Monday, October 13, 2008
Articles of Faith - Part I
1. Sins of Thought
When I was a child, no one ever asked, but if they had, this was my catechism. And these were the articles of my faith.
“I believe in God. And I believe in heaven and the certainty that it is the reward for the pure of mind, and hell – a deep pit of everlasting brimstone that is as certainly the reward of sinners.”
But the catch for me was that sin goes beyond evil deeds. It is also the mental act of impure thoughts. That blows my mind cause I can stay my hand when tempted to steal, or hold my tongue when tempted to lie, but it is impossible for me to avoid the equally vile sins of thought.
As a child, from little more than tiny seeds of resentment of expectations placed upon me, a forest grew of anger and annoyance and thoughts of bitter revenge. And likewise tiny spores of dissatisfaction with the poverty and want of my circumstance, grew like a flourishing field in light soil enriched with pig manure.
And so, it was hard for me to accept responsibility for the thoughts I entertained in my head of envy or distasteful judgment of other human beings. I knew it placed me in danger of burning brimstone, but though I could stay my hand from committing sins of the body, I could not stay my mind from mental digressions. Scenes and scripts in my mind fell so solidly outside of my control, that I was compelled to think my mind was oft under the control of a spirit other than my own.
So the pit of brimstone couldn’t be ignored with evil pictures unfolding in my mind for which I had little means of prevention. I feared the nasties that played endlessly like the music of a looping MP3-Player. Enough to wonder if perhaps I carried a curse that had descended from one evil individual within the root system of my family tree that would make my mind forever and always think impure thoughts of evil, envy, and disdain.
My father once told me that the most damnable act one could ever do was to wash a stone three times in a stream and each time repeat, “I wish to be as free of God as this stone is from sand.” And after the third time, there would be no turning back. That life would remain lonely, solitary, and godless.
I had never done it, never contemplated it. But had someone somewhere in my genealogical history done it. Is that why my father knew that and told me that?
So maybe this was the original curse, and maybe that curse is what prompts evil thoughts of hateful disdain for those who belittle things about me. Things over which I have no control – the eats in my lunch pail, my clothes, my shoes, my home, my family, my mother’s plain and unfashionable dress, or the culture of religious beliefs that rule my home.
But I digress when I want to get back to my articles of faith. To continue…
“I believe also that I can only save my soul from eternal damnation by mimicking my mother’s attitude of sparseness, humility, and self-denial.”
Like her, I need to deny the charm of riches, vanity, and worldly pleasures. Like her, I need to form alliances with lonely social misfits (without consideration how such alliances will damage my own status), and though I have a scarcity of luxuries, the few I have, I must willingly share with those who have less.
I do what I must but there is no denying it. I still miss the beloved doll I gave, at my family’s suggestion, to the little girl who had none. I gave Dolly away but, in truth, I still feel more remorse than beatitude for that so-called generous act. And extreme guilt not only about the misplaced loyalty Dolly had in my love and care but also, sadness for my other doll, Lulabell, and her separation from a dearly beloved sister.
NEXT POST: Conclusion - The Fools of Dingley-Dell