a history of (dis)belief

So I’m writing this play that has Jeremiah in it, something that I started writing little bits of over the summer, and I found this thing that I wrote that I like a lot but won’t be able to use exactly in the play simple because it is too personal, too specific to me to be applied to someone else, even if there’s a lot of myself in this character.  But I want to keep it… for future reference…  so I’m sticking it up here.

You know, back when I was religious, you were one of my favorite prophets.  

I guess because you were what I thought a prophet ultimately was supposed to be.  Your entire life, you know?  The fact that you suffered so much, from all sides, from carrying what you knew was the truth to these people who hated you for it, and worse than hating you, they didn’t believe you, so they ran to the destruction you saw so clearly despite of, or maybe because of, everything you tried to do.  And even worse, you weren’t even really given hope that anyone would listen, were you?  When you got the truth, you got the whole truth.  He didn’t keep anything from you, even to make things easier.  So… uncompromising.  So… unmerciful.
But you stuck with it.  Maybe you didn’t have much of a choice, but you stuck with it, and you stayed mostly sane.  Despite knowing all of the terrible things that would happen, to you and to everyone and to the city, and then seeing them happen.  You had such sadness, who couldn’t have such sadness, seeing their entire world destroyed, and you suffered so much, but you still had faith.  You still had the truth burning in you.  And sometimes I want that, I want that truth that isn’t mitigated or muddied or softened, I want that knowledge and firebrand certainty instead of all of this… equivocation, even if it means I suffer, even if it means that people think I’ve gone mad, even if it means that I do go mad, I want a faith that has that power, that life, even if it means that there’s pain.

My parents raised me Presbyterian?  I’m not even sure if I know what that means exactly.  It seems like the more religions schisms there are, the further they get from what they’re meant to be, you know?  There’s no fire in Prebyterianism, at least not anymore.  That doesn’t mean that I think burning people at the stake should come back, or anything like that, but, well, I want something that’s not so… pedestrian.  My church, or really, the church my parents go to, the church my parents took me to, talks about “nurturing faith that works in everyday life,” but isn’t that the exact opposite of what faith should be?  Religion is the emergence, or the emergency, of the incredible, the whirlwind, the divine, the breaking open of “everyday life,” the life that is not everyday.  And no, you can’t build a, a capital campaign, or a government, or any sort of establishment on that.  You were never supposed to.  I always thought that religious faith should be like art.  They share the word inspiration, don’t they?  Something vitally necessary, something that startles us, that is unlike any other part of our life because of its intensity.  

And when I was younger, much, much younger, I think I had some of that spark in me, but more than a spark, a fire that lasted.  I believed in God.  Not just that he existed, but that he was good, that he was trustworthy.  That ultimately everything had a reason, everything made sense, because he was in charge, and he was good.  I had faith in him, like I would a person.  A person that I trusted to take care of me.

But then – I was fourteen, or nearly – then I fell in love, in stupid unrequited love for the first time, and that fell apart.  Because I couldn’t believe that God could do this to me, that he could make me feel this way about this person, despite me knowing that he didn’t deserve it, and not make that person feel that way about me too.  No matter what I did, no matter how I acted, or what I said, or how much I listened, he didn’t feel that way for me.  The possibility of it didn’t even cross his mind.  And I felt betrayed.  Not by the boy, but by God.  That I, who had trusted him to be good, to be kind, to make things make sense, didn’t.  Who hurt me.  

And all of this must seem so… juvenile to you, so petty.  You watched a city fall, and I was a stupid teenager who fell in love with another stupid teenager.  But even though it’s little and petty and stupid, it was my world.   

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