So after a couple of years hiatus from attending church, I have tentatively started back up with going to a Sunday service at the small but lovely Episcopal church, St. Mary’s, on Shelter Island. I enter the church building with full awareness that I am a skeptic among what I take to be genuine believers. There is an element of awkwardness in listening to the gospels and readings from the bible and putting all of them in brackets, all of them as evoking a suspension of belief or a rush to a metaphorical level. Apollo and Dionysus seem as real to me, many days, as are Jesus and Paul. I accept that the latter two were real human beings but their status as a god/saint-prophet parallel my Greek ‘friends’ of Apollo and Dionysus. Oh, and Athena, Artemis… In some ways I find the greek gods lingering around the island, right behind that tree or as a whisper on the wind. But that aside, I am acknowledgedly a creation of the Christian world view. And there is a value is stepping away from one’s immersion in life to contemplate larger ideas than committees and what is due when in the office.
It is now the Lenten season and while I cannot escape my view of the entire story as another mystery myth, paralleling the story of Dionysus in some disturbing ways, I acknowledge that stories may be the only thing we have. –And in fact are essential for us when faced with the vast universe full of nothing of question marks. Religion may, as suggested by primatologist Franz De Waal, offer us a narrative that helps us make sense of the booming buzzing world. Not true in a literal sense but in a way which enriches our view of ourselves and the brief nanosecond we spend in this place. And after all, stories are always truth in the end. And they whisper like the wind in our ears: you do not know. This message is what I value the most. After all, hubris is how the world will end.