It is June; Solstice; 2 AM and lite on Friday Nite in Homer, Alaska. You can see the harbor lites from the barstool, there, just behind the open doors to the patio. English John’s band has just gone on break; a red dawn lights the foraging cow moose and the mountains as we watch thru the panoramic windows. Outside, wafting in, is the smell of hemp and the sounds of clinking horse shoes hitting sand and each other.
“Forgive God”, he said. “Just like when you forgive someone who has it in their power not to hurt you, but does anyway.”
“Oh, good Lord, that’s Heresy!, she exclaimed; “Heretic with a capital H and God will send you to Hell!” Grabbing at her beer, she quaffed it as if in refuge from a deluge to follow.
“Your English teachers will and did give you high marks, Lori, but your theologians might not.” Steve calmly took a sip from his orange juice and replaced it without spilling on the bar. “Why do you think I should go to Hell?”
“Well, for one thing, you make God a sinner, for another you think you are better than the Lord, and for-”
“Hey, I am the certified mentally challenged one here. lets take it one at a time, even if that is boring. “So you think I believe God is a sinner?”
“You betcha, Certified? What do you mean by that? Why, any forgiver presumes the forgiven is not perfect. ”
“That’s right, ‘ L’, and some kinds of perfection, mathematical ferinstance, is not what God is about. Have you noticed God changes his mind and allows His own law to curse Him? Kinda Feminine, at that.”
“Now that is just ridiculous. And It’s just semantics. Sure Paul said the Law condemned God’s Messiah, and God did change his mind, AND even let some see His face – when the Bible says no man can see the face of God and live. But before you finish that O.J , boy, I think you better “assume the position”. I am going to kick your butt clean out of the Down East Saloon for contradicting the clear meaning of Je-sus when he said ” You are to be perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
Steve smiled. “Well my father the preacher softened my deriere up for you years ago, Lori, and though you outweigh me by a stone, here is where, in sourdough J De Fore’s words, you have to listen to what the verse means, not just what it says. Remember how the Jews and Josephus got hung up on the idea of being ‘born again’, almost as much as some liberals dating from the 70s, do today?
Jesus knew his Heavenly Father was as good as it gets, that the Creator of the universe was more awesome than we or Job could imagine. Yet here is the man who said he was the Son of God crying out that his own daddy had abandoned him in His hour of greatest need. Wow.” Is that giving good gifts to children? “Two loaves and three fishes do not equal 5000 happy meals.
Lori took her time. Looked around to see who was listening. “I am going to use a big word now. I think you are a sophist. If God had meant for us to forgive Him for the way the world is today, i mean with all the war an AIDs and children with defects cuz their mother took drugs, well He should just fix it. Fix it.”
Seeing ‘L’ Draining the rest of her beer, our barista quickly replaced it and took the ten from me. “Another Mellow yellow, Esteban?” “Yes, Christina, and the Pale – oh, you have it.”
“Without reemphasizing my only personality trait, rudeness, I would like you to notice you have once again posed more than one problem per diatribe. See, I can use big words, too. I think God weeps over the way the world is today. But are we not His hands and His voice? I have played Randy Stonehill’s songs enough for you to know that it is choice, freedom, that God loves your free will more than justice or survival, at least in a physical sense. How many people in this bar right now are mad at God?”
Lori was silent. Then she spoke guardedly; “You know, I quit going to church a long time ago because that damn preacher thought speaking after singing meant back the dump-guilt-truck up and let’er rip!” “Why does God put up with so many Rick Warrens, Bushes and Trumps? He could use The Donald’s hair to burn them all in one White House Correspondents Dinner….A ‘Driven’ life? I’d like to drive him up to Stuckagain Heights in December and let his cahones get him back to shelter. Hell, I think his son committed suicide trying to live up to daddie’s idea of perfection.
“Now, ‘L’, that’s the brew mister talking. Didn’t I just hear you say guilt was a matter between you, an individual human, and Go-?” “You’re starting to piss me off with this logic, stuff, Steve. Why don’t you just say what you mean before i get Cody to throw you out of here? You know we don’t talk about politics or religion in this bar. Sex on the other hand…And hurry it up. John’s finishing his Bitter, and Robin is tunin’ up her banjo.”
“OK, ok, What I am saying is, when a person is mad at God in extreme mental or physical pain, they cannot hear or experience much of anything in the spiritual realm. Not a still small voice, not a blow to the kidney, nothing. I couldn’t. I even got to the point of dropping the F-bomb on God, thru tears and depression and suicidal thoughts. How could God rob me, ME, of my mind? Certified? yeah, i lost my job. Genetics, the Doctors tell me. Bye the bye, there’s another group of folks who will hurt you to help.” Steve turned away and faced the mountains. “I have had to forgive God for making the world in which a man could lose his mind, thru no fault of his own. Then I can start again to listen, to pray, and to prai- well, Praise Jesus, here comes Cody with that baseball bat. Lori, do you need a ride home? I want to listen to YOU explain how i can live like this and not believe i am better than the Almighty. Oh, alright, I’ll pay for cab fare…
As silence in the cab settled, the dawn came up; L turned to Steve. You really do have a quandary. The Geeks at Christian Society Church used to call it being stuck on the moose horns of a dilemma. It is a paradox. If you forgive God, you walk so closely to the very narrow line of pride. If you do not forgive, all the hours of blessing in the woods and the waves are just physical thrills. I have answered you before when you asked me what denomination i held most dear. Was i an atheist, an agnostic or a believer?” “Yes”, Steve interrupted, and you said “oh i believe – I believe I’m an Alaskan.” “Its still true,” She said; “I am a part of this land. If the rocks cry out, so will i.”
The cab hit a chuckhole and Lori bounced left. “Every time i try to humble myself, the sight of that judgmental preacher obscures the light. Did you know they even made the stage black and most times shut the window curtains? Settling back, she began to snore quietly.
“But are we not more than the rocks? I find the mind a fascination; a creation to be sure, but one that obviously is in the process of change; evolving and worse. Can we expect praise to be free and full, yet in humble acceptance of our human lot without forgiveness? Am i too good to forgive God? Is there any other possible response for hatred which seeks humility? Ha Ha, i got the questions in, even if it is because you are too sleepy. How blessed i am to know you and God. Even for a time, part of a cycle, i can enjoy Him; if not forever and always, at least intermittently before eternity. Oh this mind of uh, mine and the poles…..
Alot of the ideas in the holey scriptures are goals, not fleshed out. On purpose, me thinks. Even Jesus did not quote scripture jot for tittle.
“Wake up, Lori, you’re home”.
Slowly she shuffled to her dry cabin; no electricity, no water, no roommate.
“Back out to the Downeast, Nicky,” Stephen asked; “I don’t take stock tips from cabbies, but what do you think”?
“Vell, Estevan, You know my uncle, the greek orthodox priest? You know his boy Salo come on my boat last veek, laughing so hard he ’bout ‘trow hisself in the harbor. He say his daddy come haulin out of the house, mad as dat eagle when the seagull try to steal his salmon head. “I know God is good he say, but why He do such a lousy job with women’s plumbing!”
“I think Godt can handle de angries, long as you can handle the blessins. I tink sometimes, God he be like the bear. Maybe sometimes he hug us pretty tight.” It hurts. We die, slowly. We don know why.”
The sun was over the mountains; it was Three Thirty. AM. Standing in the open green bear grass fields, he prayed,
“Please, God, do not hold me so tightly. You have changed your mind before.