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2005-04-15 - 11:13 p.m.

My friend Rutledge is a good guy. He lives next door. We got into this apartment building together, two years ago, and for long stretches I didn't see him, lately we've been hanging out a lot.

He came over on Tuesday night, late, as I was grading papers. He knocked and I said come in and I put down the stories I was grading and didn't get to them until the morning. It started out as a talk about Jesus (he used to be a Southern-style evangelist because his parents were but now he's liberal on everything except abortion, which I think is a common transformation for many kids when they go to college) but it went into evolution and science, and, ultimately, faith. He has this whole business about faith and belief way more thought out than I do. With Christians, and I've sort of brought this up with him before, drunk and stupid usually, I could never get over the fact that Christians, as new-agey and liberal as some of them seem to be, still actually, rationally believe that God put Jesus into Mary's womb and that he actually walked on water and, most of all, that he was actually the son of god. I can never get over that, that smart people like him really believe that, in the same way that I believe that when I make long-distance calls they'll show up on my bill. So I told him my view, that Christianity, like all other religions, have myths so that people don't feel so scared by the immensity of life and the world and that the stories in the bible are no different than what's in the Hindu writings (we spent a lot of time on the earth was created 10,000 years ago stuff). And, after three hours, he made his point pretty clear and I'll always remember it, I think. He said he prefers to believe it the way he wants to believe it, that yes, Jesus was immaculately conceived and that he died for our sins. I'll always, probably, think that's a pretty easy way out, but I realized that if that helps him sleep at night, then why not? Neither of us can stand evangelists, so that's good. And I suppose he recognizes that Marx was right about religion being and opiate but he's fine with that. Sure, I guess.

I also told him about my religion, that it's not that since the world is such a beautiful and terrible place it can't be random and therefore god must have created it. That's not for me. My religion, my understanding of the unexplainable is that the real miracle is what we do with the unexplainable. We can make something like the 100-feet long mobile made out of Wrigley's gum wrappers, hang it in the museum in Baltimore and then appreciate it as something more than randomness, but instead purpose and beauty. I'd like to worhip architecture and maple trees and the feelings we get when friends come over, literally kick their shoes off and recline on the couch, talking until the stereo's gone through all CDs. That's good and I'll take that anytime. I don't usually write about this kind of stuff, much less think about faith and things, but if I had to make up a religion, that'd be mine and I promise I'll never try to convert anyone. Maybe that's not, really, all that true.

Anyway, around two in the morning, he asked me: "Do you have any coffee?" I said I did and I made some and we split the pot. He told me the next morning that he went to his place and wrote until five, slept a few hours, and finished a story about his ex-girlfriend around noon. I read it and it's really good. I left him a message telling him this. I think I said, "It's really motherfucking good."

Back into the concrete. I played the hardest basketball of my life this afternoon. The fronts of my thighs are sore and my biceps, for some reason, are sore, and after I'm done here I'm going to lay down and watch a movie on my little TV. I also need to find me a good novel, something with people and unique thoughts and stuff happening to bring out those unique thoughts. Sometimes, just before I wake up, after I've hit the snooze button a few times, I have this dream where I'm reading from a book. Except there are no words on the book. The words only appear after I read them, or say them out loud. They're written as I come to them. I'm writing books in my sleep. I have no idea what they're about, but the words come as fast as speech and sometimes I even turn the page to find two more blank pages that fill as I go. It feels almost like rapping. There are rhythms and very few pauses and it feels like flying.

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