A Little Less Conversation

I spoke to God today. This is not a joke, and there is no punch line. I spoke to God today. I explained to Him (Her?) that my lack of regular communication in recent years is in direct proportion to the declining level of my faith. I had begun to feel silly offering prayers to an entity I had begun to doubt actually existed. I acknowledged in this one-way communication that if He actually does exist, I wasn’t telling Him something he didn’t already know. Just keeping it real, I told Him.

I shared with God that I had spent 40 years of my life as a believer. It all began as a terrified 7-year old child, hiding with my mother under my bed as my drunken father raged about the house looking for someone to pound into a bleeding mess. “God will protect us” she told me. “He will never put you in a situation that you can’t overcome – with His help.” She was dying of cancer at the time, and when she passed shortly thereafter she left a personal inscription for me her Bible. In the dark years that followed her death I would leaf reverently through the New Testament pages (where Christ’s words were printed in red), but I took the most spiritual comfort in the words my mother left for me. She expected to be in Heaven soon, and wrote with great anticipation “I will await your coming.” While these words gave me great comfort on many occasions, I have come to suspect that the good health, successful career, and happy life I’ve enjoyed since those early years has more to do with hard work, good choices, loving family & friends, and pure dumb luck than because of any divine intervention. Not everyone has been as lucky as I have, which lead me to question these inequities. Why, I asked God, do millions of children die each and every year due to war, famine, disease, inadequate healthcare, hunger, and pure human evil? Either you are incapable of stopping this, or you are indifferent to the suffering. Which one is it? Incapable or indifference? Neither sounds like the God I was sold in Sunday School. I asked God why he always gets praised when rubber checks don’t bounce, or car brakes fail in front of a brake shop, or my team scores the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl, but when a young mother of seven children dies of breast cancer or hundreds of thousands perish in a tsunami, well, then it’s because He “works in mysterious ways.” You get credit for all the wins, and no blame for any of the losses, I told Him, it doesn’t work that way for us down here on earth – that great spiritual petri dish you created.

I was brutally honest with God: I even confessed my belief that He didn’t create us, we created Him. Of course, if I’m right on that note, then there was no Him there to hear me or respond to my claim. If you truly do exist, then which God are you? I pleaded. Over the course of recorded human history, we have believed in the existence of thousands of gods. So many gods. So many faiths. So many holy books and scriptures – with incompatible claims. How am I to know which is the correct God, the right holy book? That’s where my seeking of the truth began many years ago, I explained. I simply wanted to know whom the right God was, the correct path to spiritual enlightenment. I openly admitted that my seeking had led me to many learned people, ideas, and disciplines like astronomy, biology, genetics, and earth sciences which, ultimately, offered much more reasoned, elegant, and satisfying solutions to my questions. I had begun to value the scientific method and its rigorous demand for evidence. And philosophically speaking, it seemed like a far less dangerous place to begin any field of inquiry by saying “I don’t know, let’s work to find an answer” than by asserting absolute knowledge on the basis of faith.

As I continued unburdening myself to God, I hoped He understood and appreciated the dilemma He had created by creating human beings with brains and then demanding of them that they not use them to find answers. I told him about a recent conversation I had recently with a well-meaning family member who told me I wasn’t going to find answers or enlightenment in any book written by a non-Christian. “You’re thinking too much” she told me. “Don’t think. Just believe!” When I responded that blind faith in our leaders – spiritual or political – can get you killed, I was met with patronizing derision. Jonestown really happened, right? I didn’t just imagine that horrific tragedy in the jungles of Guyana in November of 1978, did I? Jim Jones plied his evil trade with the same King James Bible I suckled from in my Christian days. How do you explain that? I wondered aloud to God.

I rambled on for hours, but before I concluded my prayer, I appealed to God’s insecurity (read those 10 Commandments again) and reminded Him that I live in the age of social media and there is a great debate raging around the world as to the value of faith and validity of His existence. We’re killing each other down here, flying planes into buildings, judging each other because of the gender of those we love, and teaching our young to be intolerant on the basis of differences that have nothing to do with moral character – all because of religious differences. “Can’t we all just get along?” – that appeal so often repeated in the 1990’s, has never been more relevant than it is today. So, appealing to God’s desire to be worshipped above all others, I requested He make Himself visible to all, in the flesh, and to explain Himself to one and all. Come stop the madness! Why is it so important that we believe in Him with no evidence? Why is it so important that he be worshipped in the first place? And where the fuck is that secret decoder ring we need to establish which God, which book, which faith, which path is the right one? The world really could use an answer to this simple question. I told God that if He wishes to communicate only with me, this is fine with me on two conditions:

1. I speak English. Do me the courtesy of speaking and/or writing your response in the language I speak. I even offered to videotape the conversation to ensure there is nothing lost (or added) in translation.
2. I am morally and ethically bound to share his response with the rest of the world. I have no interest in exclusive access to our Creator. So, anything God deems worthy of sharing with me goes viral.

I did indeed speak to God today. If He is really out there somewhere, then He heard me and knows my heart is sincere.

I spoke to God today. I am still waiting for a response.

MJH 1-16-11

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