The week went well. An orgy of comments on profound topics, ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous, and a couple of posts I never thought I’d be making explaining my impressions of the meaning of life and death, and then today no interest at all. I am posting at 8:20 my time, by which time I usually have gathered at least 10 visitors to the blog and today, since midnight there was only one.
Don’t get me wrong; I don’t expect to have the 100-some-odd daily travelers seeking to find fair hope that come to other sites on the web. My average as of today is 48 per day, and I’m glad to have each and every one, even those who are appalled at what they read. Last week was actually a banner week for me. Exciting comments abounded and there was one cry in the wilderness that still haunts me.
According to my tracker, someone typed this phrase into Google and was directed here: “please give me hope that god is fair”.
The person who typed that desperate phrase was not sent to the posts we made on the nature of God, the soul, and the relationship of man to the universe. You probably know that a search engine’s spider can zero in on a word or group of words and locate any number of ephemeral or peripheral mentions of the word or words you want to search. Thus, some seeking hope that God or anything else be fair, might be sent to a blog called Finding Fair Hope.
The person with this poignant wish came to this blog on a day when I was rhapsodizing about the weather or the opportunities for romance at sunset and didn’t stay long enough to check out the many opinions voiced here about whether there is hope that God is fair.
For the record I shall try to answer that question now. In my opinion there is some kind of force that I am not uncomfortable calling god, with or without the capital letter. This force needs a name, and long ago man gave it the name “god” and I don’t think even with all that baggage that identity has accumulated that we have come up with anything better. The problem is that the name is so old, it’s literally grown a beard, as we used to say about old stories in the newspaper game. It carries with it a human picture. “God” appears to be a man, although, as Margaret Atwood has pointed out, never in the Bible does the image appear as a man – it appears as a burning bush, or in any number of guises, not including a male human being. But when Leonardo and others wanted to paint a picture, they referred to the old pictures of the god of gods, Zeus, who dwelt in the clouds and carried a handful of lightning bolts for added impact, as if that were needed. That guy also had a long white beard.
Today when we want to be iconoclastic, we say, “I don’t believe in an old man in the clouds with a long white beard,” but that is not the concept of a higher power anyway. There are people to whom those old paintings reveal the face of God, but to deny that we are moved by them is not to deny the existence of God – or even to prove that we are deep thinkers. It’s simply Step One in the process of examining the question. This is what I do not believe. What do I believe?
Do I believe that “god is fair”? I’m afraid I have to answer no to that one. I assume the question comes from someone who wants a specific thing from life, and has observed that less deserving people seem to get all they want. If there is a god, why does “he” do things this way?
Some say that he gives us the lessons we need. I think even that is too pat an answer. There are far too many people who never get any lessons at all, or appear not to. All too often, they are the ones with all the stuff. We don’t know what is happening in their life, but we know they have done bad things to acquire what they have, and we tell ourselves that “what goes around comes around.” I haven’t seen this to be true either.
Where is the hope, then? It’s inside you, if you are a human being. It is hope that is making you ask the question. My friend who has begun to post comments as “the oaf” on this blog is full of questions that begin with “Why?” as a child does when he first notices that things are not necessarily linear. If we don’t fill a child too full of unnecessary and unexplained consequences – “Because I said so!” – he may grow up learning to examine on his own and not expect an all-powerful God to hold the reins of his life. He may be spared the guilt of that personal revelation, in other words he may have given himself permission to find his own answers without rebuke. But most of us are conflicted by even having doubts that what we were told is true. We expect that guy in the clouds to release the lightning bolts our way.
I hope the person who asked the Internet about fairness will come back to this blog where he or she can be assured of an open, healthy discussion of the question. For now, let this be my answer: There are times in life when a re-examination of one’s expectations is required. There are times when we all feel hopeless and hurt. It is part of the condition of life on this human plane, which no amount of examination can adequately define. We are created to ask and not get answers. But in the Pandora’s box there is also that last element, all too often left behind. We are also, as human beings, endowed with hope.