Friday, April 2, 2010

The Ballad of A Flying Berryman

Today is Good Friday, which if I remember my Catholic grammar school education adequately (I was only there through Grade 4 so I make no promises), is the day that the Roman Catholic Church denotes as the day upon which Christ was crucified, died and was buried. All of which set in motion much consternation and mourning......until the morning of Easter. It was then (again working off of memory from Sister Vida's class at St. Paul's) that Christ rose from the dead. If I was feeling especially irreverent this morning, here is where I would insert a snarky reference to him rising from the dead and riding shotgun with the Easter Bunny on the latter's worldwide deliveries of Cadbury chocolates. Alas I am not. Thus the opportunity to display the aforementioned snarkiness too shall pass.

While I shall resist the temptation to be snarky, I nevertheless cannot embrace the presumed significance of this day. Any number of law firms whose attorneys I deal on a daily basis are closed today. Here in New Jersey our State court system, which we refer to as the Superior Court, is closed as well in observance of Good Friday. It certainly appears to be shaping up as a quiet day at the office today, which is no reason for flogging or self-flagellation to be sure. Still, I simply do not get what all the fuss is about.

All of us come at everything we encounter in our day-to-day from a pre-determined starting point. As John Hiatt once observed far more eloquently than I ever could, "We can choose - you know we ain't no amoebas." Once upon a time - OK not as far back as then - but when I was a boy, I grew up in a household where Mom and Dad gathered us all up and took us to church on Sunday mornings. For the first five years of my educational existence I attended Catholic schools - toiling mightily at St. Paul's in Princeton from Kindergarten through Grade Two before matriculating North a piece to Somerville where I spent Grades Two and Three at Immaculate Conception School. To this day, whenever I hear Springsteen's masterpiece Lost in the Flood I think of my ICS years and I smile.

Somewhere along the way - I know not when - all of the religification ceased to take. I have arrived at this particular point in my life's day-by-day walking the path of the lapsed Catholic. I have come to embrace the H.L. Mencken perspective. I have so little faith in the notion of absolutes that I reject atheism out of hand in the same way in which I reject the all-knowing devoutness that organized religion seems to be peddling perpetually. I do my part to try to stay below the tree line on this issue whenever possible. Unless you are a member of the lunatic fringe (and the rest of us know who you are even if you choose not to acknowledge it. Yes, I am talking about you Mr. Phelps and the rest of the hatemongers you have gathered as your "flock". Protest at the funeral of any Marines killed in combat lately you a##hole?) I take no issue with practicing of your religion. Nor do I pretend to know better than you pretend to do whether it makes any damned difference at all. If it makes you happy and your happiness does not come unfairly at the expense of others then break open a fresh pack of Crayolas and color me "could not care less". It is located in the 64-pack right next to the brown-orange. Or is it the orange-brown? High on the list of things I cannot accept is Crayola's perpetual jive about those actually being separate and distinct colors.

Religion and the practice of religious beliefs is not only a hot-button topic in America, it is big business. And still - steadfastly - I have opted out. I have friends and family both who are concerned that my apparent absence of faith in a higher power in this life will not bode well for me in the next one. To their chagrin I tell them simply that I shall take my chances and besides, neither of us shall ever know which of us was right; right? I will be dead after all. While as an attorney who charges clients by the hour for his time, the prospect of being able to generate income even after I am dead is appealing beyond words to me, I am resigned to the impossibility of it.

For all whose journey to this particular point in your day-to-day is one that has permitted you to embrace the notion of faith in something or someone out there somewhere, I wish you well. While yours is a journey I have not taken, I certainly do not begrudge you for it nor intend to demean it or you or both. I simply cannot embrace it. I have simply seen too much. Too many things that reinforce in my mind the notion that faith is not all that it is cracked up to be. You need not waste any of the precious allotment of time each of us has here worrying about or praying for me. Even in the really hot weather I wear my big boy pants.

At day's end it appears to me - from my perhaps jaundiced vantage point - to all be an elegant waste of time and effort. People investing themselves, their time and often their money on what may be nothing other than Ecumenical Powerball - with about as good a chance to win salvation as you have to win the multi-million dollar jackpot. If that is enough for you, then so be it. It is not for me so I choose to not purchase a ticket. Fret not. One less combatant on the battlefield increases your odds of winning; right?

We walk the path we choose. We carry with us - each of us - our own cross to bear. We hope to make it all the way home. Me? I am indeed on my way. For present purposes I am stuck between stations....

......No worries. This too shall pass.


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