Author: Adam Abramowitz
I fear that my thoughts may offend some people. Even though I thoroughly believe that the best art is real thought, transparent honesty, and raw emotion, I found myself second-guessing my decision to share. In an effort to be clear, I would like to explain my motive and intent for the piece you are about to read.
I want to give my thoughts, to you.
I make no claim that these thoughts are sound and I have no basis for inquiry outside of my own understanding of who I am and how I interpret the world around me. I am not interested in “judging” or “shaming” anyone’s beliefs, higher-power, or religion. The piece you are about to read is my own process in attempting to understand that which is unexplainable: God.
At times in my life, I have identified myself as a Jew and a drug addict, an alcoholic and a writer. A musician and a poet, a philosopher and a video gamer…and, I believe in Magic.
I’m not talking about spell-casting Magic, level 12 demon summoning magic, or the street illusions of a magician who stares into the eyes of a confused patron while a card is magically recreated from an ear-lobe. I’m talking about the “magic” that is created by us, for us. In an effort to define what “magic” means, I’m going to start by attempting to understand something that I have spent years trying to make sense of. As I sit and write, a part of me wants to hold off on the topic, the crux of my own insecurity to share, but I’m just going to dive right in…
I don’t understand Jesus.
I mean, I understand what he stood for. “Love thy neighbor, treat others the way you would want to be treated, don’t kill people”…all that good stuff. Solid ideas and I am on board with a lot of his proposed teachings. I just don’t understand how to believe that a man, a prophetic teacher of sound morals and good intentions, died for our sins.
When I think of Jesus, I use fact, humanity, and realistic assumptions to project a mental image of a man. In my mind, Jesus was a philosopher who believed in the equality of love and grace. A mortal human who lived a life of service to his fellow man. A guy who followed his gut and chose to die for what he believed in. Not because he was commanded to, but because it was right. The image of Jesus that I project in my head stops at his death. That’s where his story ends. I wanted to see if I could be a believer, I wanted to experience the holiness of a deity that influences the beliefs of millions, so I went to a church last Sunday for a service.
I went with an open mind, more than an open mind, in fact, I shifted my perspective. I honed in on the feeling of peace I get when I enter a synagogue. I pretended that the songs we were singing, the scripture we were reading, all held memory for me. I focused my thoughts on a reality where I grew up a believer, and it didn’t work…
I was perplexed. The mass of people cheering praise as Bible scripture was being quoted, the assurance of the pastor that Jesus DID die for us and in his name, we are saved: everything left me in a state of confusion. As I sit here and write, I find myself trying to grasp at my own conception of what was happening in that church service.
I mean, I think I get it…
Like the influx of emotion church goers experience at the mention of Jesus, I get mega excited every time a new Star Wars movie begins to play. You best believe I’m cheering the minute the horns begin to blast the theme song. In fact, as I write this now, I’m getting chills. Tears are beginning to well up in the corners of my spirit and I don’t know why. The characters I am emotionally attached to in the Star Wars universe don’t exist in reality, they exist only in my heart, and to me, that’s magic.
Magic, the unexplainable emotions and beliefs that I create in my mind to give life meaning, and trust me, I have believed in some extremely illogical things.
For one, I used to pray to Brad Nowell, the lead singer of the band Sublime. The thought of Bradley grinning down at me from the heavens, watching my every move, made me feel good. But let’s be real, I created a completely fictional story in my mind to give a meaning to the irrational reality of existence.
I chose to believe in a story that I created to give meaning for why I was alive, why I experienced pain, insecurity, and anxiety.
The stories we tell ourselves in search of meaning are an essence of magic. Each story provides an emotional connection to an intangible thing. A narrative full of characters, created in the mind of a person, and projected as art.
“The greatest story ever told”, The Bible, is just that. A story. And my man Jesus… a character in this story. A character with awesome powers: the ability to lay hands on someone and heal, to walk on water, cure blind people, and die, only to re-emerge from a cave 3 days later re-incarnated. (Authors Note: it could be theorized that Jesus was the first zombie ever.)
A fantastic story, yes. A reason for me to believe that when I die I’ll go to heaven? No.
The entire story of Jesus begs the question, if he knew he was the son of God, where’s the sacrifice?
It’s one thing to die for what you believe in, it’s another thing to die for an all-powerful all-knowing God that assures you your death will be a direct passport to heaven and the salvation of all mankind. It’s like betting on a hand of Texas Hold-Em that you know your gonna win. There is no risk when your chips are all in and you already know the outcome of the hand.
The only way I’ve known true courage is when risk was involved.
Jesus knew he was gonna win, his hand was fixed. He had the voice of God whispering sweet nothings in his ear. Call me blasphemous, call me crazy, call me a realist, “call me maybe”?…I just don’t perceive the story of salvation, as provided by Jesus Christ, as anything more remarkable than the story of Star Wars. Tell me a story about Oscar Schindler, or Gandhi. Tell me a story about David Foster Wallace, or Harvey Milk. Tell me a story about someone willing to live and die for what’s right. A story of someone who moves towards an unknown territory for the greater good of our species, guided by their gut and moral compass.
I view the story of Jesus the same way I look at any other piece of fiction. The basis for the art came from truth, from the human experience of the people that have written it. There is always something to learn, to find metaphor and challenge ourselves to shift perspective from our lens of self, to the character being portrayed in our minds…
Straight up, if Han Solo wasn’t going to be in the new Star Wars movie, I would be sad. This does not make sense to me, he’s not even a real person…must be Magic.
So, I think get it. I understand Jesus the same way I understand Han Solo and Luke Skywalker. They exist in my mind to give me something, I’m just not sure what that something is…so I’m choosing to call it “magic”.
When the Wright Brothers saw a bird and proceeded to use their knowledge of mechanical engineering to create a craft that would allow humans to fly- “Magic”
When I log on to a computer to share my own thoughts with millions of people connected through the global web of internets- “Magic”
When you go to open up a work-related e-mail and you get hit with a pop-up video of Rick Astley performing the 1987 #1 hit single, “Never Gonna Give You Up”- “Magic”
A real connection beyond the bounds of time and space, from my minds eye to yours… ©
5 thoughts on “The Stories We Tell in Search of Meaning”
Reblogged this on behindclosedblinds.
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Wow, thanks for sharing this. I completely identify 100% with everything that you’ve said here.. having struggled with religion & belief myself, it’s weird to hear another person hit the nail on the head & essentially put into words the thoughts that I’ve always had & never really said out loud. & Star Wars/Sublime references are always a plus too
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Awesome! Yeah, I was hesitant to share about the Jesus stuff because I have a lot of friends who are Christians that have a really good relationship with their Jesus.
I didn’t want to attack anyone’s beliefs, especially since their conception of Jesus as a higher power does a lot of good for them.
I didn’t understand it and I felt like I was the only one.
Your comment just made me feel like I’m actually not crazy.
I dig the feeling.
Thank you for providing it 😎
I know that hesitation oh so well, my mom & most of my family are staunch Southern Baptists. while my dad & stepmom are atheists. So I was strictly raised in church but I also had my dad in my ear – the irony of that situation just breeds the mental chaos that ensued so seeing someone have a similar thought process about this stuff while also understanding what it’s like to be raised in a sort of strict religious manner is surprising & refreshing. & definitely reassuring
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That’s definitely a confusing scenario. As a kid, I never really communicated with my parents about God, meaning of life, or any religious type stuff. We did go to synagogue and a Unitarian church for a bit, but the idea of God didn’t take until I became interested in learning about science, spirituality, and faith.