Sunday, December 4, 2011

a difficult question?

 Too much faith?    It sounded reasonable to me. Coming from a Captain, perhaps I gave his comments added weight. On NPR, Captain So-And-So, in an interview, told about the time he was displeased with a Major’s decision to lead his troops in a Christian prayer prior to a serious encounter on the battlefield.

In essence, the Captain asked, “What about me? I’m an athesit.” Who was there to attend to his spiritual or philosophical needs?

Now the Captain is an advocate for an organization that wants the corps of Chaplains to include members who can commune with atheistic soldiers like him. It’s impossible to argue that their concerns are less important than those who belong to more easily identifiable religious groups.

Compared to the very religious friends I have, the Captain is unlikely to speak knowingly of You-Know-Who. Indeed, I wonder how he uses the G-word or whether, for him, it’s even capitalized.

Probably, I’ll never know. But that’s not the case for those true believers I know and love. Unlike me, they claim to know how God works in their lives, and how they must live to please him. Most often, I’m humbled by their knowing; that’s why I wouldn’t dare tell someone what to believe or how to exercise their faith. From my vantage point, each person has their own work to do in that regard.

If that makes me seem indifferent or uncommitted, viz a viz, religious beliefs, so be it. I listen well; I respect other people’s right to make whatever connection to their divinity that suits them. Indeed, I feel that way even if they choose NOT to tell me about the nature of their beliefs. That’s fine with me because, most likely, I’ll never share mine with them.

And not because I don’t like them. Not because I don’t trust or love them. And not because I’m a commando skeptic. Mostly, it’s because I know two things are true: since I’m neither saintly nor Godly, I don’t know what They know. And the other: I’m not sure I want to.

Recently, a person I know (who says I don’t know them well), included this in a message to me:

Whether or not you know it, all things come from God. He is the One that opens and closes doors as He sees fit. We cannot do anything w/o Him.

That’s not all. There was this too: Our very breath comes from God.

Although I never questioned this person’s beliefs or belief system, I also didn’t wave a green flag for a sermon to begin. Actually, if the person had asked whether I wanted to hear about their beliefs, I would have given a definite answer.

But, like the Captain I mentioned earlier, I wasn’t asked.
Perhaps my opinion didn’t count or wouldn’t have mattered. If so, was the person preaching for their sake, not mine? Are they afraid not to preach? Not to believe?

What role, I might ask them, does fear play in their relationship with God. If they don’t fear God, does that make God less real to them? If so, that’s a sad commentary.

At least for me. But that’s all I’ll say about it. Nonetheless, I’m open to revelations, to the shocks of awareness that come unexpectedly, to that meeting, when it comes, with my Maker.

Until then, I’ll listen to my 90 year old Mom for clues about the spiritual realm. Tonight, when I saw her, I set up an Amazon account for her, ostensibly for gifts she may not be able to shop for.
“Or movies, too, Mom,” I suggested, “movies you may have seen before I was born. I think I can get copies of them if you can recall the titles.”

That idea sparked something, may have served as a key to start the search engine her mind used to be. “We can watch movies that you watched when you and your sister were youngsters. Maybe you’ll remember a few that you and Dad really loved.”

“Maybe,” she said softly. She appeared very tired, profoundly tired. “I’m not sure I can remember,” she said.

“You’ll feel stronger in the morning,” I suggested. “Then you’ll think of something.”

Or maybe Dad, if he’s watching us, will send a message, will give her some hints.

In case you’re wondering, I’m more than ready for him to do just that.

                                 B. Koplen 12/5/11

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