Friday, December 23, 2011

Hard Truth

Christopher Hitchens died of his cancer on the same day, 12/15, that Obama quit Iraq. Not ironic ... just a coincidence, in the literal sense of a meaningless correlation. Nine Eleven made a sort of conservative out of Hitchens, changed, then, in a way that I for one could not have been. It doesn't take attrocities for me to recognize how to deal with evil. Hitchens, too, had a profound sense of moral outrage. That I believe is the root cause of his unalterable atheism -- not just a disbelief, or a belief against, but an enmity. Like what we share toward, say, OBL. Hitchens saw God as an evil enemy.

His death has troubled me, because I liked him. He died in his sins, and since there is a God, who forgives if asked, and since there is a hell, for those who refuse to ask, well Hitchens died and woke up on hell. The more one should think about that, the more unsettling it becomes. Life is a very serious and dangerous thing. It is a very sad thing. There must be, my moral sense demands, some absolute need for life, since the stakes are so high. If God could have found some other way, I'm sure he would have done without hell. But he couldn't, and didn't. It's not just us, though, who risk or actually suffer an eternity of hell. Jesus feels that torment, eternally radiating out from the Cross. No. If God could have avoided damning his Son, I suppose he would have. Even God has cancer.

Steve Jobs' last words were, "OH WOW. OH WOW. OH WOW." Sounds beautiful, one might think, and it was reported that way in eulogy. I looked it up however, and Jobs was a Buddhist. What am I, in my narrow understanding of salvation, to make of this? Jobs' presumed wonderment was merely a psychological process, and his spirit, unredeemed, not born again, dead, remains dead, and now, with Hitchens, in hell.

There is no satisfactory answer to the torment of the innocent in this world. There are reasons, but no answer. Our craving for justice must wait on faith, a trust that the cruel will eventually, in a time beyond our immediate apprehension, meet with a fitting response. But faith is just philosophy, and for all that etymology makes this a good word, the root of such things is opinion, and happiness depends so much on temperament, genetics, that it might as well be luck. Free will? Of course -- from a faith point of view. Change your actions, change your temperament -- stop brooding and get to work. Of course. And same with God, and the problem of evil, of injustice, of good people going to hell. Just don't mind it, and get on with your life.

That was the answer Jesus gave, sort of. "Why did that tower fall on all those people?" "Just you make sure you do what is right." Mind your own business.

A universe in which we cannot understand ultimate meaning may as well have no meaning at all. Aside from faith, that is. Most unsatisfying. Faith becomes the meaning. Trusting, hoping, believing that things will work out, for the best, ultimately. How childlike we must be.

For my part, I am an odd and grim man, trapped for a few more days in the Christmas season, understanding its importance to so many people, but soured and privately resentful about the whole pageant. I feel some social pressure to give presents, but I rarely give in to it. What the hell is my problem. It's just that it feels like a compromise with something unclean -- the lies of my childhood, which I survived, alive if not whole, by resolving never to succumb to lies. I rarely relax, because I'm still expecting a next betrayal.

I will buy myself, but not for Christmas, a laptop computer. I want something with a big enough keyboard to actually use. I was thinking about a, um, notebook, but the screen may be uncomfortably small. I just want, need, a tool that will get the job done. My old computer stopped working some months ago, which is a primary reason there's been so little activity on this blog. I am encased in amber.

I will buy some things for friends, love ones -- the same thing, really -- but only as the need presents itself. Pride, you see, is one of my most endearing traits. I will not compromise, or not often, when it comes to the neurotic structures I have erected to protect my soul from rapists.

All that being said, I'm doing okay. Hope you're the same


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