“What should I have to give thee! Let me rather hurry hence lest I take aught away from thee!”
Will it suffice to go to the altar of the Lord bearing an offering of honest doubt? To approach with hope mingled with fear and uncertainty? Would it be better to be cold than lukewarm, knowing I know not? Is this honesty not better than a lip service without heart service?
But then would I give up my doubts if he offered to relieve me of them? If an angel came before me tomorrow and said “only say the word and you will have the simple faith of a romanticised peasant!” – would I accept then? Maybe if he came tomorrow, never if he came today. Do I not take great pride in my “sophistication”? In uncertainty, in “knowing I know nothing”? Does it not make me feel a certain kind of superiority to others who are all too sure of what they think and where they stand.
Worse still are my designs for the hoped for God. The mental construction of God as a tool, for self improvement, for social control, for comfort in the face of a cold hard universe and for hardness in the face of a soft mushy culture. Doubt is one thing, manipulation another.
How to approach religion after the enlightened deicide? That darkest of night where hope yet lives. When Zarathustra was alone, he said to his heart: “Could it be possible! This old saint in the forest hath not yet heard of it, that God is dead!”
Perhaps the saint had indeed heard? Did He not thus conquer death? Maybe the saint knew no grave could hold Him.
I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.
You find the litany against fear surprisingly effective, though not enough. Should you feel ashamed to rely on a spiritual device from a non-existent world? Once you would have felt ashamed, but now you wonder if it makes any difference at all. Real or unreal? – as if the distinction was so simple and straightforward.
For years you avoided making any kind of commitment, no matter how trivial, because you understood the gravity of the thing. You did not pick up the weight because you might drop it and even if you didn’t you would have to carry it for life.
In a giddy fit of romanticism though, you broke with convention. You – starry eyed – declared you would carry most heavy burdens for Him for ever. You would do it all because He would be there to support you. He would give you the strength. You knew that with His help you could do it.
After the promise was made, you wavered. “Where is He?” you asked, “will He not help me bear this Cross?”
And at the wayside, there stood another. Weaker, denser, full of fear and self doubt. “Help me” he cried.
“Are you there?” you shouted to Him. Silence.
So you put down the Cross and crossed to tend the wounded. It gave you much joy – but the Cross remained, lying tattered and battered in the road. You regret dragging it this far, you regret it sitting there, taunting you, reminding you of promises broken.
“I will never leave you alone” you tell him. But now you know what you are capable of betraying, and you fear it.
You talk and talk. You write and write. You want to be heard, be respected. You want to be agreed with.
But how quickly it is before some piece of evidence, or a twitch of empathy, or a different perspective inserts a shard of doubt into the flesh of your arguments. And then where are you? Back at the beginning, wondering if any of that was worth saying.
You are still not ready for this, still not ready to present your position, to show the world the invisible fruits of your long labours. If only you could know everything, you could assimilate every doubt, refine the theory, perfect it so that it was impervious to attack. How they would listen then, with awe and wonder. “You took account of everything, all we can do is applaud”.
Yeah, no… that’s not what you want.
Keep looking I guess…