairies and elves”2000.04.20, letter to EP:
“Whether something is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ is irrelevant. The real questions... are: ‘Will it cause me pain down the road?’ ‘Will making this choice ruin my life?’ ‘How much will it cost?’ Practical questions.”2000.04.28, letter to EP:
“Maybe the days spent on the Ark fits my situation more closely. I’m convinced that there’s solid ground down there somewhere, but I have no idea when the flood will abate. And I have no idea on which mountain I will land. But no, I am not in a static position; I am floating, letting the winds of time move my frail canoe along to its destination, learning all I can along the way.”
“I’m not quite the Believer that I was.”2000.05.11, letter to EP:
“I don’t even feel embarrassed or put on the spot if I’m asked to pray, because I DO believe that there’s something out there, somewhere, that can hear us.”2000.05.12, poem: Where Is Eli? (the whole thing)
“Lord, I’m talking to you, because you’re the one I grew up with...2000.05.25, poem: Heaven:
But with you, Lord, I can say whatever I feel...
Either you’re only a fictional character
In what just happens to be the best-selling novel of all time
In which case you can’t tell anyone
Or you’re really the Son of God, the Way, the Truth, the Life, the Door
In which case you won’t tell anyone...
Thanks for listening, even if you’re just my imagination”
“This life is so tiring, it’s no wonder that men invented Heaven...2000.05.30, journal:
I know I’m only twenty-seven
But already, I’m ready for Heaven”
“I don’t think that I’m about to ‘re-convert’ or anything, although I’ve considered it.”2000.05.31, poem: Will I Ever Know?:
“Did I kick the wrong God in the nuts? Did I?”2000.06.09, journal:
“I consider myself a disaffected, alienated, questioning, deistic-agnostic-hedonist.”2000.06.16, poem: Janis, Jim, and Me (the whole thing, but especially):
“What is death?2000.06.20, letter to EP:
Many times, it is synonymous with the END...
But do we END? Do we STOP? CEASE? DISCONTINUE?
Are we only occupying this small space on a timeline?...
...life is but a tiny island
Where the ghosts outnumber the living.”
“I don’t believe in God the same way I used to, but when I’m alone in those canyons, after a few hours of letting the stress bleed away, I can feel a Spirit. Maybe it is the Great Spirit of the American Indians that hovers there — a window to the Happy Hunting Ground... I don’t know, but I can feel it. And I miss it when I’m gone.”2000.06.20, poem: Halloween ‘93 (most of it, but especially):
“It’s easy to see now, that one night changed it all2000.06.25, journal:
And some high-and-mighties might call it a Fall
But the decision was never hard, once I thought it through...
But right now, looking back to that All Hallow’s Eve
I don’t miss who I was, and I never thought to grieve...
Oh, I’m still a good guy, and I’ll still pray
But if your religion forbids [redacted], then keep it away
Thank God for the food, and thank Him for every day
But [redacted], well, I’ll thank her for showing me the Way”
“I believe in god, music, money, and sex. Not necessarily in that order... I need to straighten out my own self.”2000.06.25, poem: Another Realm:
“Thank god there is no cost2000.06.26, poem: No Longer Enveloped (the whole thing)
And there is no one’s hand on the helm”
“And I still believe in magic2000.07.12, letter to EP:
At least, I want to...
Am I good or evil?
Is there a difference?”
“I’ve lost the Faith of my childhood.”2000.07.21, poem: I Wish They Would All Go Away:
“Made the wrong decisions2000.07.23, journal:
‘Cause of voices and visions
If I can’t see the top,
Isn’t it time to stop?”
“It seems that many of my life’s BIG CHANGES have come from outside influences... What I’m saying is that maybe I should just wait for the next outside influence to come along... Wait for aliens to abduct me. Wait for discovery of secret, magical powers. Wait for a god to speak to me. I don’t know.”2000.08.20, poem: This Land:
“Perhaps God will hover nearby,2000.08.27, letter to EP:
nearly as tired as I,
and look out over this land,
That He made with His hands
And He might watch me as I stand.
And maybe, like me, He will look out at the grass, trees and wind
Then say, with me, ‘This is the best I ever did’.”
“I don’t have the Map. I don’t have the Key. I don’t know the Leader. But, I have been lost, and survived, so far.”2000.08.27, poem: Circling, We Came (the whole thing, but especially):
“I have ‘found God’, and then changed my mind.”
“For all our striving and attempts to find a secret,2000.08.31, letter to SAJ:
for all our work throughout the night
We learn that no secret exists, life must be accepted,
and that there is no Light”
“You, like me, know how hard it is to shuck the confining thought-patterns created by stifling, man-made religion... Religion was my life. Prayer was my breakfast. Bible-study was my lunch. Preaching was my dinner. Counseling was my afternoon snack and midnight snack. Witnessing was my hobby. ‘Christian fellowship’ was my party life. Self-discipline was my motto. ‘Win The World For Christ’ was my creed. Don’t do anything that might even remotely be considered sinful.2000.09.07, letter to EP:
It takes years to flush all that out. God was a junior high school boy, in a science fair, and this is what he made. He didn’t win the science fair, because the girl that sat across from him created a planet where lifeforms were nice to each other.
God is me. God is you. We are god.”
“A few times, I even prayed for her, just hoping, ... WISHING that there was a god who could hear me and help her.”
“If I were God, the almighty creator, I would be more concerned that people just be nice to each other, and care about each other. That’s where the merit would be earned... I think what’s more important is how we treat each other. Not how or what we believe about a deity.”2000.09.11, poem: A Nomad, As Always:
“Fighting off the elusive delusions
Somehow, I evaded the illusion
Well, we’ve lost our faith in many things
Love and Heaven and angels with wings”
“God is all around us, above us, under us, and more importantly, IN US. Here in the country, I can see it more profoundly: God’s finest work, which is Nature. Even the thorn bushes are beautiful.”2000.10.17, letter to EP:
“And, believe me, it is MUCH easier to see God when I am away from Springfield, MO. Contrary to many people’s beliefs, God the Father does not reside at The Assemblies of God General Headquarters. In fact, no offense intended toward you, I think He must sometimes shy away from that place.
Although, on the other hand, I make no claim to know the exact whereabouts of God’s present physical manifestations. I also do not know His schedule, or itinerary. If I did, I’m sure I would publish it, ‘cause I know so many people are trying so hard to ‘find God’, but never seem to get it quite right. You know the ones... They pray sporadically, they barrage their pastor with questions, they scour their Bibles, looking for a new, secret inspiration, or a ‘word from God’.
Don’t laugh. I actually heard a pastor in the pulpit say, ‘...as I was searching the Bible for a word from God...’ How ridiculous is that? If you’re searching the Bible, and you can’t find a word from God, I suggest that there may be an operator dysfunction. Blindness may also be a factor. The Bible IS the WORD of GOD.”
“Love, not judgment, is the way to spread the gospel. —Whatever your gospel may be— whatever message you want the world to hear, it’s better to shower it with love, than with condemnation.”2000.10.20, poem: Another Psalm (the whole thing, but especially):
“When I step outside, mostly here in the country, I feel it. Something. I am no longer apt to name or label what I feel. But I still feel it. When I step off that lip of the canyon, and make my way to the floor, sheltering myself from the rest of the world. I can feel a power, like when you’re in a locked closet, with the lights out, you can feel someone near you, breathing. Or the warmth from their body. A rhythm. A cadence. Nature’s dance. It is peace. It is rest. Whatever the season, whatever the weather, and whoever my company, I feel that spiritual ‘high’ out there.”
“And is there anyone who wants to know God more than I do?2000.10.28, poem: T.D.F.P.:
I want to meet with Him
Face to face...
And, more importantly, I want to receive
Yep, I’m still right here.
“We learn our truths2000.11.06, journal:
And take our dares
We change our facts
And say our prayers”
“Blessed be the gods for such renewal of my spirits and that I am now on the road to finding out what my road may be.”2000.11.15, poem: When You Open Up Your Heaven (the whole thing, but especially):
“I used to feel God's hand on me2000.12.09, journal:
But now I don't feel it anymore”
“I used to be horribly plagued by guilt, thinking that every desire I had was wrong.”2000.12.18, poem: A Different Set Of Trees:
“Each life has its purpose, some strange and varied.2000.12.19, journal:
And upon each back, a different burden is carried.
Look not harshly upon another pilgrim, if you please,
Merely because he walks under a different set of trees.”
(After reading through old journals:) “I found peace in religion — through prayer, good Christian songs, etc., but I was in no wise a better person for it... Religion was a soothing, relaxing force for me. Believing that an almighty, all-knowing, ever-present, fully holy, and fully loving God watched my every step and interceded in my every trial — this is a great balm for a shattered soul. The question then, is ‘when and why did I stop believing in Him?’ Or, ‘DID I stop believing in Him?’ We shall see...2000:12:20, poem: Years Gone By:
Also, many times, the answer is so obvious that a child can see it, but our complicated lives block our vision.”
“We thought life would surely turn out bettercirca 2000, fiction, “The Last Rock Band”, first draft:
We thought Someone was watching over us”
Klin Romnel: “The monkeys in the suits tell us of Jesus, who will save our souls, and lead us to Heaven. That’s funny, ‘cause I never knew that my soul was in trouble... And I never really needed a guide. All I need is Debbie, sweet Debbie. Now they tell us that we can’t have sex until we’re married — I guess it’s a little late for that, huh? Can’t fault ‘em, though; I lived for two weeks in one of their missions, when Debbie’s mom kicked me out. The monkeys fed me, gave me a bed, washed me up, and talked forever on end about Jesus, who died for my sins. Interesting. I never knew I was sinning, until they told me. They say I’ve rebelled against God’s law. Au Contraries... How can you rebel against something that you didn’t know about? How can you follow someone you’ve never met? They say I need to meet him. Jesus, I mean. I asked them where he was, and they said he wasn’t a physical person anymore, but that he would meet with me in my heart, if I was sincere. I said I guess I wasn’t sincere about that right now. I miss Debbie.”
“I told too many lies, then I fully compromised,2001.02.13, poem: 2-13-01:
And I did all the things I said I’d never do.
I closed both my eyes, and hardened my insides,
But all the while, I waited to hear From You.”
“And soon, you won’t recognize me as the man I used to be”2001.02.26, poem: Timidly, I Awake (the whole thing)
“If I wanted to, I could believe that all of those past decisions were directed by Fate or Destiny, to bring me to RIGHT NOW, but don’t think I have ever fully believed in Destiny. I believe that Fate may bring certain decisions into the life of an individual, but that it is up to each individual to do as he/she wishes with that decision.”2001.08.19, journal:
“I believe in a ‘higher power’ (too many things wouldn’t make sense to me without that). But I have yet to see evidence that this ‘higher power’ is active in my life. One could say that my streak of good luck here in Oklahoma is due to ‘Providence’ or God’s Hand, but it could also be due to the fact that I’ve made a lot of good decisions recently. I’m looking for more proof than that.”2001.09.08, poem: Drink Til You Drop:
“I tried all the churches2001.10.15, poem: On Our Way To Being Dead:
To see if they could help me out
I prayed up at the front
While the choir sang ‘n’ shout
Taking notes on the sermons,
I filled five or six books
And I gave all the sinners
A lot of dirty looks
Went to all the socials
And played my Christian part
But when it was all over (all over)
I still had a broken heart!”
“Don’t be surprised that it’s meaningless2002.01.21, poem: Never The Right Ones:
When you lie down and die.”
“And I asked too many questions2002.01.23, poem: Stepping Over (the whole thing)
But I never asked the right ones
And now I’m tired of Asking at all
Am I better off not knowing?
Is it burning where I’m going?
What’s waiting at the end of my Fall?”
“On the other hand, I agree with Darwinian theorists who hold to the ‘survival of the fittest’ ideology — if one species is no longer ‘fit’ to survive in the continuing evolution of our planet, then maybe it is time that species is purged from our gene pool.”2002.05.24, journal:
“God! Are you listening?... You said troubles and trials come to ‘test our faith’ and ‘make us stronger’, but I don’t feel that. I feel like I’m getting weaker each day. I feel my cynicism growing, year by year, and my lust for life diminishes in direct proportion...2002.06.27, journal:
What a scary, terrifying place I’ve grown out of, and it sure feels like you’ve required me to do it all by myself...
I’m still waiting for the Sign that I asked you for, back at CBC. Remember that? I do. I remember clearly walking down the trail, past the married-housing area, through the thin, hilly woods, and into the field where the thirty or forty wild turkeys were roosting. I remember kneeling, crying, pleading and begging you to show me a sign. I was doubting, even then. And the preacher says, ‘Just have faith, son.’
Well, preacher, I tried that. I tried the whole faith thing, for nearly 25 years, on and off. And I told others about it. I looked and found proof of Your existence. But every day, I found less and less evidence that You’re helping me out. You may be watching, that’s true — just like people watch horror movies or pornography. But where’s the Sign?...
Please let the record show that I TRIED. For all of my successors on this lurid planet, let me leave this record: I attempted to believe that God is indeed the Jehovah/Yahweh of the Bible. And I REALLY wanted to believe that Jesus, His Son, was the pure and holy virgin-birthed Seed of God, sent here to take my sins upon His glorious back, and die cruelly for my transgressions against God’s Law.
Instead, I found that Life is frustrating, without much purpose, hard work and not much fun.
But I’ll keep on trying to better myself. To attain the heights from which I’ll fall to my death. Because that’s the end of it all, isn't it?”
“There are allegedly millions of atheists, agnostics, Muslims, Buddhists, and people of other belief-systems in our country. Some would even consider ME to be among them. (Why not?)”2002.11.21, note: The Basic Fallacy Of The Bible:
“The basic fallacy of the Bible ... is that it makes God necessarily responsible for all good and — at the same time — all evil... Never mind the minor inconsistencies that many atheists or agnostics paraphrase to their own ends — these are inconsequential, and appear in most major religious literary works.2002.12.31, journal:
However, the basic theme of the Bible is that He is all-powerful, in full control, and that He manufactured everything. An addendum to this theme in the Bible is that God is infallible and cannot err. It follows, therefore, that every evil and malicious force in the universe springs from God, at His bidding, in His will, and with His foreknowledge. According to the Bible, it is His fault.”
“I now believe that the cultural mores we all pretend to live by, though sanctioned by the Bible and other religions, are not valid, and in fact are so constricting as to be responsible for many, if not most or all, of the psychoses with which modern humans are diseased.”Not long after the last journal entry above, I ceased to keep a regular journal until I began blogging in 2005. Since my journal (blog) was then public, I was more careful about recording personal feelings or opinions.
Destiny Dester: “Well, I mean, I don’t believe that God would send us all to Hell, or anything. But I believe in God. I mean, someone had to build all of these planets... I know that in school they keep saying that it all just happened. But how could all these beautiful things just come into being? And how could we humans be self-aware, and intelligent, and able to appreciate all the beauty?”2003.12.22, fiction, “G.O.D. Was A Teenage Girl” (second draft, unfinished):
Destiny Dester: “I can’t imagine a being that’s powerful enough to make all of these planets. But logic tells me He’s real. And if He is that powerful, but still made everything beautiful... then why would He also be so mean as to want to destroy us after it’s all over?”
Philipp Kaplan Bates: “I think maybe there’s some people who deserve to burn in Hell. Like maybe men who get drunk and beat their wives and their children, or murderers, or rapists...”
Gov. Howard Bates: “[T]he only religion I have is that which makes the galaxy an easier place to live in. I don’t pray, I don’t give money to churches, and I don’t believe that if I sneak off and drink a beer I’m going to Hell. But I try to do right by people... When I leave this dirtball for the next colony world, I hope to leave it a decent place for people to raise kids... That’s my religion.”
Jason Quivers: “The woman is the highest animal on the food chain. It’s the highest mark that human evolution has ever achieved.”
“She was in the world, and the world came into being through Her, yet the world did not know Her.” (paraphrasing John 1:10)2003.12.23, note to self:
(The entire short story was about a 14-year-old girl from the distant future who went back in time with her uncle’s planet-building machines.)
“To be forsaken by fate is much worse than to be forsaken by another human. I have seen both, and both are devastating. But there are always other humans with which to connect, unite and correspond. There is only one Fate, and she is mercilessly cruel.”2004.01.19, poem: Fight Beyond Today (the whole thing)
“...nothing I do can avoid dying. We all try so hard to avoid it. But it will come. Oh yes, it will come.2004.07.05, email to CO:
And what then? A Reckoning Day? The Judgment? Eternal Bliss? Continued existence as ghost, sentenced to wonder the Earth unseen forever? Reincarnation into another human, fleshly body, only to suffer the whole thing all over again? Who is to say? Everyone seems to have their own opinion, even those whose opinion is to have no opinion. But nobody knows. None of us have been beyond that barrier. Not one of us has crossed that river. If we had, we would be on the other side, not here.
And if an angel, or demon, or ghost, or spirit, or god appeared to me to explain the intricacies of life beyond this one, how would I know that that apparition was not merely a product of my imagination, trying to convince me of something I want to believe? I cannot tell you that.”
“Religion: None.”2005.02.04, blog entry:
“I hope the family will understand my lack of religion, as well as my extreme respect for theirs.”2005.03.20, journal/blog:
“The fact is, I’ve shied away from church lately for several reasons. One, I don’t agree with so much. But that’s not enough to keep me away. I think what really bugs me is that I know so much about religion, the Bible, and theology (after a lifetime of immersion in it and four years in Bible College), and I think I would be bored with a pastor trying to convince me of something I already know.2005.05.18, email to ALA:
The problem, I guess, is that even though I KNOW it, I can’t say that I BELIEVE in it anymore. It’s all cold, dead knowledge to me. I think about it more than I’d like to, wondering what it would take for me to ‘convert’, or ‘become a believer’ again. I don’t want to be overcome with the emotion of a church service, and make a false commitment. And I definitely don’t want to ACT like I believe something, just to fit in or make the believers comfortable.
But, with most churches, you can’t just be a neutral bystander. That goes against the purpose of why they’re in existence. When I walk into a church, I’m always met by prying people who want to know the state of my religious affairs. They want to know where I stand, so they’ll know how they should act around me. Why can’t church people just be friendly to me without trying to convert me?”
“I DO believe in God, and I always have. I try to convince myself that I believe in Him because the world logically proves he exists, but I’m sure it’s actually because I was educated so deeply in these matters as a child. God is a ‘fact’ to me, not a matter of faith, and this is as it should be. The Bible never says to take God’s EXISTENCE on faith; it just ASSUMES that He exists. The part you have to take on faith, according to the Bible, is that Jesus was God’s Son, and that Jesus carried our sins to the cross, and that, therefore, our sins can be absolved, if we have this faith. This is the foundation of Christian religion, NOT whether God exists. God’s existence, or the existence of something like Him, should be obvious to the thinking individual...2005.06.07, blog entry:
I do believe that Jesus was God’s Son, and that he carried our sins to the cross, and that we can therefore be absolved of our sins, if we have this belief.”
“I don’t really have a problem with God, the Bible, Jesus, or the Cross.”
(When someone asked what’s something about religion that I’m no longer sure of.)2005.07.27, email to MF:
“The biggest thing? That the entire Bible is the literal, infallible, inspired Word of God, meant to apply strictly to us today. I realized that modern theologians had already washed away some things, like a woman’s right to speak in church, and putting witches to death. If these things aren’t meant for us today, then who’s to say which parts are?”
“I still believe in God. I’m not sure what you would call my belief system; I had Comparative Religions in college, and still can’t come up with what I ‘am’. Part naturalist, part deist, part agnostic, part hedonist.”2005.07.28, email to BG:
“I’m not convinced that the Bible is the literal, all-inclusive word of God anymore... One day, I realized that the church had already discarded so much of the Bible, without a lot by way of explanation, and without logical reasoning. I started examining much more of it, and found other parts that didn’t seem to make any sense either.”2005.10.17, email to AQ:
“Everything that happened after [Bible college] centered around this fact: I pretty much changed my belief system. The problem was, I didn’t know that’s what was happening at first... I still believe in the God I grew up with, and I believe He is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. I believe He loves all of us, and wants us to love Him back, primarily by loving other people. What greater expression of our love for God can there be, except to love our fellow man?”The astute reader will notice a large gap from 2005 to 2013. This is not because I ceased to write. Quite the contrary; I wrote as much as ever. Just not on this subject. From 2001-2009, I was paid to write — at a newspaper, and from 2005-09, I wrote even more at work. Also beginning in 2005, I began blogging — keeping my journal online. I did not explore my doubts and beliefs in that public forum. In 2006, I got married. My poetry and questioning ceased almost entirely for several years.
“Evolution’s evidence2014.05.28, poem: That Never Shone (the whole thing):
The details make so much sense...
Yet some still choose to believe
Writings on pressed pithy leaves
When only the Sun’s travels measured the day
Old stories that were conceived
Legends weren’t to be believed
Faith in them has led us all too far astray
I once lived wearing blinders
Praising keepers not finders
Until the Truth forced mental revolution
If I may mount a defense,
My faith was my hindrance, but
Information will beget a solution”
Varying Degrees Of Veracity
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