God in the Desert
Jobe was sitting at a stoplight when he realized why he hated God.
If there is a god, he will have to beg my forgiveness. — carved into a holding cell in the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria.
Jobe was sitting at a stoplight when he realized why he hated God. He hated God because when Lily, his daughter, was racked with pain as her immune system ate itself, this thing — this “God” huffed the experience like airplane glue in a paper bag. Lily’s suffering was nothing to this “God.” He (Jobe) had once met a woman at a party who described God as reclining on a dais with a lotus blooming from its navel. The God was dreaming the universe into existence. As Jobe had chewed this over, God became less of a Lewis Carroll-style caterpillar and more like a drug addict lying in a pool of its own effluence, tying bits of itself off to experience pain and emotion and eventually letting the bits return, but only after they had shriveled from the separation.
Having had that realization, Jobe had driven home in a thoughtful mood. When he arrived home, he searched his bookshelves for books on religion, those ancient, dust-covered textbooks left over from classes long-forgotten. A picture fell out of his book on world religions. It was a photo of him and Lily’s mother. She was never his wife, barely his girlfriend, and when she left, he was sure she hadn’t spared a second thought for the family she left behind. She was selfish, but selfish in such a weak, beautiful way that everyone always gave her what she asked for. He tucked the picture into another random book and resumed his search for God.
He awoke on his couch with the sun warming his face. When he sat up, his journal fell to the floor. Rancid ramblings and whirling images scarred the pages. His fingers were speckled and stained with ink. There was something in this fog of madness that engulfed him, guiding him like a fire that lit his day, like a torch to follow. He arranged his religion books around him in a starburst pattern, then sat cross-legged on the floor and flipped pages at random; finding patterns, tracing lines to a path he was sure was there. When his library was exhausted, he turned to the internet. It was early morning again…