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Saturday, August 24, 2013

ARRIVEDERCI!

                                                                                                                                                                                                   

I haven't posted for several weeks and I have come to the conclusion that I don't have the energy to
write anymore (I'm into painting again). I know from the stats that I have several readers, to whom I want to say good-bye. This is a very long post, but is the last one. I apologize for the format. So long friends!

My son and I have been discussing the supernatural image of Jesus offered by the gospels, and in particular his resurrection. I told him that the belief that he was raised from the dead is based on a
historical fact, namely the birth of the Church.

“That’s nonsense!” he exclaimed. “You can’t claim that 
the only possible reason for the birth of
Christianity was Jesus' resurrection. Martyrs always help their causes greatly. Look at Martin Luther
King. He became a myth after he died and the Black Rights Movement won. Why don’t you admit 
that this is what happened with Jesus and Christianity?”

“You don’t know what you are talking about.” I answered. “You can’t compare the two. Doctor
King was a political leader, whereas Jesus was thought to be the awaited Messiah and as such he
wasn’t supposed to die, especially by the hands of the Romans. In the eyes of the Jews his death
was not heroic, rather it was shameful. Yet what happened after his death was more
groundbreaking than everything else that ever happened in history, considering how powerful was the
Roman empire. Don’t forget what Christians went through and for how long. We are talking
about three hundred years of persecution!”  

“I understand what you’re saying. Yet the disciples’ faith, or even Jesus’ resurrection, don’t say
anything about the existence of a Creator.”

“I agree. But Jesus said that there is a God and I believe him.”

His father intervened in the conversation:
“If you have faith in Jesus,” He said, “that should exhaust your questions. Instead you  keep reading books about the historical Jesus".                                                                                                                      
“That’s because I can't live by blind faith. I want to know who he was, why he did what he did, why he died".                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                             
“In other words you want to penetrate his mind!” He exclaimed. “The mind of someone who
is supposed to be God! That’s so presumptuous!”


A few days later my son and I went to a conference about the metaphysical origins of the
universe. The speaker was the British theologian Professor Keith Ward. I had read
one of his books on comparative religions and I couldn’t wait to hear his thoughts on God and
creation. But my son, of course, was positive that the speech was going to be a waste of time, a
hour of talking about nothing. When we left the room after the conference, he said:

“This guy claims that God is outside of time, but seriously, what does that mean? We understand
the meaning of terms like “existence” in the context of space and time, yet  he not only “knows”
that there is a Creator but he also claims to know his location, which by the way we can’t figure out because it has nothing  to do with our universe! I just don't understand what's the point of writing books about something that we can’t possibly know.”

“You keep using the verb “to know”, that’s the problem.” I answered. “The knowledge of God
has a metaphysical nature. The religious person doesn’t know that God exists in the same way
 she knows that two plus two equal four. But it’s only natural to try to figure Him out, if one
believes in Him.”

And yet, Carl Gustav Jung said:
“I don’t believe, I know".                                                                                                                          

This statement agrees with Hindu philosophy. In Hinduism the word “faith” doesn’t exist,
because those who choose to practice yoga enter in direct contact with God and perceive Him as
a reality. Paradoxically, a reality impossible to observe.                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                    
Nature is the link between God and us. Only once in my life I have experienced something I
could perhaps describe as God consciousness. I was a little girl and I was playing on the grass on
a sunny day. I would climb on the top of a small hill and then let myself roll down to the bottom.
Why that simple game stands out in my memory so bright? Because what I felt in those moments
was completely out of the ordinary, and this is so true that I can’t put it into words. Everything
around me was part of me: The sun was shining through my body and I was blowing in the
wind down that hill. The feeling was one of incredible empowerment. On that sunny afternoon I
was transparent, immaterial. Today I know that the solidity of matter is an illusion. As incredible
as it sounds, 99% of our bodies is actually empty space.

But what good does it do to know if I can’t feel anymore? I’ve never felt the sun shining through
my body again, nor have I blown in the wind. My intuition of the divine is so rare! I crave for the sacred, I long for Christ.                                                                                                        
I want to experience the mystical union, the cosmic consciousness.
Jesus said that the Kingdom of God is among us. Why can’t I perceive it every minute of the
day?
Sometimes I stare at the sky and my soul is filled with awe. The slow movement of the clouds
against the stillness of that immense expanse of blue is suggestive of infinite power and serenity.
I wish I could go through the rest of my life with the same majestic calmness of a cloud. I’m
down here, so small, yet part of this eternal flow. Sometimes I feel all this, and it’s so pervasive!
This is what my son doesn’t understand: He thinks that to FEEL is meaningless and only to
KNOW deserves respect. Sure, he says, you can feel one with the universe, but why jump to
conclusions and believe in God? Because, I would say, when you truly feel one with the universe
you also feel a Presence, something above and beyond. Something unknown.                                         

                                                                                                                                              
 My answer to atheism is that its derisive attitude towards the supra-natural stems from the
illusion of being in control of oneself and the world. Atheists are convinced that religious people
believe because they are afraid of death and even of life. I say that nonbelievers reject religion
for fear of losing control. They can’t let go of their grip of what they think is reality. Their fear is
also the product of their pride. They think they are too smart to be ignorant of their destiny.

Modern atheists picture themselves as an avant- guard movement, but they are still anchored in
the Enlightenment. On the contrary, twenty-first century thinkers are aware that rationality is a
debatable subject and creativity is needed when revolutionary insights must be achieved.
Subtlety and a degree of daring are necessary even in science. We are not fully rational beings.
How could we then successfully abolish any “belief without evidence”? Do atheists truly think
that we would be mentally healthier if we went against our nature? Our self doesn’t rest on our consciousness, but goes beyond.                                                                                                                      
 The professional atheists are prosaically caught in self-
awareness.

I used to be afraid that the screen that my son has built around himself would some day be shattered and he
would be unprepared. But now he has a girlfriend and she's a believer. I'm sure that she's undermining his hard shell. But still, I’m afraid that he chose rationality because he saw first hand how much
irrationality damaged his parents. He knows we were driven by emotions. He needs to feel
superior to us to feel safe. But this sense of superiority goes against the basic values of tolerance,
and if one isn’t tolerant of religious thought one might become intolerant of much more. 
Take for
example the fundamentalist movement. Its followers think they know the will of God, but their
message is misleading, for Christianity is about compassion, justice and reaching out to the
weakest. Chris Edges writes:

“Fundamentalism is a mind-set. The iconography and language it employs can be either religious                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
or secular or both, but because it dismisses all alternative viewpoints as inferior and unworthy of
consideration it is anti-thought. This is part of its attraction. It fills human desire for self-
importance.”

The professional atheists insist on the most prosaic aspects of a false Christianity to discredit
Jesus’ message. Christians who have a critical attitude rather than passive will inevitably be
faced with a lot of material about their religion that they will find unpleasant. I certainly find the
way Christianity is advertised on American television extremely annoying. In Italy, religion isn’t                                                                                                                                       
something to brag about on national TV. We don’t have blustering televangelists who ignite
enthusiasm among the crowds and we don’t advertise to talk people into sending their children to
Catholic schools. On Christmas we don’t put signs outside our churches to make sure people
know that we a re celebrating Jesus’ birth and at Lent we don’t use radio stations to remind them                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
that it’s time to go to confession and repent. All we do is to broadcast a solemn Mass every
Sunday morning.

I realize that a person who is considering investigating the problem of faith here in the United
States must bypass an irritating and laughable display of a religion that is not Christianity but
something created by the media. When I talk to my son, I wonder how many young people like
 him refrain from learning about Jesus because they see only the fa├žade that is presented to 
them.  To understand Jesus’ message is not the easiest thing to do. I don’t prompt
my son to read the gospels because I doubt that at this moment of his life he would be able to
gain anything out of them. One has to open his mind to a new vision of the world. One has to go
for his personal search for the truth about Jesus and have the courage of giving credit to one’s
intuitions. Last but not least, one has to be willing to lose one’s identity to him. On the other                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
hand, we give it up to worthless causes all the time (wrong partners, impossible dreams,
addictive behaviors).I can almost hear my son’s disdainful comment:

“How can you lose your identity to something that might not even exist, something outside of
yourself?”

Not outside of myself, I would answer, rather above and deep within at the same time.  

 Jesus of Nazareth unleashed with incredible force the major cultural and religious revolution in the history of the world. During the transition from agnosticism to Christianity I never asked myself if God exists or not. My central question was: Who was Jesus Christ? I knew that he was a Jewish prophet, but after many, many months of wondering I also knew that he was more than that. He drew me to himself and set me on the road which leads home, the road to Jerusalem.
Since I believe in Jesus, I believe that our God is a God of love. He knows you and follows you                                                                                                                                     
as if you were His only creature. He doesn’t have to take time off His busy schedule just for you, because he’s a-temporal. Your entire life is spread, so to speak, before His eyes, yet the events that take place in it are determined by you, your actions and your prayers. You can become aware of Him if you want. But maybe you think that you would find His presence an impediment to you freedom. Maybe you are a sinner and you want to go on sinning because you enjoy it, being still blind to the damage  that you are doing to yourself. Or perhaps you ego is in your way and you don’t like interferences. It’s all OK, all of us have been one way or another at some point in our lives. But if one day you realize that you are tired of being on your own, that you are sick of the way you are living, start listening. You’ll hear Him, for He’s right next to you. Listen to Him when your problems seem to overwhelm you. Keep listening even when the news about the last crime or natural disaster are lauder that His voice, and don’t come to the                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  
conclusion that, if there was a God, He wouldn’t allow those terrible things to happen. You are made in His image, so He’s grieving just like you are. This is the world He made and He can’t change it. He can end it but He can’t change it, if not through us. He needs our help.  


1 comment:

Manny said...

Oh I am so sorry to see you go. I understand. Writing is difficult and time consuming, especially when you write something as brilliant as this post. I enjoyed it very much. I do hope you will stop by my blog every once in a while. It would be my pleasure if you did. In the mean time, God bless you, your husband, and your son. I shall miss this blog.