Excerpt from Stumbling Toward God by Margaret D. McGee
This excerpt taken from the Prelude: Alive in the Cosmos
Here I am, alive in the cosmos. How does that work? What’s my place in the scheme of things?
What does it mean to live a good life on a day-to-day basis? What does it mean to love somebody?
When I say, “Dear God,” what am I talking about?
Does religion help at all? Some are quick to tell me that religion is a purely destructive force in the world, and I’d be better without it. Others assure me that not only can religion address these questions, they’ll introduce me to the one true faith that uniquely guarantees my eternal salvation. But what do I think? Is there any point to organized religion for me? Surely I have to answer this question for myself.
When I reached the middle years of my life, those questions began to bother me. They didn’t seem to bother everybody. As far as I could tell, many people navigated life’s ups and downs, loved their families and neighbors as well as could be expected, said “Dear God” or didn’t say it, and practiced or didn’t practice religion, without requiring a definition of terms or a user’s guide for the clueless. But the questions bothered me. Here I am, alive in the cosmos. How does that work?
As it happens, for much of my professional life I made a living writing user’s guides. Over years during which the software industry reinvented itself over and over, I gradually realized that I didn’t need to be afraid of my own cluelessness when facing a new product or technology, because writing the manual was a fine way to figure it out. In the process of reading specifications, asking questions, fiddling around with buggy software still revising—I could have faith that I’d eventually come up with words that told how it worked and how to use it, written in a way to help someone else take the same path.
Stumbling Toward God is the user’s guide I needed when the larger questions demanded to be answered. Writing it helped me find my way. If you’re someone who’s also bothered by the questions, I hope reading it helps you find your way, too.
© Margaret D. McGee, 2020