The scene: A barren field ending in a rocky cliff, the wind howling on all sides. Two men, one 40ish, the other 30ish, sit on wooden chairs with a large flat-topped stone as a table between them. The day is late, but the sun hangs persistent in the purpling sky.
Arther: So this Deepering
Merlon: Something Deeperism.
Arther: Something Deeperism — it’s a religion, but without any God?
Merlon: Something Deeperism is a philosophy and it does not deny or affirm the existence of God.
Arther: And a philosophy is like a religion, but without a God?
Merlon: A philosophy is based on reason; a religion is based on faith.
Arther: So a philosophy is a sort of a science. Like physics, or the Zodiac.
Merlon: The Zodiac is silliness.
Arther: So a philosophy is a sort of science. Like astronomy, or alchemy.
Merlon: Science deals only with what can be both quantified and assessed mathematically, and verified through repeated experiments in the physical world. It abstains from opining about whether or not any of its insights are actually real or actually matter.
Arther: Not philosophy?
Merlon: A philosophy is a system for ordering one’s life. It answers the primary answer’s of a human’s existence: How do I know what is true?, what is true?, what is really going on?, what actually matters?, how can I fit myself into the flow of events in such a way as to bring about what is truly best?, how can I think and act in accordance with what is both truly true and truly good?
Arther: So a philosophy does what a religion does, but without faith?
Merlon: A human can’t avoid faith. No matter what, you will believe some things you cannot establish using reason and observation alone. And philosophy addresses the most fundamental human questions: what is true?, what is good?, what matters? Therefore, a philosophy will accept some principles on faith.
Arther: So a philosophy accepts some things on faith, and it tells you what is true and what is good and how you should live; but a philosophy is not a religion?
Arther: And just picture, I mean supposing, like imagine a philosophy where I say my position is that, well, gosh, I don’t really know anything for sure, so I’m just going to leave it at that. Wouldn’t that be a philosophy without faith?
Merlon: That would be a philosophy that lies about itself. Not because we can know anything for sure; I don’t suppose we can; but because it is not humanly possible to leave it at that. People believe things. Believing you don’t know things is also believing things–things you cannot establish using reason and observation alone, things you can’t establish one way or another at all.
Arther: And this Something Deeperism–it’s a philosophy?
Merlon: And how!
Merlon takes a sip of tea.
Arther follows suit.
The scene: A hollow wooden boat, as wide as a man is tall, as long as four men are. Rowed by a man on either side, swooshing from side to side in heavy surf that sometimes foams over the weathered sides. In the front two men and two women do no work, but only sit and converse, bracing themselves occasionally from the violent heaves of Poseidon’s mirth.
Bjorn: Have you read much of that book I gave you?
Stieg: Oh, well, no, not really. But Grueni has.
Bjorn: Ah yes? Grueni? A woman reader?
Grueni: I find a little time in the evening–Stieg asked me to look at it for him.
Hilde: Stieg is a busy, important, active, commanding man. He has no time for reading.
Bjorn: And so Grueni and Stieg, you’ve been discussing … what Grueni’s been reading?
Stieg: Oh, yes!
Grueni: Not exactly.
Stieg: But we will!
Grueni: Oh yes! I know that we will. We love talking to each other.
Hilde: Foundation of any loving relationship, eh Bjorn?
Bjorn: Well, I think you’ll find there’s a lot to discuss. The book covers a great deal of ground.
Grueni: Yes, any book that starts with the creation of the universe: Ambitious!
Stieg: Clearly a very ambitious book.
Bjorn: It would be, though, you see, because God wrote it.
Grueni: I missed that part.
Stieg: Certainly not one for half-measures, but I’d never thought of him as the literary type.
Bjorn: What if Odin was not so very much like the stories we tell about him?
Stieg: But then Odin wouldn’t be Odin, would he?
Bjorn: He would still be Odin, we’d just be wrong about what Odin is like and what Odin has done.
Grueni starts laughing: I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I was just recalling, wasn’t that what–Hrafankel, that was his name, I believe?
Stieg laughs: Oh, yes, he had similar ideas.
Grueni: But he changed his minds when they started flinging rocks at his head.
Stieg: Too late.
Grueni: Just goes to show you–you don’t really know your own head until someone’s throwing a large stone at it.
Bjorn: No! There’s a distinction here. A, I think, important one.
Hilde: A distinction! All I ever wanted was a good provider, a powerful warrior, a virile lover.
Grueni: Someone like Stieg!
Hilde: Such a man!
Stieg: It’s all in the wrist.
Stieg: Providing, fighting, love-making (he flicks his wrist a few time) …
Bjorn: What I’d like to bring to the fore here is that Hrafnkel
Grueni: Oh that was it! Hrafnkel! Bloody mess in the end.
Stieg: Amazing, really, to watch a living breathing person become a pulpy lifeless corpse.
Hilde: Yes, no matter how many times one sees it, always astounding.
Grueni: A type of miracle, really.
Stieg: Yes, I think you could call it that.
Grueni: Praise the Gods!
Bjorn: So Hrafnkel was teaching that Odin was not really God, which of course is a terrible heresy, since without God, without a Truth, without an abiding and guaranteed eternal Goodness governing all and guiding our eternal beings to our eternal rests, well, what do we have, really?, except chaos and lonely, pointless existential stands?
Grueni: I don’t know about all that.
Stieg: The way I remember it, people were mostly just worried that Odin would punish us all if we didn’t avenge his good name.
Hilde: A reasoning that proved true. You’ll recall that we had a successful raid shortly after executing Hrafnkel.
Bjorn: Two of your brothers died in that raid.
Hilde: Thank Odin they gave their wives strong, wild, manly sons to carry on their great legacies!
Bjorn: Anyway, Hrafnkel preached that Odin was not really God, that there was another God. Whereas what I want to suggest we consider is what if Odin is the one and only God, and He actually isn’t really very much like the sagas say He is, but is instead like the God depicted in this book.
Hilde: But this God isn’t named Odin!
Stieg: Not at all! That’s where your theology falls apart, I’m afraid.
Grueni: If Bjorn was stoned to death, who do you think would marry me? I’m still pretty, don’t you think?
Hilde: Oh, yes, pretty!
Stieg: Exceptionally handsome woman. I wouldn’t mind …
Hilde: A beautiful woman! I am certain that lots of fine single men would gladly offer you a fruitful, stable, reliable union.
Grueni: What about Viglundar?
Hilde: Now he’s a little young. But, well, what do you think of Kroka? A mighty man, terrible in battle, good to his friends, ruthless with his foes.
Stieg: Kroka! Now here’s an idea!
Scene: The dusty plain of windy Troy
Hector: The problem nowadays is that everyone wants to make a religion out of politics. You shouldn’t even make a religion out of religion–but politics!?
Achilles: Don’t you fear the censor of the Gods? They themselves enter the fray when city crashes against city and king against king!
Hector: Zeus and the Olympia? Don’t be silly! They’re too blessed and immortal to concern themselves with a few pimples squabbling over a quarter inch of skin.
Odysseus: Don’t heed this idle chatter, Achilles. We’ve both felt the heavy hand of Zeus upon our shoulders and at our rumps, bolstering us gently onward, into the battle where the valiant few burn red hot with the immortal fame of mortals!
Susan: Hector, won’t you take me back home? I miss my parents, my sisters, and the rounded certainty of our white walls of rough-hewn stone.
Achilles: Don’t you like it here with me in my tent, sharing my sweat? Does not the fire of the eternal moment glow bright between us, forging us into a one Light?
Susan: Well, it’s just–I don’t think–I want to be known and won and loved for just me. You’re a great man, supreme in the violence that shakes and moves our fragile world. But I want love, family, a home with someone who is happy to have found me and will give his sweat to me alone.
Achilles: Take her, Hector. Send my apologies and fifty golden coins to her father. I can take no pleasure in the spoils of war that take no pleasure in me.
Odysseus: Achilles! Don’t forget yourself! This is some half-spun wench, daughter and ally of our sworn enemy, rightfully won and claimed on the field of honorable slaughter. And will her pithy laments swerve your purpose as a squall tosses a fishing dinghy to the hither and the thither?
Achilles: No man, and leastwise some woman commands Achilles, who flashes across battle, a lightning bolt loosed by the heavy hand of Zeus Himself! Yet Zeus is Lord of all, and I will heed His command.
Hector: Come with me, Susan. We’ll away from this flickering camp. Zeus, Achilles, is indeed Lord of all, and you are right to heed His command. But Zeus is not the stuff of earthenware legend, nor is he our fantasies about kings and their claims to the baubles by which they measure their grandeur.
Odysseus: These kings. They carry us in wooden ships across the narrow sea, they loose our bronze to slash flesh, purge bowels, shatter bone. And so we fling our haughty youth and sullen old age across the sands around stone-protected Troy. For the sake of a woman of matchless beauty and questionable virtue, one king’s property, another’s stolen daughter, the love and comfort of his tenderest and least useful son.
Hector: I would that we could meet as friends and toast the health of your rash, wild raging king and our older, wiser, lonelier in the wider clarity of his sorrows-acknowledging thought. But I must, for the sake of my family and neighbors known and intertwined since soft-eyed youth, pray that Zeus tear your bodies apart, and litter the salty shores with your headless carcasses.
Achilles: You said the Gods are too blessed and eternal to mettle in our affairs.
Hector: It doesn’t matter what any of us say. What does a man know? Except that they love their wives, their children, and the sunlight twinkling on the shifting waves?
Odysseus: Men know their lives will be short and the God will close their wish-shimmering eyes without enlightening their brash and self-forgetting minds.
Susan: What can we any of us hope for? I’d wish myself a quiet, gentle life of peace and joy for me and the world that holds me and mine. But hope? I hope only that my heart might stay open until the end, that I might know something of Love ere I lose this human form, and its body-bound ardour.
Achilles: Hector, you sport with words, with thoughts, with facts and faiths. As if life were but a dream, no more real or consistent than the shifting, unexplained motions of our sleep-caught souls.
Hector: This life is but a dream.
Susan: But still the Good abides, still It demands our homage, that we bend our hearts and hands to its sacred will. For the Good alone knows who we are, and what is Best for all.
Achilles: Well spoken. Were that I a different kind of great, and we’d found one another fully and in a softer light, without the blood and filth of your kith and kin.
Susan: Perhaps in another life. This one is broken for us.
Hector:We part now. We meet next as outward enemies yet inward friends. For the Light, no God or mortal fashioned It, but It always was and is and shall be an eternal Kind Joy, filling, overfilling and bursting our every moment. Slowly It weaves every Fate, turning every heart towards Itself, where all is One, and All resounds in the wholesome giggle of eternal fellowship.
Odysseus: Kind Joy, all One? What manner of learning guides your tongue, youthful, sun-bronzed Hector?
Achilles: What manner of Love passes but does not bypass human understanding?
Susan: Even an inkling, if clung to with eagle’s talons–even an inkling makes everything OK, makes Joy real and possible.
Achilles: Hold to the Good and we become like a King Midas of the Good instead of the Gold. All we touch becomes Good.
Susan: Goodbye, Achilles.
Achilles: Goodbye, Susan.
Arther: I’m always so lonely. And I feel like we’ve failed. In our grand schemes and mighty victories.
Merlon: Something Deeperism is the general worldview that there is an Absolute Truth and people can have a meaningful relationship to It, just not a literal / one-to-one / definitive type of relationship to It. We can get the gist of the True Good and by keeping to that gist, we can grow deeper and deeper into the wisdom of what is Real–what is Best and how to flow along with what is Best.
Arther: I can’t even want what is Best. I just want to be held and to be safe, to be OK and have a little home, a little family, and for us to be safe, and for us to be OK. I can’t hardly even think. My mouth tastes like metal.
Merlon: A Something Deeperist will not claim that the Absolute Truth can be established with reason alone, or secured through faith alone. Reason alone cannot even prove that reason makes any sense, nor can it demonstrate how reason really relates to what is really going on and what really matters. Even if there were such a thing as literally true ideas and feelings about the Absolute Truth, faith in them would be meaningless without insight into them. But ideas and feelings about the Absolute Truth are finites attempting to relate meaningfully to infinites, they can only point better or worse towards what is beyond them.
Arther: I can’t even want to love everyone. I can’t even want Love to reign for ever and to love-lift us all up into shared joy and shared wisdom. I can’t want anything except to go hide in a nice comfy life with some sweet safe foxy lady friend. I’m afraid that I gave myself over to selfless Love, I would lose out on human safety, thriving, and love.
Marlon: The reasoning of Something Deeperism is that we cannot demonstrate with any intellectual certainty ideas about what is really going on, what really matters, and/or how we should really move; but we are aware that our own thoughts and feelings only make sense to our minds/hearts to the degree that we think and feel aware, clear, honest, accurate, competent, kind, and joyful generous gentleness–that we can only care about or even fathom life if there is something like a True Goodness shining through everything and we can relate meaningfully to that True Goodness while staying true to our inborn needs for aware, clear, honest, accurate, kind and joyful generous gentleness. And it is conceivable that there is a Light that only Loves and that we can grow in wisdom in the ancient way: meditate, pray, push more and more for clear, honest, accurate, kind thought and action, stand up straight within oneself and follow the Light that refuses to ever put anyone down or harm anyone or abandon anyone.
Arther: So Something Deeperism is like Pascal’s Wager? If the path of wisdom is empty, nothing matters; and if the path of wisdom is what it promises to be, then following it will make one aware of and in sync of the ultimate eternal Okayness of everything?
Merlon: Well, that’s in there somewhere. Something Deeperism also has a public position. Since none of our religions, philosophies, or worldviews can be meaningful to any of us to the degree we fail to think and act aware, clear, honest, accurate, kind, joyfully sharing, and playfully gentle, we can agree that we do not need to agree on the metaphysical details so much as we need to agree on these foundational thoughts without which none of our metaphysics mean anything to any of us. Further, forcing people to agree about religious, philosophical and/or political dogma just makes people lie to themselves and others about what they really think and feel while distracting us all from our shared task of fighting against dishonesty and corruption in the publicly viewable and thus collectively actionable world.
Arther: The problem I am facing is that I don’t want to be a saint. I don’t want to sacrifice everything to the Light. I want a nice safe successful human life.
Merlon: All the more reason to fight against dishonesty and corruption. Only in settings where honest and forthright action is rewarded can one enjoy both spiritual thriving and normal human happiness.
Arther: Please God, help us find the way forward together.
Merlon: It’s too late. The harpies are loosed, the dead ride ghost steeds and wield silver blades, goblins drop from the trees, giants burst through the mountainsides, vultures gnaw on human hands strewn across the pavement.
Arther: Please God, let gentleness win, let wisdom win, let kind resolve and shared joy win, help us to together think aware, clear, honest, accurate, competent, kind, joyful.
Merlon: I am afraid.
Arther: I am afraid.
Scene: In a small wooden house in a village in a forest.
Stieg: I don’t want to live here anymore.
Hilde: But Stieg! This is our home! These are our people!
Stieg: You can’t trust anyone. Humans are evil blades in thin sheaths. Without order imposed by threat of violence, they butcher you, rape your woman, sell your children, take your gold.
Hilde: This is madness, Stieg! You’ve been talking too much to Bjorn. He’s infecting your brave mind with his cowardly one!
Stieg: Neither my strength nor Bjorn’s cleverness can stop the evil.
Hilde: What evil? Don’t the villages we pillage call us evil?
Stieg: It’s too late to make amends. The lifeless eyes stare into the starry sky while cold night airs drop like a heavy fog.
Hilde: This is not like you Stieg! I’m starting to suspect enchantment! You know You are acting very strange.
Stieg: I don’t want to be a person anymore. I no longer believe in the enterprise.
Hilde: Enterprise!? What? Now you’re just rambling.
Stieg: This world, this shared journey, this collaboration by the many to bring God’s dreams to life. All a sham, a bad joke, an evil parade.
Hilde: Is that so? And where will you escape to Stieg? If God dreams this world, then here you are trapped with a sleeping God, and upon death you will meet an awoken God. Where would you run to?
Stieg: A human is an empty husks, built to carry God and be His eyes and hands in this world. Why are we the way we are? A pack of hungry wolves, fighting over a dying elk. Why are we so unlike our purpose?
Hilde: Our purpose! You need to stay away from Bjorn! He’s taken all the shark out of you! Soon you’ll be reading his book on your own!
Stieg: I can’t read. Bjorn thinks his book can help, but I think no ideas and no faith can make us dogs into men. I think the evil is in us and it is here to stay. We twist every idea, every faith, every Truth to the advantage of our hungry bellies. We fail. We fall down. We abandon our posts.
Hilde: Not always! Not every time. You’re dwelling too much on one side of us. You’re losing the larger picture. You’re afraid to face the truth: we are not all good or all bad, and we are called to try to be better, both individually and collectively.
Stieg: Called by what?
Hilde: By God.
Hilde: Grueni’s not here.
Stieg: Grueni? What does she have to do with anything?
Copyright: AM Watson