I had a transformative spiritual experience recently. I was driving from Las Vegas to Phoenix (about a 6 hour drive) alone on a beautiful day. I found myself surrounded by the desert, mountain valley after valley moving behind me, as I drove through this incredible landscape.
An environment which is conducive to reflection, that’s for sure. I found myself replaying in my mind an email conversation that I had with my Christian friend Ray, in which he stated that I “blamed God for all the negative things in the law”. As well as the atrocities committed in the name of Jesus by the Christian church, etc.
I realized that I did not think I really blamed God for these things. But that’s a natural mistake on Ray’s part. He was thinking as he is: A Diest Christian. So he has a personal relationship with his Creator. Most days these days, I am agnostic. Certainly I know at this point in the core of my being that the existence or non-existence of God is an unknowable fact. Certainly not knowable by me, that’s for sure! So I do not know, and cannot know, if I am in a relationship with my Creator. Thus, it would be very difficult for me to blame Him for things of which I don’t believe He is is capable. No. I think that the negative things in the bible and the acts of men in His name are simply acts of human beings. Perhaps acting under a particularly ugly form of delusion. But acts of man nonetheless.
That led to the question: So why is it that I am so pissed off about the law? Why do I get so incensed about the stupid, evil, racist, misogynistic, cruel and inhumane stuff in the law? I mean, beyond normal incredulity at the insanity which is the biblical law. Certainly, my ire seemed to me to be more intense than most folks in our time and culture.
And then I figured it out. What I was angry at was not the law. What I was angry at was sin.
Here is what the idea of sin says: The creator of the universe hates me. And He wants to kill me. And after that, he is going to put me in a terrible place when I die, where he has legions of demons who will torture me to death continuously. Although I won’t be able to die. So the suffering will go on and on and on.
And the only way out of this inevitable abyss (about which I have nothing to say, by the way) is to accept that this same Creator took his own son and tortured him terribly instead. And then if I believed, really believed, all of that, I would be saved, and God would not want to kill and damn me anymore.
Once I got my arms completely around that idea, I did get a bit pissed. I realized the real problem with traditional religion in all of its forms is this very thing: The idea of sin.
So I let it fall away. I simply determined at that moment that I am not a sinner. I have not displeased the Creator in any way. This does not mean that I am perfect. Far from it. It simply means that there is no divinely prescribed code of behavior for humans to follow, the violation of which brings divine ire. I have the right to live my own life, in what ever manner I see fit. I am both responsible and free.
This revelation (if you can call it that) was followed by several hours of driving through an incredible desert landscape with tears streaming down my face as I was bathed in an incredible feeling of love.
Was I visited by God? I don’t know. It certainly felt like it. I have been different from that day. I can feel the difference. It is quite weird, and a bit scary. But I would not want to go back to the way I was before.