also epona, goddess of horses, helps me find parking

When I met her in Sydney in January my childhood friend Anna asked if I still believed in God, and I said “Oh, no,” which felt at the time and still feels like an evasion (and also unfairly dismissive.) That said, I still don’t have anything well-formed to put in its place, though, so consider these notes towards… um, something? Maybe a provisional explanation of why the Hubble Ultra Deep Field helps me to be happier, more compassionate and more mindful of my own death.

In her fantastic Somewhere Towards the End, Diana Athill says:

People of faith so often seem to forget that a god who gives their lives meaning too often provides them with justification when they want to wipe out other people who believe in other gods, or in nothing. My own belief – that we on our short-lived planet are part of a universe simultaneously perfectly ordinary in that there it is and incalculably mysterious in that it is beyond our comprehension – does not feel like believing in nothing and would never make me recruit anyone for slaughter. It feels like a state of infinite possibility, stimulating and enjoyable – not exactly comforting, but acceptable because true. And this remains so when I force myself to think about the most alarming aspect of what I can understand, which is that we will eventually become extinct, differing from the dinosaurs only in contributing a good deal more than they did to our own fate. And it also remains so when I contemplate my personal extinction.

Recessional puts it this way:

Innocence looks at the stars and says “look at the lights of the gods in heaven! I am in awe.”

Experience says, “Eh, it’s just burning gas lightyears away. I’m bored.”

Grace says, “look at the burning gas lightyears away! I’m in awe.”

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