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April 16, 2006

Jesuses -- 3: "Bleeding Stinking Mad"


"His black eyes, glassy and still, reflected depth on depth his own stricken image of himself, trudging into the distance in the bleeding stinking mad shadow of Jesus."

That's one heck of a Jesus (or at least one that casts one heck of a shadow), from Flannery O'Connor.

And then O'Connor writes (I was led to these quotes by Garry Wills) that Jesus moves:

"from tree to tree in the back of his mind, a wild ragged figure motioning him to turn around and come off into the dark..."

Got to understand, I guess, if you're in the religion-eradication business, that a lot of the attraction -- beyond the charity, the community and the meaning, beyond even the rapture and the rupture of physical laws, the rupture of history -- is in the "wild ragged," "bleeding stinking" madness of it all.

Where is the atheist who jumps "from tree to tree in back of" the "mind"? Do nonbelievers -- Shelleyans, most of them -- spend too much energy switching on lights? Who whispers -- Sade?, Ivan K.? -- "come off into the dark"?

Is the point that you become -- inevitably -- the opposite of what you are falsely accused of being? Are nonbelievers so concerned with not being seen as dissolute that they seem dull?

Posted by Mitchell Stephens at April 16, 2006 2:44 PM


Absolutely! We waste our time proving them wrong; it is so compelling to try, the facts seem so obvious. But when you are arguing with people who have God's Plan as a fall back, you cannot win and seldom change a mind.

We should celebrate what makes us non-believers: The ability to look at the universe with as little preconception as possible, able to witness creation in ordinary things.

I jump from mountaintops to planets in the back of my mind. Trees, please!
There is nothing as limiting to jumping around in your head than ideology or theology.

We need a disorganized church of disbelief. Gathering only for the fellowship of wonder.
We'll meet wherever we do.

Posted by: Jay Saul at April 16, 2006 6:55 PM

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