Out of body, as I write this

The Pietà (1599–1600) by Annibale Carracci (1560–1609)

Right. So it’s weird to type, “Shhh: it’s Black Saturday,” and then start typing. [Um. Yeah. It's now 10:44 p.m. Saturday night, and I just now realized that this opening sentence makes no sense if you don't know---and, of course, no one but me could know---that the original title of this piece was, Shhh: it's Black Saturday.] It’s like going, “Let us now have a moment of silence to commemorate the death of our great friend. So the other day I was walking by this newsstand, when …”

Wouldn’t that suck?

So if I could, just real quickly: I hate Good Friday. Every year on that day before I’m even awake I sink into this bottomless funk that basically leaves me lying on the couch all day watching TV, endlessly eating … well, yesterday it was Trader Joe’s Triple Ginger Snaps (mmmmm … delicious Trader Joe’s Triple Ginger Snaps while your soul breaks down because you can’t handle the savior of the universe being beaten, flayed alive, and nailed on a cross), wondering what the [bad word] is wrong with me, my life, and everything in the entire [bad wording] universe.

Ugh. The worst. And while it’s happening I never think that I’m feeling as I do because it’s “Good” (wtf is up with that?) Friday. I never go, “Oh, that’s right. How would I not be depressed today?” I always just think, “Screw it. Life is a pus-filled waste. I give up.” Then, the next day, I’m all “What the [bad word] was that? Oh, that’s right. It was ‘Good’ Friday.”

Last night I slept nine hours. It would be impossible for me to express how rare that is in my life. Pretty much every night of my life I sleep four hours; every once in a while, if for some reason I’m crazy exhausted, I’ll sleep for six. That happens maybe six times a year. For me to sleep for nine hours straight is like … King Kong knitting a pair of booties, or … I dunno, Frankenstein skipping rope. In my world, it’s as if a full moon suddenly shot across the sky and, billiards-ball style, knocked the sun right out of the sky.

And now here it is, Holy Saturday (a.k.a. “Black Saturday”). This is the day where the body of Jesus Christ is lying perfectly still in the dank darkness of his hillside tomb.

Today I’m experiencing deafness. It’s like I can’t hear. I can hear: my ears still work. But it’s as if time has so radically slowed that the space between all the sounds I hear extends for so long that essentially I’m living in silence. And the sounds I do hear are so muffled that it’s as if I’m hearing them through some sort of thick walls. It’s like I put in ear plugs and stepped into The Land That Time Forgot—or like my brain has shrunk into a tenth of its normal size, so that now to reach it all sounds have to travel through all this extra gooey fluid.

It’s not unpleasant, exactly. If I had to live like this, I guess … well, for one, I guess eventually fungus would start growing on me, because I can also barely move. The whole time I’ve been writing this I’ve been leaning my head to the right, and I haven’t moved it since. I know my neck must be killing me. But I can’t feel it.

Honestly, it’s like I’m absolutely numb everywhere but my fingers. My experience is that I’m a million miles away, yet somehow, from somewhere inside my head, am watching letters and words magically unscroll upon my screen.

I think this is the most out-of-body experience I’ve ever had. Except this happened to me before; I lived in this state while writing my book “Penguins, Pain and the Whole Shebang.”

Awful. Or awesome. I dunno. Whatever.

Anyway, just wanted to check in, send love, send … well, love. If you’re out there, and you’re reading this, and you’re Christian: God bless you. God bless you, and yours, and the people who are yours that you haven’t even met yet. God is with you, even now. Perhaps now more than ever.

If you’re not a Christian, God bless you, too! Today I cannot make that divide. (I never make that divide, actually. I don’t care if a person is or isn’t Christian. I care if they’re okay, of course. I care if I can help make them okay, if they’re not. Beyond that, I’m out.)

One love, yes? Yes.

Yes. Yes.

Yes.

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • Deb Fullwood via Facebook

    beautiful summation of the day

  • Adara Pallady via Facebook

    Me too John.

  • DR

    I have the same experience with Good Friday. It’s devastating and heavy for me. I have this odd feeling that between 12-3, I want to sit quietly, imagining that I’m with Him while He is suffering so He doesn’t have to be all alone.

    I remember being on Caltrain 4 years ago when I had this thought slam into my brain: What if Jesus, in that moment in the garden, had started to lose connection with the Father already? What if He believed that He was going to do this and lose his relationship with the Father forever? The immensity of the sacrifice hit me like a ton of bricks. I don’t know if that’s true but it hit me so powerfully.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      what an extremely rich thought, dr

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Anita-Baker-Gillette/100000188333213 Anita Baker Gillette via Facebook

    Awesome John. It’s great to know that people really do feel this day as deeply as we ought. I wrote my status today about the grieving friends and family of Jesus on this day back then and how they must have felt not knowing. At least we know. What a blessing to know.

  • http://www.sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

    I don’t think I’ve ever had any kind of “profound spiritual-grief” experience like this… I don’t think it would be good for me today, since I need to work, not that I haven’t worked depressed. I think God knows I cannot handle such a thing, as what you described is similar to what I experience in some measure most days due to the mixed-state/rapid cycling bipolar disorder. I may introvertedly ensconce myself, but I’m still constantly thinking about the pain and injustice in the world and my general powerlessness…

    I was reading stuff online – blogs, aritcles on Good Friday and the Long Dark Saturday… I read a beautful piece from a favorite blogger who posts the same thing every year (then read comments by some of his non-believer fans who somehow decided that it was a good idea to scold him for the idea that God will make things right in the world instead of Man). I read a blog linked in another post regarding “eternity and the here and now” by a Universalist who doubts the afterlife…

    And while I relate… I have doubts about things I believe, I found myself crying at both of these things because, you know, while it is a beatiful sentiment that it is up to us in the here and now to create “eternal life” and to fill those hungry for righteousness, I can’t help but think that if there is no Ressurection, that all those people Jesus was talking to about their desire for righteousness being filled, the meek inheriting the earth and all that were being lied to because generations of meek people have died without seeing the earth become theirs and if death is all there is, then… poop.

    It is in mankind’s power to prevent another Holocaust. It is not in mankind’s power to bring the victims back and dry their eyes. I want nothing less and I hope for nothing less.

    And when told that I *cannot* have that hope, I start thinking about giving up, making myself among those who will never see it, because I don’t expect to see a world of perfect justice and peace if dead is dead and it’s all on Humanity.

    Sorry for putting my depression on everyone. In some ways, existance itself just makes me angry.

    • Diana A.

      “It is in mankind’s power to prevent another Holocaust. It is not in mankind’s power to bring the victims back and dry their eyes. I want nothing less and I hope for nothing less.”

      Me too, Shadsie! Me too!

    • Donald Rappe

      I love your comments Shadsie!

  • Linda

    John,

    What if he wasn’t the savior o the universe? What if he was just a regualr good guy who got caught up in some politcal trap and got crucified for being just a good social activist? Would everyone feel so bad about it then? HHHHMMMMM…….

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Brilliant thought, Linda. You know, I think you just might be right! I think it just might be possible that every year, for two thousand years, millions upon millions of people would NOT mourn for a Jewish social activist put to death by a local Roman prefect—unless they believed him to be God incarnate. Then they would!

      But if they didn’t, they wouldn’t!

      Again: Great point!

      Please don’t hesitate to share here again any ideas you have that are as illuminating, insightful, and sensitive as this one.

    • DR

      Linda, the obvious answer to the obvious question is no – people probably wouldn’t remember a social activist. We don’t think for more than 5 minutes past the end of our respective noses so this question has a built-in answer already. But you knew that, I suspect. Perhaps this was just your way of giving a little dig to the Christians which if that’s true who cares – that’s fine – we deserve a lot of digs. But to do so on one of our most holiest holidays is awfully tacky. Hopefully I’ve got it all wrong.

    • Donald Rappe

      What if savior of the universe and good social activist are two different was of looking at the same facts?

  • http://aceworldwideservices.com/ Ian Draper

    This time of the year and the first death of Christ is both moving and revealing as it has been for the past 22 years as the spirit gets stronger in me. The path God chose for me was neither clear or certain way back in 1990 when l started to see the light. Now after all these years l have come to realise as Christians say that the death of Christ was just the beginning not the End. So Easter now fills me with hope for the world and not as it did before God spoke to me with dread. God Bless you All Amen.

  • Jason L.

    Sharing honest doubts with the Lord, and honest feelings of emptiness , could be a better way of honoring God , than adopting platitudes of so-called “positive attitude” .

    The essay you wrote, sir, is indeed fascinating .

    The simile of trying to feel the holiday being as daunting for you this current year as Frankenstein skipping rope was very pithy .

    Nonetheless, an early Happy Easter to you , Mr. Shore .

    May Jesus bless you and everyone here !

  • Jason L.

    That scenario about the garden of Gethsemane , and the prospect that Jesus may have feared for the worst , is an edifying matter to contemplate DR .

    Jesus felt so many profound feelings .

    The most remarkable statement from Jesus while he was on the cross , even more remarkable than him asking the Father to forgive those who reviled and mocked him , was when he said to the women in the crowd who were weeping for him ,

    ‘Daughters of Jersusalem , weep not for me . Weep for yourselves and your children . For if they do these things in a green tree , what will be done in a dry tree ? ‘

    Jesus thus presented a thought so self-effacing that , even while in the midst of a horrifying and dreary ordeal of death, he was more interested in sympathetic regard being shown to the people that the corrupt leaders would one day persecute in the decades following his crucifixion , than he was about himself .

    That makes him all the more worthy of earnest adoration from us , that he was so self-effacing .

  • Brighid Rose

    you know what i think is beautiful about this? that you so deeply feel that heart and soul connection with your beliefs that is does effect your daily life. i have known so many people who, at the best, carry their beliefs on the surface. you FEEL it. that, my friend, is a beautiful and rare thing. one love <3

  • Mary Wisner Miller via Facebook

    For some odd reason, I always love it when you tell us what you’re eating.

  • Amanda

    This is interesting… I’m the opposite. I find myself going through the day as if nothing is different, except the extra church services, then from time to time realize “oh wait, today is ____”. Then I feel guilty that I don’t, well, feel guilty or something. Each year I try to set time apart, but it never seems to work aside from the time I’m actually in church. It’s like I can’t quite wrap my head around it and to avoid trying to figure it out I ignore it, or something like that. Huh.

  • Donald Rappe

    Yesterday, I learned that Mexicans call this day “sabado glorioso”. I’m still trying to wrap my head around that. I’m guessing it may have something to do with the vigil of Easter and the coming of the new fire. I didn’t get my resentments in in time for burning, but, due to this blog, I have figured out what some of them are. Now, if I can turn them over to a power greater than myself, …

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Don: yes, there’s still time; I’ll be preparing them this evening.

  • http://www.facebook.com/JohnShoreFans John Shore via Facebook

    REALLY? That’s … odd. But, okay: right now I’m eating a handful of raw nuts I bought at Trader Joe’s, and a cup of Good Earth tea. Huh? Huh? Pretty exciting, right? And SOON I’ll be eating a burrito I’ll make out of beans, cheese, red bell peppers, organic lettuce (all stuff I bought at TJ’s), and some Barbara’s Fresh Mango Salsa. I’m gonna REALLY want a beer with that; the vital question is whether or not I’ll want one bad enough to actually walk to the store to get it. If I DO, though, I’ll be buying a six-pack of Karl Strauss Red Trolley Ale.

    It WAS weirdly fun telling you that! (Thanks, Mary. You’ve been a great friend of my stuff for a long time now.)

  • Mary Wisner Miller via Facebook

    num…prayin’ for you daily, my friend. Someday I must make the 50-mile trip to a Trader Joes.

  • Kathy Carrasco via Facebook

    Oh. maaaaannnn. Mary, if TJ’s was only 50 miles from here, I’d be shopping there every other weekend! But alas, it’s nearly 200 miles–each way. So it’s an occasional thing, and do I ever stock up! :)

  • Mary Wisner Miller via Facebook

    Lest you think I’m really weird, I used to be a food writer.

  • http://www.exilemusings.blog.com Amaranth

    As both a writer and an agnostic, Holy Week and Black Saturday in particular is really the only part of Christianity that I relate to, most of the time.

    I feel like there’s a lot of similarity between Black Saturday and the concept of a “dark night of the soul”…though Black Saturday is much worse. Because it’s not just your own personal faith that’s in crisis. Black Saturday is the one day of the year when God himself is dead. Even from a non-Christian perspective, just thinking about all the individual human faith and spirit and passion and sacrifice that has been poured into the concept of GOD, and for that God to be *dead*, even for a day…that’s heavy. And if you *are* Christian, if that God is someone you’ve come to know and love more than anything else on this earth…

    As a writer I’ve learned that without conflict you don’t have a story, and that the only way to really see what your characters are made of is to drag them through hell and see if they come through it alive. And I admit, Black Saturdays make the most potent hells. From a literary perspective, it’s the most interesting day of the year.

    The Savior is dead, and for one whole day, you don’t know if he’s really coming back. You can *hope*, you can *believe*, but you don’t *know*. It’s a long, dark chasm to stare down. You have to face the possibility that he may not come back, that it’s all over, that you’ll have to go on without him.

    Can you?

    Can you still believe in and live for the things God stands for if that God is dead? If he never existed at all? It’s not an easy thing to die for the living. How much harder is it, then, for those left behind to live for the dead? I ask myself this all the time. (Not surprisingly, one of my favorite characters in all of literature is Puddleglum.)

    I suppose I identify with Black Saturday because as an agnostic, that’s where my perspective begins and ends. Able to hope, able to live as though I believe, but always mindful of the chasm at my back where everything falls apart and everything I think I know is ripped away from me, hung on a cross, and killed. And part of that mindfulness is knowing I have the strength to walk away from the crucifixion without any assurance of the resurrection. I hope it happens. But I cannot allow myself to forget that it may not. I cannot allow myself to forget that I may need to carry on without it.


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