Another day, another deity debate on Facebook. I’ll never understand how so many people come to convince themselves that they could possibly get anywhere by arguing incessantly about nothing. Or, in this case, everything.
I find any implication that “free thinking” and God can’t coexist quite troublesome. In fact, I find it rather backwards. It takes a very open mind to entertain such a concept. Much more so than that everything happened by accident. Truth is, after much free thinking, God is the logical conclusion at which countless people have arrived. While it may or may not be true, as some insist, that God and religion may have been a complete confabulation – conjured up in order to control people; to get society to behave in a certain manner – government most definitely was “invented”, specifically for that very purpose: to organize and control people (society) and get them to behave in certain manners; to keep the peace; to avoid chaos. And yet, many rail against any notion of God or “religion” while worshipping and putting blind faith in the government, when it is actually the government whose great flaws and corruption lay bare; while anyone who suggests abandoning it – even in part – is considered a lunatic; all in full public knowledge that government is indeed a complete human fabrication and rife with problems. Overall, it has shown itself to be the lesser of the two – far more violent, hurtful and corrupt – yet those who profess faithlessness cling to it faithfully, like a rock in a hurricane.
What if the Devil actually IS in the Details?
Sadly, people are so incredibly obsessed with arguing about getting God’s home address, whether Mary was truly a virgin and whether or not Jesus literally returned from the dead that they completely ignore the blueprints we received and the incredible value they contain. They’re so damned obsessed with being right and proving others wrong that they don’t even care (or see) that we are loved, enough to give us that gift, but its value is only realized once we all focus on putting it to use.
To borrow from the brilliance of miss Mona Lisa Vito (the lovely and talented Marisa Tomei) in My Cousin Vinnie,
“Imagine you’re a deer. You’re prancing along. You get thirsty. You spot a little brook. You put your little deer lips down to the cool, clear water. BAM! A f—in’ bullet rips off part of your head! Your brains are laying on the ground in little bloody pieces! Now I ask you: Would you give a f— what kind of pants the son of a b—- who shot you was wearing?!”
I don’t see the need for specific proof of what, precisely, lies out there in the universe and the power behind it before concluding that, A)plenty more is out there, and B) that there is indeed something awesome and powerful beyond what we already know. Science proves daily that there’s plenty we didn’t know yesterday and indicate that there’s plenty more that we won’t learn until tomorrow. In fact, science is the cyclical process of:
– Admitting we don’t know something
– Making observations
– Using them to guess at the truth
– Making more observations to see if we were right
– Proving that we were actually wrong
Knowing this, how on earth could anyone be ignorant enough to believe that science has all the answers? It’s downright disturbing. Science doesn’t have all the answers; it has all the questions. It seeks answers (and yes, finds some along the way, however temporary some may be.) In turn, being inquisitive and curious minds, we are also able to question the very nature of God’s existence and to seek those answers – even scientifically – but we’ve certainly never needed them in order to analyze and find value in the commandments we were given. They’re separate matters entirely. The 10 Commandments are what they are, even if Snooki wrote them. (Although it doesn’t appear as though she’s too familiar with them and if she is, I doubt she got through the entire list in one sitting.)
The Nature of God
As for God’s nature, while some may naively believe that God professed to be some sky daddy with a white beard on a throne in the clouds, I’ve seen no such assertion. His self-identification was clear: “I will be what I will be.” (English translation, “I am that I am.”) Personally, I think the underlying message was “Don’t obsess about me. My name and the exact nature of my being aren’t really the point here. That doesn’t matter; YOU matter. You’re on a need-to-know basis and all you need to know right now is that I exist, I love you all unconditionally and if you follow these 10 rules you will all live happily and peacefully. If you keep your focus on me and my instructions – if you all obey them and don’t stray from them – together you will create heaven on earth.”
Through Your Faith in Me, You Will Find Me
His other message is “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” Anyone who truly opens their heart can see God all around them; anyone who so much as opens their mind can see perfection in the commandments themselves and the Sermon on The Mount and envision what the world might look like if everyone actually dedicated themselves to obeying them. Forget having to believe you go to heaven after you die; one can readily come to the rational conclusion that if everyone followed those rules we’d have built heaven in this life, on this earth; people would be born into it and enjoy it while they live. In consideration of this, isn’t squabbling about myth and metaphor missing the point?
Round 2: Jesus
So, God sent Jesus. And again, I ask, does it matter whether the account of that delivery was literal or figurative? No. It really doesn’t. He showed up either way in order to bring us back onto the right path; to correct the failing compasses. His instructions were more detailed and specific; to close some obvious misinterpretations of the original instructions; stating quite clearly where humanity had screwed up in their interpretations and applications of the 10 commandments.
Any rational analysis and logical assessment of those teachings in The Sermon on the Mount can easily determine that they do indeed approach perfection; that they absolutely would solve all of humanity’s problems (except parking tickets.) They are subject to individual, human interpretation, of course, thus subject to occasional error in practice and the words themselves have been translated by mere humans as well, but not so much that we cannot find their true meaning. We’re instructed not to adhere solely to the word, anyway; we’re supposed to listen to the spirit. The instructions become clear if we read them with our hearts; with practice, the correct instructions naturally manifest themselves within us and guide us to take appropriate actions.
Religion is a Pigeon (and a scapegoat)
Contrary to popular belief, one certainly need not follow any church in order to follow Christ; they only need to follow Christ to be a Christian. In fact many end up leaving organized religion and churches for the specific reason of following Christ even more closely; to do so directly. I know I did. That said, I definitely don’t have any chip on my shoulder about the Episcopal religion in which I was raised; I am quite fond of it, speak of it highly and recommend it regularly. I still identify with it. I just don’t personally feel the need to attend. I do very much appreciate the value in fellowship and community and I understand that for many, these are the cement which binds their faith. I simply wish to focus on Christ more closely, carry my church within my heart and to practice my faith out here in the world and with my hands and body. Sitting still and listening to someone preach about doing it when I could actually spend that time doing it makes me anxious. Maybe it’s my ADD, I don’t know. Either way I’m much more fulfilled when I’m actually helping people and Jesus wasn’t big on idle worship and temples, anyway. Talk is cheap. He was all about making the rubber meet the road and he wasn’t shy about telling us to do the same. The human obsession which developed in regard to rite and ritual is a major reason he showed up to begin with. That’s why baptism was invented: so that we could knock out a lifetime of forgiveness in one shot and recoup the countless hours of our lives and invest them where we are supposed to – being the hands of God – rather than spending so much of our lives engaged in the extensive and detailed Jewish traditions, which sucked up a lot of time and afforded much less for the important work to be accomplished.
Stop wasting time squabbling over details. Stop looking a gift horse in the mouth. Stop talking and start doing. We’ve got the perfect plan, the instructions, the passion and the time. Together we could build something beautiful. Ultimately, for each day in which is has not come to fruition, we’ve truly have no one to blame but ourselves.