Irish Papist

Irish Papist
Statute of the Blessed Virgin in Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Church, UCD Belfield

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A Conversation with God, Part One. (Not to be Taken as Autobiographical.)

OK, God, OK. Here goes. Aaaaaah.

This is insane.

Here goes anyway.

Oh Almighty and Ever-Living and—and Resplendent God, I have to say that I don’t believe in You. Please don’t take it personally. I don’t have anything against You. But… well, you haven’t given me anything solid to go on, have you? I wish you would. Nothing would make me happier than to get some sign, something I could grab a hold of. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying You have to send the Archangel Gabriel. I’m sure he’s got bigger fish to fry. But—- something. A cup-cake on wings. A whisper in my ear while I’m getting off the bus. A daisy uprooting itself and hovering in the air for a half of a half of a second. Something.

So, I don’t believe in You, but—well, here I am anyway. Crazy, right? What the heck. Nobody else listens to me. The winos who babble incoherently at the back of the bus make polite excuses and leave when I sit down beside them. Jehovah’s Witnesses run screaming from my door. Telemarketers remember that they left the gas on…I’m sick of really existing people, anyway,. None of them want to know. At least You want to hear me God. Why get caught up in pedantic questions of existence or non-existence? Ha.

(Long silence.)

You know what? Christians are always saying that You’re not an old man with a white beard. That’s always what they say—“People have this picture of an old man with a white beard”, they say—and then they laugh in a very irritating way and say that of course nobody would believe in a God like that. But, You know, I want you to be an old man with a white beard. Who’s going to stop me from imagining You as an old man with a white beard? And I don’t want You to smile, either. I’m sick of everybody smiling at me. Every single face on a television screen or a billboard or a shop is grinning at me…what does it mean? What’s it worth?

(Silence.)

No, You’re not smiling. You’re an old man with a white beard and You’re not smiling. You look a little bit like Sigmund Freud and a little bit like old Mr. Casey who used to teach us woodwork. You’re wearing a tweed jacket and you’re smoking a pipe, and sitting in an office full of leather-bound books. You listen to me and every now and again You take Your pipe out of your mouth and fill it again.The air is full of pipesmoke. There’s a window beside you and it opens out onto a deserted landscape, a hilly rocky country with nothing but a windmill on the far horizon. It’s cold and grey outside. It’s not picnic weather and it’s not picnic country. I don’t want a picnic weather God.

Well, God, how do I explain myself? I’m not on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I’m not at the end of my tether. I’m not an alcoholic. I’m a well-nourished, well-paid, healthy, psychologically balanced young man. Despite what I said about Jehovah’s Witnesses, I do have friends. We do things together. As for women….well, I’ve never been in love, but I thought I was, and I’m beginning to suspect it’s pretty much the same thing. I could be in a serious relationship within a month if I wanted to.

So I guess this is the point where You’re used to people saying, “I had everything I thought I’d need to make me happy but I just feel empty.” Poor God! How many clichés must be poured into Your celestials ears every night! OK, OK, I know You don’t think like that. I know nothing I say would surprise You anyway. I can see how ridiculous it is to try to spice things up for someone who knows everything that has ever happened and that ever will happen. Now I come to think of it, that must be boring beyond all words. Thank God I’m not God. Imagine having all eternity ahead of you and no surprises in store.

(Long pause.)

What—what happened there? I felt a shadow, a shadow of a shadow of a shadow, of an anxiety that I might be blaspheming. I guess I’m not the hardboiled unbeliever that I thought I was. Not quite. Or not yet.

(Another long pause.)

And you know what? I kind of like that. Even if God is the ultimate delusion, the Big Daddy of delusions—why shouldn’t I be a little bit deluded? How can anyone prove to me there is anything wrong with that? If I could see reality with cold eyes—what would I see, except a pointless parade of two-legged creatures frantically eating and working and mating, for no reason at all? And even when it comes to thinking--- what’s so noble about thinking, really? We think because we can’t bear not to think. It’s as mechanical and compulsive as a baby sucking its soother. What’s the difference between doing a crossword puzzle and doing philosophy? Ultimately, the only point is to keep the mental wheels turning. At all costs. Don’t let ‘em stop even for a moment. The assembly line has to keep moving. The silence has to be drowned out with music and chatter. The schedules have to be filled. The engine has to keep running or it will freeze over.

And me—- don’t you think I know how dangerous this kind of thing is, what I’m doing here right now? If you stare at the wallpaper long enough, you see pictures in it. How long can you play with the idea of God before…before you fall in? It’s all very funny till somebody loses their mind. Or what they lose maybe is—their sense of embarrassment. Their sense of the ridiculous. It’s like the time I was in the locker room where everybody was wandering around naked—you’re awkward as a pair of left-footed boots for a few minutes, and then—then suddenly you don’t care anymore. You just saunter around like everybody else and you wonder why you felt weird about it. God is like that, I bet. I can see how it happens now. You end up meeting an old friend and having a sane, cheerful, normal conversation before—-whem!—suddenly you say something about God or about Jesus with a straight face, and you’re not kidding. And your friend does a mental double-take and looks a little more carefully at you and—wham!—he realizes you’re not kidding, too. And he’s embarrassed. But only for a moment, or maybe a few moments at the most. Then he’s already assimilated it—already filed you away as a God botherer. He won’t be embarrassed anymore. He’ll even smile inwardly when you mention God, or Jesus. He’ll have a vague sense that there’s something very worthy about it, something deserving of respect, like…like an endangered koala bear, or something.

But who am I fooling, God? Am I not just looking, positively looking for the Exit door to Reality? Am I not just standing on the edge of the field, hoping to be asked to play?

Well, maybe. Maybe I’m flirting with You, God. I just don’t know how I feel yet, whether I’m really up for anything long-term, a commitment—-I’ve been hurt before, you know. I’d rather not talk about it. Let’s just take this one date at a time, OK? We’re both having a good time. Are you having a good time, God? I’ve had a wonderful time. You’re such a good listener. But now—well, my knees are hurting. And I’m tired. Think about what I said, OK? Just think about it.

In the name of the Father, and the…and the….oh, well, I’m not there yet. Over and out, for now.

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