Some of you will know that my relationship with my Christian faith is a bit, well, complex.
Several years after finishing my Bachelor's degree in Journalism, I attended an Anglican seminary. A few years after that I went to live in a monastery in New Mexico. (I came back after a few months because I made the 'mistake' of falling in love before I left. Every now and then my wife will say, "If you're ever a widower, I know where you're going after the estate is settled." And she's right.)
In both seminary and the monastery I attended services very often. In the case of the latter, several times per day.
I don't go at all.
Parish life holds no interest for me. It clashes with my personality. There are those who are comfortable in that kind of environment. I am not one of them. (Which is funny, considering how 'intense' one is involved in a monastic community.)
Similarly, I have no prayer life to speak of. I have an interior life, but that's a somewhat different thing. My 'prayers' are usually uttered at especially bad times, and tend to consist of my looking skyward and muttering, "Really?"
This is all background, btw.
Today I found a YouTube video which purports to ask '
The purpose of the video is transparent enough. Its creator wants Christians, especially educated ones, to feel a little bit stupid about their faith. In this it's not particularly different from Richard Dawkins' atheistic crusade. He posits questions and then places limits on how one can answer. (Watch it for a minute or so and you'll see what I mean.) It's a very old debate tactic, although not a particularly good one.
But his first question did remind me of a story told to me by a rabbi, which I would now like to share.
A good man, but not a particularly 'religious' one, dies and goes to Heaven.
Upon arriving, he is told that he can have one wish granted unconditionally, provided that granting it will not harm someone else.
"No problem," he says. "I just want to ask God a question. That's it."
Ushered into God's presence, he gets to the point, his voice getting louder and louder with each phrase he speaks until finally he's yelling.
"The fact that I'm here means that you're real. It also means you have more power than I can possibly imagine. But God, look down on Earth. People are dying from starvation and disease. They are killed for believing in you and for not believing in you. Their own leaders kill them for pleasure or power. Across the world, people cry out for help. They beg for you to do something, anything. Why do you just sit there? Why haven't you sent someone to help us?"
God smiles, perhaps a bit sadly, and answers softly. "But I did send someone. I sent you."
Take from it what you will. I just felt like sharing.