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Postcards from Tradocia

Shouting into the Void

For some reason, I’m often gripped with a sort of paralysis regarding my writing here. One might chalk it up to writer’s block, but I think it’s more existential than that. I’ve written about the echo chamber effect of blogging (or Narcissistic Blogger Syndrome); this is an offshoot. It’s a sense of shouting into the void, a screaming against the blackness in the vastness of the internet. Scale out further, though, and the mind reels; just as I’m one tiny voice among billions, so is our world a mere speck in the unfathomable universe, all of our joys and struggles ultimately amounting to nothing in the cosmic calculus.

Thus is born religion, a search for meaning as the mind’s eye zooms out to encompass the universe and finds reason lacking. Not being of the religious sort, though, I risk falling into the classic atheist’s trap: of placing supreme faith in the flawed entity of man. For if there is no supreme being, no higher force, then what else is there but man’s reason, intellect, emotion? But to have faith in man means continual disappointment. Our flaws make us unsuitable as objects of worship, or even as dependable actors; for if nothing else, every man disappoints in the final act of dying. And so, we find ourselves back at religion again. But, as Han Solo said, “Kid, I’ve flown from one side of this galaxy to the other. I’ve seen a lot of strange stuff, but I’ve never seen anything to make me believe there’s one all-powerful Force controlling everything.”

I wrote about this denial of a universal “plan” here, at a soldier’s funeral.

The only part of his sermon that I remember was the usual part that chaplains and pastors and such like to give at a funeral of a young man or woman. There’s always a bit about “God’s plan,” which I inevitably find absurd and offensive. The same thought shot through my head as he spoke the words: God’s plan? It’s in God’s plan that this young soldier – not even twenty-one years old – is dead now, while so many others, unworthy of living, still walk? If that’s God’s plan, well…

After all this pontificating, though, I come to the meat of this post: all of the preceding words seem terribly trite and unoriginal. Men were debating these very issues before the birth of Christ, and here I am, two thousand+ years later, typing the same stuff. Everything’s been said already! By an accident of birth, I’m a latecomer to civilization – it’s all downhill from here!

Maybe my real problem is that my thinking is too large-scale and I should concentrate on contributing to Cute Overload.

2 Comments

  1. Alex,
    As a pastor, I find what you say here compelling and honest. The Book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament might be worth a read, not because I am proselytizing to you in any way, but only because he talks exactly about what you talk about here. People are often surprised to find such a perspective encompassed by the Biblical literature. Ecclesiastes is one of my favorite books in the Bible.

    As to the “God’s plan” way of talking, the phrase does not exist in Scripture. Whenever I do a funeral, I think of people like you standing or sitting out there and what this kind of phrasing might sound like to them. Based on personal experience and further confirmation by what you say here and other sources, the “God’s plan” language is offensive, especially where the insanity and meaninglessness of death, bullets and warfare are active. There are better ways of providing comfort and promise in the face of death.

    Well-written and thought out post, which made me think, which is always a good idea.
    Peace,
    Seth

  2. I adore this post, and I can completely relate to this concept. Follow my YouTube channel if you’re interested in connecting over this shout-into-the-void feeling.

    Message me if you want :)

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