I am, and perhaps you’ve noticed, slightly skeptical about an enormous amount of what passes for this life and times on the big, blue marble. I didn’t so much walk away from the faith of my fathers as I ran headlong into the desert in search of, if not so much the burning bush, a smoldering shrub or something to which I could hold fast in these acceleratingly aggravating times.
I was raised by nuns, the somewhat less than aptly-named Sisters of Charity, to believe that the only mortal sin (the one that will cost you your everlasting soul and your place at the Right Hand of God in Heaven) is the sin of despair. And so I’ve been a me of little faith for many years, wanting to believe but fearing I lacked the unquestioning faith such belief seems to require.
Years ago I chanced across Michael Morecock’s Behold the Man whose premise stunned me and left me empty and aching upon completion. I’ve found it online any number of times over the course of the last decade or so and yet, hoping to share a link with you today has proven to be a dry dream. And I wonder if I should read anything into that.
Still, I understood the author’s perspective and appreciated the power of his prose never once wondering if I were reading history or non-fiction. All of that brings me to this, accompanied as it is by a vague disquiet and dread when I wonder about the reception such a story may receive in some quarters of our globe.
The editors of Charlie Hebdo learned, too late, the limits and protections of freedom of speech and religion while those fleeing for their lives from the murdering maniacs of ISIL all across the Middle East can bear witness to how fragile a virtue tolerance too often can be.
I don’t have to be Karl Glogauer to wonder what other encounters on the road to Damascus and with whom (and when exactly) can result in a reinvention of how we define heaven and hell and which one our earth is more likely to resemble and when. For extremists of all stripes, I am mindful of Churchill’s observation, ‘a fanatic is one who cannot change his mind and who will not change the subject.’
Fanaticism drives so many who possess so little because when you have that little you can only be happy when you’ve sacrificed your life for your beliefs and you become even happier when you force others to sacrifice their lives as well.
Truth, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder unless or until the beholder is stricken blind.