Choking on God
I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m not a certified anything and have no theological training. I’ve read the Bible in different versions and got lost in the contradictions although I did enjoy the rhythms of language in the King James Version. I’ve explored every religion or philosophy that has ever caught my fancy and what follows are my opinions, of which I have many and which I prefer to deliver unsolicited when you’re not looking.
The title for this post comes from the catch I get in my throat whenever I try to say the word, the name, God, out loud. I hesitate. My throat closes even when I’m talking to Him, Her, It in the quiet of my own mind.
I thought for a long time it was happening because of my less than pleasant experiences with organized religion from childhood. It wasn’t horrible it just wasn’t enlivening. Frankly it was at best boring unless my Uncle George was preaching and because I swear he has a direct channel to G-G-God even as a kid you just had to put the tic tac toe game down and listen up. His passion for Christianity is boundless and the most pure I’ve seen in a human. Me, not so much.
I’ve tried calling God, God, Goddess, Mother-Father God, Great Spirit, Source, Spirit and finally to quote Martha Beck, The Great Whatever. The Great Whatever sums it up for me but it’s hard to keep explaining what you mean by that in conversation.
On the other hand it’s hard to explain the word God as it’s used in popular culture and that is still the male deity similar to Santa Claus who watches us 24/7 and hands out rewards such as touch downs and victories in war if you’re good and say your prayers and takes it all away if you forget to brush your teeth one night. Which by the way don’t do that, you’ll regret it in the morning and so will the person and/or pet sleeping next to you.
I don’t say God because I don’t want the package that comes with it. I don’t want someone cursing next to me and then apologizing, like I give a shit about their use of profanity. I don’t want the sideways looks or the catches of breath or the assumptions that I have a tiny Bible tucked in my bra. Although I do sometimes toss a cell phone and $20 bill in there I can assure you there’s no Bible.
I don’t say God because I don’t want to be lumped in the small but astonishingly loud percentage of Americans who have turned the image of God into a rigid bossy little bastard who seems very concerned that I not have access to birth control, or any reproductive rights for that matter, but is making sure that every man on the planet can have a free lifetime supply of Viagra.
I don’t say God because I don’t want anything labeled for me especially something as deep and wide as God which when labeled is suddenly reduced to something which I cannot recognize. I also don’t want to be shoved in a box and ascribed a narrow set of behaviors that come with the word which typically follows God and that’s Christian.
I would love to identify as Christian if it simply meant I do think Jesus was one of a series of incredibly powerful dudes that have come along throughout time to help us stumble through our evolution without blowing up the entire world. I don’t want to be in the syrupy harsh judgmental fakeness of the terrified masses who believe out of the fear of what might happen if they don’t believe. Why our popular concept has become that group alone I don’t know but I don’t like it. I’m guessing it’s because that group can get pretty loud at times.
Like many others I believe in something Other because I have felt Its hand on my back when I was in danger or near death. Or when I wanted to kill myself or someone else. Or give up entirely on everything. I believe because I feel a deep slow heartbeat when I quiet my restless mind enough to listen. It’s certainly not my heartbeat and for the reasons given I can’t and won’t even try to define what it is or where it comes from but it is there. I hear it loud and clear.
I like what Jesus is recorded as saying. I also like what Buddha said and Mohammed, Lao Tzu, Martha Beck and that guy who wrote “Kissing Fish: Christianity for People Who Don’t Like Christianity”. Smart, wise people who are doing their best to help the rest of us get there too are worth reading.
I do say the word God in my heart where no one can hear and interpret what I mean.
I say God when the color of the air at twilight strikes me with a peace so deep I can’t help but cry and think if my dying day is going to be anything like day dying into night then I don’t mind so much.
I also say Goddess, Yahweh, Christ and Abba. I say Father and Mother, Source and Spirit. Most of the time I say “Help!” hoping something or someone will hear me.
Here’s the thing that really burns my waffles the most though and that is – why does anyone care what I say or what I believe? Say your word and I’ll say mine. I’m guessing I’ll see you wherever we end up anyway regardless of labels.
You can call me names, try to limit those I love, make a bunch of asinine laws and protest funerals but in spite of all that I’ll do my best to love you while we’re on the planet together. Because that’s what Jesus really would do.