Sunday, October 3, 2010

In the end, belief is a right arm

Well, whether it is a bland photograph or not, here is another view of "across the road and into the trees," to paraphrase Stonewall Jackson and Ernest Hemingway. The house in which I currently am residing is at the approximate center of the photo, but hidden by the trees. The only reason I am posting this photo is because I want to have one here this evening to sort of accompany the written words and the music, but I am to lazy to go out and capture a good one. Another day -- maybe. As a side note, it seems a bit strange to realize I have passed the half-way mark for my stay at this Lake House. Time conquers all.

In what do I believe, you ask?
Part 2 of 2

It often enters my line of religious thought that a very small, well-intentioned lie told to me as a young boy by an ordained Lutheran minister set the course for my concept of clergy, religion and god for my entire life up to this exact moment in time.

That is one point. Another point is this: While I consider myself an agnostic today -- a person who thinks it impossible to know with exact knowledge that a god exists, or who cannot demonstrate with proof positive that a god does not exist -- I am a believer in believers.

This is the actual answer to your question, Kaya.

Although, I am a skeptic and would debate the validity of any particular religious belief at the drop of a hat, I envy and, in a sense, admire those who do have legitimate religious faith. To the devotee of a religion, I would say this: You have belief and have faith; I do not. I respect your point of view, but pray for yourself, not for me; ask salvation for yourself, but not for me; convert the heathens, if you wish, but stand back and away from me. Respect my right to lack belief just as I respect your right to have it.

A religious person would not find me disrespecting his faith or trying to keep him from practicing it. Quite to the contrary. I would defend the right of anyone to believe anything he wishes to believe in a religious context, and I would defend anyone who was the target of abuse or interference or disruption in the pursuit of an individual's right to practice his religion.

I mentioned previously that I have little respect for clergy, Christian or otherwise, as a group. In a religious framework, perhaps the only group of people I hold in greater disdain are those who mock or attempt to discredit people who are genuine Christians or authentic believers in a god -- no matter what the faith.

My advice to disbelievers would be to avoid mocking someone who does believe in a god in my presence. Mocking Christians in America has become a popular pastime among some self-anointed, "enlightened" characters. To me, these types of beings give a new meaning to the word idiot.

Religion sometimes causes individuals or entire nations to go crazy. Witness the Spanish Inquisition, for instance. Look at the Nazi response to the Jewish faith or the persecutions in Croatia and Bosnia in the 1990s or the Muslim intolerance of Western life today.

At other times, religion is the social fabric of a nation, as it was in America for generations until the rise of unbridled political liberalism during the 1960s.

A long time ago, I arrived at the conclusion that the last war on Earth will be a religious war, initially engaged in by fanatics of a few faiths and then exploding out of control. My viewpoint has since modified to the extent that I think it will be economic/political elements manipulating religious elements into constant warfare until control is lost. The Christian Bible calls it Armageddon. I call it what the Old Norse called it. Ragnarok.

I am beginning to drift off subject, so I will end with this: Intellectually and rationally, I can neither prove nor disprove the existence of a god. Neither can anyone else, at least, anyone of whom I am aware. Religion and god are a matter of faith, not intellect, so believe what you will but do not try to foist it onto me or to ridicule me because I have a different view point toward religion than do you.

Rather than try for a summation or roll this over into three parts, I think I will close with some stand-alone comments, so my last sentences will be these:

No matter if there is a god or not, it makes no difference to me. I believe how people treat each other is the fundamental and the important element of living, not who or what they worship. If having religion as a guide helps some people treat others better than they would without it, fine.

Along with Will Durant, I should also mention Joseph Campbell as someone whose books were particularly influential upon me reaching the religious/philosophical state of mind that I have. Campbell was many things, a student of mythology, a historian and a teacher of literature, among them. I read his four-volume set, "The Masks of God," when I was in my early twenties, and those books left a sharp imprint on my pattern of thought then, and it remains there still today.

One thing Campbell and Durant had in common, incidentally, is that they both married women who had been their students and had long, successful marriages. Campbell and his wife shared a two-room apartment for most of their married lives. Imagine that; imagine their ability to share themselves and blend, each with the other.

The romantic side of me, the poetic side, would like to believe in a god, but I am just a bit too much of a pragmatist to let it be that easy.

In terms of a religious concept that I follow, the closest word that I would use to describe myself would be a pantheist. At times, like many of America's founding fathers, I lean toward Deism, but probably never could fall off the cliff in that regard, either.

In terms of actuality, Fram is a Pagan who practices the same habits explained by one among the Old Norsemen a thousand years or so ago when a priest attempted to convert him to Christianity and failed: I believe in no gods, but I will worship them if it suits me. No god, no king, no lord is my master, and I kneel before no man. In what do I believe, you ask? I believe in the strength of my own right arm.


Anonymous said...

The song made me bawl. Thank you! :)

Anonymous said...

Was you on a walk taking that photo?nice little lake in the distance.Yes,soon you will move again.

Anonymous said...

very good video of andrea &judy

Maddalena said...

Frammy, this is your second perfect picture for me. The first was Castle Square about five or six oclock in the morning with one person walking by. Congratulations! Really great!

Fram Actual said...

Duets often have the same affect on me, Nanna. For instance, I recall hearing a duet several months ago in which two beautiful, young ladies were singing their hearts out. I wish I could remember where I saw that video. I do not think I ever have seen one like it before or since.

Oh, well, I am sure it will come to me. Thank you, for sharing your tears.

Fram Actual said...

I seldom go for a walk unless I have a specific purpose or a specific destination, Anita. In this case, I was hoping to take a photograph or two and these were the best I could come up with at the time.

Yes, about the video. I have been a fan of Andrea Bocelli’s music since the early 1990s, but was not familiar with Judy Weiss. The blend of Italian and German languages made it fascinating to hear.

Kaya said...

Fram, first of all I regret that this post would never be published in any respectful and interesting magazine, like New Yorker or others...

It is a very strong post or article. This is a post about all of us and a post about humanity in general. And irony of ironies, I agree with you and I respect your point of view. I like so much that "I am believer in believers."

Yes, I also thought that all conflicts take place because of fanatic beliefs and prejudices. We sometimes are so narrow minded that we think that our truth is supposed to be somebody's truth.

I was agnostic for a long time because I came from former Soviet Union but I always felt that I missing something. Not religion, not at all. But something more deeper inside me. It took years to understand what spirituality means. No matter what you say to me but I am sure you have this in yourself. Spirituality is humanity and kindness, and compassion, tolerance and of course, the way looking at the world and life and people.

And I agree with you that the last war on Earth will be a religious war.

What I miss the most about my country conversations like this with my friends... We talked a lot about what you wrote in this post and here where I live like a dead zone.... You know what I mean.

And only your posts and conversations with you makes me feel that I am with my friends again. Illusion???

What is interesting that you wrote that you are unlike like many people and I agree you are in a very great way. You are universal... It is not a compliment. Not at all. Once you wrote you are more than Russian. You are because you can so freely to talk about many things in a very thoughtful introspective way.

Kaya said...

Fram, Google doesn't like my long comments anymore. That is why I will continue here.

Ok, about the photo. This is a beautiful one and you are a very interesting photographer, not boring one. If some day I will be able to shoot photos like that I would be very happy....

And video and music are excellent. I love Andrea Boccelli and Judy Weiss.

Fram Actual said...

Oh, Mag. Thank you, for the sweet words. I am certain I never will be in the right place at the right time again like I was on that wintry, early morning in Old Town. Even my photographer friend in Michigan thought the Castle Square photograph was sort of special.

I do miss the view from The Apartment, especially late on snowy nights or early on cold mornings, watching people in conflict with Nature as they walked toward unknown and invisible destinations.

Winter overlooking Castle Square was a very fascinating place to be; I am a lucky man in many, many ways, and I doubt that even time can dim the memories of those days.

Fram Actual said...

You are very prolific today, Kaya.

I am on my way out the door heading for town, so I will comment on your comment when I return. I like long remarks. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Snow?already? are lucky..thank you for your words.I go to sleep now.We have wind and rain and not good weather.Please listen to this song if you like classic music


Fram Actual said...

Again, thank you, for a long, thoughtful, neat comment, Kaya.

I am not certain why you found it ironic that you agreed with what I had written, unless it means you are a believer agreeing with a non-believer.

Most certainly, all of humankind has spirituality, but the depth of it varies and there are such freaks of Nature as genuine sociopaths in the world, in which spirituality is, in the least, significantly diminished. Who can say?

Sliding sideways for a moment, I do think each of us has pure evil buried deeply within us and pure goodness there, as well. And these things rise to the surface in immeasurable amounts, and might be beyond our own control. A human being is a tangle of possibilities.

It seems to me that most of America is a dead zone in the sense you mean. Part of the problem is the fact that so many people become fearful about expressing their feelings and emotions as they pass from childhood into adulthood. The advent of "political correctness" a generation ago stifled thought and free expression, and was nothing less than an absolute curse placed over the heads of the American people.

Sometimes when old friends vanish, new friends come along to remind a person of people and places and times which were good. It could be that is what is happening now.

Yes, I do talk openly and freely about what I think and believe. It is not that way because I do not care what people think, because I do care, but, rather, it is that way because I have no fear of what people think. I also know what I have done in my past and, therefore, what I am capable of doing yet today, so I feel no need to prove anything to anyone. Perhaps, if I had grown up under Soviet-style domination, I would not be that way, but I did not so I am the way I am.

I could keep writing like this for a long time, but I will let it go for now with a thought half meant to be funny, half meant to be serious: We are all products of the weather, the climate, that our ancestors came from down through the ages. The Mederterrian types spent all their time outside drinking wine, eating olives, lying around in the sun and kissing. The Northern European types spent all their time indoors drinking vodka, telling stories, discussing ideas and kissing.

Think about it, in a humorous way ....

Fram Actual said...

No, no, no snow here, Anita. I said soon snow will replace the leaves.

Yes, I like (much) classical music, and I will listen to your song.

Kaya said...

Yes, I am a believer who accepted the truth of nonbeliever.

Something special ....