Absurdism

Day 92

(This would have gone up on Sunday, June 15, 2014. I’m going to go ahead and write it based on that day.)

So today was awesome. My partner’s brother got married, and it was a beautiful ceremony held at a vineyard in a little mountain town. Beautiful lights, dinner right at sunset, the whole thing was lovely. Oh, and an open bar.

(Lordy. A quick Google image search for “happy drunk” turned up like 7 NSFW pictures, and that was just in the most immediate results.)

It was interesting because the ceremony was a Christian one, and I was reasonably sure her brother was not Christian. I talked to him afterwards; he is not. But apparently the family of the bride is, and her mother overrode a great deal of their wedding decisions. He said that if it been his choice, he would have had either me, or a Buddhist monk. I would have been honored, but c’est la vie.

I really like officiating weddings because it is such a beautiful moment between two people. I suppose that’s the same reason I like attending weddings. That and all the free food/alcohol. But seriously, it is a beautiful moment in what one can only hope is a long and happy marriage. For the most part, barring family drama, everyone at a wedding is happy and joyous, especially at a beautiful venue like a mountain vineyard. The last wedding I attended, also the last one I officiated, was on a steamboat on a lake. We caught the sunset there as well and watched that orange light gleam down through the canyons.

Simply magnificent.

There must be some reason that God made me find so much joy and beauty in nature, but I’m not sure where that will go yet. I suppose out in the woods is where I found Him, so that’s as good a reason as any (and a better reason than most). It’s weird because out in the woods with my friends, I had no desire to write like this, but I did read the Bible. Perhaps a reminder not to get too caught up in the interpretation?

If I ever become one of those legalistic people who, as C. S. Lewis puts it,

“[are] so preoccupied with spreading Christianity that they never gave a thought to Christ,”

then just put me down. He rails as well in the same breath at

“men… who got so interested in proving the existence of God that they came to care nothing for God himself… as if the good Lord had nothing to do but to exist.”

Maybe this is why I find comfort in absurdist philosophy; seeing the illogic, the impossibility of any concrete foundation… perhaps in a way this is my defense against becoming too moralistic or legalistic with my faith. Or perhaps I’m just being a prideful jackass who needs to shut up. 😛

Who knows.


Leviticus 2

Honestly, this chapter is about how you offer your baked goods to God. Let me tell you, it is quite possibly the most exciting chapter in the Bible.

Make sure to add oil and salt to your pita bread/cake/flatbread/whatever before giving it to God, kiddos!

Wowsers. Even my partner said some of this stuff was boring.

Peace be upon you.

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Day 7

You know, I really hope when this goes live, that I can still find the font I like. (Update: Nope.)

My partner is resting in the other room. She still doesn’t know about this project because I don’t want to the pressure yet of her reading it. But this means I have to work quickly.

While doing some cleaning this past week, I found my copy of The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays by Albert Camus. Two confessions:

  1. I have not actually read any of the other essays because they are not nearly as exciting or as engaging as The Myth of Sisyphus.
  2. Even though I know he is French, I almost cannot help pronouncing his first name with a hard “T” sound and his last name as “CAY-muss.” Somehow, “Cah-MOO” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

But anyway, finding this book and reading it has helped me, at least partially, to resolve my crisis of faith by re-solidifying my position as an absurdist. For those not familiar, there are roughly three schools of philosophical thought when it comes to the meaning of life and the universe. I know there are probably more but I will break it down simply:

  1. Existentialism: There is some meaning to life/the universe.
  2. Nihilism: Nothing means anything.
  3. Absurdism: Who can tell?

This is basically a great oversimplification, as existentialism actually posits a more human- and individual-focused philosophy, and there are often more facets to nihilism… but for my purposes, this is sufficient.

Absurdism basically recognizes that man is or feels essentially alone in a confusing universe that appears to be devoid of meaning. The absurd condition is not an inherent property of the universe, nor is it a property of man, but rather it arises seemingly naturally from man’s existence within the universe. The absurd is what arises when man tries to find objective meaning and comes up with nothing. Camus writes that there are two ways of escaping this: hope, and suicide.

But neither is necessary! He says instead embrace the absurd, be comfortable with “those waterless deserts where thought reaches its confines.” Many try their best to escape, or to quit their lives and end the confusion, but Camus writes that “[t]he real effort is to stay there, rather, in so far as that is possible, and to examine closely the odd vegetation of those distant regions.” I just love his writing. If I knew French, I would read it in French.

Odd Vegetation

After beginning again The Myth of Sisyphus I was plunged back into awareness of the absurd and I reveled in it. I forgot what it felt like to be free. My entire crisis of faith revolved around my trying to escape the desert, but what I really needed to do was embrace it.

Do I believe in God? No. I am aware of God and I know that God exists in some form. But God is neither an escape nor a diversion for me. My particular spirituality, which I feel I will need to explain soon, is based on nothing but my personal experience. It works because it works for me. It does not help me escape absurdity because that is not my goal, but it does help me make the most of my life. Spirituality is important for me, but I’m happy to remember the absurd and the place that it has for my personal philosophy. I am happy to remember it, happy to stop clawing for hope and escape.

I am happy to bask in the desert.

Genesis 7

I feel like this is a chapter that I don’t need to talk a great deal about. I’m sure the Matthew Henry Commentary (who is that guy, anyway?) has plenty to say that has much more Biblical pertinence than my ramblings here. But regardless, here we have the beginning of the flood.

I read somewhere that the number “forty” was often used to simply mean “a big number.” This could possibly be the case. God tells Noah in Genesis 7:4 that He “will cause it to rain on the earth forty days and forty nights.”

Either way, that is a long time. So on whatever the ancient equivalent of February 17th was, “all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened” (Genesis 7:11). This seems to correspond to the old Hebrew mythology I read about yesterday that describes the Earth floating in the midst of waters both above and below. Because in the real world… where would all this water come from? Where would it go afterwards? On the other hand, I think some scientific something-or-other just found a bunch of water trapped underground somehow. Or maybe that was oil. If I find what I’m thinking of I’ll come back and post a link.

But seriously. The Bible says that “all the high hills under the whole heaven were covered” (Genesis 7:19). Even Everest? Because that is a s***load of water.

Genesis 7 ends with Gen 7:24, where the Bible tells us that “the waters prevailed on the earth one hundred and fifty days.”

I always heard the bit about the forty days and nights of rain, but I didn’t realize it was literally five months at sea. Noah gives Kevin Costner a run for his money.

Why the neck flaps?

“You son of a bitch! Let me out of this movie!” ¹

So God destroys all of man (and possibly those pesky giants) and “all living things which were on the face of the ground” (Genesis 7:23). Fun times!

I still think the Noah story is an important story but that it is mostly based on myth and speculation likely stemming from the fact that ancient peoples could see that at one point there had been water-dwelling creatures where there is now land. There may very well be some basis in fact, perhaps related to a filling of the Persian Gulf after the last ice age, but at this point it seems impossible to tell.

Also, my partner is up and about, and besides that I’ve said just about all I want to say today regarding Genesis 7. I’ll touch on the conclusion of the flood tomorrow and go from there. Soon, I plunge into uncharted Biblical territory. Thus far, everything has been fairly familiar. I’m excited to head into parts unknown (to me, anyway), and I hope you’re excited to join me!

Have a wonderful day, dear readers.

Peace be upon you.

¹ Waterworld, 1995 Universal Pictures, from http://moviecultists.com/2010/03/01/cult-movies-to-watch-waterworld/waterworld-kevin-costner-mariner/