27 October 2013


In June of 1994 there was some computer trade show at the Ellerslie Showgrounds.  Perhaps, my boss said, I ought to go.  I take the 'bus to work and so have a monthly pass so it would not even require any sort of transportation arrangement.

I wanted to go.  I wanted to escape.  I didn't want to escape the office, or work, or anything specific.  I just wanted to escape.

I had been in turmoil over this Catholic question now for nine months.  I was nearly paralysed with fear.  I knew now so much that to believe the Catholic claims false was impossible for me, yet I had still present in my mind the anti-Catholic threats that had become like glaring neon signs flashing at me: "Great Whore;" "Synagogue of Satan;" "High Treason" (this last words that Jim Jordan had written to me).

I had, in addition, physical problems.  I have a congenital deviated septum.  The result is chronic sinus issues - and at times a nose so badly stopped up that I cannot breathe through it.  That morning I was in that condition as the 'bus headed down the Great South Road.  We were, I believe, somewhere in Greenlane.  I pulled the cord and got off the 'bus.

I was, I suppose, in the psychological state called fugue.  I did not know who I was, where I was going, nor what I was supposed to be doing.  My mind seemed racing a hundred miles an hour.  God, I thought, was sitting in Heaven laughing.  He was waiting for me to decide - "decide now!!  now!!  Hurry!!  You must decide now!!" - and ensuring that, whatever my decision, it would be wrong.  He would shout, with a maniacal laugh, "Wrong!!  You now go straight to Hell!!"  And, I thought, He was holding my nostrils tightly shut so that I could not breathe.

Though it was mid-winter, it was a sunny day.  I sat down on a bench at the 'bus stop and, breathing through my mouth, slowly began to calm down.  I began to come back to myself - that word 'myself' began, again, to have some meaning! - and I thought.  I thought and made a decision: I would not believe in such a God.  I simply made a moral refusal, an act of the will.  If such a god - such a being deserves no typographical honorific - really exists, I will not believe in him.  I reject him and any universe made by such a being.  I would believe that if I genuinely sought to know God's will, that He would not hide Himself from me; that He would help me to follow Him.  It was quite analogous to my decision in August of 1984 (or 1985?) when I suddenly was sure there was no God.  At that time I absolutely rejected such a state of affairs - one in which the world was meaningless, was not created but just was, without rhyme or reason.  I had refused to accept the non-existence of God.  Now I had refused to accept His maliciousness.

It was only years later, reflecting on this point, that I thought of the verse Hebrews 11:6:
...for he that cometh to God must believe that He is...
that, in short, that He exists:
...and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.
that, in other words, that He would not deliberately hide Himself from me.

I got onto the next 'bus and went to the trade show, and finally back to work.  I had not solved my problem yet - but I was no longer going to allow myself to be panicked.

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