This is going to be a difficult week for me to look smarter than I really am. I feel as if I’m at a party of glamorous women from the stocks and bonds trade, as it were, trying to start up a conversation.
“Do you prefer bonds?” she asks.
“No . . . Bonds.”
“I haven’t seen many of them, but I prefer the Daniel Craig Bond, which I find is much more faithful to the character in the original novels.”
From her, a disgusted stare. From me, a sheepish grin. I have been exposed as a poser. I pick up a diet coke, retire to the corner and pretend to check out the CD selection. Tonight will not be my lucky night.
Here’s the problem – I’m damaged goods.
The idea of another person having power over me who is not also giving me a paycheck is simply beyond repugnant. I can’t relate to it. Since my leaving my religious life, my nature has been fiercely suspicious of authority. I’m always on alert for the guilt trip or the hypocritical justification. I suffer from an ailment peculiar to spiritual combat veterans, “post dogmatic stress disorder”. Any charismatic figure who tells me what to do, or what to believe, immediately brings out my rage. Once bound to the rack, the Dom had better never release me alive or turn his back because when I come after him I won’t be playing games. There is no surrender left in me.
When I was young, looking back, I think I was afraid of freedom. I think there was that in me which wanted someone to explain the world and make sense of it, to tell me what to do to be a good person and how to measure and evaluate my virtue. I wanted to find God’s will for me and submit myself completely. Believe me, the leather and handcuff crowd has nothing on me. I think this is where the spiritual seeker typically begins. The common man wants formulas, not freedom. The difference between following a religion and searching for God, is the difference between shopping for packaged meat in a supermarket, and killing a beloved pet with your bare hands and eating it.
When one has lost faith in masters and gurus, when one feels betrayed and sees that you can make such mistakes and God will not stop you, it gets back to the mystery of God, and whether that God has any relevance to human life. Its not whether God exists, but what difference does it make? How can one be intimate with God, in the way Lisabet describes being intimate with her master, when all trust has been destroyed by indifference? By the absence of passion?
Recently I struggled with writer’s block. What I began to realize is that the place inside me where the stories come from is also that place where God and the longing for God comes from. To stamp out one is to stamp out the other. To refuse to nourish one is to wither the other.
This is an exquisitely elegant trap. Who set this cruel trap – God? If I wish to go on being an angry agnostic I may be forced to give up writing. I can’t bear the thought of that, so I find myself back on the rack again with the old questions. I'm simply not being allowed to walk away.
Forget the leather whips. When it comes to cruelty, one has to admire the cleverness of the dilemma. Maybe God has not given up on me. Or maybe God really is one mean sonuvabitch.