After breakfast the moment I have wondered about so many times arrives. Lounging around the kitchen talking, Jon asks for my thoughts on Jesus Christ. I only hesitate for a second, long enough to take a breath, gearing up for an attempt to speak honestly and uncritically. I try to relax, and off we go.
I explain as best I can my different and distant point of perspective, my lack of background and exposure to Christianity, and finally my inability to discern the absolute truth of any one model of the universe as presented by any one text. I tell them (Jon and Claire) that nonetheless my own experiences have put me in contact at times with an apparent unifying force in the universe. I talk briefly about my experiences and experiments with prayer. They seem encouraged by all this, yet also very cautious. I wonder if their caution stems from their experience in these situations, or from the fact that I’m family and a strange case.
I go so far as to tell them that even though I want to find the truth, if I did discover that the Bible contains the one true model of the universe I would be quite upset and confused. It would turn my world upside down.
My first surprise is that this was met with some acknowledgement and gratitude for some understanding on my part of their perscpective. Yes, it is a confusing, even upsetting faith to hold at times. But, by some ineffable personal experience, they know that the Bible is God’s Word. Now becoming more excited and animated, Jon begins to suggest ways for me to get there. I have to slow him down a couple of times, reminding him of my background. He stops and I see some understanding in his eyes. He gets it – I have no indoctrination of any kind to draw on. I’ve not determined to be a Christian, just to be true to my experience. There are lots of texts that offer a path for me. How will I choose?
Surprise number two: he makes the one suggestion that any chance of success. Look in the Bible. Pray for understanding. Keep searching. He suggests some ways to approach the Bible, and we talk about a few of my basic curiosities. At one point, when I am wondering if language is up to the task of modeling the universe, Claire suggests that perhaps God created it for that purpose. We talk about prophets and inspired utterances. I muse that if God created language for this, perhaps in some sense all utterances are true. But, Jon explains, I must remember that language is a tool, and one that is used by Satan as well. I must not have been able to cover my shock. The gulf between us that seemed to be narrowing returns. I had forgotten that their model is not based on a unity at all, but a simple, stark, polar duality. My pause becomes an opening to end the discussion and get on with the day.
Talking with Jeanette later, I agree to meet her tomorrow night in Santa Monica, where we can sleep at Rohanna’s. I figure I’ll say farewell to my cousins and ride the bike there. Then I can just carry on up the beach in the morning.
I walk around in Deb’s park, the hills and sun intoxicating me. As I’m napping on top of the highest hill a long-haired, lithe hispanic girl wanders by. I have a spontaneous fantasy of having brutish sex with her in the trees. I wonder if she can feel my eyes. She completely ignores me. I savor the fantasy as it fades. Satan, perhaps?
In the evening I listen to tapes of a dramatization of my Grandma Isobel’s life done by the Moody Bible Institute. They’re pretty good. I wonder if they still have the masters?
For some reason I don’t mention my plans to leave tomorrow. It’s easier to leave it a mystery, maybe. Dan’s working at home tomorrow, so I’ll just say goodbye then.