Let’s Get Serious: World Without End

by pjmcbride

Items of business, they be three:

1. I can’t believe that I’ve wondered for years where I got this permanent lump on my head, and it never occurred to me to blame the incident in the preceding post. I mean, my mother said I wasn’t dropped on my head as a baby. They  don’t make phones like that anymore. “Shut up or I’ll throw my cell phone at you” just won’t impress anyone.

2. Scratchy Glitter comes up in Google searches now! They said it might take 4-6 weeks to show up, so 3 days is pretty good. The ways of Google are mysterious. Maybe they didn’t have much to do this week.

3. Yeah, you’re wondering when I’m going to Get Serious (although being on Google is certainly serious). Welll…(yes, the extra “l” was intentional, Lisa, shut up). (Or I’ll throw my phone at you.)

A couple of you have asked over the years how I got religion. I always put this off with “I’ll tell you about it sometime,” or something similarly lame, because I get tongue-tied and inarticulate when I talk about it. I can’t promise that this explanation *will* be articulate, but I generally do better writing than speaking, so here goes.

I was baptized Catholic but raised Episcopalian. I became a flaming atheist during my first failed attempt at college, but then settled into a comfortable agnosticism, and was that way when I met Rom, moved to Evansville, started at Dispatch, etc.

In March 1995, I went back to Milwaukee because my stepdad (who was basically the only father I knew) was dying. Plans were underway to have him transferred from the hospital back home for hospice care, and I sat in on my mother’s meeting with the hospice nurse. The plans didn’t require my input, so I let my mind wander back over the events of the last few days–the phone call I’d gotten at work, seeing him in the hospital, etc. (If anyone’s interested, he was a successful radio DJ–google Mort Crowley.)

It suddenly occurred to me–everyone’s going to die. (Or, as Lisa would say, “We’re all gonna die!”) This is self-evident, but I, like most people, had pushed it into the safely-theoretical background of my mind. This time it hit me with a staggering force, and suddenly seemed intolerable. I felt immense grief, not just for myself but for every human being. I felt like I was going crazy, and would never not be crazy again.

Suddenly, I had–I can’t really describe it. It was like a white light going off in blackness, except it wasn’t visual. (See what I mean about being inarticulate?) In that instant, I knew everything was going to be alright in the end. Again, my poor words can’t describe the intensity of it.

Here’s a better description by someone who had a similar experience:

“I know someone in Christ who, fourteen years ago (whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows) was caught up to the third heaven. And I know that this person (whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows) was caught up into Paradise and heard ineffable things, which no one may utter.”

–St Paul, 2 Corinthians 12:2-4

I know  the arguments against my experience–that I was under a lot of stress at the time, that ecstatic religious experiences are the result of a momentary brain glitch that makes you think the  impression is coming from outside yourself. Believe me, I’ve entertained all the objections. But the experience stands unassailable, resisting all my attempts to explain it away. For however many seconds, I had a glimpse of Heaven.

So there you have it. Thanks for bearing with me.