The Prophet and the Preacher

But thus saith the Preacher: If you find the hole will you have the courage to place your finger there? If you seek a wound you may find one. Are you willing not only to touch a wound, but be wounded yourself in your pursuit of love and truth? And once you are wounded by the burning wound you have touched will you be able to say “My Lord and my God’? That is the interesting question to me.

Also the prophet John Cantor spake: “I’m not an atheist because I got anger management problems, I’m an atheist because nothing need be said beyond ‘god is love.’

Thus saith the Preacher: The prophet, like most prophets, is both right and wrong. Right because indeed nothing else need be said but “God is Love” for everything is contained in that mystic phrase and everything flows from that mystic phrase. This is the Truth that moves the sun and the other stars. This is the foundation of all things.

However, the human mind and soul wants to explore that mystery. Indeed he was created to know that Love and be catapulted into it forever. He was made to launch into the unknown and fragrant lands of Love, but to do this he needs a map and so religion (frail and magnificent though it be) provides a map for that mystical journey–and not only a map, but a fellowship of travelers. The map may be flawed and incomplete and the fellowship of travelers may be a rag tag band of rogues, but such a plan is better than traveling alone and without a map.

Also the prophet says, “Hell is a completely absurd concept.”

The Preacher replies: Hell is indeed absurd because in Hell all logic and reason is absent for they are qualities of the light. All  evil is absurd for it is the repudiation of truth, and hell is the consolidation of evil. The horror of hell is that it is absurd. One of the terrors and torments will be that in that place there will be no reasoning and therefore no argument. The darkness will be complete.

However, this is not what the Prophet John Cantor meant when he proclaimed that Hell is an absurd concept. He meant that the idea of hell has no meaning, and if not meaning then no possibility.

Here we must quibble and ask for distinctions. Certainly the concept of hell as popularly preached or popularly misunderstood is a horror and a joke. However there are many concepts and explanations of the theory and theology of judgement and hell fits into those theories and theologies very logically. So we must say that hell is not necessarily, on it’s own absurd. There are very logical (and even beautiful) descriptions of what hell might be–one may not believe in them, but they are not absurd.

Here is an explanation of hell which is not absurd: It is speculation, but speculation which is sound: The preacher saith: At the judgement after death each soul is introduced to the Light of Lights–the Light that Enlightens all souls. Those who have always sought the light and loved the Love and searched for the Beauty and longed for the Truth will experience that Light of Lights as the Answer to all their Questions, The Love they have always sought, the Blessed Reconciliation of all things and the Delight of Light and the Bliss of Blessedness and for them this will be heaven.

For those who have always run from the light, loved the darkness, refused the Mercy, hated the Truth and despised the Beauty–their choices will be fulfilled and as they experience that same Light of Light they will hate it as they have always hated it. They will experience it as a searing torture to their souls–like a Vampire who hates the dawn, and this same light will be hell. Then every knee show bow. One soul will bow down before this Light of Love in the submission of worship and adoration. The other soul will bow down–cowering in fear, resentment and hatred. This vision of hell may be disagreeable and even laughable to an atheist, but it is not absurd.

The prophet John Cantor saith: “Religion suppresses inquiry.”

Thus spake the Preacher: Bad religion may suppress inquiry, but the true heart of Christianity is in the words of the Master: “Seek and you shall find. Knock and the door will be opened unto you.” As a Catholic priest I encourage all to question their faith and learn the depth of their faith. In fact, if they do not question their faith I say they have no faith because faith without questions is not faith. It is blind and artificial certainty that cannot be certain because it has never questioned. Furthermore, I have not found any true and honest priests who do suppress inquiry. Doubts are not difficulties and difficulties are not doubts and a thousand difficulties do not make one doubt whereas one doubt effectively destroys all difficulties. A difficulty says, “How can this be?” and a doubt says, “That cannot be.” The first is said with a frown. The second is said with a sneer.

Inquiry, however, is more than intellectual musing. Religion is an adventure. Religious inquiry involves involvement. It means taking a step and testing the water. It means going out to meet those for whom religion is real. It means doing something not just studying something. Do those who demand inquiry really want inquiry? Do they want to come with me to visit the prisoners and see how religion works for these men who are murderers and surviving in jail? Do they wish to come with me to El Salvador and work with the poor and experience the religion of a village church with peasant people and inquire about the reality of religion in their lives? All of this is what we mean by ‘inquiry’ but I suspect this is not what the usual armchair atheist cares for.

The prophet John Cantor has spoken well when he says, “Because the answer is to never stop asking questions.”

The Preacher replies, Questions are good if they are the right questions. It is impossible to get the right answer if one has not asked the right question, and you cannot know the right question until you question your questions. You cannot be a true critic unless you criticize the critics.

Thus saith the preacher further, The reason to ask a question is to eventually find an answer. The reason to have an open mind is the same reason to have an open mouth–to eventually close it on something solid, chew and swallow and inwardly digest for nourishment.” (I have stolen this from the fat man)

So says the preacher more:  A question is like a step on a journey. The step forward is dependent on the previous step having been made with solid footing. A question is only worthwhile if it is one question of many. One who is lost needs to ask for directions. But he asks for directions in order to find his way. Should he ignore the directions he finds he will still be lost. Asking for directions is only a virtue if one truly desires to find the way, and one can only truly desire to find the way if he first believes there is a way to find.

Asking for directions, like asking questions, for the sake of asking questions alone is a waste of time both for him who is lost and for him who might point the way.