Over the years people have asked me why I believe in God. I won’t say “many” people. Often when someone says that, especially someone I’ve never heard of, I think, “Really? Many people care about your opinion on this topic?” So I’ll be honest that it’s really just been the atheists I’ve been fucking at the time who have asked. And to be fair to myself, there have been kind of a lot of them. When asked, I often respond, “I don’t think it’s a choice,” and then see whether we’re really going to discuss this. They’re generally down with the “free will has very little empirical basis” sickness.
On this blog though, I’ve mentioned the real reason I believe.
My loyal readers will remember that it’s a strip club named Jimmy’s in Huntsville, Alabama.
And it apparently still exists! And has a Facebook page!
Here’s what it looked like from Highway 72 when the Google Maps van drove by last:
Which is not far from how it looked circa 2005 when my mom would drive past it with me and my sister a few times per week on her way to Athens State College to finish her teaching degree. Her subject was high school English.
Nearly every time we past Jimmy’s, which was never busy but always somehow managed to stay open, my mom would pray for the poor souls inside. This was less about sex-negativity or feminism than it was anti-poverty. Jimmy’s burned down three times during the two years my mom was in school. Now, my atheist lovers would likely attribute this to poor building planning, negligence, or insurance fraud. But I’m not so sure. My mom wasn’t praying for Jimmy’s to burn down. She was praying for the low-income fathers to more wisely spend their money. But the Big Black Woman in the Sky works in mysterious, sometimes rather dramatic ways.
This is just one instance of my mom’s prayers seeming to have outsized sway with Sky Beyonce.
Just this morning, my mom texted me, “Does nething feel better than a big poop? I say NO.”
And guess what I just experienced?
The best poop I’ve had in weeks.
Faith is a mysterious thing. I believe. I believe Jesus is the son of God and died for my sins. But I do not fully understand what that means. I understand why that bothers people. It bothers me, to an extent. And yet.
Last night I was attending a NaNoWriMo meetup with my colleagues. And I started thinking about my story, in light of Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t: Why That Is And What You Can Do About It which I read for my work team’s book club. Steven Pressfield writes about how your story needs to have something universal in it. Some lesson, some twist. My story, the Cathy Reisenwitz story (barf), I realized, last night, is about something along the lines of life is best lived somewhere between True Belief and nihilism.
I’m coming around to accepting the gray areas, and staying engaged anyway. I’m not really yelling at anyone about anything anymore, which is a bit of a letdown but also a relief. I’ve lost much of my evangelical zeal. It’s difficult for the true believer to see the gray without experiencing the accompanying disillusionment. I’m better for it as a thinker, but worse for it as a polemicist and “personality.” But these are goals I’m disillusioned with as well. I think I haven’t written my story yet because I have not yet learned how to work as hard as I worked and be as engaged as I was and go as hard after anything as I did when I was a true believer. I’m lazy these days. Starting projects, half-assing them, then quitting. I haven’t learned this or any other big, important lesson.
All I know for sure is that I’m glad I don’t own a strip club my mom has to regularly drive past.