I don't know what any of y'all's relationship to the Bible is. I was forced to read most of it as a child, and when I bailed out of the Mormon Church at 14 , I didn't crack a bible again for 25 years. I don't believe in supernatural phenomena, at all. The world is all that the case is, yadda yadda. But -- I am an incipient mystic. I experience awe in my life, and hold all I see around me holy. Maybe it's just chemicals in my temporal lobe, but the whole business with the plastic bag caught by the wind in "American Beauty" is the sort of experience I have often. So I don't believe in God as this guy somewhere holding shit down, but I believe the all, the world that is the case, the universe, whatever, is on some level benevolent.
Our very existence is so completely contingent on improbable events, it would seem that the Universe likes us. That's what physicists call the Anthropic principles -- the physical laws of the universe are full of arbitrary constants such that if any one of them were changed by epsilon, we wouldn't be possible. So the Universe likes us, and my form of worship is to like it right back.
Anyway, the Bible -- my mystical impulse has been tweaked by having Bible verses come at me multiple times from different places. And I've had two different verses come at me from unrelated places in the past week. So whatever -- does this 'mean' anything? Who knows! It feels like it means something, and you can do worse than to follow your feelings ... but the two Bible passages:
1st Corinthians Chapter 13:
13:12 For now we see in a mirror, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know fully even as also I was fully known.
13:13 But now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
All of 1Corinthians13 is about love, but in particular Karitas, mistranslated as Charity in KJV -- the best translation of the word is in a weird Bible they have at Quaker Meeting, where it's translated as 'LovingKindness.' I heard this from Bill Clinton at his lecture here a couple months ago, and my brother-in-law cites it in a letter sent to my son Sean on the occasion of his high school graduation, as blanket advice.
But here's my exigesis on it: "We see through a mirror darkly" -- this is Plato's Cave in full effect. We're dependent on our flawed senses and sack-o-mush brains to understand reality, and the only thing you can know for sure is that you don't know anything for sure. "But then face to face" -- Paul's idea is that when we die we'll apprehend reality/God directly. Not sold on that but hey, Death's an event horizon. Whether it's the end of us isn't a decidable proposition.
But then Paul makes a leap: "But now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is love." Faith and Hope -- to Paul Faith in God and Hope for the Future, for me, faith in an at least nominally benevolent universe. Love -- Charity, Karitas, LovingKindness -- which means taking care of and cherishing each other. These things abide -- they're constants in a world of change and pervasive uncertainty. Faith,Hope and LovingKindess. You can do a lot worse than to live by them.
1Corinthians13 is cool because it's very Buddhist. The Dalai Lama's whole message -- if you bother to check it out -- is encapsulated pretty well in it.
The other verse coming at me from two ways -- in another letter to Sean, and from Terrence Parker:
Proverbs 3: 5-6
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own
understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy
This one is a little harder for us PostModern Agnostic Buddhist Starbucks philosophers to swallow, but bear with me -- it ties back to Paul -- "Lean not unto thine own understanding." Again a call to not be so damn sure of ourselves. "Trust in the Lord" -- like Paul on Faith. What this says to me is that again, you don't know anything for certain, but in this contingent universe, the fact you're here means that the universe is manifestly benovolent to YOU PERSONALLY.
So treat everyone with loving kindness, to the best of your ability, know you don't have the big picture, and let your feet find the path that's laid before you. Celebrate and venerate the world around you as blessed and holy, because in a universe that's overwhelmingly vacuum and hard radiation, at least for a while you're being sheltered and nurtured by SOMETHING, call it God if you like, or don't call it anything. God don't care -- he's very patient.