7 oct. 2012

The Sunday column

I recommend (and translate into English for the reader's benefit) this column by Manuel Vicent, featured in El País on Sunday, 7 October 2012, and which you may read in its Spanish original here.

by Manuel  Vicent

Thus spoke Spinoza’s God: ‘Stop praying, enjoy life, work, sing and have fun with everything I have made for you. My house is not in those gloomy, dark, cold temples you have built yourselves, and which you call my abode. My house is in the hills, in the rivers, lakes and beaches. This is where I live. Stop blaming me for your wretched life. I never said you were sinners, or that your sexuality was wrong. Sex is a gift I have given unto you, so that you can express your love, your ecstasy, your happiness. Do not blame me for what they have made you believe. Do not read religious books. Read me in the dawn, in the landscape, in your friends’ gaze, in the eyes of a child. Stop being afraid of me. Stop asking me for forgiveness. I gave you myriad passions, pleasures, feelings, free choice. Why would I punish you, if it is I that created you? Forget the commandments, which are mere tricks in order to manipulate you. I cannot tell you whether there is an afterlife. Just live as if there were none, as if this were the only opportunity to love, to exist. Stop believing in me. I want you to feel me whenever you kiss your loved one, whenever you stroke your dog, whenever you bathe in the sea. Stop praising me. I am not so egocentric’.
Thus spoke the imaginary God of the 17th-century Sephardic pantheist philosopher, Baruch Spinoza, the founder of a mystic school that hippies, gurus, pumpkin-seed sellers and other prophets of modern spirituality have fed upon. Now, if there were a God who was an aesthete and became visible, we might demand an explanation for the sorrow of so many innocents, the millions of children who starve to death, the violent depravation so many men subject women to, the killing instinct that human beings seem to own, engraved deep inside them. Spinoza’s God flows over the green valleys, It flies over the snow-capped peaks, It is indistinct from an unpolluted river, It is present in dolphins, in children’s laughter.
Yet evil does not fit into such beauty. This God tells us to stop asking It for things. ‘Are you telling me how I should do my Work? I am but pure love’. Therefore, It will have to explain to us why, everywhere one looks in this wretched world, one finds nothing but evil, wars, moral junk, the tears and the blood of the innocent, blood which makes the rivers and the seas, too.

My own thoughts on this? We may be just a very annoying contradiction, which has spread like a lethal virus all over the third planet away from a fairly minor star in the Milky Way. The dodo or the thylacine, to name but two, could attest to that.

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