Similarly, if a pious man sees an amputee, or anyone whom misfortune has harmed since birth, he utters the same blessing, ending with "The True Judge." These words vivify a view common enough in the first century, and extant and thriving among troubled theists everywhere: that God the puppeteer controls all events and fates, and morally. He rewards us or afflicts us as he judges. He blames the victim.
If you, Lord, should mark iniquities, who could stand? who could stand?
Certainly not the amputee. For what did God judge him? For getting his leg infected, dummkopf.
No, it does not wash.
- Annie Dillard, For the Time Being
* * *
If you have not acquired a copy of Ms. Dillard's book, stop what you are doing right now and go get one. Run as if your hair is on fire.
* * *
The shortest route to being fucked is to lay that responsibility at the foot of God the King, God the Judge, the Metaphysical Hanging Judge who has looked upon your life and found it wanting. It is a lie perpetrated to assuage the guilt of the fortunate ("There but for the grace of God go I," my unhappy mother always said, thereby relieving herself of any authority for the shape of her days.) and bring order to chaos. No, we cannot live in a world where innocent misfortune, the combinatoria of genetic material, the ill-luck of shopping in a market in Beruit, or being on the road at the same time as a drunken fuck, is randomized, is without cause. We demand causes and God, The Judge, will do.
But no, it doesn't wash.
It doesn't wash.
Your life, any life, is both under your control and far outside your control. The most dedicated runner can still be hit by a car on the road. The desire to start a family can be tripped at the starting gate and suffering, unannounced suffering is the only thing birthed. There is only the space between any given event and your reaction to it that allows you the freedom (and responsibility) to choose. This space is the place you are in control. To abdicate that freedom to the 2000 year old bogey-man of Judea and its environs is a betrayal of your self, the life you do have and it does not wash.
To be fucked is to be stunned into inaction, is to come to believe that you deserve your losses, you have earned them by not being something other than who and what you are. We take in the judgements of others - spouses, parents, employers, friends - and since it is difficult to understand why those closest to us don't understand us, we transmogrify that judgement into the judgement of God. Job-like we cover ourselves in ash and say since we did not create Leviathan, we are to be judged for that lack.
No, it does not wash.
* * *
You are an astounding array of dead stars and human intention: consciousness (collective and otherwise) clothed in flesh and you are gifted with the chance to stomp around for a while. Go play. Go have some fun. Wrestle with conundrums. Aim to put a roof over your head. If you are afflicted by misfortune - the potential losses are too great to list - you are not relieved of the obligation to see how far your will and imagination can take you; you are not relieved of the obligation to live out your life in the fullest possible way for you to do so. How that is is determined by you, not God. Those losses are not divine retribution for being who you are. They are losses. Do not compound them with first century superstition.
For those reading this who think I am shitting on your faith, nothing could be further from the truth. I do not know, and no longer care to riddle it out, the how or why of our existence. All I know is this shit is a miracle ("a highly improbable or extraordinary event, development, or accomplishment that brings very welcome consequences"). The consequence of the miracle of you is that you get to be here with us, that you have something unique to your own experience that can help make us more human. Sitting on your hands won't do. It does not wash. You have to give it out to us.
The time of being judged from a throne in the sky has passed. It was part of our evolution, part of the journey we are on. It appeals to this day because it provides certainty. That was its appeal 2000 years ago and for many the prospect of being responsible for themselves and still being vulnerable to forces outside their control is too much and they retreat to such certainties. May their God bless them.
You and I, we have other things to do.
* * *
You are not to blame for your wounds. You are not judged for your losses.
In the space between being fucked and unfucked lies your freedom. There is no guarantee of anything but the the chance to decide how you will experience your days.
And that does wash.