Sunday, September 28, 2003
There are a lot of churches in this city.
That's hardly surprising, since the Pilgrims/Puritan were, in a way, religious refugees, and later waves of settlers were strongly Irish Catholic. I just happened to notice it while I was walking around today, and they were all getting in or letting out.
Someone in my situation thinks about the metaphysical a lot. For example, if what Michelle says is true, and she's some sort of witch who was able to swap our bodies (or someone else did it on her behalf as some sort of test), it implies that our souls were somehow exchanged, that our essences were removed from their host bodies and placed in new ones.
The thing is, I've never been a religious man. I'm not anti-religion; despite what you hear on the news, faith and religion have been a positive force in the lives of far more people than they've been a negative. But I've never been comfortable with the idea of an all-knowing, all-powerful god observing our lives from outside, judging us by some standard that human nature is designed not to meet, and being cryptic about it. And what does it say about a superintelligent being that it would consign human souls to hell for acting in a way counter to its wishes, despite the fact that we are, by definition, not able to understand the way it thinks and are seldom given anything resembling evidence that it exists? If it were human, it would need counseling.
Anyway, as I've said, my worldview is pretty strongly grounded in what I can see and touch; I didn't even consider magic seriously until after Michelle claimed that was the mechanism at work. So I tended to think of my situation as the result of some strange technology, which somehow copied memories, skills, and personality traits from one brain to another.
The trouble with that theory is that it leaves me being something less than me. On the one hand, I'm off the hook for sleeping with Kurt; the body's just wired to like guys and even if my life experience tells me its wrong, the pheremone receptors and brain chemsitry of this body are as much a part of "me" as my thoughts, which tell me the situation is messed up. But on the other hand, it means I'm not 100% Martin Hartle any more. I may be 95% Marty, but there is that 5% of me that's Michelle Garber.
So what does that make me? Does majority rule, or does this make me some sort of new person, a sort of composite or hybrid? And when we do swap back, would that make me 95% Martin-Hartle-with-some-Michelle-mixed-in, 5% Michelle-Garber-with-some-Marty-mixed-in? Does it mean that Martin, the person I think of myself as being, is dead, as is Michelle, replaced by two people built out of pieces of them?
I don't know. Accepting the paranormal, or spiritual, could make it easier - it could mean that I am objectively me, just undergoing weird experiences. But it seems like a cheat, like saying I'll accept something I previously wouldn't have just because it makes me sleep a little easier at night. And that just doesn't seem right. Even if I have seen things which can't be explained any other way, it just seems wrong for faith to be the easy way out.
So I didn't actually go into one of those churches today. But other than when my father died, I can't think of a time when I've ever wanted to more.
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