Harley sat with his mom one night and she read to him from one of her favorite books, “David Copperfield.” The book was often too difficult for him, but he loved reading with his mom. She read:
“I was sensible of a mist of love and beauty about Dora, but of nothing else … it was all Dora to me. The sun shone Dora, and the birds sang Dora. The south wind blew Dora, and the wild flowers in the hedges were all Doras, to a bud. (Dickens, 2015, ch 33, Blissful).”
His mother said to him: “You fell in Love with Wendy from the book Peter Pan because she was the first person to ever have the name Wendy and you thought she was going to fly into your room one night and take you away to Neverland. How did the world show itself or appear to you then?
“Everything was alive and magical,” Harley said.
“Remember when you started taking allergy pills and you felt a little funny and the world seemed to have stronger colors than usual? Now imagine how a really strong drug can change the way you feel and what you experience.” His mom continues: “And Harley, when you have a headache or stomach ache, how does the world appear then?
“Everything shows itself in an irritating way. I want to go to my room and shut the world out.”
“Can you see why talking to someone as smart as Li’l Yoda about God is so fun and challenging? Trying to suggest to people that it’s possible they are only experiencing a god-filled world, that it’s just a trick their mind is doing, is like trying to convince someone they aren’t seeing what they’re seeing!”
“Then it’s impossible,” Harley laughed.
“Not impossible, just difficult. Certain kinds of doctors are very good at talking to confused people in such a way that they no longer believe they are being followed by strangers. The strangers aren’t really following them, that’s just how they appear to the patient. It’s a trick their mind is playing on them. People called “Deprogrammers” are good at getting people to stop believing things they once believed with all of their hearts.”
“Can doctors and deprogrammers use their skills to dispel religion?”
“They can and do, but many of the doctors are also believers in religion themselves. Like I said, it’s a fun challenge.”
Harley thought for a bit and asked: “Mom, do you believe in God?”
“Most people seem to. Many of them are far more intelligent than me, so maybe they’re right. Let’s say for the sake of argument that I do, but am open to your questions … ! Spend time with Li’l Yoda, go back and forth with his ideas like Jedi dueling with light sabers. It’s great sport!”
Finally, his mom said as she wished him good night: “Harley, you are very special. You have been born with a tremendous special gift, a dis-Ability of not being able to remember very well. This may seem bad at first, but you will learn to use this gift, and in a world full of people lost in the details, you will be able to focus on the important information and see the forest despite the trees. The key to a wise and thoughtful life is to always sniff out when ideas don’t make sense and to question them – kind of like the main character in the picture book ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes.’ The great thinker Socrates said ‘I know that I know nothing. I am neither wise with their wisdom, nor foolish with their foolishness.’ “
“I sort of understand, Harley said – but not really.”
“I know,” his mother replied, “and I’m very proud of you because you recognize what you don’t know”