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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

More Bad News and How It Is Affecting My Faith in God

I got more bad news the other day. And my first thought was, there is no way I can tell anyone about this. Because it's been nothing but bad news for too long, and people are worn out, and if I report one more piece of bad news, everyone will turn away from me permanently. I've used up all my bad news chips.

Also, of course, I feared that people would say, "Well, you know, it's all your fault."

Before this series of bad news events, my life was no picnic, but it had its hopes and joys. I'm an adjunct professor looking for a full time job I'll probably never get. I have no family and little money. But I love my apartment and I LOVE my job. My job doesn't offer health insurance. A key fact, lately.

The past two years have been one catastrophe after another. Two hurricanes. One forced evacuation and two weeks without power. A broken arm. Cancer. Cancer in a loved one. A broken relationship. A book publication and good reviews, but no publicity. And now this.

I'm not sure what this new bad news will mean. The scary part – a chance of blindness. Or it could be relatively minor. It could even be self-correcting. I don't know. Once I found out about blindness, I stopped asking.


I remember the week after September 11, 2001. Americans suddenly felt unsafe, instead of smug and self-assured. People were hugging their loved ones tight, knowing that they might never see them again. People were realizing that everything they owned might go up in smoke at any minute. People were realizing that there were forces in the world that hated them and wanted to destroy them and might.

I felt psychologically at home that week. Suddenly everyone around me knew what I'd known all my life. What I'd learned from being an abused kid, from being born into a poor family and eating surplus food, from my brother being killed on my birthday, from working as a nurse's aide and watching people die alone and unloved, forgotten by their own children.

I love my country, but sometimes its ease feels very alienating.

I like the diversity of New Jersey. One of my students told me once about escaping his home country with bullets flying at his heels as he ran over a border into the unknown. He was in his mid-fifties, and he had had to leave everything, everything he owned, his status, his family, his language, and run from a police state. He was starting all over with nothing, at a time of life when my American friends look forward to comfortable retirement.

This is why I go ballistic and encounter my inner Grand Inquisitor when I see cute food on Facebook. I know cute food is harmless. I know it's an expression of creativity and love. I look at it, though, and think, "You spent hours putting Reese's peanut butter cups and malted milk balls into the shape of a turkey while there are so many problems in the world???!!!"

And, yes, we all need to escape from the problems in the world, and if a Reese's peanut butter cup shaped like a turkey gets you there, God bless you. I'm just reporting on one of the folds in my perception.

I strive to pray the rosary every day. The first prayer of the rosary is the Apostle's Creed. The first words of that prayer are "I believe in God."

I now stop at those words.

My book "Save Send Delete" is the true story of my yearlong debate about God, and love affair, with a prominent atheist. In the book, I do my best to present my case for faith.

I couldn't write the book now.

I ask myself about discrete elements of Christian faith. Do I believe that Jesus existed? Yes. Do I believe that he died on the cross? Yes. Do I believe that he rose from the dead? More yes than no. Do I believe in God? Probably. Do I believe in life after death? Yes.

What part, then, do I choke on?

That God loves me. Inconceivable.

That my life has any meaning or significance at all.

I find it hard, any more, to pray for myself.


As I scroll down the Facebook feed, I see prayer requests. I want to pray for people.

I stop. I sit still. I acknowledge that I am turned to stone. I pray to transmogrify, even if only for the few moments it takes to pray for a stranger on Facebook. I pray to be able to pray for others. I pray to be able to hope and channel love. I pray.

1 comment:

  1. You still have bad news chips as far as I'm concerned. And if there's a God who can love, he loves you.