Is God a Jerk?
A vengeful God?
My relationship with God has been a journey. I was once fearful of him. Raised in the Reform Jewish tradition, my impression of God was the following: A very big man, with bushy eyebrows, who does mean things to people because he believes that they don’t love him enough.
This was the God who would ask a man to sacrifice his son in the name of the lord. Granted, in the story, God does not let that man sacrifice his son; it was a test of the man’s love for God. However, I believe this was a sick request. How can God ask for a man to choose between his religion and his son?
In the story of Adam and Eve, the title characters are punished for their curiosity. They eat the forbidden apples, and that’s it, no second chances. They are banished from the Garden of Eden, and must endure nakedness and hardship from that moment forward.
All this is not to say that Judaism is bad. Judaism has a lot of good stuff in it, and it helps a lot of people. Some of the stories are even uplifting. . . kind of. To be fair, I have not done enough study of Judaism to make an accurate assessment. I attended 7 years of religious education, but I attended only in body, never in spirit or mind.
I would later study eastern religions, reading any book I could get my hands on. These can be very confusing, but to me, generally more satisfying. Taoism and Buddhism in particular struck a chord with me.
Ultimately, I would make my own determination of what God is. God is great, but he is not a man. Not one man, anyway. I believe God is every man, and everything. For those of you who saw the epic movie “Avatar,” you may have noticed a similar idea expressed in the beliefs of the native people in the film. I have heard this movie described as overly-simplistic, but I think that’s the beauty in it. God is not complex. God is not something to be understood only by the elite, educated classes.
God is beauty and nature and love. God is pain and anger and resentment. God is everything.
I REALLY like this guys books.
What is God?
Although religions vary, the common thread in all of them is the belief in something bigger than oneself. To that end, most religions teach kindness. After all, if I am not the center of the universe, then I must be a working part of the universe. And willing or not, I am an active participant in the interconnectedness of all beings.
Don’t believe me? How many times have you inhaled today? How many times have you exhaled? Are you not breathing in oxygen that came from plants, and producing carbon dioxide needed by those same plants? They need you and you need them. You are interconnected.
I don’t want to convince you of my idea of God. My idea is my idea: a flawed human interpretation. I think we should each have the right to our own flawed human interpretation. This may come off as cynical, but to me it’s freeing. I know I can never completely comprehend God on any mental level. I am free to know God through my experience of the world, but my words will never do it justice.
My God is all around, when I choose to see it. My God is my love and my pain. My God speaks to me in subtle whispers and loud mammoth winds. My God never asks me to apologize, or take responsibility. My God is apologizing and responsibility.
What do you think?
I would not presume to tell others that they should believe as I do. However, I do encourage you to reexamine your beliefs from time to time. Do the ideals you were raised with line up with your current experiences? If they don’t, why not? Who or what is God to you?
These are questions that some will embrace and others will run away from. Some people question whether God exists at all, based on their own personal suffering, or because of all the suffering in the world. From my point of view, this does not seem like a comfortable way to live. However, everyone must find the belief structure that suits them best, even when their belief structure is founded on lack of belief.
If you believe in God, and know someone who does not, it is best to let them be. They may find a God of their understanding at some point, or they may not. Perhaps, for them, atheism and science are both comforting and life-affirming. Everyone has a right to their own beliefs.
God is a mystery. To me God is love and everything else. To you, God may be a toaster oven, a unicorn or a ghost in your closet. The most important thing is that you closely examine your own experience and find an answer that feels right for you.
A Cartoon. . .
I created the following cartoon in 2004 while studying animation at the Art Institute of Philadelphia. It does not reflect my beliefs in any way whatsoever.
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