Entering a cab this afternoon, I saw that in the seat pockets were carefully arranged copies of “Awake!” and “The Watchtower” so I asked my cabbie, who looked like a typical, middle-aged, white lesbian, if she was a Jehovah’s Witness. Yes indeed. I asked her what she liked about it and she said, “It’s the Truth.” There was no mistaking that capital T, so of course I asked her what she meant by that. Quite a conversation ensued! She talked about Noah’s civilization being destroyed because of war and people not treating the earth right. She looked in the rearview mirror and said, “and what do we have now?” Correct: wars, and people not treating the earth right.
Most interesting to me was her take on the line in the “Lord’s Prayer” where it is written, “your kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven.” For her, this meant that a heavenly kingdom, headed up by Jesus, was going to be here on earth once this civilization was destroyed. The ‘end of days’ would transform this place. So I asked, “Is God a harsh judge, then?” Oh yes. “What about the concepts of love and mercy?” I pressed. “God gave us 6,000 years of mercy.” Guess the God she works with is plumb out.
Now, it could be easy to scoff at this thinking, and many do, just as I tease my geeky friends about the Singularity. Eschatology, in general, makes me yawn. But it also doesn’t take much to see how this is a workable paradigm for many. It is a worldview that can make sense as a story people can hold onto that explains the way things are, or the way they seem to be. It gives us something to do when things feel confusing, frightening, and out of control.
How is my thinking any different? I have my stories, too. While I am concerned for human acceleration of climate change (which, yes, happens to the earth anyway. But that doesn’t mean I have to speed things along), and have grave concerns about global violence and injustice, I don’t think that some deity is out there waiting to punish me for it. I do think that cause and effect exist. I do want to take as much responsibility for my life, relationships and actions as possible. I think that is also what my cabdriver was after – she wants people to wake up to what we are doing… But she wants this so we don’t get a cosmic whup-ass from a Daddy God. I want this because… I really want us to grow up. I really want us to live into our potential as glorious, aligned, healthy creatures living in right relationship with this planet and the cosmos. In doing this rests our potential to by fully human and fully divine. At least, that’s what I tell myself.
And at the bottom of it all, I still believe in the power of love. Call me deluded if you wish, but waking up every day and attempting to align myself through Love, in Love, and with Love, in the Unity of my own Holy Spirit, helps me to remember that I want to treat others well. It shows me when I’m not making my best effort in my relationships. It reminds me why I write, and teach, and dance, and counsel, and study. It brings me back to home – to a center that is based on something other than my ego. Don’t get me wrong, my ego is important to me, but not as important as being based in love. That is where my power rests, and in those moments when I forget this, I am brought up short by my weakness. And so I learn. Again.
I don’t need a Big Daddy God to keep me in line. For that, I’ll just keep showing up in prayer and practice. But I’m glad to have gotten a little insight into the mind of a Jehovah’s Witness, and to have shared a bit of respectful conversation in a chance meeting in a San Francisco taxicab.