Thursday, June 05, 2008

God Seizures

I'm back from the doctors. I think I can trust him. He's taking my 'funny turns' seriously, which is more than the neurologist did, refusing to dismiss them as panic attacks. He is referring me back to both cardiologist and neurologist. He's not convinced it's heart related though, but that it's neurological-based, which is what I've always felt.

He tentatively said he thought it might be migraine. I'm not that convinced, but after having ten 'turns' in one day yesterday, I'm willing to consider anything. When I read up on various diagnoses, however, it is still simple partial epilepsy that fits my own symptoms most exactly.

Whilst I was looking into it on the Web, I came across this, The God Helmet.

This is so far out, and the implications so unsettling. As someone with a history of both strange or 'religious' experiences and also fit-type experiences (I think I came virtually convulsing out of the womb), there's something in it that doesn't entirely shock me. There's something very 1950's Sci-Fi about it, but the prospect of 'mystical' experiences (and hence a lot of the basis of religion) being neurologically locatable, is intriguing.

It's no surprise that when Richard Dawkins underwent one of these experiences, he felt nothing (I wonder what would make him feel something). As someone who describes spirituality as a 'virus of the mind' and faith as a maligning disease, I mistrust the obvious blind-spots of his scientific materialism.

One thing I do begrudgingly agree with Dawkins on, however, is how faith and 'spirit' can make religion impervious to criticism or rigorous analysis from either outside or within. Religion has such a massive vested interest.

When I think about Roman Catholicism (which contains much beauty in some of its ideals), it has such a huge investment in ideas of humanity, womanhood, manhood, family, birth and death and ultimately 'the soul', that anything challenging this investment is quickly pulled apart and conceived as heretic, aberrant, or 'other'. Or else it turns a blind-eye.

For as long as Catholicism has existed, homosexuality has been on its black-list. To validate it would be to throw all that the Church believes in as 'God's will' up in smoke (or so Church authority would have us believe). It demolishes the Church's position on marriage, conception and the family. Sexual union is meant to be between a man and a woman, married and in a state of grace and love, and for the purposes of conceiving a child. How can that underlying premise of Catholicism stand true if it in any way validates homosexuality?

So Catholicism makes its bitter choices, time and again. I often wonder what happens when someone is actually intersex, having both sets of female/male physical attributes/genitals?

There are two choices - preserve the authority of that religion and cast out those who don't fit in or embrace the differences and feel religious edict unravel.

I don't like the alternative - science-based, materialism-based, consumer-based, psychological-based hard conviction. It's not that different from a religious one.

I've been looking for a God for a very long time. One that's free from its own ideology, that is unmediated 'spirit' or reality, that doesn't need 'belief' in a whole set of proscribed values or rules. I either haven't found it yet, or if I have, I don't know it yet.

It's ridiculous to denounce God. We all have religion, even old Dawkins, whether its science, consumerism, politics, self-help, romance, drug-taking, music, poetry, activism, money, drink, solitude, chaos, death, family, work, self-harm... It's impossible to live in a God-less society.

But that is a God of surety, of belief. What about the more mysterious one, the one the saints talk of, and people like Dawkins despise? The one we can't capture? That defies description, is beyond conception? The one I'm always looking for, that always escapes, or isn't really 'there' to seek in the first place.

I touched it as a 'Buddhist'. I touch it reading both Derrida and St Francis.I touch it with poetry, music, and also sometimes when I look in my Mum's eyes. That's the only faith I know. And it's intermittent, inconclusive, and very scary.

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