"here lies the heart of the difference between grief as we imagine it and grief as it is...the unending absence that follows, the void, the very opposite of meaning, the relentless succesion moments during which we will confront the experience of meaninglessness itself."
-- Joan Didion, The New York Times Magazine, September 25, 2005
I recently read Susan Jacoby's Freethinkers, about the rich and deliberately obscured history of non-religious moral leadership in this country. And interviewed her last Saturday, which was terrific. I have Rob Brezsny, the syndicated astrologist, coming on in two weeks. So all of this freethinking has led me to question my own religious beliefs.
I recently discovered that when really pressed to the wall, I become a good Catholic. I apologize, sincerely, to some sort of deity, for my sins, and vow to do better. I don't know if this is human nature or whether by being baptised Catholic 33 years ago, a very subtle element was added to my personality. I suppose I could find out by studying rituals of contrition, repentance, in other religions.
But what Didion seems to be saying is that it's all window dressing. Only people add meaning to life.