Living with the Truth Stranger than Fiction This Is Not About What You Think Milligan and Murphy Making Sense

Sunday, 27 September 2015


After David

I have heard there is a god
who looks for men of crushed spirits.

I don't know where to look for him,

but if he wants to find me
I will not hide.

23 March 1984

The Lord is near to the broken-hearted and saves the crushed in spirit. – Psalm 34:18.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. – Psalm 51:17.

On the surface my poem does seem to be in tune with King David’s thoughts but I actually have it back to front. God was never looking for me. He knew where I was all the time. I, on the other hand, wasn’t looking for him either. Not really. Not sincerely. I studied his Word and enjoyed showing off how knowledgeable I was but although I imply in the poem my spirit had been crushed that really wasn’t the case. Certainly not in 1984. Maybe my spirit was scuffed when I wrote the poem but I had nowhere near hit rock bottom. And even when I did I know I only went through the motions of contrition. It was artificial. But then that covers my whole approach to religion. I expected that by going through the motions I would become… what? Holy? A cat can spend its whole life learning to bark like a dog and wag its tail at all the wrong times but it’ll never become a dog. It’s not enough to do what some religion tells you is right and not to do the things they say are wrong. You need to believe those things are right and wrong.


Years after all this I made a friend online, a woman, who was having an extramarital affair. She was also religious and I was just about to pack it all in. I forget which church she attended but I don’t know any major religion that condones adultery. She had her reasons—my husband doesn’t understand me (I forget the specifics)—but as far as she was concerned God would understand. I said to her, “God might well understand but that doesn’t mean he condones what you’re doing.” She couldn’t handle that. She’d decided what God was like and her God understood, had forgiven her and would continue to forgive her every time she climbed into bed with this guy. Talk about delusional.

I was never that. I just kept practicing my bark and wagging that tail.


Kass said...

In my experience those-of-the-crushed-spirit attract narcissistic users who manipulate and toss people aside when they're done using them. What is this saying about my understanding of the scriptures or God? Like your online friend, I think I make up my own god and enjoy the delusional acceptance I get from him/her. I just don't readily share my delusions.

Jim Murdoch said...

My father told me a story when I was young, Kass. It was about what happened when the USSR outlawed religion. My dad said that people went out into the woods and bowed down to trees. What he was trying to get across to me was Man’s inherent need for guidance from outside himself. Why do we need a god? To tell us what to do, what to think and how to feel about things. My god told me that lesbians were bad people but it was important that I believed they were bad and that was my problem. I could explain back what had been explained to me but, in my heart of hearts, I didn’t buy it. Who were they hurting? The men not laying with men thing I kind of understood. It wasn’t any different from the prohibition on eating pork or touching dead bodies. Nowadays we know about microbes and bacteria and stuff and so we’re careful; we wear rubber gloves and condoms and throw food out when it’s by its sell-by date.

In my book at one point God—yes, God’s a character in my book—says, “Don’t forget I made Man not the other way round. The fact that people model me after what’s become of them is not my fault though it is human…” [bold added]. I don’t get that. If God is real then he’s a person not unlike you or me with feelings and opinions and if we expect to have “a personal relationship” with him (an expression I was always hearing growing up but never understood) then we would have to accept him on his terms. It’s like the girl who expects to change her boyfriend once they’re married, to mould him into an acceptable shape. Well, we all know how that works. I have no problem with people believing in God. But, I say, if you’re going to do it then do it right.

I was told growing up I had a spiritual need and a part of that need involved a desire to worship. I’ve never felt anything like that. Religion was an academic subject, a thing to be studied. I know, for example, the Bible foretold a time “when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.” (2 Timothy 4:3) They want to model God in their image. Well, I can’t be bothered with any of it any more. The only sense of loss I feel is the loss of family and friends. I could play the prodigal and they’d welcome me with open arms (they’re scripturally obliged to) but I wouldn’t be able to be the kind of person they’d expect me to be. I could fake it which it what I did in the eighties but a forgery will always be a forgery, no matter how convincing it is.

Gwil W said...

In the end
dog created nam.
In his own image
created he him

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