Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Beautiful Summary

The Jehovah's Witnesses used to stop by and do their best to assure my salvation by following their vision. Annie (my wife) used to hate it when they pulled in the driveway, but I didn't mind it so much. There was a part of me that admired their faith and dedication. And, of course, I got to talk about religion, philosophy and hear their stories (My favorite). Anyway, I remember vividly trying to explain to them why I didn't think an all-knowing and all-seeing God was looking out for me anymore than he/she/it was looking out for a red fox, so I didn't accept their vision. Below is a beautiful summary of what my perspective was.

"Another great supporter of Ishmael, Michael Belk, sent me a book called Disappointment with God and asked me what I thought of it. As the title suggests, it's a study of people's disappointment with God: Why did God let this terrible thing happen? Why didn't God respond to my prayers? And so on. I found it puzzling that he'd want my opinion of it, but by the time I was finished I realized that the book had given me an insight into my own relationship to the universe: I am never disappointed with God (or as I prefer to say, the gods). This is because I never expect the gods to take my side against others. If I come down with the flu, I don't expect the gods to take my side against the virus that is pursuing its life in my body. If I travel to Africa, I don't expect the gods to strike dead a mosquito that is about to have lunch on my neck (and incidentally give me a case of malaria). If a wildcat attacks me in the hills of New Mexico, I don't expect the gods to help me kill it. If I'm swimming in the ocean, I don't expect the gods to chase away the sharks. I have no illusion that the gods favor me (or any other human) over viruses, sharks, wildcats, mosquitoes, or any other life form. And if they don't favor me over a June bug or a mushroom, why would they favor me over another human being? If a friend of mine is killed in a random act of terrorist violence, I'm not going to blame the gods for this. To me, this would be nonsense. And I certainly don't expect the gods to suspend the laws of physics to protect me from landslides, lightning bolts, or burning buildings." -- Daniel Quinn, from Providence: The Story of a Fifty-Year Vision Quest

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