Abraham Lincoln battled it before and while he was President. A lot of the world’s great artists battled it all the time; and sometimes battled to the death.
Theodore Roosevelt called it “Black Care”—I wrote about it before:
Today we call it Clinical Depression, Bi-Polar Disorder, Manic-Depression—they aren’t all the same, but they have some similarities. They all lurk in my gene pool [which hasn’t been filtered well enough]. Dealing with Black Care can be awful.
Thanks to the wonder of modern chemistry, I may have passed through another valley. It seems too soon for the increased dosage of Prozac to have worked, but there’s some sunlight in my life today; couldn’t say that yesterday. I still ache all day, I get shooting pains in a variety of places all day long, my feet feel sunburned all the time. My teeth are clenched—I realized I have a habit of pushing on my upper palate with my tongue—it keeps me from grinding my teeth…
Sometimes I get asked how I write these Chronicles [or, I receive spam that looks like someone is asking a question]. Usually they percolate in my brain for a period of time [ruminate might be a better word]; and I get the urge to put the words on digital paper. Frequently the hard part is finding the illustration. I generally don’t draw people in a snarky mood. Too close to home.
People who are very important to me are dealing with a lot of shit right now; and there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it besides praying for them, and asking some ‘prayer warriors’ I know to pray as well. Prayer isn’t magic. The Creator is not our magic butler who makes everything work out for us. A lot of the time, I think that when all of the Gears of Life [think of the Lionsgate Movies logo] are turning in such a way that the Creator’s plans work out to our advantage, we sometimes see unexpected, but hoped-for things happen in our lives…Being human, we only consider answered prayer to be “yes”—sometimes the answer is “wait” and we don’t like that answer. We like “no” even less; but by definition, “no” is an answer.
The pain of those close to me is my own pain. This is part of the reason I allow so few people to get close to me. My daughter’s tears at 35-ish set off the same internal alarms that they did when she was 5. Reading about my son’s tears sets off the same alarms. And I don’t want to not hear those tears. Part of the weirdness of being a parent.
I’m currently wading through Augustine; CS Lewis recommended that we should always read from older periods in history, so that we can better understand the present. I haven’t followed that advice too strongly; but my first introduction into ‘theology’ was reading Marcus Aurelius in college. He asked the same questions I was asking. Job, the oldest book in Torah/the Old Testament, something like 4000 years old, asks the same questions.
“How can there be a loving God when this is such an awful place to live?”
“How can a loving God allow all of the hatred and war in the world?”
“How can there be a loving God who allows typhoons and earthquakes to devastate populations?”
“How can there be a loving God who allowed the Holocaust, and who allows the brutality of ISIS and Boko Haram?”
My short answer to these questions is that we have a Creator who has endowed us with Free Will and so values our individuality and respects our right to express ourselves that He allows us to commit all of the stupidity we find necessary to live; in hopes that some day, as individuals, we will come to our senses, and ask the Creator “how should we live?”
Just because people commit crime and blame it on God does not mean that God had anything to do with the crime…God gets blamed for an incredible amount of human misery.
“Torah tells how God caused the Israelites to wipe out nations; God wiped out mankind in the Flood and God sent plagues to the Egyptians. How could a loving God do that?”
I believe that Torah and the New Testament are True, and Inspired by the Creator. I also believe that these books are more like what we term “a journal” than complete histories of those times. These are the journals of the Hebrew people and the early Church. Statements and explanations of what happened; they don’t necessarily explain what the Creator wanted to have happen. I sometimes wonder if the things attributed to the Creator really were the Creator’s wishes…The things happened—David murdered Bathsheba’s husband so that he could get into her pants—it was not the Creator’s will. We are granted an incredible amount of choice, and sometimes we choose to blame God for our own greed and selfishness.
How could God have destroyed innocent men, women and children?
I have no idea what the destroyed nations were like; perhaps these nations were committed to paths of destruction. Human sacrifice [often sacrifice of children] was a very common way to ‘appease the gods’ in ancient times. Animal sacrifice goes on today. For a moment, suppose those nations were like ISIS and Boko Haram? Would our question have a different answer?
Who will the young boys living under ISIS grow up to be? Will they emulate their fathers and uncles? Would it be more merciful if they didn’t grow up at all? This isn’t a question I have been given to answer.
As 21st Century American individuals, we have no real understanding of what it would be like to live under an all-powerful and benevolent Ruler who commands obedience for our own welfare. It’s never happened in recorded history. Even writing the words, “commands obedience” causes warning lights to flash in my head. Growing up with my Dad. The Creator isn’t like my Dad. My Dad, was in some ways, like the Creator.
When the Israelites asked God to give them a king, so they could be like other nations, God’s response was a warning that they really won’t like what happens if they have an earthly King; and yet God gave Israel a King. The Kings of Israel were just as flawed and stupid as the rest of humanity.
We live on a rock floating in space, rotating at 24,000 mph, and traveling around our Sun for a year per revolution. Our distance from the Sun changes over the course of the year; our planet’s tilt, relative to the Sun, and that changing distance cause extreme changes in temperature during that year. At the center of this rock is a molten core of incredibly hot liquid. The surface of our world is a series of rock-plates that float on this molten core—extremely simplified geology. I live on the side of a volcano that is situated in a region that will most likely have a devastating earthquake in the coming decades. I haven’t moved to Iowa; nor to Maui, which would be my preference. There is only so much potential for destruction that my imagination will allow me to deal with.
Given all that we have learned about the non-static nature of the earth, why would we expect it to be static and always nice?
“Because God created the world and called it good.”
The Hebrew word translated as “good” is defined as, “to be (transitively, do or make) good (or well) in the widest sense.” To expect that ‘good’ means ‘perfect’ is projection of what we’d like it to mean. I think ‘good’ probably means something more like ‘sufficient’ than like ‘exceptional.’
I have three of the most terrific adult children that a parent could ask for. They are all flawed, in different ways than I am flawed; they all have traveled paths I wish they wouldn’t have traveled; and yet I have always tried to support their endeavors to the best of my ability at that time.
My children don’t experience the relationship with their Creator that I experience. I have no idea why, because I never asked for my experience…which isn’t entirely true, because I did ask for this experience; I just didn’t know what I was asking for. I knew that I didn’t know enough about life to live it successfully; three years in college had already made that clear to me. I had no spiritual background or experience, growing up. Asking the Creator of Life to lead me seemed to be a really smart choice when I finally understood the question; I really couldn’t understand why my parents weren’t as enthusiastic about this new awareness as I was. I found they had run from the Church; they never talked about the particulars.
The older I get, and the more I see of life, the more I wonder how my children view me. Someone with some odd beliefs about how Life works; perhaps someone who isn’t as enlightened as they are…
I have been blessed with encounters with the Living Creator for the last 40-odd years [or 40 odd years]. I long ago realized that mine is not a universal experience; and when it is experienced, it often is expressed in a manner that I find very peculiar. Probably as peculiar as my children view me; and as peculiar as I viewed ‘religion’ in my first years of college. I admire a gal at our church who says that she doesn’t have a ‘sarcasm’ gene. I can’t relate, but I admire the concept.
I am bothered that as a parent, I didn’t demonstrate the nature of “belief in the Creator” in such a way that my children would want to emulate that belief. Scripture teaches that my belief is a gift of the Creator. Sometimes I feel like it was a gift given to the wrong person. I can’t see my life as my Creator sees my life. That happens when I get Home.
I believe we are created with Eternal Souls; that Earth is a place where we are intended to learn how to live well with our fellow creatures. I believe there is another ‘plane of existence’ that isn’t tied to bodies and disease and suffering; and that we arrive at that plane when we leave these damaged bodies behind. I also believe that we could do a much better job of living with each other than we do. It’s our greed, our stupidity, our selfishness that makes this world a garbage heap…
We can each become the change we want to see in the world. That’s frequently a statement that is much easier to write than it is to do. I wouldn’t have written this statement in recent days. I thank God for Prozac. Those who manage to get through this life without the aid of chemistry are truly blessed.
From “A Dimly Burning Wick” a Hiroshima Diary