truth in fiction

the short story ‘revelation’ by haven kimmel (from the anthology killing the buddha: a heretic’s bible by peter manseau and jeff sharlet) is the most brilliant piece of fiction writing i’ve come across. ever. period. it’s even better than the writing of tom robbins, and robbins is the gold standard as far as i’m concerned.

‘revelation’ is written from the point of view of a multitudinous godhead as it attempts to explain how the book of revelation ended up so convoluted. this story so inspires me that i once spent a weekend typing out the entire story, just so i could attempt to inhabit it a bit more deeply. i decided to revisit it over this past weekend and as always honed in on something timely:

Stay inside your skin and figure it out. We urge this upon you in your sleep. Be radically negative: not this, not this, not this. The Kingdom is not your clan, your country, your meetinghouse. The Conflict is not your government, your enemies, your struggle with entropy and degeneration. Use your history only as metaphor, koan, or parable. (page 275)

wow. this portion of the story really hit me, because the day before i had just finished spiritual enlightenment: the damnedest thing by jed mckenna, which really rocked my world (to use a stupid cliché). mckenna basically says that enlightenment has nothing to do with spirituality or bliss or nondual consciousness, it only has to do with knowing what is really true, and asking yourself the tough questions until you get the answer for yourself. i’ve been chewing on his words since i began the book a few days ago, asking myself about the nature of reality and what i can absolutely, without a doubt, know to be true, which i have no doubt i’ll be writing about in the future. right now, i’ll just say that i feel similarly to way i felt right after reading why christianity must change or die by john shelby spong a few years ago, which was a tumultuous time for me spiritually. however, this time i’m not angry or anything like that. (i think i got that brand of anger out of my system while reading not in his image by john lamb lash a couple of years ago.) it’s more that mckenna’s writing in some ways confirmed for me things i’ve already figured out for myself about religion and belief in general. but i don’t want to go into all that right now…

…i just want to tell y’all to go out and buy this killing the buddha anthology or check it out from the library or borrow it from me :). kimmel’s story alone would be worth it, but there are other wonderful pieces of writing within as well: travel essays written by manseau and sharlet as they meander through the spiritual backwoods of america, interspersed with other writers’ individual takes on individual books of the bible. however, mainstream christians, please take note: it is subtitled a heretic’s bible, so there are writings that some may consider offensive or, more hopefully, thought-provoking. if a piece of writing causes you to think every once in awhile on why you believe what you believe, what harm can come from that?

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