Friday, February 26, 2010

We like the boys with the bulletproof vests

Can you see the grackles?

Here’s the thing: I don’t really believe in God. I mean, I do, of course I do, but I don’t all the time. Like today, when everything I do, including this stupid pointless blog that really doesn’t help anyone else’s life just seems so worthless. Okay, so maybe I sounds like I’m writing one of those depressed posts, but not really. I swear.

I saw the exquisite movie “A Single Man” yesterday, alone--apt, right?--and the movie was all about lost love, and whether or not life is worth living in spite of grief, despite all of the awful things that happen. It makes the case that the simple beauty of the world is enough to counterbalance pain, and each shot was suffused with iridescence, populated with beautiful men, some of the most gorgeous faces and bodies I’ve ever seen on film. God made those transcendent bodies, those incandescent faces. But is that enough? Is the simple fact of another human being’s body beautiful enough to make me believe in God’s goodness?

I ask myself this same question again and again and again, only because it’s the only question worth asking. There are two ways of looking at life--like any other story, life is either a comedy or a tragedy. It either has a happy ending or no ending at all.

When I got home, the grackles were in the trees, making their awful holy noise, flooding the blue sky and the bare ground. The grackles coming mean that spring is almost here, and sometimes I feel a pagan who believes in the dying of the god every winter and his rebirth in spring. That’s where Lent and Easter come from, after all.

I’m not ashamed to admit that every time I hear the beating of their wings, flooding the trees like angels, I cry. But are grackles enough? God gives us these gifts, and I’m never sure if they’re enough.

I could simply choose to believe. Yes. God made the grackles. God gives us human beings these beautiful powerful bodies and minds with which we can break and recreate the world. I’d probably be a lot happier if I forced myself to believe despite all of my doubt. Having a cohesive mental structure with which to hold the world together makes for a lot more contentment. I could choose to believe that simply because I have them, my ideas are brilliant and not only does the whole world need to hear them, but the whole world needs to pay me for them. Preferably a lot of money.

Does believing something make it true? To a large degree it does, but does that mean that it’s worth believing? I could believe that unicorns were going to fly in from Pluto in the year 2050 to rescue us all, and believing that might make my life a lot better. A lot happier. It would at least cause me to believe in some kind of eschatology, that there was going to be and end to all the meandering crap we do with our lives.

Or I can choose to believe what I believe on bad days, that we’re all just monkeys with a little too much self-awareness. To a large degree we are. We’re just trying to convince ourselves that all of the sex and digging in the dirt and eating leaves and carrying babies around actually means something.

I’m blogging for February, but why? Why bother? I know I’ve quoted Beckett before, but his line continues to haunt me. “Every word is an unnecessary stain on silence and nothingness.” To a large extent I agree with him. So why do I persist in staining silence?

I’m not good at entertaining people. What I want to be good at is telling the truth. But I don’t always know what the truth is. I only have the vaguest grasp on what the truth is for me, and I shade between both beliefs: the belief in a God who cares about us, and the belief in mechanistic determinism. My mind is like one of those bass-boat paint jobs that changes colors depending on your angle.


A LIttle Birdy said...

Truth is never easy. Thanks for sharing your journey. I appreciate the thoughts, especially during Lent, which is always a season of soul-searching for me.

Marie said...

Jordan just read this blog and said you are an amazing writer.

Melissa said...

You are both very kind. I am recovering from a cold and am falling down on my blogging job. You are very encouraging. :)

Tree of Valinor said...

I think you're the only person I know who thinks that grackles are anything but a nuisance. That's great!

Melissa said...

And they're so beautiful! Have you ever noticed the gorgeous iridescent bluish black of their chest feathers?

I also thought you would comment on my choice of a Colin Firth film--I thought of you the whole time I was watching it.