Ronin of the Spirit

Because reality is beautiful.

Kicking the prayer request habit.

Old habits die hard.

So, I just got back the place I normally live. (I will not call the Gulf Coast home.  This miserable little skid mark of settlement holds no claim on me.  Home begins at the threshold of my apartment.) Drove for one day, hung out for one day, and drove for one day back.

My Christian friends have sent me many encouraging little notes that they are “praying for me”. I tell myself this is their way of saying they care and are concerned about my plight.  But inside, it annoys me a little.

“Oh really?  You can do that?  You can plead on my behalf before God?  You can appeal the laws of cause and effect just for little ol’ me?  Why the hell did you wait for a hurricane to start doing that?”

OK, maybe it annoys me a lot.

My wife and I are safe for a variety of reasons.  (1.) I have a fantastic employer.  I get very frustrated with the bureaucracy sometimes, but the my company just paid me about 30% more than I normally make for three days so that I would have the money for gas, lodging, and food for the time I was gone.  (2.) My supervisor choose to call me 8 hours before the evac order came and tell me that it was coming at 6AM.  (3.) My wife is the best woman on earth, bar none.  She has had a suitcase packed by the door since Gustav went to hurricane status.  When the evac order came at 6, we ate breakfast, grabed the irreplaceable files, the hard drive, suitcase, and sleeping child.  We were on the road and rolling by 0615. (4.) We were obscenely well prepared.  We mapped four separate routes to Little Rock.  One all interstate, one all highway, one all country road, and one shortest time, this was tucked into the atlas.  In the car was 3 gallons of water and four nonperishable meals for my daughter.  In the bottom of the suitcase was two backpacks: one to be cut into a child carrier, one to carry gear.  This was in case we had to walk out of a situation we could not drive out of.    We had our standard survival kit which includes among other things, plenty of toilet paper, and ways to make potable water.  We stopped for gas every time we had to stop for any other reason, so that we always had a full tank.  None of this was survival stuff was necessary of course, because Gustav was not a Katrina, but if the crap hit the fan we had multiple plans.

But to my Christian friends, it its not my fantastic employer which saved me (many companies down here told people if they missed work because they left town it would be counted as unexcused absence.)  It is not my supervisor, who with no requirement to do so, gave me an eight hour heads up.  It is not 2 weeks of skillful planing, or a lifetime of learning the skills necessary to skillfully plan.  It is not God, because he apparently planned on killing me with a hurricane. (If he meant me no harm, then why pray for me?)  Nope.  It was their amazing prayers.

But then, tonight, before I wrote this blog, I wanted to write a blog about going to Germany.  We have had our out-processing time cut short by the evacuation.  We now have two and half weeks to shut down the hundreds of little details that make up day to day life and make them all start up magically again in Germany.

And my first thought was to write a blog a lot like this:

“Hey all, we’ve really had our time cut short with this Gustav thing, please pray we can get all this crap done…”

I may resist the urge to think that way, but the fact is, I still do think that way.  I really resent people attributing my hard work to God, but when the chips are down, my first reaction is the ol’ cosmic vending machine ploy.

I’m disgusted with myself, on one hand, but other hand, I have more compassion for my friends who are telling me they will pray for me.  It’s so natural. “I have this thing that I am completely powerless to change and that makes me very uncomfortable.  I will pretend that I am so special to God that my hopes are important to him, then I can call whatever happens his perfect plan for me, instead of just accepting the fact that some things occur completely at random.”

It’s so very easy.  Of course, it’s crap.  If God really did anything besides give people warm fuzzies there’d so much evidence you couldn’t walk to the grocery store without tripping over some. (Note: I’m not saying God doesn’t deliver warm fuzzies. I am saying that objective, peer reviewed, academic journal style proof is pretty obviously not his cup of tea.)  So, I sigh.

Often, like in my last post, I talk about how great it is to approach life as if there were no god, and often it is.   But, I confess, I miss believing that the universe could be bent to my whim, even if just a little.  I miss having the ultimate “friend-who-works-there” benefit.  I really do miss that paradigm sometimes.

However, I don’t miss the constant disappointment of God occasionally doing exactly as I prayed, occasionally doing the exactly the opposite as I prayed, and most often of all, doing something between.  Almost as if… Horrors! The actions of God were a totally normal scattering of points on bell curve!

Reality is, it turns out, not entirely unlike my home: a sort of crappy place where nothing works as well I want it to, but special because it is truly mine.  Sometimes I look wistfully around it, and wish I was comfortable carrying more debt, but I would rather own something real than pretend to own something false, but much more pleasant.  I would rather believe in the obvious fact of a God who (if there at all) is largely indifferent, than the comforting idea of a God who really cares.

A bittersweet goodnight, from the huricane swept coast.

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September 3, 2008 - Posted by | Religion, Self discovery, skepticism, Uncategorized | , , , , ,

4 Comments »

  1. You’re right, old habits die hard. After doing it as long as we did, it’s sort of second nature in a way. The words, “I’ll pray…” still sometimes pop into my head. I don’t say them because I know I won’t really do it, of course. But it just goes to show what a conditioned response it really is.

    Glad to know that you and your family are safe, thanks to an awesome employer, excellent planning and survival skills and a wonderful wife. If I’m ever in a situation like that, I’m not calling on God, I’m calling you and Becky. Haha… 😉

    Comment by Lottie | September 3, 2008 | Reply

  2. Um, her name is Becky, right? I just typed it out like I knew for sure and then started second guessing myself after I posted that. Sorry if I blew it.

    Comment by Lottie | September 3, 2008 | Reply

  3. Ha ha. Yes, my wife’s name is Becky. The first blog on my blogroll is her. And thank you! We’re glad to have survived another odd challenge.

    Comment by truthwalker | September 3, 2008 | Reply

  4. I’m glad too! Welcome back!

    Comment by Lottie | September 3, 2008 | Reply


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