Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Writing { and reading and publishing } ~

Friday Story Bazaar ~ Tale Thirty-One

All The Tough Questions

Alexander M Zoltai


[ This occurred today—perhaps in your town… ]

It was a very happening cafe—great coffee and superb teas; plus, sandwiches and desserts to die for.

Judy, the writer, was at her usual table near the wall plug, focused on her laptop.

Frank, the astrophysicist, was at the counter, getting his lunch.

Sophie, the ageless hippy, had just come in the door.

Bruce, the quiet one, was sitting near Judy reading a book.

Sophie sat down at Judy’s table and stared at her, a beaming smile on her face.

Frank brought his lunch to the table next to Judy, scraping the chair on the tile floor after he sat, making Judy look up. She nodded to Frank, saw Sophie, said, “Hi…”, went back to typing.

Sophie cleared her throat and said, “Judy?”


“I had a most magnificent spiritual experience this morning!”

Judy kept typing…

Frank said, “So, Sophie, how spiritual was it?”

“Oh, Frank, we all know you don’t care about the spiritual realm.”

“Oh, Sophie, you are so wrong. If only you could use my criteria for making judgements and stop believing every strong emotional experience you have is spiritual—“

“I don’t think you have any emotions, Frank.”

Judy kept up her typing while she said, “Sophie, Frank’s very emotional when he discusses his latest scientific hypotheses…”

Frank blinked twice, then said, “I am, Judy… Forming hypotheses is a spiritual and emotional activity.”

Bruce looked up from his book and quietly said, “Can you define spiritual…?”

Sophie: “Anything that let’s you feel at one with the universe.”

Frank: “The ephemeral, the meta-physical…”

Judy stopped typing and stared at Bruce.

Bruce returned her look with the addition of an ever so slight smile.

Judy nearly shouted: “Religion is an opiate. It’s all lies.”

Bruce rejoined with, “Would you define what you mean by “religion”…?”

Sophie: “We’re not talking about religion, just spirituality.”

Frank was silent…

Judy was still staring at Bruce as he said, “What I’ve been learning is that religion and spirituality shouldn’t be separate things—spirituality without religion is emotional fancy and religion without spirituality is fundamentalism.”

This was stoking up to be more than just a cafe conversation—even the participants were starting to register some astonishment…

Sophie: “How can you say that, Bruce! I have true and deep spiritual experiences, not emotional fancies…”

Frank: “You sure about that, Sophie?”

Before Sophie could respond, Judy said, “Religion without spirituality? Now you’re talking, Bruce. All religions are pits of ignorance, how could they have any spirituality?”

Frank rose up and said, “I need a brownie and more coffee. Anyone else? I’m buying.”

Judy shook her head no, Sophie said, “Coffee, dark.”, Bruce just smiled…

Sophie asked Judy what she was writing.

“I’m working on my second novel.”

“Oh! You have a book published?!”


“But… second…”

“Right. First one’s in a drawer at home.”

“Can I read it?”


Judy looked back at Bruce and said, “You must believe in God, right?”

“I do…”


“Seems the most logical hypothesis for where everything came from.”

“What about evolution?”

“That’s the particular way God decided to generate all us creatures.”

Sophie said, “God and evolution… You’re weird, Bruce.”

“Why thank you, Sophie!”

Frank chuckled as he set Sophie’s coffee down.

Judy went back to typing.

All was quiet in the group for about three minutes when Frank said, “Ya know, Bruce, I’ve never thought about evolution being a method that a supposed Creator would use…”

Bruce looked up from his reading and said, “Seems natural to me—the whole shebang is to help us learn—discovering evolution was concurrent with the collapse of the Spanish, Napoleonic, and Holy Roman empires—great time for individuals to ponder the earthly half of their existence…”

“What’s the other half?”

“When the soul associates with the beginning of a body, at conception.”

Sophie chimed in: “Weird stuff…”

“Well, Sophie, you said I was weird so shouldn’t I talk about weird stuff?”

Judy stopped typing and said, “Weird comes from roots that mean fateful and destiny oriented.”

Bruce: “I rest my case…”

Frank: “Yes, weird…”

Sophie stood up and said, “I gotta go…”

Judy: “Sophie, I appreciate your spiritual experiences.”

Sophie sat back down.

Bruce said, “Judy, why do you think religion is all lies?”

“Bruce, why do you think it isn’t?”

“Well, I think there are folks out there who claim things about religion that stack up as, essentially, lies; but, would someone who said all writers are liars suddenly make all writers liars?”


“And, would a writer who did lie all the time make all writers liars?”

“No; but, religion is different than writing…”

“I agree—writing is what humans do and religion is what God does—true religion, that is.”

“Which God is the real one?”

“Aha! Now we get to the tricky part—“

Sophie said, “Judy, don’t let him trick you…”

“Wouldn’t think of it, Sophie—so, what’s tricky, Bruce?”

“Well, I’m starting to believe that all the Founders of the great religions were from the One and Only God—had the same Message. The tricky part is when you start comparing the words They each said—each One was talking to folks at different stages of human evolution—essentially, different kinds of human beings…”

“You mean the Bible and the Quran are saying the same thing?”

“Very much the same thing; but, written to be understood by very different kinds of humans. Thing is, too many followers of Jesus and Muhammad appear to be clinging to limited, materialistic interpretations…”

Frank said, “Bruce, where do you get these ideas?”

“It’s all, really, right in front of everyone’s face—try the Internet—search for ‘bab persia’, as a start…”

Sophie: “What’s bab persia mean?”

“Well, Sophie, please forgive me for not giving it all away—I’ve spent years searching and only began to find answers in the last few months. And, since I appreciate not only what I’m finding but the search itself, I don’t want to deny the search to others; but, what I’ve told you is, truly, one huge clue…”

Sophie: “What’s that book you’re reading?”

“It’s called The Book of Certitude—another huge clue…”

Judy: “You believe everything you read, Bruce?”

“No… God gave us minds to investigate and find the truth—kind of implies there’s a lot of crap floating around…”

Frank:  “So, how are you learning where to put science?”

“Science is the other half of learning—the material version of spiritual science.”

Judy: “Spiritual science!?”

“Exactly. I’m starting to realize that religion and spirituality should use reason, just as much as material science.”

Sophie: “Totally weird…”

Bruce: “Yes, weird like Judy said…”

Judy: “I think science is more pure than religion—less chaotic.”

Frank: “Science can be very chaotic…”

Bruce: “And, science can be too beholden to materialism.”

Frank: “Didn’t you call it, ‘the material version of spiritual science’?

“Yes; but, a material version of something is very different from something that worships materialism…”

Judy: “The material world is all we’ve got—period!”

Bruce: “Is love material? How about honor? Better yet, what about magnetism?”

Frank: “Yep, plenty of abstract entities science tries to grapple with…”

Judy: “It all comes from matter! Religion is just cheating with all its emotional shortcuts.”

Sophie: “I’m with Judy, different religions are so different they must all be lying.”

Judy: “Sophie, that’s not quite what I was saying…”

Frank: “I agree that the interpretation of scripture is the trickiest part…”

Bruce: “Takes a relatively pure heart…”

Judy: “You have a pure heart, Bruce?”

Bruce: “Relatively…”

Sophie: “Bruce, the Mumbo Jumboist…”

Judy: “Frank, you still buying?”


“Mocha Latte, then…”

Sophie stood up and said, “I gotta go…”

Bruce went back to his reading.

Judy stood up, walked to Bruce’s table, grabbed his book, walked it to the trash receptacle, and tossed it in…

[The world kept turning; but, four folks in a cafe had brushed up against the Ineffable…]


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