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The closest I ever came to believing in God was on 9/12/01.

Not on 9/11, because I was not thinking coherently that day; I had just watched my husband die on television in a grand and showy bonfire of ash and humanity. But the day after, when I started to think about what had happened, I started toying idly with the idea that there might be a God.

It wasn't that I needed consolation, or that I wanted to find a greater purpose in so much senseless death. It was that I had trouble believing that simple, random fate could be so horribly cruel. It seemed like there should be an intelligence behind that magnitude of cruelty. I was and am a Taoist; somehow such an enormity did not seem to fit my sense of the world's balance. Do you know the Rolling Stones song? That day very nearly destroyed my notion of circular time.

In a sense, I was right; there was an intelligence behind the cruelty. But it was not divine intelligence. It was the ordinary and everyday notion of otherwise functionally rational humans that they knew what God wanted of them, and, further, an honest attempt to do this bidding.

This is why I have never been able to find it in myself to be angry at the terrorists. They were essentially non-sane. Whether their sanity had been truncated due to illness or trauma or whether they had been born with a deficiency is irrelevant; it makes as much sense to be angry at them for killing as it would to be angry at a legless man for using crutches. In a very fundamental way, it was impossible for them to do otherwise.

Two of my husband's three brothers are born-again Christians. After 9/11, I heard from their mother that the eldest was angry with God. To be perfectly honest, I understood this rather less than I understood the motivation for crashing a plane into a building. If you truly believe in God, how can you be angry with him? Any action He performs must be acceptable. This made me angry, though it's hard for me to explain why; I felt that if the brother simply had to believe as he did, that he should at least be consistent in his belief. I heard later that he had made his peace; he had realized that God, in his infinite love, can and indeed must be cruel.

I could have told him that.

You will probably have noticed that I don't post on this board. I have never thought it either necessary or productive to discuss or expound the reasons why I think a belief in God is irrational. But I wanted to tell this story today because, in a moment of the greatest stress, I understood and nearly fell myself into the irrationality. Perhaps not for the same reasons that others do; but it was the other side of the same cheaply alloyed coin.

I recovered myself; and this, too, was part of the grieving and healing process. I remain a Taoist, and the events of 9/11 fit into my philosophy because Man fits there. Man is both the best thing and the worst thing that can happen to himself, and having himself, he needs no god, either to praise or to blame. This knowledge has nothing to do with moral strength, or intellectual fortitude, or anything like that. It was simply a matter of remaining sane; just as we do not congratulate a healthy person on their continued good health, we cannot congratulate ourselves on our own sanity.

For those who live with a non-sane world picture, I have only sorrow and pity. They deserve it more than I do.

About this post: I have already mentioned that I am not a regular visitor to this board, and I apologize if this constitutes an interruption. Frankly, I didn't know where else to put it. It's part of my grieving process; for your indulgence, my thanks.
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When Life Gives You Lemons
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