God is love, and He digs sweet tea and Boston terriers. Or something completely different.

I should admit that, when confronted with a metaphysical condundrum, I don't always consult polls conducted by The Movement for Reform Judaism in Britain.  In the latest, it's revealed that 73% of those identifying themselves as Christians believe God is a male.  Only one percent feel that The Boss is female.  I'm not sure what the remaining 26% think. 

Truth be told, I haven't spent a whole lot of synaptic activity pondering the Almighty package.  The older I get, the less I know things about God.  When I was a kid, I was happy enough believing that God was an elderly white-haired man from Tennessee, a man who drove a Lincoln Continental, drank sweet iced tea, and would forgive me if I felt bad for doing something wrong.  "Well, as long as you're sorry, young man, I'll forgive you."  How my image of God became mixed up with the administrator of my Grandmother's hospital, I'll never know, but to this day, I wonder if God has a Boston Terrier named "Herschel" and a wife who has giant hair and makes the best creamed corn on earth.

Of all the cinematic God portrayals, my favorite is from "Dogma."  God is Alanis Morissette.

I must admit, if the whole appearing before the Throne of God thing is true, I'd much rather stare up at a lovely, hippie-looking brown-eyed love button like Alanis than at Yul Brenner, or some other scary white guy.

Like I said, when I was eight years old, I had no problem believing that God was a slightly more powerful version of Dr Bowers, small town hospital administrator.  God would have been pretty happy living in the big brick mansion at the end of Thomas Road, there in the shadow of Lookout Mountain.  God would have been perfectly capable of handling whatever crises could arise in my little eight year-old world, and it was fun to play with His dog.  Like Dr Bowers, God would've been more than comfortable strolling down to my grandmother's house for a summertime feast, and He would doubtless have enjoyed a couple Bourbons with my grandfather before dinner.  He'd bow his head during the blessing, and He'd probably resist the urge to say "You're welcome" after we thanked Him for the food. 

The older I get, the less I know.  To me at this stage in my life, I realize that if I can understand God completely, He ceases to be God.  (of course, by that logic, God could be calculus, women, or a Thomas Carlysle essay)

As noted theologist Don Henley once observed, "The more I know, the less I understand."  I guess it's just something I don't wonder about–whether God has a tab A or a slot B.  Heck, if I were God–and I'm definitely not (I think that's something I'd mention in my profile, don't you? ("Male.  St Petersburg, FL.  Infinity years old.  Creator of everything."))–I imagine I'd create some super-genitalia more awesome than our paltry human fleshy bits.  I'd have some sort of amazing genital that never required surgery, got rashes, or hurt like a sonofabitch if I got hit in it with a racquetball.

I think we tend to picture God as being male or female, just so we can relate Him to our own, pathetic experiences.  Grammatically, we refer to a character of unknown gender as "he," and so have I.

When I was at the very bottom of the Abyss a few years ago, I had a dream, I guess, or a vision, or a hallucination–something.  Anyway, I was asleep, and I looked up from my bed, and my late friends Al and Win were standing there.  They didn't speak aloud, but their message was clear: "You have it all wrong.  It's going to be okay.  It's absolutely nothing like you've imagined, but it's awesome.  Don't worry so much.  It's a waste of perfectly good time.  You'll be fine."  They were smiling and happy and enjoying each other's company.  That's why I wouldn't be surprised if it really were a vision: when they were alive, Win and Al couldn't stand each other.  I doubt my subconscious mind would pair them happily, even after a liter of Jim Beam and several packets of Taco Bell Fire Sauce.

I've never forgotten the image of those two standing there, grinning dorkily at how stupid I was for worrying.  I ended up spending a little more time in the Abyss, then I decided to get some help and escape.   The last three years have been good to me.  I've almost died a couple times, a few of my friends actually have died, and I'm having a bitch of a time finding a new job.  But I'm strangely happy and content, nonetheless.  When Al and Win paid me that visit, I was reading all sorts of books on spirituality, religion, mythology, etc, trying to learn "the truth."  I don't think I'll ever find a satisfactory truth in any one book.  It'd be nice if there were an absolute Holy Text written by J.K. Rowling, with a nice, triumphant ending, and a cute, heartwarming little epilogue.  I haven't found it.  I just believe there's something wonderful out there that transcends my pathetic little human understanding, and probably doesn't limit itself by having a penis. 

But if God is really like Dr Bowers, I'm okay with that too (I would love a nice bowl of Mrs B's creamed corn right now).

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10 Responses to “God is love, and He digs sweet tea and Boston terriers. Or something completely different.”

  1. I found god when I found Mr. Deity.But on a more serious note… I gave up on finding god in just one holy book. Just about every holy book seems to have some shortcoming where I just have this feeling in my gut that something I read is wrong. It's just something that God would not be a-okay with… you know?Maybe the books have some sort of divine intervention in their making, but they were also written down (and translated) by human minds anyway. And human beings are VERY fallible. We, as a species, have proven that — time and time again.

  2. Bravo.The universe – the real universe, not the dorky projection on the ceiling of your city's planetarium you saw on that field trip in 5th grade – is a very big, very complex, very strange place. We are a part of it. Just like a single (pardon the cliche) grain of sand is a part of Miami beach. Which is why it is hard for me to believe the entire beach was made for the existence of that one grain of sand. Maybe it was, but it's hard for me to believe. And it's hard for me to believe that it's easy for other people to believe it. But they do. Because they want to. Because it feels better to believe that than to feel alone and unimportant and unsure. "I'm special." Well of course you are, honey.Of course you are.But…..I agree that if there is a god, being that there is a conscious, designing, creating and destroying being that's at the controls of all of this, then it has to be pretty unfathomable for us little earth monkeys. I'm imagining something Lovecraftian, but without all the rending and tentacles. But hey, maybe there are tentacles. Who knows. I'm pretty sure in my mind though that it's not some jolly Burl-Ivesish fellow on a golden chair in the clouds, surrounded by white-robed Michael Landons with hymnals. Would that it were, because that would be easy to understand. But I don't really think it is.Too bad too. I do bet the creamed corn would be excellent.

  3. I used to think God would be like the Dad I Never Had: kind, warm, forgiving but a little stern, always ready with a hug and a smile. Then I had several near-God encounters in areas of near-wilderness and desert, read Philip Pullman's Dark Matter trilogy, and got utterly confused. Since then I have been loathe to put a face on god, or to even think s/he/it is just one person. Maybe the Hindus are right and God manifests her/himself in thousand forms. (I had a scary acid trip like that when I was an undergraduate in college. I don't recommend finding God that way, pace Timothy Leary.)

  4. I love it.I love Al and Win smiling and saying/paraphrase/ "you're not even close, but it doesn't matter cuz it's all ok."I think the wondering, the questioning, the hurting, for ourselves and others, human or nonhuman, all adds positive force to this incredible universe.It often gets under my skin when many of my family members distill "God" down into a little packet. One book, one thought, one mind, no exceptions.According to them, I am going to hell…but, if going to "heaven" means I have to spend eternity with their God, then hell is where I'll happily go. I have no doubts deep in my heart/instincts/intuitions that the universe and/or "god" is so much beyond our comprehension that it's silly, but fun, to try to comprehend it. AND, I believe, like one of my faves, Einstein, that the Universe is ultimately a friendly place. So, until I meet up with Al and Win I'll wander happily on my ignorant way! :)Nice post, tom!

  5. I used to have a Boston Terrier named Zoe. She's in Ohio now. She'd be very old nowadays though, so maybe she's hanging out with Al and Win. At any rate, I'm sure she's happy wherever she is. I assume the same [happiness] for the rest of us, regardless of where we end up, or how we think we get 'there'.

  6. i liked alanis as god, too. πŸ˜€

  7. Mr Deity is a scream. I'd never seen it before. Thanks for the link. (and who knew the Holy Spirit was named Larry?)

  8. Al and Win–I mean, why not my grandparents or Jimmy Stewart? Why these two, who couldn't stand each other, standing there beaming and grinning and being reassuring? People who claim to "know" things beyond question scare and annoy me.

  9. You are great at naming dogs. I can just see a Boston Terrier named Zoe. I'm sure Al will play with her. πŸ˜‰

  10. That was definitely some sort of message, tom! If Al and Win can get along, there's hope for us all!Our first Boston Terror was Jake. The next was Mona. Our third is Sheldon.Absolutely awesome dogs, BTs!

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