For all I’ve read, for all I’ve prayed, I’ve never found truth or beauty
in Christianity. I remain a skeptic.
This will surprise some people who’ve simply assumed I must be
Christian. I know it saddens loving Christian friends who want me to share
their views. Perhaps it will hearten freedom loving agnostics, pagans,
Jews, Moslems, Taoists, and atheists, who sometimes feel the sting of being
disregarded minorities in the freedom movement.
It will certainly outrage the You-Must-Be-Christian-or-Else
folks, who I know from experience will now hold me and all my works in
contempt. But then, neither they nor I will regret that loss of esteem.
I don’t write about my disbelief to disparage Christianity, and
certainly not to disparage it on the eve of its high holy day. If friends
have found their deepest truth in Jesus, they have my respect. But while
they have found a spiritual home, the holiest thing I have glimpsed is a
spiritual journey. On the voyage to wherever my spirit is traveling,
this moment is also sacred to me.
To me the holiest life is one that seeks to know — and to do — what is
true. Always. To settle for nothing less than the deepest answers to the
most far-reaching questions, and then to act upon that most profound
knowledge. Or, if one can’t reach that goal, to remain on the quest for the
Ultimate, forever if need be — with great passion, and without hypocrisy,
compromise, or comforting self-delusion.
I have, all my life, seen something on my soul’s horizon that I cannot
identify in mundane terms, and that I will not turn away from.
I first glimpsed it when I was 5. On one hand, I was sent to Sunday
school, where I was alternately bored and terrified — and nothing more. On
the other, I had my first foreshadowing of a mystical experience, sitting
not in a church, but in my parents’ living room. I was trying to reason out
the questions, “If God created everything, then where was God before there
was anywhere for him to be? And how could God live, if nothing lived?”
Again and again, I cast my mind into the Mobius loop of those ponderings.
It was my first encounter with the limitations of imagination. Rationally,
I had no answers — or the rational answer might have been, as Ayn Rand
wrote, “Contradictions don’t exist. … Check your premises.” But the answers
became secondary to the experience. I found it dazzling to launch my mind
and heart out so far from everyday reality, to enter realms I’d never
guessed existed, to seek and glimpse some aspect of divine nature beyond
the dreary, wonder-killing lessons of Sunday school. I hung suspended on
the edge of an aura of glory; I soared among intellectual and spiritual
stars, trying to contemplate the uncontemplatable, and to do it with a
five-year-young brain — dazzled and reeling, and smiling for joy that I had
a mind that could conceive such vastness. It was much later that I first
heard the word “infinity.” But I had glimpsed it that morning and from then
on I knew it lived inside me, somewhere. And I knew that the divine –
whatever its nature — was somewhere out there in the reaches of infinity.
The concept of the divine has always seemed too large to squeeze into
any dogma, theology, commandment, doctrine, sect, or scripture any human
could ever conceive – even the most inspired human. So when it comes to
religion, I must agree with the scientist J.B.S. Haldane, who went Hamlet
one better when he said, “There are more things in heaven and earth than
are dreamt of in any philosophy. That is why I have no philosophy myself,
and must be my excuse for dreaming.”
For dreaming. And for freedom.
Although I do have a philosophy for living among my fellow
humans, I have never seen a religion that had the power to encompass even my dimmest vision of the divine. I have never glimpsed even a flicker of divinity in the orders, rules, threats, punishments, comforts, or promises of religion. The closest I can come to the divine is — no great
surprise from a writer — in metaphor: Infinite and glorious, boundless,
luminous, timeless, hallowed, sacred, radiant, centered, exalted, profound,
numinous, immutable, and grand — grand beyond words.
Sometimes people express yearning toward the divine in terms of height
or flight, vastness or power. But most often, we speak in terms of light:
radiant, glowing, blinding, golden, resplendent, emanation, star of wonder,
star of the sea, light of the world. Metaphors of divine light long ago
became cliches. But for all my way with language, I can do no better than
millions have done, as they attempted to describe the indescribable. For
lack of adequate terms, what I perceive out there beyond infinity is
A radiance toward which any seeking human soul can journey. Not a
radiance for an “enlightened” few. But a more-than-solar glow to lighten
the heart and brighten the spirit of our entire species, if we care.
And so, this season of year is holiest of all…when darkness lies upon
us late into the morning and reaches shadowy fingers into the
afternoon … but we know the world is about to turn again toward the endless brightness of summer days, however distant they may now seem. We know we can also turn toward illumination of the soul, however bleak the moment. To you, perhaps, this becomes the time when a savior was born to rescue you from the darkness of Satan and your sinful nature. I don’t feel that I have a sinful nature, merely a human one, for good or ill — the nature I presume God gave me. To me, this season is emblematic of moving toward the radiance — the radiance of the divine, but also the radiance of what the human spirit has the potential to be.
And if we are to move toward, then nothing but freedom will do. No hobbles of the spirit are tolerable. Our hearts, souls, and minds must be unleashed and unhampered, to enable us to move toward our perception of the right. Others have observed this before me; but without choices, we cannot be ethical beings — moral beings, if you prefer. We cannot be fully human, therefore we cannot seek the divine with all our capabilities, if we only follow orders, or only let ourselves ape the views espoused by popes or
kings, writers or Sunday school teachers, presidents or media moguls.
Besides being in the dark of the year, we are in a time when the shadow
of tyranny looms over the land that was once the star of the world. I have
never felt such terror as I feel when I think of the plans our “leaders”
have in store to control our lives in the near future. And yet, because
this is such a dark time, it is also a time of hope. It is a time when we
may be spurred, out of a dreadful fear of loss, to reject the shoddy gilt
offered by the false God of government power — a God who will only,
ultimately, envelop us in the darkness of dependency — and move toward the genuine radiance of freedom again.
So this is my goal, in this season of light, and in this vast, varied
and growing freedom movement. To be free to strive toward the radiance of
truth with all that is human and conscious within me. With my mind as well
as my soul. With my body as well as my spirit. To strive toward the
radiance of the divine, and the radiance of the best human soul I can be.
Better yet if I can inspire a few others on their journeys.
Many of my friends in the patriot movement say, “Freedom comes from
God.” I don’t know that for sure. I do know, though, that we must have
freedom if we are to move toward God. On a journey to the Ultimate, ultimately we can allow no barriers to hinder our way.