The Personal Weblog of Edward W. Farrell   
 
God Doesn't Exist Sunday, April 22, 2018
 
When you see the words "God doesn't exist" in a book or a magazine it probably means nothing: it's just another once radical idea become a cliche. But it's different when the words are written on the wall of a church. Here they are personal, a challenge and an accusation--but addressed to whom or what, if God does not exist? There's a paradoxical uncertainty in the otherwise unambiguous phrase when it's written on a church, which suggests: maybe God exists after all, but he acts as if he doesn't, and won't be persuaded to show himself. So perhaps the accusation is really an attempt at reverse psychology, to call God's bluff.

These thoughts arose when I recently visited rural Mexico and saw the words "dios no existe" painted on the wall of an old Catholic church. Modernism is rife with such ironies regarding God. The great Swedish film maker Ingmar Bergman was raised in a devout Christian home and became an atheist as a young adult, then created film after film that agonized over God's departure! But sometimes there is no irony, only a deep ambivalence, which is a longing for God paralyzed by doubt. I think this "deep ambivalence" is where the Peruvian poet Cesar Vallejo lived, and often expressed it in terms of the equally deep ambiguity of real life.

GOD
by Cesar Vallejo

I feel God who walks
so inside me, with the evening and with the sea.
With him we go away together. Night falls.
With him we darken! Orphanhood...

But I feel God. And it even seems
that he dictates to me I don't know what good color.
Like a hospitaler, he is kind and sad;
he languishes with a lover's sweet disdain:
how much his heart must ache.

Oh, my God, I have only just approached you,
now when I love so much this evening; now
when on the fraudulent scales of someone's breasts
I weigh and weep for a fragile Creation.

And you, how you will cry... you, so in love
with such an enormous rotating breast...
I consecrate you God, because you love so much;
because you never smile; because your heart
must always ache so much.

---translated by Clayton Eshleman        

 
 
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