In the new theology faith is simply an acceptance of the world as it is. Nothing more than that. No complex creeds to wrestle with. No painful initiation rites. God doesn’t play a role in our system. And truth is something only rarely stumbled upon. So one must nevertheless exercise discernment and prudence at all times. Take the emotion out of it, wring it out, hang it out to dry in the warm summer wind, then put it crinkled and damp back in. Many people hear about our teachings and say it trivializes faith, as if it were easy. The sky is blue. That boy is my son. But they’re wrong. The ancient religions demand far less because their catechisms are immutable. God is the Father of the Son who is known through the Holy Spirit. A little mind-fucking at first but once you get on board, you’re all set, 99% of the work done. There’s nothing else to figure out. Show up for Eucharist, go to confession, pray toward Mecca. For us, though, nothing ever remains the same. The dogma is always changing. Every morning we wake and are asked to accept that a sunrise is real, even though today it’s orange and yellow and streaked with purple green. You have to let go of yesterday with its scabbed browns and reds. Memories are our incense. Just to get us in the sacred mood. Everyday it starts all over again. Yes, these are my gnarled scarred hands. My strange face in the mirror, why hello good sir. The morning smell of late September. Once again that ludicrous sound coming from my dark woods is the great horned owl. The holiest of us recognize that our particular life is a uniquely experiential kind of death. We have entire monastic orders who take vows of silence in honor of all sadness and pain. Our rituals include drinking while bleeding and sleeping when dead. Instead of guardian angels we have the nagging ache of everything and everyone we have ever lost. We bring extra blankets to sleeping children shivering on couches. We brush our hard little teeth. We cut our nails and comb our brown hairs neat. We confuse love with the act of breathing. But really it’s just our hearts beating. When we trip we let ourselves fall. We smell the dirt. We taste the salt. Every day it’s something new. Or just a wee little bit different. You have to choose. It’s a leap of faith. Every moment. Even right now. Ask yourself: can you believe you’re actually reading this?
There are, of course, heresies. The hypocrite professes his faith unceasingly but doesn’t actually believe in this world. He has conjured an alternative reality that only exists in his own mind which has, at best, only tangential connection to our world of faith. In his cosmos he is forever the neglected husband, the unrecognized son, the passed over prodigy. Often his prayers sound like inverses of curses. He’s mowing his flowers. He’s painting his grass blue. In that world, he is the only one who ever gets saved. But his heaven is the loneliest place. The agnostic to our system is left with precious few options. He wanders from sorrow to sorrow. He doesn’t acknowledge this stone, that hermit crab, your hand. He spits in the eye of ocean sunsets. He knows it’s all real but refuses to accept it. His heart is set on another.