Bookworm, of Bookworm Room, is one of my very, very favorite writers, and as a member of the Watcher’s Council, one of my most valued writing colleagues. She is also a long time friend whose wisdom and decency, in concert with her extraordinary writing chops, often inspires me. So it is with her most recent article: Something that gives me hope in a dark time.
She is one of my Internet friends. I remain unsure I fully embrace the idea of friends one experiences only through the movement of electrons and photons. I am not a touchy-feely sort of man, though I do cherish physical intimacy at the times and places, and with the people for whom it is appropriate, yet this is something that may never occur between us. We live on opposite sides of the nation and have never met face to face.
For all that, I have no doubt I would find her, in person, to be more delightful than in print, or in our e-mails, if such a thing were remotely possible. One thing, however, has always slightly concerned me: Bookworm declares herself–gently–a woman without a strong religious faith. This is not a surprise. She is, after all, a recovering progressive, and such people are commonly not only resistant to any profession or acknowledgement of conventional religious faith, they are often actively hostile toward it, just as Kirsten Powers was.
Powers, as I’m sure you recall, gentle readers, is the progressive commentator and author who often appears on Fox programs. I wrote about her conversion to Christianity in November of 2013 in Kirsten Powers: The Process Of Acceptance.
And this is Kristen Power’s quandary, though not hers alone. How can one love–as Christ would have us love–while embracing a political religion of bigotry, rage, corruption, lust for power, control over one’s fellow man–for his own good, of course– and hatred? How can one follow Christ and follow worldly political saviors?
I hope that Powers is able, like David Horowitz, to eventually abandon the political religion that gave her a false sense of intellectual and moral superiority for so many years. Her acceptance of Christ is her salvation, but we live on Earth. He fills the soul, just as Christ has promised, and in Him are no lies. Leftism is a lie. It demands an unshakable belief in the superiority of the elite leftist–and their infallible political doctrine–over all, including God. It leaves a gaping hole in the soul, or drains it altogether.
I know that I cannot reconcile my faith in Christ with believing that I know better than another man what his family and he need, that I know better how to spend his money and what to force him to buy, do, think and say. Walking with Christ, yet thinking so highly of myself and so little of others simply doesn’t work for me. I suspect Kristen Powers feels the same way. She’s just not able to admit that–yet.
Bookworm and I have not discussed issues of faith in any depth. While the topic of faith is open between us, I choose not to impose my conventions of faith on anyone.
I am, by the way, a Christian. I’ve gone through various iterations of that, various levels of resistance, strength and confusion, but as I’ve become older, and had the time to reflect on the unending presence of God in my life, and the many times He has guided me in ways so subtle it has taken me years to understand them, my faith has become unshakeable, and an integral part of who and what I am. My gratitude for his endless, and undeserved, grace is boundless.
God has, on more occasions than I can easily count, saved my life, pulling my unworthy hide out of some nasty situations. He has also sent me where I needed to be to save lives, so much so that one of my frequent requests to Him is to guide me to the people I need to know, and the people that need to know me.
That said, I choose to share my Christianity through example and music. I don’t ascribe to the latest fads or buzz words. Years ago when one of the fads was being “spirit-filled,” and a very earnest woman inquired if I was so infused, I replied, “No, I’m jelly filled.” The memory of the look on her face brings a smile even today. I know God exists–I choose to have no doubt about that–and I do my best to live, every day, as He would want me to live, to be a useful servant of His.
This is what inspired me to write this article:
People who can look ahead and see the light are much more likely to be people who create a strong, mentally healthy, dynamic society. They’re powered by grace, not greed and evil.
But here’s some good news. While traveling, one of my Little Bookworms met a college student who is a devout Christian. Little Bookworm brought to my attention a Facebook post this young woman wrote, in which she displays the same spirit as that long-ago Huguenot in what became South Carolina.
To preserve this young woman’s privacy, I’m going to alter the words she used, although not the ideas she expressed:
God’s ways are mysterious to me, but he is always there, even in the worst of times, bringing me joy. I learned today that an operation I had a year ago failed and that I will have to go through the procedure again. This was very hard for me to hear, because the surgery interferes with the plans I had made, and I’m afraid that the last surgery might have caused harm that cannot easily be repaired. I ask you, my friends, to send your prayers that the surgery goes well and finally resolves the problem. And I remain grateful to God, my rock and my redeemer, in both good times and bad.
My Little Bookworm, raised in a secular environment, found the message peculiar. I on the other hand, felt hope after reading it — and did send this young woman my prayers. I may not be a religious, devout, or spiritual woman, but I recognize that there is something greater than we are out there, and I know that gratitude is the foundation of a good life and a good country.
Whether she is ready to accept it or not, whether she is not yet ready to make the choice I made long ago, Bookworm, like a great many of us have been, is a religious, and spiritual woman.
During all of my police years, I struggled. I had no doubt about the existence of good and evil, embroiled as I was in the daily battle between them, and I believed in God, but I could not quite remove all doubt. I could not quite whole-heartedly give up control. It took me years after I figuratively hung up my badge and gun to make that final choice, and it all came down to tears.
Police officers can’t surrender to emotion. When everything is going to hell, if the police break down emotionally, that starts a progression of destruction that may be unstoppable, so no matter how horrific the scene, no matter how heart-rending the pain of others, I tightly controlled my emotions. I didn’t cry. I couldn’t cry.
When at last my life and death responsibilities were mostly over, I found myself often moved to tears. One can’t perform the works of men touched by God without seeing the hand of God. Tears well even as I write this.
But it was in church, surrounded by the ritual of thousands of years, by the music, and most of all, the Word of God, that I surrendered and wept unashamedly, and finally came to understand: we can’t hope to know how empty are our souls until they’ve been filled. And then, only then, did all doubt fall away, and only then did I willingly accept the mission.
And why not? What does that choice cost? All that is asked of me is love, kindness, compassion and service for my fellow man. Imperfect vessel that I am I can do that–I want to do that–and struggle to do it well.
Speaking of such things is not really me. I generally avoid any sort of confessional writing, believing readers have their own lives to occupy them and do not come to this scruffy little blog to tune in to my soap opera. As Dr. Evil so properly said: “the details of my life are quite inconsequential.”
But then there is the point.
Bookworm is like many I know, good people all, kind, compassionate, intelligent people. Though she has not adopted the jargon, she embodies the ethic. Though she wouldn’t know how to answer if someone asked her if she were “spirit-filled,” the spirit motivates and walks with her.
I see it in her writings, in her unique feminine insight into human nature, in her stunning intellect and in her hopes for better things for all, even those that would describe her in the most vicious, unkind terms for holding a differing political philosophy.
She felt hope in the kindness and fortitude of others. She prayed for them–this is not a small thing, but perhaps the most powerful force we can’t imagine. She understands that “gratitude is the foundation of a good life and a good country.” And she recognizes that there is “something greater than we are out there.”
I know that something as God, and I know Him and his Son as well as my imperfect human intellect allows. It is a choice. That’s what faith is. You listen to all the arguments, you realize some things can’t be proved by human beings, if for no reason other than that God wants it that way, and you choose to believe–to have faith–and to act based on that belief. And the best part is, that’s OK with God. His patience is infinite, as is His acceptance and love.
One day I’ll die, and if I’m wrong, that will be the end of that. Everything I was, all the good I did, all that I experienced, learned, and cherished will eventually pass away. Oh, but if I’m right…
So I pray that one day, Bookworm will learn how empty is her soul, how empty are the souls of us all, until they are filled. She’s almost there. She has the gear and the heart, but hasn’t yet accepted the mission. We’re made that way, but we have to choose.