catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 11, Num 1 :: 2012.01.06 — 2012.01.19


Ten reasons I believe in God ... and the devil, too

First, there was God . . .

When I was in college I learned of the various arguments for the existence of God. There was the teleological, the cosmological… no, please, keep reading. I’m not going there. They were very abstract reasons.

But somehow, now, the things that give me assurance that God exists all seem to be very material. Present. Things you can touch and see.

1. Manure

Okay, I wanted to use another word to describe this, but thought that might raise expectations. Just think about how this works: all living things produce something that we used to call waste, but which is actually food for the things that provide us with food. With every pitchfork of cow patties, steaming in the winter air, with every scoop in the horse shelter, with every sawdust toilet bucket that I lug out of the house, all I can think is: “What a great system!”

2. L’Arche Communities

Take a group of people, some with obvious disabilities, some able to function extremely well in the world. Provide room for them to live and work together. Provide meaningful work for all. And suddenly those on the margins find meaning and a place. Those in the mainstream discover their deepest vulnerabilities. And there is love. There is love.

3. Eggs

They are perfectly packaged, requiring only gentleness. They are easily raised, requiring only faithfulness. They are tasty to eat, requiring only attentiveness and creativity (if desired). They are complete, providing strength and shine.  Eggs, then, are the perfect proof of great gentleness, faithfulness, attentiveness, creativity and strength. Not to mention a shining, like shook foil.

4. Wood

How does wood love me? Let me count the ways.
Heat folds his arms around me on the coldest days,
Maple hottest burns so red, birch to start the blaze.
Smooth wood shines dull and yet our food displays.
Huge beams with strength uphold the sheltering roof
And winter storms are kept at bay. A proof
That wood our first and only shelter is. In summer heat
Wood holds our cooling shade and bears for us the meat
And fruit of autumn feast. As if designed to please,
This shelter, warmth and beauty grows on trees.

5. Romero House for refugees in Toronto

When the world has ended. When death has had its final word. When nothing is left but the hatred of strangers, there is a house. A house where the world begins anew, where a new land and a new language provide new life. A place where strangers offer love at the border called hope. A place where refugees find refuge. A place of resurrection.

6. Seeds

Never mind turning water into wine. That seems easy. Take an onion seed, that tiny, shiny, black, round speck. Put it next to an onion. How to turn one into the other? Put a celery seed next to a stalk of celery. Or a squash seed next to the rambling vines. How does one become the other?  Just add earth, water, sun, you say? Impossible. Only a miracle could do it.

7. Water

Water breaks the rules of physics. I like that in a creature. Not to mention that you can swim in it in the summer and skate on it in the winter. What kind of a creator breaks the rules to make that possible?

8. Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes feed so many things that make a summer perfect: dragonflies and bats, orioles, bluebirds, and warblers. The mosquito, provision for beauty.

9. Chocolate

You can eat it, drink it, sniff it, find comfort in it. Most importantly, it is the remedy for dementors, driving away despair, providing warmth and hope.

10. Sneezing

You can’t buy a sneeze or force a sneeze. A sneeze is always a gift, evidence of grace. And sneezing almost feels as good as…well, that would get us past our limit of ten.


…and then there was the devil

For some reason we never spent any time at college engaged in proofs for the existence of the devil, Calvinists that we were. No matter, here are ten reasons why I believe in the devil.

1.  Amish romances

We have been given a great story to live out of  — a story of despair and hope, betrayal and forgiveness, death and resurrection. The devil is very interested in presenting another alluring story for us. And romance is one of the stories of choice of our culture. The romantic ideal shapes our fairy tales and our movies, animates the magazines that we read and gives plausibility to our advertising. It also, incidentally, is the story that ruins many, many lives when it doesn’t come true. I’ve picked Amish romances here because they purport to be Christian, which makes them even more dangerous.

2. Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes embody the distortion of creation by evil. Without them our beauty would be less. It cannot be the case, however, that they were meant to be the carriers of death. Or to be such whiners.

3. Institutional Politics

I am willing to believe that somewhere there is an institution in which people act out of love and in forgiveness. Where people try to build up their colleagues and act out of self sacrifice. Where people practice patience, kindness, faithfulness and self-control. Let me know when you find one.

4. Malls

The place where we get our fix to carry us further into the romantic story of our culture. Need better clothes, hair, shoes, stereos, computers? We can help fill your storage units.

5. Church politics

What part of “those who would be greatest must be the servant of all” don’t we understand?

6. Cars, trucks, tractors

These vehicles demonstrate how the unthinking adoption of a technology can destroy so much: community, habitat , soil, the climate, lives, animals. I debated leaving this one out because of the obvious advantages of ambulances and fire engines. But our need of these vehicles is greater because of the violence that car and truck accidents cause. On balance, we’ve lost more than we’ve gained.           

7. Bullying in schoolyards/on the bus/in the classroom

Here we see both the fruit and the seeds of violence, in our homes, in our communities, in our world. Only in a world where violence in the schoolyard makes sense can we think that war will solve our problems.

8. Refrigerators

I need only say two words here. Food waste. Okay, let me add a few more: lettuce in January in Canada. Wake up and smell the exploitation.

9. Television

The medium by which the stories of romance, violence and consumption are made plausible around the world. The venue for the promotion of greed. If I were more savvy, I would add the internet to this.

10. The nuclear family

If God’s original plan was to hang out in a garden with some naked vegetarians, God’s plan B was to hang out in a community made up of rich and poor, vulnerable and powerful, old and young, lovable and outcast. The nuclear family creates all the lonely people.

This is, of course, a poor place to end. I invite you, therefore, back up to my first ten. I invite you to consider Romero House and L’Arche, seeds, wood and eggs. And manure. Consider how carrion produces new life. Consider, and rejoice.

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