Welcome to the Moment of Truth: the thirst that is the drink.
In 1224, two years before he died, St. Francis of Assisi had a vision of a seraph with six wings who gave him stigmata. He was the first one to do that schtick, wounds magically appearing on the body at the points where crucified Jesus had them.
I remember, at maybe age twelve, when I first read about people developing stigmata in, I think, The People’s Almanac, edited by the father-son duo who were two-thirds of the editorial team that brought us The Book of Lists, Irving Wallace and David Wallechinsky. It inspired me to seek more such entertainment. My world, for a while, was a magical one in which Sasquatches, yeti, and Moth Men appeared and disappeared, evading empirical confirmation of their existence. Mysterious meteors with no apparent source punctured car windshields on cliffside roads somewhere in the British Isles. Frogs, or yellow rain, or fish, fell from the skies, reported by locals but defying explanation by experts. On stone plains, ancient aliens once made uncanny designs, still visible, but only from high above the Earth. Kaspar Hauser, The Elephant Man, lycanthropes, and other historical human enigmas peopled my inner universe, along with disembodied spirits. I grew up in the boring suburbs, so a Fortian cosmology was my escape.
So by what right dare I mock those who say there’ll be pie in the sky when you die?
I suppose there are many who believe in the sky pie. After all, crazy beliefs run rampant these days. There’s a huge number of voters devoted to Donald Dump, the actual worst human being under all circumstances: at a party, he’s boorish, social climb-y, pussy-grabby, and a crappy dancer. In politics, he’s a liar, a kleptocrat, and a narcissistic, capricious sack of bile. In business, he’s a cheat, a purveyor of poor-quality goods, and a deadbeat debtor. On the golf course, he’s a wiffer, a piker, a poor sport, a cheat, and he cuts a gruesomely ungainly figure in his garbage attire and even trashier torso. These devotees believe he’s being persecuted worse than Jesus was.
Cicero asserted that all peoples, regardless of the silliness of their specific beliefs, have some concept of the divine. He considered human belief in divine power, or divine something, to be a law of nature. Although we balk at generalities like this about human nature, or nature vis-a-vis humans, it’s... read more