Stolen Car

Highway and lights at night

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
All work and…

Haha, no I’m not quite there yet. I like a little added pressure for getting things done but on a more serious note, it’s all been catching up with me lately. Writer’s block plagued me for weeks it seemed. So the other evening I put on some music instead and before I knew it, hours had passed. After getting lost in the rock ‘n’ roll I remembered wanting to check out a song featured in the movie, Drive. Well, nothing hits the spot like good music.

I always see to these things in my own sweet time. The film is one of the most memorable in recent years for me and it presents the song perfectly, far better than this blog post can, so I recommend watching it before playing the following video. But this is a live version which I thought was pretty special and worth the mention here:

I talked about magic—what that means to me is tied to that 1980s American aesthetic; (always has been, like I was born ten years late on the wrong side of the pond). But it’s hard to stay close to all things ethereal when they have no place among all the display window substitutes in this clean-cut age. And it’s at times like these, when the past serves as a source of strength, that the topic of faith comes to the fore in my mind. I’ll never be able to swallow the notion that a faithful life is a privilege…

I put forward some relevant ideas in a previous post and that’s where I’ll pick up from, although I now realize that attempting to wrap up such an expansive discussion is a bad idea. Still, I haven’t yet said much directly about faith, which is kind of strange as the topic is a mainstay of mine, perhaps what this blog is all about. In this post I’d just like to finish clearing up my ideological position; another one for the record, I guess.

A secular faith-based philosophy comes with a bunch of apparent perplexities. If, like me, you believe that life matters in some fundamental way that science can’t account for, it’s a natural and valid question to ask whether you might need (or already have) religion or an otherwise spiritual element in your life. But as I alluded in that other post, I don’t care to spend much time down that particular rabbit hole, but with good reason I would argue.

In a rational search for the meaning of life, all signs point to an absolute—God. But that doesn’t make for much of a revelation when you consider the limits of our comprehension. It’s one thing to examine the observable universe but when the answers you’re looking for are beyond any conceivable measure, science and reasoning are the wrong tools for the job.

Religion, on the other hand, is a much more interesting prospect. I don’t know what it means to have faith without God in metaphysical terms, but I sure know how it feels to believe that life matters somehow—it feels right. That’s plenty for me and I don’t see how a traditional belief system is any more tenable. All I’ll say here is it’s a shame that the divide between the faithful and the faithless is characterized by a stark choice between religion on one side and Apple’s latest ‘Jesus phone’ on the other.

But it’s that moral dimension of a faithful way of life, regardless of religious inclination, that’s my focus here. With due respect to anyone concerned, I think most of us have experienced certain emotional states that religious followers would ascribe to God. We all share a desire for some sort of reciprocation from the great beyond when love and gratitude come around, as well as explanations and remedies for the hardship. The key thing for me is that, without faith, the outcome of this searching only piles on the baggage until the pursuit of happiness becomes nothing more than a faded memory, or a bad joke.

This is a big deal in my view because damage control can only go so far. Surely, in a world that’s hurting so much, aiming higher and trying harder is the only acceptable response; anything else can only delay a solution and prolong the suffering. I don’t know about you but I don’t have the face to hand out a lesser deal to anyone on the losing end. And that’s my central objection with the popular ideologies—in a practical sense they’re effectively waste bins for the world’s problems rather than a driving force for progress.

There’s also much more to say about the psychological aspect in all this. Within the first few months of arriving here in Cyprus I signed up with a little local movie rental shop on a dusty street. It was a great find because I’m pretty sure these places are now long gone around London. One time when I stepped inside, the lady behind the counter, in her fifties I’d say, was sitting dead still watching a movie alone in the shop. She didn’t blink until I started talking and there was a distinctly dejected look about her. Maybe she was just engrossed in a tear-jerker or something but I got the impression that she had spent many years sat there getting through the shop’s collection in a workday routine, what with the slow pace of business and way of life around here. In any case, I left the place wondering whether I might turn out a similar way at some later stage in my life. Who knows for sure, but I did come to an important thought.

I can’t say that I believe in God without stretching my meaning too far, but I reckon I have a good deal in common with many religious believers. The essential bit and the part I value the most is a sense of humility at the heart of things. The day that life can’t blow your mind is the day you might as well give up the ghost. Only with humility can we tap into that well of mystery for the fuel we need to make the most of the little time we have. And I guess that’s what faith is all about for me—leaving the book open so that life really can be what we make of it. What hope is there otherwise?

 

I’m driving a stolen car on a pitch-black night
And I’m telling myself I’m gonna be alright
But I ride by night and I travel in fear
That in this darkness I will disappear

 

Blog update

I wish I had something less academic to offer in this post but the work really is jamming me up. So this is just to let you know that I’ve got my hands full and I might be unable to even get the monthly post out until next year. We’ll see how things work out—I could well be wrong, only it looks like a tight squeeze right now.

Thanks a lot for reading and happy holidays if I don’t make it back on here sooner.

 

Photo by Josh Boot / retouched

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