A thought came to me yesterday or the day before. Probably some of the people of the congregation have been praying for me to keep me sober and safe. This leads me to other ideas, like the realities of good and evil, and the existence of God. For some reason, it worked when I joined the church over five years ago. It was the last option that I hadn’t tried for the fight against alcoholism. By contrast, I had known people who were naturalists, or bluntly put, atheists, and they had been powerless to help me with my addiction. By a kind of blind instinct I turned myself in to Our Redeemer and let myself be churched until I started feeling more independent. I don’t know if prayer works or if God listens to people. My own connection always seems to be blocked, the frequencies jammed. But so far, church is the only thing that helps me against alcoholism, and my independence is a foolish self delusion. Actually, writing is merely a compulsive activity for me to hold off cravings for booze. It wouldn’t even matter what I wrote down— at least some of the time. So, Sue was right when she told me I was full of hot air…
Before eleven thirty tonight, I shaved my beard completely off for a clean and smooth look. I’m still weighing whether or not to go to church this morning. The Lutherans are a great bunch of people. The thing that’s missing is the presence of the Holy Spirit when we meet at the sanctuary. But I should just shut my eyes and do it today. And yet the times now are totally different from 2017, when I first started going. Does everyone feel this, or is it only me? I suppose that the spirit is not something you can force in those times when it hides away. I’d feel like such an alien to show up for worship with no aura about me, no glow, no illumination from the spirit. I wonder where it went to? And what might bring it back?
He’s not the kind you have to wind up on Sundays…
I found a letter in my mailbox from the church that I tucked away before walking off to the store. Finally I opened it at home again: it was a resignation letter from the pastor, effective the end of June. I guess now it doesn’t matter whether I go to church or not. A new pastor will change the complexion of church entirely. The changes keep coming, so the philosophy of Heraclitus has merit. Nothing is permanent in life. And the rock and roll counterculture is mostly dead by now. Ten years ago I drank like a fish and listened to The Beatles every afternoon and night, then in the wee hours I would bat emails with my friend in Scotland. I guess rock music went out with a bang, and today we’re just coasting along, waiting for the next sensation to come.
They’re building a remedy
For Khrushchev and Kennedy
At any time an invitation
You can’t decline
The Lutheran gang was very nice to me this morning and really appreciated my help with setup for tomorrow’s pantry. I told Pastor that I’d try to make it for worship Sunday, and now I believe I actually will go. I heard that there’s some stupid stuff going on with the church; just petty squabbles and things that might be avoided if we could only get it together. I think I’ll do my best to help out, because this bunch is very special to me, however my logic rejects the details of scripture and so on. I do believe in justice and doing what’s right, for the good of everyone, though this sounds more like John Stuart Mill than a Christian church. Forgive me for saying so. Whatever happens, I want to do good things and see people smile.
It’s still black as ink out, but they tell us it’s snowing just now. By an association, I think of Shakespeare’s romances, and how I enjoyed The Winter’s Tale the last time I read it. I didn’t have very far to go in The Tempest lately: I ought to finish it today.
Now you can see the weather. From a leaden sky the snow lightly drifts down, tiny particles not even flakes. It’s a bit above freezing. My trip to market can wait a while; maybe this stuff will clear somewhat. At least it’ll be warmer… Until this second I’d forgotten all about church at ten o clock. I wasn’t planning on going anyway, but I wonder how this weather will affect turnout for worship. I imagine that the show must go on, just like classes at the university. I feel a pang of regret that I don’t have church to go to, I guess because of the people. Still, church is not like school: no free thought is encouraged in the first. You have to take the pastor’s word for law and be led along by the nose no matter what he says. It isn’t a healthy intellectual climate for anyone. Debate is discouraged, and things are not an open forum.
Odd weather for the beginning of March…
It’s the middle of the night and I was just thinking about the church and why I don’t attend anymore. There are five or six people at Our Redeemer that I really care about, but I can’t stand the theological sermons and the brainwashing. Pastor Dan and Tim bug me. If it was just a social outlet for me, then it wouldn’t be so bad. I think it’s the ideological element that I object to. And the worst part of that is having to sit down, shut up, and listen to a lot of baloney. Of course we’re not invited to ask questions or debate with Pastor’s sermon. We are dictated all the answers. It’s a one way street. It isn’t like being a student at a lecture. You are expected to be brainless and accept everything uncritically no matter what he says.
So I guess that’s my reason to avoid church after this.
Quarter after ten.
There’s some work being done in my neck of the woods. I saw that Dell is reroofing his house, and across the street from him, the new neighbor is having his house painted dark blue on the outside. I noticed that they’re doing it the hard way, with brushes and rollers rather than a power spray as they did to my house a few years ago… Then on N Park, the Wright tree service was parked at Randy’s car lot, with three guys sitting in the cab waiting to do something. Also, the cleaning lady was working at Karen’s salon because it’s Monday and that’s her schedule. But business was pretty slow at the store after nine o’clock. When I went inside, I had a vague impression of the old days at Community Market, with Vicki and JR and often Belinda in the morning. There’s a lot that I miss about those old times, yet too much of a good thing can be fatal, and if it seems too good to be true… My house sparrows are going nuts just outside my door. I see a bunch of adult males, likely competing for a female, though it seems like an odd time to mate. But it’s also odd for people to reroof and repaint in the middle of winter. Confusion reigns supreme.
I am visited by Beatles music again in my head. If Christianity is the great code for Western literature, then The Beatles are the Rosetta Stone for rock and roll from their time onwards. Except for Walt Whitman, I’m finding literature to be quite onerous nowadays due to my involvement with the church for five years. I see religion everywhere I look. And even if contemporary poetry in the mainstream has moved on, in the public sphere it’s still the same old stuff. I notice that the church mostly ignores literature done after WW2, adhering to the 19th Century. It’s almost as though the last century never happened for them. Never heard of Oppenheimer or the Holocaust. We skipped from one Victorian Age to the next… The church has stunted my growth lately. It’s time for me to do something new. Take a class or something— anything to get me out of this rut. Learning doesn’t have to stop at a certain point, and history didn’t end with the 20th Century.
Well whatever; screw it. I might end up being burned at the stake like Giordano Bruno, be an intellectual martyr. I can’t go back to church again. It’s wrong to go and confess my faith in the words of the Apostles’ Creed. I don’t believe in the resurrection of the body or the life everlasting: I don’t believe any of that. How can a body that was cremated be put back together? How can a pile of ashes be restored to life; or even worse if the ashes were scattered?
I know I won’t be popular for saying this. Maybe my skull will be bashed open and the brains spilled out and scrambled about. A symbolic murder. But it seems as though American life is going that way. We’re headed for more of the Dark Ages and resisting science and simple logic.
Is it just my mood? Am I generalizing from my personal experience with the local church? Or am I right to assume this is going on everywhere? And does anyone care what the truth is?
Two o’clock in the morning.
I recall what Beverly said about demystification at Disneyland, seeing the ropes and pulleys for the “Pirates of the Caribbean” display. This ruined her first perception for her so she never wished to go back. This is like the church for me. The magic and the magicians were all fake. “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.” The Wizard of Oz all over again. I simply don’t believe it anymore, therefore I don’t pay any more tithes. The most charitable thing I do is to show up occasionally.
Music: “Eyes without a Face.”
Quarter of eleven.
I’ve been thinking about the idea of good and evil and the Romantic and religious imagination; also about rebels like Jane Austen who wanted no part of Romanticism. I wonder why cognitive therapy has gone out of favor in our society; probably people figured out that it was atheistic, since no absolute means no God, and the shades of gray are too amoral for a Christian culture, as we seem to be today. I really admire Austen’s rebellion during her time and perhaps people now can learn by her example. She was essentially unromantic in the sense of imagination and spirituality: a realist who cared about things as they are more than a transcendent good and evil kind of scenario. I’ve probably hung out with churchgoers for too long, so it seems like the whole world is a Christian society. I’d like to get myself out of that situation; but when I rip the hooks out, they’ll take some flesh with them.