Are You an Atheist?
Dear old and new friends,
A recent poll by the New York Times asked the question, “Do you believe in God?” The published results showed that 36% said yes, while 25% answered not sure, and 39% saying they did not believe in God. The atheists win! If you were asked that same question, how would you answer? As for me personally, I don’t believe in God.
At least I don’t believe in the God of the Biblical book of Joshua who commanded Joshua in capturing Canaan to slaughter every man, woman and child! I’m an atheist of the God of Leviticus who condemned as an abomination the love expressed with another of the same sex. Among that 39%, I’m also a nonbeliever in the gods of success and war, of winning at any cost, and the fat cat gods of Wall Street and the marketplace.
As a growing number of people lose their belief in God, the brilliant scholar Teilhard de Chardin worried that “…humanity losing its faith in God would also lose a zest for living.” Now faith is invisible, yet in observing people while shopping or in passing on the street I don’t see many faces expressing happiness or a zest in life. The majority of faces appear worried, often angry, and empty of any expression. Yet at the same time there are two occasions when people seem vivacious; first, those animated by their city’s football team winning a big game, and second, those at rock concerts (whose frenetic joyousness might be attributed to ear-blasting loud music and/or perhaps drugs and alcohol).
Catch quick glimpses of your face in store windows and mirrors, and see if unconsciously your face appears as worried, hassled or glum. If the other faces we see in daily occasions seldom reflect an enjoyment or gusto for life, is this because of “their or your” God? In which God do you believe? The one of the Catechism, or maybe the one of your race, religion or nationality? The only true God who enthusiastically gives life is the God of Love. Enthusiasm (en = “in” + theos = “God”) is being inhabited by God within you! Constantly being conscious of that innermost Presence of Love inspires living in a delight that can’t be hidden.
Zorba, a fictional character based on a real person, for me manifests zest for life. Zorba the Greek is Nikos Kazantzakis’s great novel about a scholarly, withdrawn and shy Englishman who hires a burley Greek named Zorba as a worker, who then increasingly becomes his mentor on living life with zestful passion. Zorba refers to the Englishman as “Boss,” and once while he is away he writes him this letter about his abundant enjoyment in life. “Boss, in my contract with life, I let the brakes off when I get to the most dangerous slopes. The life of a man is a road with steep rises and dips. All sensible people use their brakes, but Boss I did away with my brakes altogether a long time ago, because I’m not afraid of a jolt. When a machine goes off the rails we mechanics call that “a jolt!” The devil knows if I take any notice of the jolts I get. Day and night, I go full steam ahead, doing just what I like…. Every man has his folly, but the greatest folly of all in my view is not to have one.”
Believe in the God of Love...and experiment not using your brakes!