I’ve been looking through my old diaries when I lived in Kenya between January 1966 and August 1968, reviewing material for the stories I’ve been posting on Wattpad. In many ways I do not like the person I am reading. I remember when I was in a student work camp in Ireland in the summer of 1964. One of the European students told me, more in surprise than in criticism, that I sounded more like a Puritan than a Catholic. Reading my diaries I can see now what she meant. These diaries also reflect the ways in which my experiences in a new and harsher environment and my reading increased my questions about the faith of my youth.
This afternoon I found a short reflection written in January 1967. There’s no context for it in the diary entry, which is full of other events that day. But this was the period after a horrible experience when my wife Mary and I thought we were going to lose our son Joseph four months after he was born, a period when Mary was repeatedly having to stay in bed for days to avoid a miscarriage of her second pregnancy, and a period when I was getting news from back home of neighbors and college classmates drafted or killed in Vietnam.
Here is what I wrote. I find it interesting in the context of The Brothers Karamazov, which I have been reading lately. It reflects my earlier readings of Dostoyevsky.
If there is no God, then there can be no full revenge. In order to have violence, we must have God, for violence is incomplete without God. But if there is no God, then everything or nothing is allowed. If everything, violence is indifferent. If nothing, violence is futile. We live by violence. Therefore, we need God in order to live.
I’m not sure how much sense this makes as a statement, but as a question it caught my attention today.