not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10”25
Louis de Bernieres led an interesting life from early on, according to a recent article in The London Daily Mail. It started when he joined the army to fulfill his parents’ ambition that he would serve in the Queen’s Dragoon Guard, his father’s former unit.
It was not to be. He wasn’t a match for it and managed an honorable discharge before he got very far. His parents disapproval reached the point where he couldn’t stand the tension at home and took off. He taught English for a white farmer in Columbia. The other side of the world was as far as he could get; I imagine he would’ve gone farther if possible.
He returned home after a year and quickly realized he’d never really be “British” again. He dealt with being in Britain by “remaining in Columbia in spirit.” He writes that Columbia changed him regarding his faith also.
His father had been high Anglican and his mother sort of protestant. Going to a church-related school didn’t do him any favors:
At my prep school (pre-Columbia) we had Chapel twice a day because the headmaster liked to dress up as a priest and parade his piety, in between bursts of his fondling and thrashing.
Still, he felt close as to Jesus as his friends. It was divinity school that drove another nail into his faith’s coffin. He was taught to read the Bible in a critical and scholarly manner as opposed to being the Word of God. That’s where the seeds of his doubt were sown.
The last thing that happened to snuff out his faith was a train trip in Columbia. His seat mate was a flirtatious young woman, and he was enjoying her interest in him. She was beautiful and full of life.
What I remember most about her was her smiling warmth. I was slightly embarrassed. I was not at all experienced in flirtation with women from other cultures, and not remotely adept in it even with women from my own. Maria didn’t mind. She liked me, it was fun flirting with me, and for her that was enough.
He left her to get drinks for her and himself. While he was gone, she tried to get to another car in the train. There was no safe walkway between cars, and she mistimed her step, falling on the between the cars. She didn’t die right away. All he remembered was her shredded body where there was once a beautiful woman.
All I could think was that if God did exist he either cared about nothing or was a sadist. I have always wanted to meet God on a dusty highway somewhere and challenge him to justify Himself.
In a perverse sense I need God, so that there is someone to blame. I told God to leave, and He did, like someone walking down the garden path to the gate, opening it and striding away without a backward glance.
I miss being religious. Religion makes you feel at home in the world and gives you the reassurance that there is some point to your life.
Religion. Therein lies the problem, yes? Religion is what his parents apparently practiced only half-heartedly. Religion was what his school’s headmaster practiced, and that even more poorly. None of them seems to have had a relationship with God. Certainly, none of them knew the Bible past a cursory familiarity with it.
As one reads the article, one can see where Christianity was a feel-good safety net. There was no understanding of God, which can be found in Scriptures. Once the religion’s ability to maintain emotions loses its power, God takes the hit.
He obviously took his frustrations with others and the world out on God.
His headmaster was an obscenity, not God. His parents were at odds with him over his choices, not God. Yet, he blames God for their unchristian behavior.
Mostly, he blames God for the young woman’s death. That was the final nail in his faith’s coffin. If only he had truly understood Scripture! If only his divinity classes and taught God’s Word instead of making it an academic exercise!
What was there to be understood? Sin entered the world through one man and death through sin. Adam gave the keys to the kingdom to Lucifer when he and Eve listened to the father of lies instead of a loving God. The evil of the world is not God’s fault but humanity’s.
God throws us a line in the Person of Jesus. God gives us hope to last through the evil days we spend on earth.
How do we keep our own faith from being derailed? Read God’s Word. Study it with other Christians who seek to study and learn from it, not dissect it.
Live your faith in a community of faith, not religion. Don’t try to walk your path alone, but draw from the strength of others of faith.