“Making Belief” now Available on Amazon

I’ve made part of the book I’ve been writing available as a smaller book. You can have a look here:

Making Belief: Speaking for a Natural, Intelligent, Outlandish Faith

 

Here is my introduction to the book on Amazon:

When I was a boy, I wanted my stuffed animals to come alive. I wanted my life to be magical. I wanted my desires to mean something. Death didn’t exist.

Around age 12, I remember thinking I had learned a lot about life in the previous couple of years. The gist of it was: you can’t always get what you want, particularly what you really want. Magic happens in books and movies. Or to someone else, far away. Maturity is bucking up, doing what you’re told, and realizing you’re not the center of the universe.

Then you die.

In the background of my forty years since then—of graduating from Harvard at the top of my class, teaching high school science, writing comedy screenplays, learning guitar, forming a band, writing songs and poetry, falling in and out of love—I’ve been aware of something hard to define. It’s been labeled many things—God, a still small voice, intuition, a calling. It dwells in my heart and my gut but feels connected to the great universe that swirls around me.

Call it a river of wanting.

Wanting there to be more than what a certain kind of intelligence told me there was. A yearning for my life to have meaning beyond Darwinism, materialism, and cynicism. An insistence that death is not the end.

Atheism’s spokesperson, biologist Richard Dawkins, said that we should “be open-minded, but not so open-minded that our brains drop out.” For Dawkins, you can’t be smart and also believe. But the scientist generally considered the greatest who ever lived had a different take on the relationship between intelligence and belief. He wrote, “He who thinks half-heartedly will not believe in God; but he who really thinks has to believe in God.” His name was Isaac Newton.

When I started writing this book, I had come to agree with Newton, and so I set out to convince my readers. But as I wrote, I realized that my belief in that indefinable something was not entire. It came and went, was sometimes intellectual and sometimes really lived. Writing the book was helping me live it.

Until my college graduation—when I began sailing into uncharted waters—I would have told you I didn’t believe in anything. The truth is I believed in plenty of things, including atheism. My point is something I’ve come to see since then. To be human is to believe. Whether we call it religious, scientific, or philosophical, belief is the way we make our way through life. Kids make believe. Adults make belief.

And belief makes reality.

Before college graduation, I did have a faith—a group of beliefs that I used to frame existence. These beliefs—about who I was, what I could do, what I should do, who I should talk to, what books I should read, and so on—created a bubble. But I didn’t see it as a bubble. Its edges were smooth. The bubble seemed to be scientifically, cosmically, absolutely “the way it is.”

The process of discovering I could step through the bubble was gradual. A walking pace suits me. (When people ask me my religion, I sometimes say I’m a Pedestrian.) It’s also been magical. As I make my way on foot, dropping one tired idea after another, walls crumble before me, new worlds open. This book is about that journey.

It’s been an eclectic one. I don’t like leaving things out—my parents, Jesus, quantum physics, the church, politics, Picasso, Plato, Keith Richards, bad breath, history, jokes, orgasms, Jung, UFOs, William Blake, the nightly news, how I write poems and why I get pissed off at the pygmy goats I keep in my yard. I tried to cook everything into these pages.

I don’t know what to call the resulting dish. Not exactly biography; not exactly philosophy, science, spirituality, or psychology either. I could call it, “Me Making Sense Out of Life—or at Least My Own Life.” But that’s not very catchy. And anyway, it doesn’t matter. I just hope you find it tasty enough to keep eating.

 

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the cattails dance

the cattails dance
with elegance
in the wind

no mistakes just endless
variation

together and separate, a thousand
harmonies
glad brotherhood

rustle
of silk

best show anywhere
want to embrace them all
only leave when i have

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✿ communication

I know I don’t speak for others.
But no matter what else is going on, I can feel
that, glancing
up from where I’m writing—
and I write every morning and what that means is I play
every morning—all is made
perfect by the sight
of a vulture flapping suddenly
by, curving
its grey-black wings
against the ethereal
blue of heaven.

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just another

morning, the shadow
of a bird
on the fence.
the bird itself
i presume
on the roof, the sun
behind it, behind
me. singing
i imagine.
the fence itself, wooden
weathered. dew drips
from end of
green canoe,
overturned—an indecent
degree of beauty.
a love too much.
a man
cracking open

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OK

Sign here
on this mysterious document.
You now will never
be admired by the intelligentsia.
They won’t even pay attention to you.
You’ll be like a fly at the board meeting.
The one they wave away as they open their briefcases.
The one that zips from the room
before it’s over.

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✿ reckoning

Desire is a cow
galumphing down
city streets,
black and sweaty,
past the white
shiny cars,
the people in suits.
Some of us laugh,
some are annoyed, some
scared. It
doesn’t belong
on cement,
doesn’t even know
what a traffic light is.
The game’s up.
Pay attention.

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i’ll be

i’ll be a top
spinning.
i’ll be a cork
bobbing.
i’ll be flowers
blooming.
i’ll go
where you want me to go,
God.

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