God Is Punishing Me

On Thursday more than $1,500 disappeared from my checking account and I got hit with six bank charges. (I think I must've entered one electronic paycheck twice in my ledger, but I'm not sure.) On Friday, I went to bring my 87-year-old mother to my house for her birthday and found her in her assisted living apartment, dazed and lying on the floor. Some stupid new medicine had totally buckled her legs and messed her mind. I brought her home anyway for "observation" and now I'm having to spend much of my weekend in the bathroom with her.

I was really feeling begrudging and hateful. . . and then today (I almost wrote, "Therefore,"), as I was backing my stick-shift Subaru out of my driveway, the gear shift got stuck; I thought the clutch cable had snapped (the car has logged 180,000 miles). I was blocking my own driveway, and in fifteen minutes I was expecting a shipment of lumber.

It all worked out. Capitalism bailed me out with a 0% until February, 2009 cash advance (you know, I could actually make money on these credit card companies if I'd take the advance and put it in a CD and be very careful about monitoring it, but I won't); my mother is recovering (and so am I); and the car popped back into gear (hopefully it was early morning frozen condensation, said the wood delivery guy; I haven't yet taken it for a test drive).

My magical mind nevertheless read it all as ominous. I felt as if God were punishing me for my evil thoughts about my mother. And thus I realized for the umpteenth time that one of the reasons I don't believe that there is a cosmic law of accountability and consequence (though there certainly IS a material reality to accountability and consequence — witness global warming!) is that this would be one hell of a scary world in which to be my very imperfect self.

Most folks I know, including the religious ones, don't think in such terms, about God's punishments and such. They have little relationship to what used to be called "the fear of God" (yirat shamayim). What they seem to seek is to get high on God, to get high on the spirituality of interconnection. For me, however, the God I don't believe in is a God who makes demands and commands my fear, and whom I would not want to meet in a dark alleyway.

Nu, most of that last paragraph was culled from p. 143 in my new book, Waiting for God, which you should all buy, to make up for that $1,500 shortfall and for all of my suffering.

It makes for good bathroom reading, with or without your mother.


Blogger Lao Qiao said...

Let me second Larry's statement that all readers of this blog (and non-readers too) should buy his book. WAITING FOR GOD, echoes the title of WAITING FOR GODOT, whose two main characters are called Didi and Gogo, Chinese for "younger brother" and "older brother." Among the many things you will learn from the book is the story of the big brother and his religious journey, the exactly the opposite of the journey taken by the younger brother.

10:10 PM  
Blogger Ivanushka Groznyj said...

Larry, Larry -- what's with this divide yr drawing between the "cosmic" & the "material"?! What would Tio Carlos say?!!

3:35 AM  
Blogger neen said...

Oy, Larry... what a weekend. I'm glad it all worked out in the end.
As it happens, I was in Rochester, NY, this weekend, and I brought along "Waiting for God" to read. Never mind the bathroom - it makes for good hotel and airplane reading, too. (And it sparked some interesting conversation with the guy sitting next to me on the plane, too!)

7:02 PM  

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