GOD 101: Man’s Fundamental Problem with God (and vice versa)

It doesn’t take much to see that man has a problem with God.  Even the most devout give God a view of their back from time to time.  Or feel that God has turned his back on them.

I’ve always had sympathy for the world’s weeping disappointment, or raging exasperation, or consuming madness with God.

Praying can at times be like sitting in the middle of an infinite desert, seeing nothing, or at other times like standing at the bottom of a land slide, watching the earth coming down.

God has that one great feature that creates this divide: God has no central nervous system.

That observation may seem stupid to you.  Or silly.  Or incomprehensible.

But it’s the key factor in our relationship with God.  That, and the irony that he made us with central nervous systems and expects us all to get along.

But from our very first breath all we do is feel.

Hunger.  Thirst.  Loneliness.  Fear.  Joy.  Confusion.

It’s all there in our very first minute, and the number of sensations that drives our lives increases monumentally with each succeeding breath.

And that’s the thing with us: our lives are driven by our sensations, by our needs, by our cravings.  From the very first to the very last, we act in response to something our nerves  tell us to do.  Our bodies are the cars, our sensations, the drivers.

God has no body.

God has no sensations.

In an absolute sense, God understands what hunger is.

In a real sense, he has no clue whatsoever.

How do you communicate hunger to something that knows no hunger?

How do you explain hope to something that is everything in himself, with nothing outside himself (well, almost nothing), so has no need to reach for anything?

God has no need for anything.

Except understanding.

I was at a meeting at church one night soon after the World Trade Towers tragedy, a few days after I was able to once again drive, under billowing veils of American flags, past the Pentagon, even though hoses were still pouring water onto the fire, and another person in the group cried out, “God didn’t want this to happen!”

And I looked at him, and managed not to ask, What kind of Christian are you anyway?  Why don’t you know, to your bones, that dead or alive, we are always with God?  Why would he put value on us just because we are in bodies?

Who knows, perhaps God even likes it better when we are out of body and with him in a way that we don’t question our oneness, our love.

Is there a difference in God’s eyes between a spider sucking out the life of a captured moth and the bombing of two buildings?

Life.  Maintenance.  Death.

Our death is with us at our birth.

Our pain is with us at the moment of transition into this world.

I have been taught that the reason we were created was so that God could what it is to sense.  Imagine, God learning from us.

I’ve come to see that this is the true meaning of evolution: that as we undergo our living and our developing, we “teach” God, instant by instant what it is to experience the universe, not just be the universe.

We are, in essence, the programmers of God, sending him back essential information on how life works.  Because creation has a way of creating itself.

People say, well, if God created the world and everything in it, why then….?

Well, imagine a room full of bakers instructed to bake the same kind of bread.  Will all the breads come out the same?  Will there be disasters in spite of the fact that all the bakers followed the same procedure?

If such a wide variety of loaves can come from the same recipe, think of the variety that comes from God’s creation.  And we — because of our sensations — modify our own lives, our own selves, our own creation.

We change the world, and, in a way, we change God.

Just look at the Bible for proof of this.  Read the Old Testament and record how suffering is handled.  The Psalms are nothing if not cries of anguish and pleas for relief (or revenge).

Then read the New Testament.

And listen to the silence of Jesus on his way of pain and misery.

Suffering is not God’s means of salvation until Jesus came along and gave that grace to the world.

The irony, of course, in all of this I feel/you feel, oh wait, do you feel, God?, is that to be close to God we must give up our sensual pursuits as much as we can.  We have to learn to live — if only for the briefest of moments — outside of our own lives, outside of our own hungers and thirsts, and even outside of our own breathing.

We have to pare ourselves down to nothing in order to connect with the Divine Everything.

It’s not that our experiences, our sensing, are not real — they are, insofar as we really experience what we are experiencing, but it’s the passing through them through God, understanding our experiences through God’s eyes, that makes us come to understanding God, even in the smallest way.

Another irony of it all is how it is through this aestheticism, this cleansing ourselves of our hungers, that we come to God; indulging in the gratification of our senses leads to a living death: where meaning is actually stripped from our lives and the cravings of addiction take over.

And it is as we become broken in our desire to gratify ourselves that our concern for the well-being of others diminishes, and our ability to harm is born.  Our addictions override our ability to care for others.  We come to a place where we can only care for ourselves, and not even in a healthy way.

A distortion in the fulfillment of our perceived needs and wants results in evil.

We are born to the senses, and then, somehow, blindly, groping through our own faith, we have to find how to “handle” those God-given, binding, driving urges.  We have to learn to save ourselves from ourselves.

We have to learn how to save the world from the world.

Amen.

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