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5:03 pm - Sat 8/5/06
Pascal's Wager

Pascal's Wager

Tues 8/1/06 (4:24 p.m.)

I think I used to be a better �journaler� than I am now. And considering how much time and effort I put into this, it bothers me to believe that.

Last night, after I got home from work (Feeling tired and depressed�a busy box office shift will do that to me), I was going to write about one of the reasons I believe this is the case. But instead, I contented myself with watching tv till I was too tired to keep my eyes open, then went to bed.

I do that a lot now�I get fired up to write when I get home from work, then end up not writing; I�ve become afraid of the raw stuff that will come out if I write in the heat of whatever passion I�m feeling at a given moment.

And one reason that�s happening is because, in the past, I have been smacked down three or four times, pretty hard, by people who were not happy about the tone of my journal writing. I was too �negative�, too �depressed�. I needed to �get my act together� and �stop feeling sorry for myself� (Because things are tough for everyone, lots of people have it worse than I do, etc.). In short, I wanted a hug, and got a smack upside the head instead.

I never felt these little �interventions�, or whatever you want to call them, were very helpful On the contrary, they fed that frightened little voice inside, the one a lot of us have, the one that says, �Don�t reveal yourself to people. Your thoughts and feelings are not �right�. They are not �acceptable�. If people knew �the real You�, they wouldn�t like you at all. You should just act pleasant, and keep yourself hidden from view.�

I was cowed by those �smacks upside the head�. I didn�t stop writing, obviously; I just stopped writing when I thought anyone might be angered or offended by what I had to say.

But you know what I realized this morning?

It�s not those peoples� fault they felt angry about my �attitude�, or that they cared about me in a way that, to me, felt more hurtful than helpful.

If I want to put my thoughts and feelings on display, but can�t handle it when people say �quit your whining� or what-have-you, then that�s my problem.

Fri 8/4/06 (2:46 p.m.)

Yesterday, the Universe offered me some much-needed money� provided the opportunity, cleared my schedule of conflicts, so on and so forth-and all I basically had to do was reach my hand out and say, �Yes, thank you�I will take the money you�re offering me�.

But I didn�t go that route. Instead, I said, �Ummm...thanks, but I�d really rather continue to stress out over money. But I appreciate the offer�.

Here�s what happened...

I had a workshop last night. Or I would have had a workshop last night, if I hadn�t gotten a call from Molly (Brett�s super-cute/super-nice new assistant at ACG) around 11:30 a.m, telling me it was cancelled.

Shortly after that�probably not an hour later�I got a call from a loan signing agency, asking if I wanted to do a signing at 4:00 o�clock.

Long story short, I went into �instant panic attack� mode, and said no.

Now afterwards, I remembered that I�d let my liability insurance lapse (Payment was due back in May), and that being the case, it was probably not kosher for me to be doing notarizations anyway.

But since I didn�t remember that till afterwards, I basically made the decision because of how freaked out I was the first/last time I did a loan signing, and how humiliated I was when I had to call the signing agency and say I�d screwed up (I think I was supposed to get $125 for the job; I ended up getting $50).

I let fear rule the day.

(If you feel the urge to comment or email in order to reprimand me for this, you can save your time�I spent much of the day yesterday doing it myself, and I�m pretty sure I�m better at it than you are.)

But I make a promise to you, and to myself�If/when I get another call for a signing, and the only reason not to do it is because I�m afraid of screwing it up, I�m going to do it.

Sat 8/5/06 (1:43 p.m.)

In reading an online article about retirement planning (The article�s basic premise? Plan to live longer than you expect to; better to die with money left over than to run out early and be impoverished in your �golden years�), I discovered, or re-discovered, �Pascal�s Wager�.

The idea was first presented to me long ago (I was a teenager at the time)�Even though we can�t know if there�s a God, we�re better off behaving as if there is-but I didn�t know it was a famous philosophical/religious construct.

I think the idea is if you act �as if� there�s a God, you may miss out on some earthly pleasures (if there isn�t), but you won�t die and burn in hell (if there is). And I guess Pascal thought that was a pretty good bet.

(Myself, I was never sure that would work. When I was a young church-goer, struggling to believe, I was afraid that when I died, God would know I didn�t really believe, and I�d end up going to hell anyway.)

What�s interesting to me, coming across this idea yesterday, is that I�ve been kinda/sorta thinking along those lines for weeks now.

Some time back, I got one of Jane�s �cosmic church� newsletters (I�ve forgotten the real name of Jane�s church, but I like calling it �cosmic church� better anyway). And in the newsletter�which Jane puts together--there was an article by John Shelby Spong, a former bishop who, in my mind, has some pretty radical ideas about Christianity (I think he�s really more of a Taoist than anything, but I guess he gets to identify himself anyway he wants to. And since I�m not a Christian myself, what do I care what he calls himself? But anyway...).

The article was basically more of the same stuff I�ve read before�I�ve read two of his books (Rescuing The Bible From Fundamentalism, and Why Christianity Must Change Or Die), and a number of articles from his newsletter, and have wrestled with his amorphous concept of �God��but I was struck by the conclusion of this article:

Has not the time for our understanding of God to mature, to embrace reality? Our �heavenly parent� definition of God acts to relieve us of responsibility. Our great religious fear is that if God is not this Supernatural Being in the sky, then there is no God. Atheism, we think, is the only alternative to theism. That is the boundary over which religious people fear to walk.

Suppose, however, that God is defined as the Source of Life, so that our worship demands that we cooperate with all of nature rather than trying to conquer it for our own benefit. Suppose God is defined as the Source of Love, so that our worship enables us to journey beyond the limits of our fears to embrace all that is. Suppose God is defined as the Ground of Being so that our worship relates us to a holiness that permeates all that is. That is what we need to understand before we human beings can grow up and accept responsibility for our world.

In this case, I think acting �as if� there were a God would be a very good thing. Not because you�d save yourself from going to hell, but because there�d be a lot more people making Earth a nicer place to live.


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