PART four: obr
Chapter 23: The Sprite
“That’s a nice earring,” the SPRITE said, as he walked beside OBR through the park.
“It was a gift from BUNS… from a long time ago. I don’t really wear it anymore, so I put it on this little creature,” OBR answered, smiling, as he played with a large earring, in the form of an inverted horn, on the SKIMMA’s right ear.
“It’s nice to see you smile again after all these months. I think it’s the first time I’ve seen it so wide. I guess that means that our visits are helping to some extent.”
“They are. Talking to this stuffed toy helps too. It may not be healthy, but I have been having conversations with it as if it were my sister,” OBR said after some hesitation.
“It’s not a bad thing. Everybody has their own way of grieving. And OSZA don’t always listen without interrupting. Not to mention how most of them have a tendency to steer conversations about your problems to focus on theirs instead. Have as many conversations with the SKIMMA as you want. Just make sure that you also talk to the OSZA around you about your feelings and what you’re going through. Let them help you as well,” the SPRITE said gently.
“Noted,” OBR answered.
“Good. Now I think it’s time you tell me what you’ve been trying to ask me for the last month,” the SPRITE said, a few minutes later, as they bought something to drink and sat down on a bench.
“How did you know?” OBR asked, taken aback.
“I’ve been around long enough, son. Tell me,” the SPRITE asked, smiling softly at OBR.
“Why? Why’d you help us bury her? Perform her last rites? Why are you different from everybody else? My mother asked every other SPRITE we could find in the city, and none would help us. I am sure that none of the other religions would have helped us either. What is so different about you?”
“I think the question, son, should be why should I not have helped you,” the SPRITE said, as he took a large sip.
“Because she was gay. Because I’m gay. Because almost every OSZA at the funeral was gay. And being gay is a sin. Being gay is an insult to the Gods.”
“Oh. Have you met the Gods, my child? Did they tell you this?” the SPRITE laughed and asked.
“It’s what the books of every religion say, don’t they? It’s what every believer is taught, isn’t it?” OBR shot back.
“I’ve been around a long time, son. I’ve been a SPRITE for longer than I can remember. And I did think that way initially. I’m guilty of all those thoughts. However, as my relationship with God deepened, there were certain realizations.”
“Realizations?” OBR asked.
“The closer I felt to God, the more in awe I was of all its creation. Think about it, son. Think about how complex we are, how complex the laws of our universe, our world, nature and so on are. Think about the delicate balance we see in everything around us, a balance which we have been disrupting at an alarming pace. And now consider what every religion tells us. That the sciences are not accurate. That evolution is a sham. That the bang that birthed everything is a sham. Now think carefully, son. Aren’t all these things the religions tell us an insult to God? Because they’re simplifying God, are they not? God is a complex being, my child. A being that created everything that science has found so far, and will continue to find for as long as our race thrives. To think any less of God is to do God the largest disservice of all.”
The SPRITE took another large sip of his drink before continuing.
“And once I had realized this, everything else fell into place easily. Do you really think that a being so complex, a being that is all knowing and omnipotent, can create something as simplified as religion? Could something as knowledgeable and wise as God want to represent themselves to us through something as basic as a binary outlook on life, where you are good if you follow certain rules, and bad if you do not? Where you go to a happy place if you live your life a certain way, but are tortured for eternity if you do not.”
“We can’t get closer to God by following what’s written in a few books, son. We can’t get closer to God by thinking that our religion is the right one, and is better than everybody else’s either. To truly know God, you have to understand its greatest creation, our universe and its birth. The closer we get to understanding everything around us, the closer we get to God. God created all this. The bang, the galaxies, the stars, the planets, life, evolution, all of it. Think about it, son. Think about it carefully. Which is a bigger insult? Claiming that God did none of these wondrous things? Holding onto the belief that these things that we can prove, irrefutably, through science, do not exist, and are just lies? Or opening your mind and understanding that each of these things explains the true power, the true brilliance, of God? Why would we deny God that? Isn’t God an even more magnificent and awesome being if we come to the realization that it created all these things? These complicated systems that work on such an intricate set of rules, rules that it has taken us millennia to even scratch the surface of? Think about it, son. It will truly blow your mind, like you kids like to say.”
The SPRITE continued, energized and excited.
“It’s simple, my child. The more we learn about our universe, our evolution, the more we learn about science, the greater God becomes. I mean, look at evolution. It all started off with a single cell, which then multiplied. And it slowly grew into more complex forms until we came into being. Now compare that to what all the books teach us. That the Gods made us in their image. They simply took some material and shaped us, and then gave us life. And that created us. Oh, and they created the birds and animals as well. Now compare these two versions of God. Which of the two beings is more brilliant? The one who simply shaped us and magically gave us life? Or the one who invented a system so complex that it birthed various life forms, all of whom contribute to an ecosystem and keep it balanced? An ecosystem full of rules, one where the fates of various species are intertwined with one another in a host of ways.”
“The latter, I would say,” OBR replied.
“Exactly! Evolution only makes God more complex, more brilliant, and ultimately, more powerful. We couldn’t have thought of such a thing. Imagine the beauty and the sheer imaginative power of the intellect that did. What’s even more perplexing is that every religion talks about the grand plans of the Gods and destiny and what not. And what is evolution if not a grand plan? What are the rules of the universe, if not grand plans? These religions are already talking about the same things as science. They just don’t realize it.”
“It is a very interesting interpretation,” OBR said. “Perhaps that is the purpose of life. Perhaps that is what the Gods want from us. To understand the systems they have created. Maybe understanding ourselves and our own inner workings is as religious as it is scientific. Perhaps uncovering the mysteries of the universe is what will finally lead us to the Gods.”
“I’m sure of it, my child,” the SPRITE said.
“By the way, why do you keep calling God it? And you always say God? In the singular?” OBR asked, as he finished his drink.
“Why not? I don’t think a being as powerful as God would be bound by concepts such as sex and gender. I doubt that such a being would be bound by any constraints whatsoever. Further, child, I think there is one God. It may be a collection of infinite beings and souls, but it is one entity. Again, I really don’t think that a being so complex would be bound by the concepts of identity, individuality, the other and so on. Whatever God’s true form might be, I think it will be a single entity, unbound by any of the rules we have created for ourselves.”
OBR listened silently, as he processed everything the SPRITE had said. The SPRITE continued after a while, once he was confident that OBR had digested all that he had heard.
“It’s not just that, my child. There is so much we need to understand and do. Our entire race needs to understand the soul that lies within each of us. Strip away everything you’ve been taught, by science or by religion. Strip away all your notions of what is good and what is bad. Strip away all your prejudices and all your preconceived notions, and then look at yourself. And be true to yourself. Can you truly hate your fellow OSZA just because of which shade of gray their skin is, or because of their sexual orientation, after all this baggage has been lifted off of you? Can you truly watch your fellow OSZA kill each other for money, and power, and other trivialities, and do nothing about it because it doesn’t affect you? Who will you be if your religion, your race, your creed and so on are taken away from you? If your thoughts are reset completely? What I realized was that, stripped of everything, even the basic notion of what is good and what is evil, my conscience would prevail. It would know because my soul would guide it, as long as I let it.”
The SPRITE began to laugh.
“And the funniest part of it all is that OSZA all around the world think that their religion is the one true religion, and their God is the one true God. But isn’t that another great insult hurled at God? Could something that created this wondrous, magnificent, and extremely complicated thing called life care even a little about the manner in which they are worshiped? Do you think they would care about which buildings you worship them in? Do you think that such a being would even care about whether they were worshiped? And to answer your specific question, son, do you really think that such a being would truly care what the sex of the OSZA you copulate with is?”
“Not when you put it that way,” OBR replied, as his eyes teared up.
“It’s almost stupid when you think about it. We divide ourselves into all these religions, and then we fight each other in the name of God. As if a being as powerful as God, an omnipotent being, one with infinite power, one that has created the universe, requires our protection. It always makes me chuckle. The absurdity of it all. How egotistical is our race? To think that something as powerful as God would even require us to defend it in any way whatsoever.”
The SPRITE paused for a few seconds, hesitating, before deciding to say what he wanted to say.
“You may hate me for this, but I too had no sympathy for gay and trans-gender rights for a long time. But over the years, everything I told you slowly dawned on me, as I tried to get closer to God, and began to try and understand it better. And my outlook on everything changed, and it continues to. I’m still figuring things out. I’ve barely scratched the surface. My ideas and realizations keep evolving, but I think I’m on the right track.”
“You are. Thank you for that. And I could never hate you. Not after everything you did for my sister. Not after everything you told me just now,” OBR said, fighting back the tears. “But why do you continue to serve a religion you no longer believe in?”
The SPRITE smiled as he finished his drink.
“It’s not that straightforward son. For one, where will I go? I have no money, no retirement cushion. And I can, at the very least, continue to help OSZA by serving as a SPRITE. Secondly, I may not believe in everything religion says, but I still believe in the basic power and merits of religion. Religion can bring OSZA together. Religion can help OSZA through tough times, give them faith to push through hardships. Every religion just needs to get out of its own way. Get rid of the dogma, and the zealous worship and fanatical interpretations of books that were written centuries ago. Get rid of this obsession with being the only true way to embrace God. Get rid of these narrow minded insulting depictions of God being a vengeful accountant who obsessively keeps track of what you say and do every second. Religions need to come together, son. They need to exchange ideas, promote tolerance, foster communities, and show OSZA around the world that there is no single path to God, that right and wrong are not as simple as blindly following a defined set of rules, that being good means much more than simply going about your life without hurting others while letting the world crumble as long as it does not affect you. And most of all, religion needs to stop fighting science. Science does not disprove the existence of God, just as religion does not prove its existence. Belief in science and religion need not be mutually exclusive.”
The SPRITE stood up and stretched. He patted OBR on the head and stretched out his hand. OBR grabbed it, and the SPRITE pulled him up.
“You hungry?” he asked.
OBR smiled and nodded, as he wiped the tears from his eyes.