Cross Pressures

What if it were true says the agnostic? The doubter has doubts but doubt for the doubter is faith. Five points to consider for this secular age.
1. Secular age belief is contestable not less religious . In the year 1500 it was impossible not to believe in God in over 500 years we have moved to a place where it is not a given
2. Secular age positive productive accomplishment – to believe something else
3. Secular age meaningful full life without any reference to transcendance or eternity
4. We are all in this frame we live in a world pressured and pulled in multiple directions cross pressures. We have the horizontal life we lead now, full of opportunity but we are still haunted by the vertical or the transcendant these are cross pressures
5. This secularity has created an explosion of options of ways to believe but still there is the persistent pressure of transcendence. This is summarised by the poem by Jeanne Murray Walker

Staying power
In appreciation of Maxim Gorky at the International
Convention of Atheists. 1929

Like Gorky, I sometimes follow my doubts
outside and question the metal sky,
longing to have the fight settled, thinking
I can’t go on like this, and finally I say

all right, it is improbable, all right, there
is no God. And then as if I’m focusing
a magnifying glass on dry leaves, God blazes up.
It’s the attention, maybe, to what isn’t

there that makes the notion flare like
a forest fire until I have to spend the afternoon
dragging the hose to put it out. Even
on an ordinary day when a friend calls,

tells me they’ve found melanoma,
complains that the hospital is cold, I say God.
God, I say as my heart turns inside out.
Pick up any language by the scruff of its neck,

wipe its face, set it down on the lawn,
and I bet it will toddle right into the godfire
again, which–though they say it doesn’t
exist—can send you straight to the burn unit.

Oh, we have only so many words to think with.
Say God’s not fire, say anything, say God’s
a phone, maybe. You know you didn’t order a phone,
but there it is. It rings. You don’t know who it could be.

You don’t want to talk, so you pull out
the plug. It rings. You smash it with a hammer
till it bleeds springs and coils and clobbered up
metal bits. It rings again. You pick it up

and a voice you love whispers hello.

–Originally published in Poetry