Tag Archives: Father’s Day

On Fathers and Their Children

Dear Father,

I was locked in an interesting discussion the other day with a friend back at home. Having recently discovered that I had left the House completely and was not, as I’d let most of my friends and family believe, simply checking out another wing in the vast domicile, she had taken to evangelising to my wayward soul. Where our conversations were normally about our mundane and carefree lives they quickly became about you and the Brother-Saviour, about coming back home and giving my life back to best Father in the universe. Very many times she failed to understand the depth of my doubt, often telling me that I was simply being difficult, that I would believe if I really wanted to. She is not the first person I have heard this from. Many of your children, it seems, genuinely do not understand how some of us could fail to believe. They think it is simply a matter of choice, that our lack of faith comes from a purposeful effort to undermine you, and not a genuine position of ignorance and confusion. Perhaps this is why many of the people I have spoken to about my predicament have failed to turn me back to you. There appears to be a fundamental disconnect between all of us, a wall that stops believers from truly empathising with those of us that have crossed the golden gates.

Our conversation on that day was about freedom and its consequences. As you know one of the central issues that drove me from home is the presence of evil in the world you have made. My friend had just finished extolling the beauties of nature, the magnanimity of our Father, a being that loved the world so much he suffered and died for it. And I asked her – much as I ask myself on many occasions, and as Doubt asks me on the days I am feeling more amenable towards you – I asked her about the people currently suffering through famine in the continent of my ancestors. There are children there, who despite the best efforts of their brethren (some of whom neither know you, nor care about you) will be born, only to die shortly after from disease and starvation. There are those who have known only pain and poverty their entire lives, with nary an inkling of joy. I asked about the war-torn regions in the Middle East, where the children of the Star and the Crescent are locked in what appears to be constant war; where extremists, marching in the name of someone that bears a striking resemblance to you, are murdering people by the hundreds, intent that all on this earth bow to their holy vision. I asked about these things and she said, almost nonplussed, “Did Father do any of those?”

In her mind, as in the minds of almost all the children in the House, you have given us free will and so are absolved of all responsibility for the actions perpetrated under this freedom. I was wrong, she said emphatically, to blame you for the deeds of your children.

Ignoring my trials (and failures) at grasping the true meaning of free will, her question brought me to an almost stunning realisation. None of your children would treat their children the way you have treated us. Think for a moment Father, on how parents (the good ones, at any rate) raise their children. An earthly father does not see his two infant sons fighting, with one in real danger of killing the other, and shrug it off, claiming that they possess the freedom to do as they please. An earthly mother does not see her baby waddling towards a burning flame and allow it, claiming that the baby has chosen the fire and so she will respect its choices. Even if the child had already burned itself and still sought to approach the fire no parent would justify leaving it to the flames; no parent would say that because the child really wanted to burn they would let it.

The way we treat our children is centred around circumventing their freedoms, because we see quite clearly that their minds cannot use these freedoms properly. We make our homes childproof; we mash their food into tiny little bits; we swaddle them with the softest clothing. They are young and foolish and fragile, and that is how we, in our love for them, treat them.

But they are children, came my friend’s swift reply. We can distinguish between right and wrong; we know what’s good for us; we are not children. But once again I could not agree with her. Of course when compared with our children we are not children. But when compared to you we are even less than children. The differential between your intellect and ours is far, far greater than that between ours and our kids. And in spite of the fact that the children we birth eventually make it to maturity, we never stop trying to prevent the harm they cause. In my musings on justice I made the point that in its idealisation the justice of your children would aim to prevent harm, using punishment only as a deterrent and not as a tool of vengeance. When our police hear of a potential murder they do not shrug it off and claim that the participants are free. No; they do everything in their power to stop that murder from happening.

And yet it seems our Father in heaven, who loves us far more than we can ever know, refuses to afford us the same courtesy. You know, Father, that we are weak. You know that even when we have the best intentions we still fail. You know that some of us, for whatever reason, do not even have the best intentions. And yet you have not stopped the dictators from murdering millions, the warlords from grabbing children from their homes and shoving guns into their arms. The free will excuse seems immensely shallow because no loving Father, in full knowledge of the limitations of his children, would allow them to destroy themselves so wantonly, especially when the countless threats of the fiery pit down below have done little to quell their bloodlust and violence.

As expected my friend refused to see my point, insisting that the freedom you have given us trumps all else, that somehow, even though we are less than children before your awesome eyes, we are still to blame for the terrible things we foolishly do to one another. Perhaps she is right. Perhaps fathers everywhere would do well to follow in the example of the greatest Father of them all. I suspect the recent holiday commemorating fathers would have taken on a very different tone if this were the case, however. I doubt anyone of us, burned and scarred by the flames, would have found it in our hearts to celebrate such fathers.

With love,

Your Prodigal Son

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On Fathers and Their Works

Dear Father,

Today is a day for fathers. Today, all around me, people are praising their fathers, appreciating their fathers, showing their fathers that their endless labours of love have not gone unnoticed. Today our fathers are the centres of our attention, the axes of our small universes. And so today, setting aside all my musings and discoveries about truth, arbitration, doubt, knowledge and what not, I think it fitting to focus the purpose of my letter on you Father, the Father of all fathers.  I understand that by Universal Family tradition the Day of Fathers was the nineteenth of the third month, but I already spent that day writing about my companion, and so I feel in many ways that you are owed this missive.

I would love to praise you Father, to shower you with the kinds of words I have heard uttered by my fellow men on this celebratory day. I would love to tell you how grateful I am for all that I have, how wonderful this life is that you have given me. And it is wonderful. I am not as affluent as some of your other children, but I am satisfied. By your grace I have never wanted for anything; all the things I have needed to ensure a comfortable and happy life have been provided me. I have had friends genuinely concerned about my wellbeing; I have had family to support and shelter me; I have had a mother that cares for and nurtures me; and I have had father that guides and protects me. I have, quite frankly, had it all, and on days such as this, when I think on the things my earthly father has done for me, I am filled with what I expect other children felt as they showered their fathers with praise.

It hasn’t always been perfect, my relationship with my father. I have not always liked some of the decisions he has taken. There have been days when I wished I was not his son, days when I hoped to see him vanish. As I have advanced in age however, I have learned to see the reason behind many of his actions. I have come to understand that he loves me, that he has sacrificed a great deal for me and for my siblings, and that all he does he does with the hopes that he would be able to provide us with better opportunities and better lives than he and his brethren had. On a day like this, thinking on things that he has done, I can appreciate some of his work. I can appreciate my father. We may disagree on his methods, but there comes with the understanding that his intentions are good a certain respect. He is only human, after all, much like the rest of us, and expecting absolute perfection from him is simply expecting failure.

With you, however, the situation is quite different. Of course I understand that a lot of what my earthly father has been able to do for me, he has only been able to do because of you.  In fact he, the staunch Universalist that he is, would say that you have been doing these things through him. With requisite humility he would say that any feelings of appreciation I feel towards him should be directed to you, for he would have been powerless without your help, purposeless without your guidance. And therein lies the rub, dearest Father, for while I can accurately conclude that my father has done no more for me than he has for my siblings, I cannot say the same for you. I have looked at the world around me, at your other children both within the House and outside it. I have stared at your creation, from the lowliest pauper to the highest prince, and what I have seen has not convinced me of your benevolence. It has in fact nearly convinced me of the exact opposite.

There are glaring inequalities amongst your children, dear Father. In the same manner that some live in comfort and abundance, others live without their most basic needs. In the same manner that some are surrounded by friends and family, others, through no fault of their own, are surrounded by foes and demons, placed in these unfortunate situations by no more than an accident of birth. In the same manner that I have never had to want for anything, even now that I have left your House and spoken critically of your person, there are countless that have dedicated themselves completely to you and yet suffer daily, bearing pain upon pain all for your sake.

Ignoring your children and looking upon your world we are met yet again with the same problem. For every single beautiful day, fresh of air and warm of feeling, there are days of such immense cold and darkness it is a wonder they even exist. It has been ages since I sat to peruse the words of your Book but I remember what it said after it had described your amazing works of creation. It said that this earth was good. That you looked upon your creation, upon all that you had ever made, and you concluded that it was perfect, just as you wished. I remember thinking on this as a child, remember looking at the horrors around me: the beggars in the street, ravaged by disease; the stories of floods displacing people and destroying homes; the tales of earthquakes crushing towns, and I remember wondering: Where is the good in this? Your world, your good world, it seems, would like nothing more than to be done with your children, to wipe itself clean of our existence. We have to build houses, take drugs, wear clothes, and employ vast amounts of accessorising in order to give ourselves a fighting chance; and no sooner are we done with these than are we reminded, often in a manner most brutal, of the fragility of our tiny constructed domiciles, of the frailty of these forms we call bodies.

And then there is the issue of the nature of your children. I have oft mentioned this in my other letters, lamenting on how lacking we are when compared to you, our Father. As you know, I left the House because of your apparent absence, because I seeking you had never once seen you. In my younger days, when I voiced my doubts about this wonderful and perfect Father everyone seemed to talk about, I was told to look around me, told that I would see you in your works. Well Father, on what better work am I to focus my attention than on your greatest work of all: your children? I must say that I have looked at my brethren Father, and what I have found is not promising.

Looking at the things we do to each other, the horrible acts of murder, theft, rape, betrayal, discrimination, that we do with ever increasing viciousness to each other, it is hard, very hard, to believe that we have a perfect Father. We are supposedly made in your image, cast in your mould, and yet every single thing we do spits in the face of this notion. Our minds are weak, easily falling prey to Doubt and falsehoods; our hearts are rank and dark, often compelling us to do the most horrible things to even those that we care very deeply for. And we were the last thing you made, Father, the pinnacle of your already perfect creation.

I wish I could say, much like those I left in the House, that the few goods things I have seen on your earth are enough to cause me to forget the bad. But they are not. In a world where more of your children for most of their history have lived in conditions most deplorable, in a world where they are supposed to have a Father much more powerful than the one that nurtured and cared for me growing up, it is difficult to believe that this Father is good, or that he has done his best. It is difficult for me to look upon you with appreciation and praise, to acknowledge, with even the slightest hint of approval, the work that you have done.

Now, I would be remiss if I did not say that I am well aware of the answers the House has given to some of the problems I have listed so far. I would also be remiss if I did not say that my months of thought and observation have largely led me to view these answers with scepticism. Adamant that you are perfect, dearest Father, they have laid the responsibility of the earth’s issues with us, the children. You, blameless before men, holiest in all the universe, cannot be responsible for all the evil that we see. No. We, your weak and frail children, found a way to damage your perfect creation. Your Book says this, the elders confirm it. And years of listening to this, spoken by various House members in various ways, have revealed the primary progenitors of these issues: free will and its direct consequence, sin. Powerful things these are, Father, for they effectively free you of all responsibility, absolve you of all blame. They tell us, on this Day of Fathers, that we are the cause of our problems, not the being responsible for all that we have and are. They tell us that we need not look to our Father for why we are so terrible; we can only blame ourselves.

I will be addressing both of these in coming letters, free will and sin. But on this day Father, I cannot praise you. The magnitude of all that we are not weighs too heavily upon me. Because it matters not what excuses our elders or your holy Book give. In the end you are the Father, and we the children. If you are really so perfect, surely you would have been able to do better than this; surely we would have been able to rise higher than the base acts our lowly natures compel us towards. We are nothing like the perfect image you are supposed to be, and thinking on this, dear Father, I find it most suspect. There is, after all, a saying amongst your children about apples and their trees.

 

With sadness and disappointment,

Your Prodigal Son

 

P.S. As with the letter on your guide, this would probably reach you after the Day of Fathers has passed. Forgive me, Father; I had a slight preoccupation.

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