I have had a burst of inspiration since yesterday. There are so many blog topics flying around in my head that I’m not quite sure where to start. I just left my friend Ray and have already changed the subject I’d told him I was going to write about. Yesterday I picked up a book that I’d borrowed from a friend. I’d been coveting this particular book on her bookshelf for over a year now. Finally, she asked her husband if I could borrow it and I had a chance to read some of it. All I can say is that I get it. I get why something in me wouldn’t let me forget about that book.
A couple of years ago I had a very vivid dream. I dreamed that I was hanging out with Thomas Paine. I was in his inner circle, a member of the entourage. I woke up the next morning and jumped on the computer. I needed to be reminded who Thomas Paine was. A quick search uncovered that he was (most commonly known as) the author of “A Common Sense,” “The Rights of Man,” and “The Age of Reason.” I knew then I needed to read (or reread b/c I probably read some of it in school) his works, especially “The Age of Reason.”
I’m pretty sure that the writing and releasing of “The Age of Reason” ruined Thomas Paine’s reputation. After his truth was out he was deemed “that filthy little atheist” (from the intro to “The Age of Reason” in The Thomas Paine Reader). I have found, in what I’ve read so far, that I share a lot of the same ideals as Thomas Paine and he was most certainly not an atheist. What he urged people to do was to apply reason to their religious or spiritual quests. Don’t just believe it because someone said it, try to discover it for yourself.
He pointed out that the Bible was written by man. He poses the question of how an unfathomable God and Omnipotent Creator of the Universe could be brought down to man’s level and recorded in the pages of a book. He points out that nothing written about Jesus was written by Jesus. Everything we know of Jesus is hearsay. He is quite critical of the Bible and it’s authors. (This is still something I can’t speak to since I haven’t read the Bible completely.) But again he pleads for us to use our reason. He concedes that our ability to reason is a gift from God that we seemingly throw away when we decide to believe without question.
Thomas Paine was a deist. He believed in one God. He acknowledges that God is not in the written words of man but rather in the creation itself. I realize with each new book I read that everyone tries to record their experiences of God. By the time I leave this earth I will probably have read thousands of descriptions of what God realization feels and looks like. That does not make me a God Realized individual. I can step outside and watch the sun rise and set, go to the beach and observe the tides change, acknowledge the death and rebirth cycles of the trees in my yard, and feed the visiting finches. In these activities, I can reasonably see and feel God. I can embrace the patterns in nature and know that there is a Creator that brings forth miracles right before my eyes every single day!
I salute Thomas Paine for owning his truth and being brave enough to share it with the rest of us! And I thank C and L for lending me the book that may just lead to my biggest “click” yet!