"It was wrong to do this," said the angel.
"You should live like a flower,
Holding malice like a puppy,
Waging war like a lambkin."
"Not so," quoth the man
Who had no fear of spirits;
"It is only wrong for angels
Who can live like the flowers,
Holding malice like the puppies,
Waging war like the lambkins."
Also, when I was sharing my personal theology, you took the reference
to my favorite biblical lesson out of context. I hold up as the
personal role model for my life not Jesus (who I obviously cannot be)
but the Roman Centurion He encountered on the way to Jerusalem. I do
not know which book, chapter, or verse, but have read the story many
times and know it best as the scene with Ernest Borgnine from
"King of Kings".
While Jesus is healing the lame, curing lepers and raising the dead,
the Centurion accosts him to heal a servant back at his home. Jesus
rises to follow him (no doubt thinking about the good publicity) but
the Centurion stops him. "It is not necessary that you come to
my home, only to say that my servant is healed. I have many soldiers
in my command and I tell one to do this and another to do that. I do
not need to go to see that such a thing is done. I need only say so
and know that it will be so. Jesus, you do not need to come to my
house, only say that my servant will be healed and I will leave you."
Jesus is delighted. In the movie his eye twinkles and an honest grin
appears on his face. In my mind's eye as I read that story, I can
feel His delight that a sworn arch enemy, a mid-level officer of an
occupying army from a pagan culture, has more true faith than any
avowed pilgrim present. Jesus says the servant is healed, but first
compliments the Centurion, declaring the unquestioned and unwitnessed
belief to be "faith".
My search for personal religious grounding essentially ended when I
understood the significance of that particular story.
I do not expect to understand how Jesus thinks or acts. I do not need
to grab His sleeve and drag Him off to do my bidding. I expect that
since He can raise the dead and heal the lame, then He sure as heck
can fix anything that is wrong with my life if He takes a hankering
to do so. Why should I lay out my list of wants and needs to a being
that "knows how many hairs are on my head" and knows what I
need even "before I know"? Why should I be the one to judge
whether He prefers that I do this thing or that? When Jesus is
pitching, I'm not going to be the one calling balls and strikes.
If God is everywhere and knows everything (as my nuns taught me),
then He surely doesn't need my advice. If He has a plan, let me stay
out of His divine way. And if He doesn't have a plan, well, I'll
drive for now but I'll certainly let Him to grab the steering wheel
out of my hands anytime He wants.
Like that Centurion, I do not need to see, to hear, or to
"feel" God's acknowledgment. That is a manifestation of
man's vanity: the desire, the expectation, the childish greed to
become a "living prophet" and ring up God on the telephone.
Fundamentalists, LDS Missionaries, and that little eight year old
Methodist have all given into this worldly temptation. Have you? The
LDS church systematically holds out this expectation to its young
like a fish held out for a trained seal. And the flock perform
rituals just like those at Sea World.
We talked about the "footprints in the sand" poem (another
of my favorites) but it is my impression that it is somehow necessary
for you, in that situation, to physically sense the allegorical arms
beneath you. Like the Centurion, I accept that allegory as a given;
that in my hour of need I will be carried. I neither need to specify
which hour or verify that I was. Many people mistake my deep quiet
faith to be spiritual isolation or spiritual loneliness. This is
particularly dangerous for me as those are two very specific
personality traits that LDS missionaries are trained to identify and
exploit in their targets.
It is like the difference between a man that has his money converted
to coins to be carried about with him in sacks, and another that
simply deposits his money in a bank. The first man (like a child)
satisfies a juvenile need to have material, corporeal, palpable
sensation of his wealth (with physical feedback of weight and
jingling) while the second man is satisfied with the adult
intellectual knowledge (faith, if you will) of the presence and value
of his riches. And a truly wealthy man doesn't need to consult or
even to locate his bankbook.
Like that Centurion, I choose to follow Jesus' advice to me (and to
you, if you stop and think about it). Jesus told us to simply say to
his Father, "Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven".
He didn't say to go into the woods and shout "send me a
sign" to the treetops. He didn't say to concentrate on an issue
real hard until you experience a physical manifestation (a very
tangible human man dreamed up that litmus test). Jesus didn't teach
us to make sure that you say God bless Gramma and God bless Grampa
and get me a new pony for my birthday. No, all of that crap is the
invention of man's mind. Jesus told us to act like the Centurion.
Allow God complete access to our lives, do His will, and keep the
hell out of His way. When He wants something out of you, He will send
it your way; whether His will is a winning Lotto ticket or a bolt of
lighting, the appearance of a cancerous tumor or the spontaneous
remission of the same. God is, after all, God. He neither consulted
with or divulged to me what His plan is, and it is my belief that he
didn't tell you or Joseph Smith either. That ridiculous assertion is
simply man's vanity and natural human greed to be recognized as a
"living prophet". Only a child, or a fool, would follow
that doctrine to find faith.
This is my simple belief based on biblical teaching, and how I try to
lead my life every day. I was trying so hard to explain that to you.