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“For those who believe in God, most of the big questions are answered. But for those of us who can’t readily accept the God formula, the big answers don’t remain stone-written. We adjust to new conditions and discoveries. We are pliable. Love need not be a command or faith a dictum. I am my own God. We are here to unlearn the teachings of the church, state, and our educational system. We are here to drink beer. We are here to kill war. We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.”


Charles Bukowski


US (German-born) author & poet (1920 – 1994)




I saw this quotation posted on Facebook recently.
It is a statement made by a great American poet, novelist and short story writer.


Mr Bukowski was a regular type of guy who led a somewhat rough life and wrote prolifically in and from that perspective. Most of his life he battled to make ends meet and wrestled with himself and his environment almost constantly. He had a drinking habit as well as a series of love affairs and one-night trysts.  As I said, he was a regular, normal type.


Charles Bukowski was clearly no paragon of virtue yet somehow what grabbed me most on reading this quote was not his weakness or his fallen nature but his description of his own state, even openly a self-professed non “God formula” adherant, was for me more in line with the radical example of passionate activity that I would interpret as Christlike than anything I see in the church circles I am exposed to today.  I see Jesus clearly portrayed in the scriptures as a revolutionary, someone who was so radically different and challenging of the status quo that it warranted them killing him.  The way he asked big questions and in so doing challenged the church of the day, the political authority and also the social system and the general education systems of the time.  The scriptures reveal to me the way Jesus was a dangerously radical peacemaker whilst simultaneously staring death fully and defiantly in the face, even perhaps mockingly.


In contrast, when I think about us Christians today, the way we live, our complacency, our institutionalised religious ways and our tendency to conform to convenience and self-centeredness, it makes me wonder.


It makes me very sad but it also makes me angry.


At the same time it humbles me profoundly and forces me to revisit the “big questions.”

One Comment

  1. I think when followers of a particular institution (whether it is a religious one, the government, or society as a whole) begin to feel sadness and anger for what the institution has become, it means that it is no longer serving the good of people.

    You feel this way so you can ask questions. You ask questions because you see the hipocrasy. By realizing there is a need to do something different and by actively observing and figuring it out, it becomes a catalyst for change. 🙂

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