By Bob Carney

To differentiate amongst dilemma I may take or leave, first I may leave the Ultra-Confounding to the Prophets and my personal intellectual super-hero-action-figure, Paul Cooijmans--damned good writer, and defender of ripping-good satire and not-taking-yourself so bloody seriously. "Leave it" dilemma is moral dilemma once-removed. This is, for instance the classic: "Why is one child born deformed and another beautiful? Why are some most excellent folk, through no fault of theirs, persecuted, murdered, tortured, starved, abused by parents, or splattered all over an eighteen wheeler's grill whilst running out in the street after a stray soccer ball?" If you have no God, then this is a very easy answer. If you have a God, then you have to get your story straight. Because of the neck of the WOODS in which I reside, most of the stories go along these lines: "God is almighty and good. Nothing in God's world happens by mistake, everything happens according to God's will. This is axiomatic, as God is almighty. WE don't understand God's plan, although he undoubtedly has one. Everything that happens, actually happens for the best, even though it may appear less so to US. In short, don't THINK about it, because actually that's a waste of time, not to mention rude and obnoxious. TRUST GOD, live "RIGHT", have FAITH, LOVE your neighbor, brush your teeth, and see your dentist regularly. Stay with this program and you will maybe not have to sit sphincter-on-blowtorch till Kingdom Come-when the shit really hits the fan".

By my reckoning, some part of this is correct and some part is not. Amigos, I've got my own pathetically reasoned view. From deep insight gained through the big boys of Philosophy and Religion? Naw, I lifted my view from the movie, "Oh God". George Burns, John Denver, Teri Garr (hubba, hubba) here we're into religion and perhaps, the eschatological realm. I try not to go there. I'm not going to bore now with MY view, unless you really do need some entertainment. In which case, see Footnote Numero Uno.

The Ultra-Nasty dilemma, however, I'm forced to "take". Because, dear reader, I CAN'T AVOID IT. Because, it is the type of dilemma that is in my face and is bugging the poop out of me. It is the stuff that is making me FEEL BAD. It is the stuff that WILL NOT GO AWAY-NO MATTER HOW MUCH I INTELLECTUALIZE AND RATIONALIZE. It is the stuff that I am unable to deal with in and of myself. It is the painful stuff that may not be assuaged by any reading material or any amount of simple ritualistic performance, of any type.

The only thing that I've found that works here is DIRECT PRAYER (meaning connection, linkage, and in a bi-lateral fashion) TO THE SPIRIT OF THE UNIVERSE AS I UNDERSTAND IT (see footnote uno, if you haven't already). This attempt at connection, I find, is available if I'm in "practice". Not only that, I'm actually believing I'm getting some ongoing help from this Spiritus Mundi on an ongoing basis, contingent on maintaining a good practice routine. I do this, frankly, because I GET SOMETHING OUT OF IT. NOT BECAUSE SISTER BERTHA-ATILLA TOL' ME TO. The spiritual benefits are truly most available if a conscious contact with this GOD is maintained on a daily basis, with my best efforts, most importantly in the listening department. No listening, no answers. That's reasonable, isn't it? Now, what all works and what all doesn't? Praying about money, and good stuff to happen to me is a waste of time. Praying to understand GOD'S will and be given the spiritual power to carry that out is more the ticket. Do I therefore get rid of all my Ultra-Nasty moral dilemma by this method. Nope. But, I find I'm able to either live with it, or even perhaps ultimately solve it.

Did I, an essentially agnostic sonofabitch, just all of a sudden up and decide to get with this praying business. No way. I did it out of necessity, initially. There was no way out, either get with this program or meet a very unfortunate end provided for me, of and by me. I gave it a shot and it worked. Not for a while though, it started slowly, and it comes and goes depending on the amount of effort I'm willing to exert.


Footnote Numero Uno: There is a God, and there's just one of 'em. One is all my little pea brain can handle. Okay, there may be more than one, but there is one who's the "big boss". He's not out there, or out here rather, directing traffic. He knows what's going to happen 'cause he doesn't operate in a linear "time zone"-it's all one big-ass snapshot, but still it's up to YOU 'cause you have free will. Bad shit happens that is not God's will. This is axiomatic, 'cause you have free will (you morons) and don't have to do what God wants. God will not screw around in OUR time-zone with probabilities, gravity, magnetism, birth defects, diseases, 18-wheelers, murders, sadistic IQ test designers, or even dentists. That's 'cause he's got the ball rolling here, and its all designed to facilitate free will. Interfere with the set and you jack-around with free will, 'cause its going to be obvious (to some) and that tubes freedom.

Easy enough. Now it gets sticky. Why all this elaborate set-up to facilitate free will? Hmmmm. Seems as if God is wanting something from US. Free will, in and of itself, seems pretty pointless doesn't it? What is the objective of free will? Well, my empirical observation, my own experience tells me that I am not going to truly CARE about anything, or LOVE anything unless I am free to chose whether or not I shall in fact CARE about it or LOVE it. The converse is also accurate, in my experience. Hate's the same way-except that I'm indeed more likely to develop a dislike for something if I'm "required" to like it.

Now, assuming that there is one God, or at least a Big Boss God, then it is entirely reasonable to expect that HE (or IT, or SHE-I'm not a chauvinist pig....although wouldn't it be cool if God were a Babe-O-Rama!!! That'd get me going to some church in a big hurry) desires US to LOVE and seek TRUTH-one and the same. What makes this true? Well, it wouldn't be true if WE were, literally, rabbits. And, it wouldn't be true if we were solely rational, sentient-yet-soulless hominids. It is only true if, in fact, we have a SPIRITUAL component that has the capacity to be connected to, and thus part of GOD. (This, dear reader, is the difference between US and RABBITS) Now, do I need to fully explore the why and why not of the converse? Why doesn't GOD wish us to HATE HIM? ARE WE NOT RABBITS (DEVO?)? Well, if I have to go there to be rigorous, then I have to disappoint you.

OKAY, so why does GOD need LOVE? He's the big dude, right? He could just LOVE HIMSELF ALL NIGHT AND DAY, RIGHT? WRONG. SELF-LOVE IS ESSENTIAL, BUT LOVE IS ONLY EXISTS BETWEEN TWO OR MORE. IN FACT, SELF-LOVE IS NOT SELF-LOVE. TRUE SELF-LOVE IS LOVING GOD AND THAT IS MORE THAN JUST YOU. GOD AIN'T UP THERE JUST LOVIN' HIMSELF. LOVE DOES NOT EXIST WITHOUT OUT US, AND THAT'S WHY WE'RE HERE. Are you guys buying this? I hope so, 'cause it's the best I've got today. I figure I may be just completely and totally wrong about all this, but like I said, it's my best today.

If you're still reading this, man am I surprised. Anyhow, you now have just about the sum total of my RELIGION. Where we gonna go after we kick? How good'n'lovin' do ya gots to be? Beats the hell out of me. But, because we have this spiritual component/conduit/soul we have the opportunity to make a CONNECTION, IF WE CHOOSE, and THUS CONNECTED WILL LIVE ON IN SPIRIT AFTER OUR FLESH HAS FAILED. Is there any immediate practical benefit from CONNECTING-UP? That's another essay, and part of what I'm trying to express in the main body of this episode.