5/27/2010 | Share this article: View CommentsBy Chris W --
There was once a boy who lived with his grandpa. For the sake of adventuresome tales, the elderly man would tell his excited young learner that they lived in a kingdom unlike any other.
Image by Stuck in Customs via FlickrThis kingdom was the only one possessing a mountain filled with gold. Each year the king would choose one young boy to hike the slope of the mountain in search of the secret cavern that led to the treasure. The grandpa told his lad that only a shrouded few knew about the mountain, so he was forbade from telling a soul. Each year, one boy chosen by the king was sworn to silence.
Keeping this secret was nearly impossible, but the honor seemed so awesome and the dream so entrancing that he waited, wise and empowered, for his chance to be called. Each year appeared and vanished while the boy became older and older. The wait finally became unbearable as he realized that he would not be a boy forever and so was running out of time.
On a hot summer day, shaking with regret, the young man approached his king in order to finally bring this torture to an end, only to find that the real torture would be heavier than gold.
The king, rather unaffectedly, shared that the mountain actually never did exist, and that when he was born, he had been stolen from his mother by a trickster who played the part as grandpa.
All that had been so real for so long in the most imaginative parts of the boys mind was now realized merely as fantasy. Mountains did exist and so did the king, but the gold could only be found within the priceless recesses of a boy’s fertile mind.
For thirty four years I believed that I exercised a “personal relationship” with the creator of the universe. I believed that I maintained a personal connection with a knowable God. I was surrounded by people who believed what I believed. Sunday after Sunday we sang and prayed and studied together. We overlooked the same dilemmas, we made the same conclusions.
Like the people of most religions, I assumed that my perceptions were correct. I assumed that the spiritual beliefs that I chose were not beliefs of speculation, but that they were factual. When it came to any spiritual conundrum, I assumed that it would all make sense someday or that it didn’t otherwise matter.
Like the people of most religions, I guessed that I knew the truth and that all the other people did not. I assumed that my eyes had been opened and that I was “walking in the light”, while the majority of the people on this earth were walking blindly in darkness.
I’ve now broken my assumptions down into two groups:
- Group one: What seems the most reasonable.
- Group two: What seems the least reasonable.
Even though many people believe with certainty that they are correct, I reason that no one really knows. With each contradiction that I noticed, I realized that maybe I had been wrong all that time.
I now think that the popular philosophy of literally knowing God is inspiring, however not reasonable.
If you planned to go on vacation, you would be dealing with many variables. You would have to choose which day to leave, how much money to spend, where to go, what car to drive, etc. Each variable would either enhance or detract from your vacation. For instance, even if every detail of your plan were perfect, just one factor could change everything. If you woke up to an earthquake which split the highway wide open, then that one variable would confound your entire vacation plan. You would probably have to postpone your trip.
Here is a list of twenty seven confounding variables that affect the “personal relationship” topic.
I once had a neighbor who nearly drove me crazy! At first I tried to manage the situation by communicating with her, but it became so exhausting that I finally gave up. The solution I chose can be shown to be flawed, but that helps to make it an even better illustration.
Because I wanted to have no more relationship with her, I needed to prevent myself from having any further contact with her. The first thing I did was to make myself invisible. If she were not able to observe me with her senses, then she might not even know I was home. I avoided her. My obscurity provided me with my goal. It’s important for me to point out that I wished her no harm, I was just happier to be disconnected from her. I wouldn’t let her see me. Making myself invisible was a perfect roadblock to having any relationship with my neighbor.
When the members of a relationship do not see each other, the relationship suffers. If we cannot see the person, touch them, observe their expression and their posture, hear their voice, look into their eyes, then the relationship cannot survive.
A blind person starts out with a disadvantage, but often the remaining four senses of the blind person are even more keen than average. They can touch others, they can hear others, they can smell or even taste another person.
The absence of healthy, intimate touch in any relationship is horribly destructive, not only to the relationship but destructive to the person. Someone who is never touched often feels like their relationship with others is not real. A person who is denied this basic need will say, “I feel like I don’t even know my spouse because we never touch”. Touch is so crucial that, one who was neglected throughout childhood will look back and say, “Bad touch was better than no touch.” Some people have actually said that they would rather have been physically abused than not touched at all.
Certain cultures have the belief that in order for a man and a woman to “know” each other, they have to have intercourse. One person merely brushing up against another is not enough touch.
Even a puppet can only seem to live when being touched by a puppeteer.
Usually, the most essential ingredient of any personal relationship is the ingredient of good communication. It is essential for both members of a relationship to communicate often, clearly, and specifically.
Imagine if a woman tried her hardest to talk to her husband, but he would not speak to her. Her ears were unable to hear his audible voice. Imagine if she assumed that he were attempting to transmit with her, but she were left to her own imagination to comprehend his silence. She felt awkward about the problem at the store and needed to hear his voice say that he had experienced the same thing on Thursday. She needed to laugh with him about specific and relevant memories.
Instead, she seemed to feel that he communicated by using generalizations and moral lessons unrelated to the detailed life they should share. Even if the husband sent his wife mysterious letters and riddles in the mail, this would cause a communication breakdown. Imagine if this wife waited sometimes days and weeks and months for another speculative message. The relationship between that man and woman would be paralyzed as a result of just this one problem.
Children have such an essential need of good communication with their parents that when it is absent, often the child concludes that they are unwanted.
It isn’t uncommon for a believer who feels heartburn after eating too much pizza to say, “Maybe the Lord is trying to tell me something”. When taken seriously, this sort of thinking is guesswork. Maybe its not heartburn at all, maybe the stress of an overactive imagination has caused stomach cramps.
Such a sketchy form of communication, made up of puzzles and guesswork, creates a playground for the imagination, and a roadblock for the relationship.
The more unpredictable a person is, the more the relationship suffers.
Imagine a woman who nervously waits to find out what her husband might do next. Maybe he will come home after work, maybe he won’t. Maybe he will pick the kids up after school, maybe he won’t. Maybe he will bless the family, maybe he will curse the family.
She knows the saying, “You get what you get, and that’s what you get!!”
Unpredictability causes the victim to feel uneasy, unimportant, unloved, and afraid.
Being that I think that God is infinitely powerful, I reason that He is free to do whatever He wills to do, unchallenged, automatically sovereign and absolute. With that being said, Gods actions are on the one hand free of our judgment and at the same time they can often be noticed to be disastrous to anything in His path. God seems to be consistently unpredictable. He seems to intervene sometimes, and to withhold at other times.
He might provide the rescue that you need or He might cause you to eat grass like a cow all day. Maybe He will turn you into a rock. (Funny how much cows like salt) Nobody knows what God will do next. When we make it to the E.R. on time we confidently declare, “It was God”, while 27,000 children have died of starvation and curable disease each day. Every three point five seconds an innocent child’s heart stops beating. (Christian children’s fund, T.V. commercial 2008) When God is given credit for one, should He not also be acknowledged for the other? Unpredictable.
When hiring a new employee, one of the things that an employer will look for would be workers who are reliable. If a man is hired and he shows up on time every day, then his boss counts him as reliable.
I once had a friend who would show up on time some days and arrive late other days. He didn’t go to work at all some times. His boss noticed that he was not reliable and so he was fired. Even someone who is perfect for the job can only be perfect when they are reliable.
When husbands and wives are not reliable, the marriage will become stressed. Maybe a husband will take the garbage out before it grows a deadly virus, be helpful now and then, be truthful now and then. Someone needs to mow the lawn reliably or the grass will get too high to cut without a chainsaw. Reliability is an absolute, in that it is always positive when present and always negative when not.
As I go through life, I notice that the different religious gods who are being worshiped have a huge number of things in common. One of these is that they are on a very basic level, not reliable. Each follower will admit that sometimes their god seems to show up and sometimes not. Sometimes a cancer victim will go into remission, but usually they die of cancer. The reader will be tempted to diverge by thinking of how God never promised to create a perfect life for us, but I am dealing with this subject on a very human level. As a Christian I would sing songs of how dependable I thought God was, but then back on planet earth, I knew that He was consistently unresponsive.
Without being able to see “the big picture”, unreliability can only be noticed as unreliability. Let’s face it, God rightly commits what He wants, but we are left only to know that when hanging from the edge of a cliff, Gods help is not at all reliable. Hopefully He will send a helicopter.
If a personal relationship between two people is torn down by a lack of reliability, then why would it be any different with God?
Someone who can be counted on sends a message of respect and good will. With a lack of reliability comes the fear that the one who fails to act to the fullest of their ability doesn’t really care.
As a Christian, I would resolve this problem by just explaining it away. I would say, “Well, the Lord works in mysterious ways”.
That little question mark was always there, but I relied upon distractions and omissions in order to trivialize the issue.
Again, whether or not God seems fair is not what I am concerned with, but the mechanics of relationship is the real issue.
One mainstream Christian belief is that every person is inadequate and undeserving. No person can earn Gods favor on their own. Everyone is bad. People don’t deserve to be rescued from the theoretical trap that they have been born into.
Imagine if we told our children that, “in and of themselves” it was impossible for them to satisfy us. Think of what parent/child relationships are like when this happens.
Imagine if we taught children that it wouldn’t matter how much they attempted to be O.K., it was not possible “In and of themselves”. That message of disapproval is not just harmful to the child, but it is destructive to the relationship. When a child grows up ever mindful of how inferior they are, the child’s relationship with their parents becomes confusing. Think of how many kids end up going through college in order to please their parents, because their parents would not prefer uneducated children.
We embrace a spiritual concept of “being approved” while at the same time the emphatic assumption is that “I have no redeeming merit of my own”. This doctrine I am also unconcerned with, but if it were true then it would be just another fissure in the relationship concept.
My opinion is that people are truly inferior to their creator. Even though one can focus on being a “joint heir”, the underlying mentality seems to be, “I am an inadequate person unless I allow someone else to be adequate for me”. This certainly can be ascertained in varying ways, but the concept of inferiority is not a relationship builder.
I would look at myself as being the object of Gods love, while at the same time I believed that my heart was terrible during each period of perceived impenitence. I thought this way about myself and so I naturally thought that everyone else was equally defective.
To all the unbelievers who I at one time had determined to be spiritually “empty”, I extend my apology.
One movie I watched was enjoyable, but what made the movie the most worthwhile was a single quote. Even if the movie had been a complete flop, this one line would have saved it for me.
“The mind is an ethereal web of contradicting emotions, impossible to decipher in all its complexity”.
Among a countless list of histories mysteries, the human brain forms the apex of the pile. Even if most of our function were as predictable as a robot, that one little bit of mortal would keep us impossible to unravel entirely.
When the “success or failure” of a system depends upon irresponsibility, forgetfulness, shortsightedness, and ignorance, the system is doomed. Often, people are easily confused, distracted, afraid, and wrongly motivated…to name a few. Because of these flaws, relationships with other people who are quite palpable are difficult and sometimes impossible.
What I mean is, if we have trouble knowing people who we can see and touch, who we can notice with our senses and perceive with our mind, then how could we handle the responsibility of knowing one who is invisible?
I got out of bed one morning and after preparing for school, I couldn’t figure out why the bus never showed up. What a beautiful Saturday morning!
If the responsibility of relationship with an invisible and mysterious god who often kills people were placed upon the person, then failure is again at hand.
When confronted with this problem, I used to push the responsibility onto God. I’d say, “People aren’t the ones who make it happen, it’s God who is in control”. So, I’d get stuck between the “free will” concept and the “predestined” story.
All in all, if we have trouble handling the responsibility of brushing our teeth correctly, how could we stand a chance at handling eternity? Incomprehensible minds attempting to quantify an otherworldly and largely intangible creator?
Someone might say that they heard Gods audible voice. The hearing of voices is common among those with various brain diseases, but many healthy people have also perceived to hear different voices. These are real perceptions that I don’t dispute. It puzzles me though, that the one most tangible example of objective God-contact for the Christians today, is the one that is so normal for Schizophrenics and narcotic users who experience auditory hallucinations in an altered state of reality. Makes ya wonder.
A mysterious sort of reality is enjoyed by people in the “New Age” religion, who feel a peaceful “oneness” with the cosmos. Such a murky, self determined formula , that is based upon either “wishful thinking”, or fear and apprehension.
So, objectivity is added to the list of essentials that are absent, to construct “relationship with the creator of the universe”.
It was not until I began to face these peculiar details, that I began to realize in an even greater way than I had as a Christian, the unspeakable and profound theory of real people having a real connection to the real infinite God of the universe. It’s amazing how I had treated it as though it were not spectacular. If a personal relationship with an infinite God were possible, every other experience or achievement in life would be tiny by comparison.
Instead, our lives meld together with the rest of the general population so well, the difference is unmeasurable. We think that we are standing in the same room with God one minute, and then we drive away in our cars with nothing more than a subjective episode of spirituality to refer to. Looking back on it now, I am amazed that each time I found myself in a room where I was convinced that the literal presence of God had existed, I didn’t run as fast as I could to the nearest media source in order to report such an otherworldly phenomena. There should have been scientists with Geiger counters combing the area with those white suits on. How could something so stupefying be treated as though it were so incidental?
Maybe they wouldn’t have believed me.
I never did it during those years of zeal, but to illustrate my point, I might have made a statement like this one:
“This morning I woke up and noticed an immortal in my bedroom. God and I talked to each other, the Holy Spirit told me to pray for my boss, I received otherworldly wisdom from God, He opened my spiritual eyes to understand bible versus, He gave me a spiritual gifting…but other than that, it’s been a typical day. I’m pretty much the same as all the other people out there. The ham and pancakes I made for breakfast were wonderful. I should tell you what makes those pancakes so awesome. I fry the batter in a special sauce made of…..”It’s like saying you’re Superman from a jail cell. It’s like saying you have the ability to become invisible, but you only possess this ability when no one is watching. A giant T-rex, who sneaks around the neighborhood without being noticed?
Wouldn’t the divorce rate among the people with a personal connection to God be different? Wouldn’t the “non-Christians” of the world suffer domestic violence, neglect, and addictions on their own? Wouldn’t the group, which has its eyes open, be radically different, or even measurably different. Certainly the nourished and malnourished people would be distinguishable. If the infinite God of the universe were really inside people, then they would be inarguably foreign. Employers would want to hire no one else. How could someone with marriage problems wish for anyone but a Christian counselor?
At this point people tend to blame it all on the devil. As if to say, “The devil makes God less than obvious by attacking the Christians so that they only seem to be plain, when really they are full of God”. When blaming the devil doesn’t work, then blaming people is the next step. As if to say, “People have a personal relationship with God, but because people are disobedient, the devil gets to do what he wants”. This is what’s called “back peddling”.
A marriage counselor who knows God would certainly have to be more wise than the rest, but yet too often they serve water to those who are drowning.
I’ve come to realized that, unlike the common notion that an atheist has no wisdom, that man has more common sense than a thousand who believe that they’ll get rich and healthy by going to church.
Life can be compared to an obstacle course.
Imagine one team of blind runners racing against another team of sighted runners. The sighted runners would be sipping Gator Aid at the finish line, while the blind runners were trying to figure out where the first turn was. The tires would be imposable!! Why does the sighted group blend in so well with the blind group?
Believers have genuinely wonderful testimonies of the regenerative process that they experience, but so do vegetarians.
Could the bombing of Pearl Harbor have gone unnoticed?
How can we know someone who we have never seen, never heard, and never touched?
My dad smoked a pipe for many years, and I could always notice the familiar smell of his pipe tobacco. Who can we find today, that will describe the literal smell of God?
If something does not appeal to any of the five senses, then it can only be real in the imagination. If something is thought to exist beyond the three dimensional world, then it cannot be perceived.
We so quickly make a mental apprehension of something imperceptible.
“Subjectivity” Often, music is a powerful emotional stimulator. I remember standing in groups of people who were inspiring, the music was deliberate and beautiful, and there existed a strong air of hope and sincerity in our midst. We invested our earnest belief in the experience we perceived. The feelings of peace and purpose were profound.
Why is a theory taught and believed to be a fact? The dialogue used to support the concept of “relationship” is entirely subjective. “I felt the Lords presence”, “He spoke to my heart”, He showed me what to do”, “I felt empty before, and now I feel full”. “I perceived Him in my heart”.
Like a “phantom limb” sometimes we think that we feel what really isn’t there at all.
I today think it is most reasonable that when I supposed to feel God, instead I felt my emotions being stimulated by the music and by a determined belief that it was all real. I was often puzzled about why Gods presence would suddenly be felt during the music, felt while anticipating peace, felt while praying.
Emotional assumptions, emotional decisions, emotional commitments, and emotional conclusions.
The analogy has been made, that if a person has had a bad experience with their “earthly” father, then it is more difficult for the person to grasp the correct concept of a “heavenly” father. If someone experienced a harsh and mean earthly father, then their perception of a heavenly father would be made while looking through the eye of that lens.
Ironically, in today’s world, a tragic number of people will say, “God is invisible, just like dad was”. “God doesn’t talk to me, neither did dad”, “God is unpredictable, just like dad was”. “God withholds his hand of protection often, just like dad did”. “God doesn’t touch me, neither did dad”. “God is often difficult to understand, just like dad was”. “Gods decisions are many times, shocking and confusing, just like dads decisions were”. “God demands obedience under the daunting threat of severe punishment, just like dad did”. “God’s silence requires me to have to read His mind, just like dad’s silence did”.
The parallels are enormous! Under these conditions, any relationship is doomed. It’s hard to guess who mimics who. We vigorously condemn this kind of human dysfunction, yet somehow applaud its heavenly equivalent?
What I found myself doing as a Christian, was making excuses for the things that existed in my perceived relationship with God that were otherwise disastrous on every level.
I had theorized that, figuratively Gods voice could be heard, figuratively He touches people with the breeze, figuratively He is seen in the sunset.
Do metaphorical life jackets prevent people from sinking into literal oceans?
I once knew a woman whose marriage was in trouble. Like many crumbling marriages, a number of different things had gone wrong.
Among her largest obstacles, she found that she no longer had any privacy. Her husband kept a very careful inventory of her. He counted the Pringles that she ate, the number of minutes that she spent with her friend, the house chores that she overlooked. This woman’s husband seemed to always be looking over her shoulder, and so she found that she were never able to enjoy her own dreams because she had no privacy of her own.
He we’re a man who was difficult to get to know, but she seemed to have run out of the last of her mystery. All by itself, this one encroachment robbed her marriage of its peace.
I think that it is essential for both people to have a section of their lives that is entirely unpublished. When one person demands to know every personal secret of another, the mystery becomes replaced with mastery.
I tend to go along with the popular belief that God knows all of our thoughts and intentions before we think or intend them, but it leaves us with just another relationship crippler to deal with.
God watched my car speeding to work, He watched my kindness to a stranger, He made record of the envy I had of my successful friend.
Watching and recording is of course a right of God, but what makes humans visible to each other is that they are not entirely transparent.
One of the constants in my perceived relationship with God was this ongoing surveillance. When one member knows all there is to know and the other is allowed just small intriguing bits, then the two are denied the symmetry that relationships thrive on. With an exhaustive familiarity on one side, and ongoing secrecy on the other, two cannot bond.
How could the operating laws of earthly and heavenly relationships be so dissimilar? Is robbery on earth not robbery in heaven?
For anyone who believes that they have discovered more than a crumb of the mystery of God, I respect such an attitude.
“Hide, and go seek.”
Like most other children, I loved playing “Hide and go seek” with my kindergarten friends. It was a fun game of adventure, strategy, speed, and excitement. The one who was chosen to hide, had to first leave the room in order to find a good place to disappear. This game could only begin, when the one to hide would vanish from the rest of us. The game could not be played while holding hands with the hider.
As a born again Christian, I loved thinking about how much it seemed that God was an appearing God, while not wanting to consider Him to be much of a hiding God. I sought Gods face, as it were, believing I could discover a little bit more of Him each day. If someone asked why I had to be always searching, I could answer by using the onion analogy. I thought that once I had removed one layer then there would be another. I reasoned to myself that I had found God many years earlier, but on a different level, He was still hiding and I was still seeking. Occupying this continuous search made so much sense because of the onion, but then onions also tend to make my vision blurry.
With my six year old friends, the game always had an end. Sooner or later it would be dinner time, or maybe time to go home. My friends and I sought each other but more importantly we saw each other.
I am caused to speculate that maybe God is more of a secret God than I had before thought. I had determined to myself that my searching and theorizing had brought about the development of an actual relationship with God, when it now seems more reasonable that the development of my searching and theorizing brought about an imaginary relationship with God. I’ll say it a different way. When I thought that I was finding what I was looking for, instead perhaps I found what was appealing at the time. I was searching through a room that had no one in it.
Not many years ago, people who were seeking their God seemed to have found Him in North America. Thousands of people found that the god they were expecting had landed in Toronto. By the bus loads, they could hardly wait to go get involved in their theoretical will of God. I am puzzled at what little affect the finding of this god made on society at the time. This wave of spiritual anointing was no joke to them…….errr I mean, well, maybe it was, I guess. (Laughter movement)
I don’t live in Canada, but I’ve heard that the area normalized.
How could God not be a hidden God? A huge percentage of the people out there are looking for God and many believe that they have found Him. Mormons found Salt lake, Muslims found Allah, New Age members found trail mix, Hindus found the triad, Pentecostals found the Holy Spirit, etc. Your result depends largely on your origin.
Should I say that the Christians are the only searchers who truly search? It seems to be a game of hide and go seek with no dinner time. Always guessing, yearning, questing, scanning. People find what they seek. I believed that I was enjoying a relationship with one who was more slippery than I knew.
In healthy relationships, the most important underpinning is not physical, but instead emotional. Some husbands believe that because they “bring home the bacon”, then they are doing all that needs to be done. Instead, we know that a stable marriage can only exist when the emotional needs of the two people are being met or at least attempted. One of the facts of life is that with little exception, a person’s greatest emotional need is for acceptance, and their greatest fear is the fear of rejection.
Consider an awesome man who has given much to others. This man is truly a model of kindness and good will. He is a wonderful guy, but he also has a bewildering side to him. Strangely, this man is in a regular pattern of rejecting and disowning some people. He offers the sweetness of acceptance to some, and the bitterness of abandonment to others.
When thinking of making yourself vulnerable to that man, weather you realize it or not, automatically, one of the things that you are resting your investment on is insecurity and fear. The underlying fear would be, “what if he also tosses me out”? What if he also says to me “I don’t want you anymore”? Forming a healthy emotional bond with that person would be wrought with problems. Once a person has fallen into the investment trap, they might focus on how giving the man was, but yet hide from the thought that he was terrifying.
I am amazed that, ironically, one of the foundations of the man/God relationship theory is, “I might be permanently rejected by an invisible God, if I don’t meet certain spiritual criteria”. Life is of course made up of a large amount of stress, but how could the stress of eternity be compared to anything else?
Deep down, emotionally, I was always aware of the unimaginable terror that I had theorized might befall me. The “once saved, always saved” doctrine certainly provided a good sedative for me when I was bothered enough by this fear of expulsion.
Using the “broad road” philosophy, I was trying to have a personal relationship with one who is thought to reject some or even most people into a perpetually loveless existence. Wishfully, without realizing it, I would push this foreboding threat down, while caught up in the excitement of an idyllic theology. Like a Chinese finger trap, getting in was easy. The insecurity was always there, but I made it go away for a time. I overlooked this lack of emotional revenue by choosing to believe that I was rich. I could only cause this problem to sleep for so long. Without realizing it, the emotional foundation of my conceptual relationship with God, had been a foundation made of spiritual eggshells. (Metaphor)
The “problem / violence routine”
Dysfunctional relationships have a number of challenges. One of these is what I call the “problem / violence routine”.
First there will be a problem, then comes the violence, and then things go back to normal. A husband will become angry because he thinks his wife spent too much money on groceries, then his anger escalates and he knocks her to the floor. First there was a problem, or at least a perceived problem, then it was reacted to with violence, then things went back to normal. This pattern is always destructive to the relationship. People who are incapable of positive progress are left to this ever famous snare.
As the story goes, a seraph became bad and this problem was reacted to violently. First an estrangement developed between God and the angel, then the angel was rejected permanently. So the words, “I don’t want you anymore”, have echoed through the universe for those who believe the literal teaching of this story.
Two people met a talking snake, and then the people were bad. They did what they knew to be wrong. They committed a flaw. This problem was reacted to violently, but the estrangement was not otherwise resolved.
Another story tells that the people on earth were so bad that the ultimate historical act of human obliteration was caused. God killed everybody. The destructive magnitude of a global flood would make the atomic massacre of Hiroshima seem like nothing more than a hiccup. God killed everybody. (Except for a multi-talented shipyard contractor/wildlife resource superintendent and his kin, on a very large previously dry-docked watercraft teaming with a nearly endless variety of monogamist and cooperative yet otherwise wild non-human couples.) Quite a big problem, quite a lot of violence, and here we are again.
Flies, floods, flees, flames, frogs, famines, furuncle’s (boils:-).
Two cities were involved in what seems like a “moral catastrophe”. Of the many gods there were to choose from, they made wrong choices. They worshiped idols and so on. This problem was reacted to with extraordinary violence. What makes me alert to this story is that when I was five, I was burned by fire. The sweater I was wearing melted to my back. From my tail bone to the tops of my shoulders and the width of my back became one giant third degree burn. As a five year old, I spent 45 days in the hospital. I can still remember the confusion and the panic.
Reacting to a problem by burning people to death is of course a right of God, however, I have heard no one say that the screams or the stench of burning human bodies helped to create any relationship with God other than one of intimidation and terror. Except through coercion, what resident of the scorched Sodom said to themselves, “Why don’t we go on a walk with God today?” The point I am trying to make is that when there is an estrangement between two members in a relationship, violence keeps the estrangement alive.
Why should I believe that the God of this universe has used a method upon people which is a duplicate of the human method that cripples everything.
I would describe this lapse of logic the way Winston Churchill described Russia, “A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma”. (1939)
(185,000 dead 2-Samuel 19:35) Numbers 11-1
Few things will preserve broken relationships so effectively as the violence routine.
Something worth noting: If anyone might be the most likely to provide a fine model of rehabilitation it would certainly be a perfect god. These Old Testament stories and the New Testament demand of salvation show no affective signs of rehabilitation. Just like a person who vents their anger by physically punishing their victim, no sign of workable rebuilding can be found within any religion that promotes a literal and eternal punishment for the ones who have failed the dizzying test of religious maze running.
When confronted with a contradiction dilemma, I relied upon a common decoy. One of the things that I would say to myself was “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose”. Using a single sentence from a large book, I was turning problems into non-problems.
I could not fully realize the God forsakenness of everyday life for molested children, until I stopped mid sentence one day. In all things God works for the good of those….
I noticed that this conciliatory thinking was nothing more than supposition. I supposed that it all somehow made sense in some scheme of spiritual reality. This mode of thought gave me a way to change the subject, but it also wore away at my reason.
(The topic of child abuse is one that is personal to me. At this point, its tempting for some to move away from the “relationship with God” topic on to the personal issues topic. I express my convictions but the practical nature of the thesis remains the same.)
In the last 20 years I’ve had many epileptic seizures due to a head injury when I was a teenager.
One of the biggest “stun guns” of them all, was when I found out that Christians have actually been murdered by other Christians as a way to “exercise” the wicked demon which was believed to cause the seizures.
The surviving family members might either be aghast at what the killers did, or brain-washed by this morbid thinking. For the most part, they would have a revenge relationship with the killers or they would share the same glossy eyes with them. (It is awesomely inspiring and I admire those people who forgive the atrocious deeds of others)
Each seizure provides its own punishment. It’s too bad that hyper-spiritual people have practiced such ignorance in the name of any religion.
Burning something does seem to make it go away.
Try to remember that the emphasis of my point is not on Gods actions, but instead the theory of knowing this mysterious God. Unhealthy relationships are made up of a mirror of the ruinous contact between the people and the God of these stories.
Someone told me one day that the crucifixion of Jesus has put a stop to this frustrating pattern. Well, western Christians will confidently say that most people don’t get to go to heaven at all. Even the New Testament concept shows that failures were reacted to with violence and the doom of Hell, accept for those who are on the “narrow path”. Many believe that a person can even lose that salvation.
Just another example of dysfunction in human relationships is what I call “the takeover”. An abusive man will convince his victim that they are helpless without the abuser.
--Your life will go nowhere without me.
--You are helpless without me.
--You are too stupid to do anything right.
--You will never make it on your own.
--You are lucky I allow you to live. Each show of dominance is de-humanizing. When one personality tries to replace the other, the result is destructive.
Interestingly, through popular worship songs I would sing;
--God, let it be You and not me.
--Its Your righteousness, not mine.
-- Your wisdom, not mine.
--I’m helpless without You.
--Your way is the only way.
--I can do nothing on my own.
These attitudes might be perfectly appropriate within the man/God hierarchy, but they are perfectly destructive within relationships. We can quarrel about whether these things improve us or not, but the topic remains the same.
There seems to be a kind of surrogacy philosophy going on when it is thought that God lives and accomplishes His plans through another person. I certainly don’t think He does this in order to fulfill any unmet need of His own, but here we have another human replacement. One human will fulfill their unmet needs by living vicariously through another, which is an assault on the one who is being replaced. A father might live through the football quarterback of his son, but this makes the relationship more of a fraud. If the substitution of one person by another is so ill-fated, then the replacement of a person by God would, while noble, be another relationship sabotage.
I continue to believe that God rightly controls everything in the universe, although what He does and doesn’t do are not always productive to the lives of people.
Another hallmark of a bad relationship is the allowance. A husband will allow his wife to enjoy only a certain and privileged amount of money. He’ll give her just a certain amount of spending money each week. Often she only gets a little. When a woman needs her husband’s permission to buy a tube of lipstick, the stability of her marriage is worn down a little bit more.
A popular idea is that God gives riches to one and not to another. He allows each person to have a certain amount. When I’d give my tithe, I’d say “It’s all Gods money anyway” When times were hard, I’d trust and plead, and when times were good, I’d praise and be grateful. I believed I was on a divine allowance, not realizing the personal debt that was created.
It can be pointed out that we are Gods children, although someday children grow up. It seems that adults are given the responsibility of eternity, while at the same time being treated like kids. Human relationships in which money is used in order to control a person are human relationships of failure. The expense is greater than the profit. When an adult is put on an allowance by one who they want to trust, the bond is worn down more.
If the supreme oversight of money by one person to another ads more poison to the relationship, why should we think that this supernatural process would cultivate a literal relationship with an invisible God?
Imagine one who is thought to be your friend, yet they do what no friend would do. Your perceived friend hosts party after party at their house, but there is one disturbing detail. Even though your children are welcomed to the party, so is a pedophile. Over and over these parties are hosted while your child is being altered. Toasts are made and faces are smiling, yet your thought up friend welcomes butchery upon the defenseless.
It seems as though monsters are invited into the lives of even the innocent. In the context of relationship building, what groom would invite an adulterer to the honeymoon suite? What Pastor would invite an embezzler to manage the church finances? What relationship counselor would invite disaster? We say that God invites his children to church, while the grotesque chart of a molester is welcome to teach Sunday school.
There is no topic which is given more anesthetic and yet less scrutiny than the age old question, how could a loving god give permission to such cruelty? This question is so avoided that some act as though its answer is no longer important. A father who allows his daughter to be eaten by wolves is concerned with something other than relationship building.
God’s motives are certainly perplexing, but when attraction is the goal, directing both love and hate upon the same object creates a neutralizer. Come to think of it, in the context of relationship building, nothing can be neutral.
Within human relationships just one such breach of trust is a sinker. I think that the mystery of Gods mystery is well accepted, yet the theoretical philosophy of knowing god personally is in defiance of the commonsense laws of personal relationships. The two are not marriageable.
With still much left to say, it’s good to think of diamonds for a minute.
When I was picking out Tammy’s wedding ring, I learned just a little about what makes the small stones so valuable. A jeweler explained that each diamond is graded using the “3c test”. In order for a diamond to be considered flawless, the cut, color, and clarity had to be tested. A diamond could only be considered to be a flawless jewel if all three criteria were met. Even if the color and clarity were perfect, a diamond with a crooked cut would not be the most valuable because it would fail the test.
If the “Personal relationship with God test” would only fail slightly, then like a diamond, it would have to be identified that way. One or two straits would prompt us to reconsider the theory, but the album of confounding variables has become so huge and the consequences so retarding that to ignore it all is to place the bliss of inventiveness above the bite of reality.
My opinion is that healthy relationships are ones that are made up of negotiation. When a husband and wife are working on the same team, when they cooperate and objectify, then peace is within reach.
Unfortunately, in some relationships, no attempt at constructive progress is made. Usually when one person controls the other, or when both are on apposing teams, negotiation fails to happen. Negotiation creates hope for people, for governments, and even for two kids with one swing.
Just like other conceptual truths, “Let us reason together” has quite a ring to it. I would act as though God and I could talk things out in order to come to some agreement together. It sounds great in concept, but who can we find today that practices a mutually corrective dialogue with God? Negotiation with one who already knows everything is not negotiation, but instead more of a puppet state.
It puzzles me that something so vital to healthy relationships between people, would be so absent between people and God. Who sits down with God to pencil out a strategy about what to do about starvation? How often do we help God to see something new? How often has God said to you “Now I see your plan and I like it better then Mine”, “Lets do it your way”.
This kind of co-partnering makes the difference between people who coalesce, and people who simply coexist.
My opinion is that God is independent. I think that the plans of people are always subservient to the plans of God, so again we are stuck with another missing essential. Should the plans of a woman always be subservient to the plans of her husband? Some religions promote this dominance lifestyle, but should we commend that?
I believe that all relationships require a merge. When two people get married, two sets of furniture need to somehow merge. People want to merge into God in order to become more like God, but are we taught to think that God would merge to become more like people? Much of the balance of a relationship depends on what gets put in the dining room and what goes to storage.
Just like every coin, this coin has two sides, after all, one will say that God met us half way at the cross, but on a daily basis, how much do people and God give in to each other. Rather than a merge, there seems to be one ultimate plan that moves in one ultimate direction from one ultimate leader. It makes sense within the man/God hierarchy, but it also helps to solidify the separation between God and people.
Sadly, some people will force others to satisfy them. In the context of functional relationships, it doesn’t work.
“Unless you love me, I will kill you”. “Either give me your obedience and your affection, or I will allow you to be tortured”. Where you find this type of force, you find a relationship of failure.
When considering the theoretically devastating results of a wrong attitude or belief I would automatically decide to love God. I loved God because I reasoned that He first loved me, while simultaneously loving Him as a means of survival. Who doesn’t think about the consequences of their commitments?
Realizing that I had been going through life in an arm-twisted condition, I allowed myself to ask the first question. How can I love when being forced to love? Once I resolved the fear of asking this first question, I allowed myself the freedom to ask many questions.
Originally, I would explain to people why I thought that the theory of a literal--eternal Hell made sense.
Going along with popular thinking, I would tell people that the reason there must be a real location called Hell, is that God didn’t want us to act like androids and so he gave us the power to make our own decisions. Good decisions would have good results and bad decisions would naturally have bad results. What I overlooked at the time, was that this concept of “free will” cannot work as long as the person is being forced or coerced to make any certain choice. The wording would have to be changed just slightly from “free will” to “fear-will”.
The phrase “If you don’t love me, I will kill you”, automatically activates our survival instinct. If someone tells you that you have the choice between an apple and an orange, that’s great, but if they say your hands will be chopped off when you eat the apple, then your power of choice has been removed. Our survival instinct requires us to obey our fear. So, either you choose to believe that the threat actually does not exist, or you do what it takes to survive.
Coercion is haplessly common in unhealthy relationships. A man will tell his wife. “If I can’t have you, nobody will”. Usually, she won’t leave the guy because he has already made the choice for her.
I was following a perceived god who was saying, “If I can’t have you, neither will Heaven”. This threat commanded by God worked the same way a threat from another person would. I believed it would be wrong to ask any questions which could not be satisfactorily answered by western theism.
Tragically, when a child has been molested, the pedophile will threaten the child by saying something like, “if you tell anyone what I did, I will hurt you even more”. That child does not have “free will”. That child is too terrified to do anything, but obey the force of fear.
“Get right or get left”, “turn or burn”, “fly or fry”.
This guillotine mentality will only sponsor the same erosion that it does in human relationships.
Many of those who choose not to seek God, are the ones who choose not to adhere to the theoretical threat made against them. Again, I realize that believers will say that they love God, because they theorize that He first loved them, but coercion is not a relationship builder.
Who reads the Bible without being aware of what they think might happen if they don’t? Maybe I will “backslide”, “Maybe the devil will blind me”, “Maybe the “world” will become more important than God”, “Maybe I’m a sheep, and I wont listen to the Shepard”, “Maybe I will lose my perceived intimacy with God” “Maybe I will lose my salvation altogether”.
At some point, threats of punishment or the ultimate rejection of Hell, contaminate the concept of any wished for relationship with the invisible God.
What counselor will recommend that you use intimidation to build a stable marriage? A swimming pool filled with spiders and snakes is in no need of a diving board. I am amazed that I was ever content with the simplistic freewill explanation that I used. I allowed myself to be controlled by mysteries born from unknowns. A friendship built out of force is not a friendship at all. Trepidation treaty
I was trying to have a personal relationship with a God who would grant me free will, yet then punish me for its exercise. Like a bomb wrapped in a bow, it was a gift that came with a charge. Npi
Arranged marriages on earth are ones in which the parents of a child will choose the person the child will someday marry in stead of the child freely making that choice. If there be a variety of available ones to marry, the parents don’t encourage their young adult to marry whomever they want, but instead they pre-select only one. The child is coached to look only at the one who has been picked out for them.
Unfortunately, sometimes shortsighted parents overlook the things which encourage the best chemistry between two who would share their lives together. It’s an example of the “freewill” of one person being eliminated by the command of another.
True of all religions, one god has been picked out for the child and all others are condemned. If the child dare consider another faith, in most cases the parents will blackball that possible god in order to force the child to marry the god who has been chosen for them.
The reader may point out that each adult has the “freewill” to change their religious orientation, but it was during the most moldable years of the person’s life that he or she was conditioned and manipulated by otherwise well meaning authority figures. Sometimes parents make what seems like the perfect choice but that just goes to underscore the issue of who is choosing freely and who is not. To the greatest degree, the relationship theory is one which has been spawned by the arrangement of others.
While reading the dictionary one day, I came across a thought provoking word.
First, the definition:
(Oxford American) 1: Gullibility regarding the supernatural. 2: An irrational fear of the unknown or mysterious.
(Webster’s college dictionary) 1: An irrational belief in or notion of the ominous significance of a particular thing, circumstance, occurrence, etc.
4: Irrational fear of what is unknown or mysterious, esp. in connection with religion.
[Superstition] It’s amazing how I spent so much time laughing about superstitious people, when by definition, I was deeply superstitious.
As an unknown and a fear wake from the same bed, mysteries and presumptions walk hand in hand.
I think that it is unreasonable to believe that anyone who has been bad or theologically incorrect for a century, would then suffer an unconquerable and loveless eternity reserved for those who theoretically deserve it. The more the fear of failure exists in a relationship, the more the infection grows.
I used to think that my relationship with God were real because I used my “free will” to choose Him, but it now seems more likely that “control through fear” had been the motivating force.
My opinion is that threats, desperation and conditioning are the power plant of religious conversion.
“Fear will” pushed me to make decisions and commitments that were to a great degree nonsensical.
The fun vacuum
Fun is one of the basics that can energize a relationship the most. When two people are getting to know each other, what helps to allow growth is plain old fashioned fun. Some clever jokes, games of rummy, or maybe just an awkward situation that turns out to be hilarious. The couples who are having the most fun together are often the ones with the strongest connection.
I was lucky to have grown up in a family where fun was enjoyed often. When I was four, my dad could remove my nose and even though I thought it looked more like a thumb, it was the grin on his face and the fun in his tone that I remember. :p)
On the other hand, people who have stopped having fun together are likely to get bored and with boredom comes trouble. Trying to have a remarkable friendship with a grumpy person who never laughs or smiles is an arduous task.
A man was once told he should do more fun things with his children so he gave each of them a dollar to buy candy with. What he didn’t realize was that instead of having fun with them, he was simply facilitating their fun with one another. The kids did have fun, but it came through their dad, not with their dad.
Thankfully people have a lot of fun at church retreats, Sunday school and the like, but these literal types of fun are with other people, not with a supernatural god.
What I mean is, playing “rock-paper-scissors” with God would be like playing “Chicken” with an Am track. Who sneaks up behind God to yell ”boo”? Who plays Frisbee with God? Telling knock / knock jokes to someone who has heard them all is boring.
I realize that many stories have been told about how a person believes that God has used humor to teach them something, but life lessons can be found to be humorous by anyone.
A man once had a custom of giving his wife a vase of roses on each of her birthdays, but he did it in a peculiar way. He would give the flowers to a stranger who would then present them to his wife. For some reason the wife acted unsatisfied with this gesture. He needed to realize that his technique was more important than his flowers.
The difference between direct and indirect is large. When a person is cut badly, in order to stop the bleeding, direct pressure is essential. Going to work directly keeps us from being late. Parents need to talk about drugs directly with their children.
So, to say that God has fun with people by providing Christian clowns for birthday parties points out that the fun is indirect.
I still don’t think of the triune God as being grumpy, but I cant find Him in the bible as being a smiley and light hearted friend either. If the reader can point out descriptions of Jesus being playful and fun then I enjoy the extra knowledge. As well as being wise, loving, and selectively compassionate, the Jesus of the Bible seems to be a “Get the job done” type.
The fun and excitement of a church retreat is great, but that is fun with other people and roller coasters.
A relationship without fun is like a dingy without paddles.
Fun because of God, yet not fun with God.
The “double whammy” Another common toxin within relationships is what I call the “double whammy”. Often one person will hurt another. It is best when the damage caused can be followed up with strength and objective thinking, but unfortunately the victim sometimes lacks the knack to take control of what has happened. Not only has the victim been hurt once, but now they are allowing themselves to be hurt even more because they are caught in a trap of inaction.
After five years had passed, imagine what a sad thing it would be if the victim were still mad and worn down by what was done to them. Imagine if ten years later this person were still having trouble concentrating at work, still not sleeping well at night, still not able to enjoy the lightheartedness and peace that they enjoyed before the incident. As long as this diabolical pattern exists, the two people can have no real peace together. It’s a perfect example of human inability.
My personal opinion is that when eons of time have passed, God will not be heard saying, “I’m still mad about what happened”. This would suggest that God could be put under the control of His surroundings.
The “literal hell” debate goes on, but to believe that the rage and disappointment of a god would never quite be quenched during the timeless mass of eternity adds just another drop of chaos to the relationship theory. I think that unconditional love requires nothing of its recipient. As a popular writer may have once said, “Love keeps no record of wrongs”.
“A lopsided boat”
The God/man equation is understandably lopsided, because God is infinite and we are not. He is perfect, we are not. He is good, and we are bad. (“Original sin” theory)
There is a large list of differences, and opposites between God and people, and this detail shouldn’t be overlooked.
How well do severely lopsided marriages work? What I mean is, imagine human relationships consisting of a dialogue like this one:
“You are always correct, and I’m just doing my best”. “You are in complete control, and I have no control”. “You are completely perfect, and I am entirely imperfect”.
When a marriage operates this way, it’s just another undermining pattern that whittles away at the relationship.
Like I’ve already said, I think that we are truly subservient to our creator, but it only widens the division between God and His subjects.
These attitudes might be appropriate toward the infinite God of the universe, but within functioning relationships a posture like this one is destructive.
Some marriages on earth emphasis absolutes of power without much balance of respect. When the boat becomes too heavy on one side the boat starts to sink. A woman will say to her husband, “Everything in our marriage will happen as you would like, and it isn’t my place to make any suggestions”. This equation robs the health of a relationship. Are we taught to make any recommendations toward God?
Someone might say that because God became one of us, then simplistically, the relationship is not lopsided. What I think to be more reasonable is that since I believe that God is omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient, automatically the imbalance is overwhelming. Is it an “old buddy, old pal” relationship, or do the mountains tremble to anticipate Gods footsteps?
Just another confounding variable in families today are mixed messages. Someone will say “you mean everything to me and I will go to the ends of the earth for you”, but unfortunately the person spends most of their time at work, or down at the gym, where frankly, there are some pretty cute women wearing some pretty cute exercise uniforms. Mixed messages cause confusion, hurt, and distrust. Children are commanded by both their parents and the god they are coached to follow, “Do as I say, not as I do”. Contradictions and double standards, create a scary world of hurt and unmet needs.
Christians will say “You are safe in Gods hands”, “God is faithful”, “You are precious to Him”. Well, right now, while children are being battered and molested, for the child, nothing is safe, nothing is faithful, and nothing is precious. It’s a commission/omission dichotomy. The message starts out sounding great, but is it any wonder why irreligious people are turned off by simplistic pat answers? If we say that religious mixed messages have little effect, then maybe we shouldn’t be so hard on spousal crazy making.
Not knowing quite what to think, I used to say “It all fits into the master plan somehow”. For me it was a way of saying something when I had nothing to say. I gave an easy answer to something with no easy answer. I would explain that God allows wickedness to surround his creation in order to cause good fruit to grow sometimes.
Unfortunately, the horrible treatment of children breeds more monsters than it does Christians. Each mixed message of popular Christianity can be cleverly explained, but the reliable messages between two people within a stable relationship require no explanation.
It wasn’t until I began to try to unscramble this list of incompatibles, that I became aware of the perplexed state of theoretical relationship that I had invested in.
Books have certainly been written about the power of belief.
Unfortunately, sometimes when things are really bad in a marriage one will choose to believe something that really isn’t true on its own. A woman might find it comfortable to believe that everything is fine, when in reality her marriage is a mess. People can go through life believing things to be true that might not really be true at all.
Only a few years ago, I noticed that I was forcing to be true, what I wanted to be true, by simply believing it was true. I could force God to be in the room, just by believing He was there. He may have been nowhere near that room, but I made Him there. I chose things that could not stand on their own, and made them stand.
An engineer once told me of a computer related saying. He said, “If you torture the data enough, it will confess”.
I organized my thinking to make what was far-fetched seem to be logical. I prayed “in the Spirit”, “sought God’s face”, “prayer and fasting”, “repentance”, “laying on of hands”, receiving instructions from “the Holy Spirit”, “walked with God”, the “baptism of the Holy Spirit”, resisting “the devil”, being “transformed”’, a “soldier of God”, “intimacy with God”. (Not all in one day of course)
I kept warm by using a layer system of fantasy, one layer resting upon another. This was not a fleeting fad of three weeks, but a pursuit of thirty four years, the last eleven years being the most zealous.
I prayed with prognosticators. It seemed too good to be true!!! I made a paranormal compost out of what seemed so right. A praise appraisal shaped by a madcap presumption. Pruned, watered, and fed, an orchard of alchemy.
I made them all real by forcing them to be real. I even secretly made strange sounds in my “prayer closet” believing I was involved in an otherworldly prayer language. It seemed too good to be true!
What I really know is that I touched someone else with a dab of oil, or I made peculiar sounds while in a state of meditation, or I felt a tingly sensation move across my face. When my decisions were made smartly, I was told that I possessed the wisdom of God. All I did was to be insightful. Raccoons can be insightful. Even though an observer would say that they were all rather unremarkable, we made them supernatural. My perceived relationship with God was as real as I required it to be. Just as an anorexic will believe that they are fat, I believed in things that did not stand on their own. Regrettably, this self prompted hypnosis lasted nearly all of my lifetime.
I chuckled about those who believed that Elvis still lives, but my beliefs were fantastic! Nirvana seemed like such an obvious fraud it was laughable, yet I treated the concept of a plush heavenly afterlife estate with God, as though it were not an exotic belief.
I have now had to consider that maybe we are more alone on this planet than I had before thought. Maybe I had embellished a glittering philosophy because its theoretical alternative seemed too frigid to be true.
Because I determined that the world was scary and foreboding, I had a natural desire to hope that I was not alone. It was uncomfortable for me to consider that maybe I was surrounded by unknowns, and that I might actually be more alone than I thought.
A Jewish philosopher named Martin Buber, wrote what can quickly be demolished by those who believe what I had believed, but now his evaluation is one that impels me.
He said, “God seems to withdraw Himself utterly from the earth, and no longer to participate in its existence”. “The space of history is then full of noise, but as it were, empty of divine breath.
Maybe religion rests more on the imagination then it does on the god. (The word religion is nearly always replaced with the word relationship--- it sounds too good to be true!!!)
When I thought that I had a connection with God, I also thought that I had become a “whole” person. Because of this perceived relationship with God, I assumed I had become “complete”. By looking back on those years, I realize that I had not become complete at all. Beneath my “born again” persona, I was still insecure, lonely, and directionless. Two opposite states coexisted, yet unaware of each other. Wishful thinking pushed me to believe that I was whole.
Other than the truly awesome philanthropy of believers, an observer would say that God doesn’t really change people much--outside the walls of their heads.
For instance, a pastor was teaching one morning and said something that really made me step back and think. He said, “The Christian church has had little impact on society today”. I thought, how could millions of people who literally have the creator/designer of the universe inside them, not be more obvious? Covert converts?
The successes of the body of Christ are often highlighted, which makes sense, after all, people volunteer their effort and money to build hospitals, churches, and homes. I think this is a reasonable demonstration of motivation, effort, and kindheartedness, rather than the surmise of an all supreme God who has chosen to dwell within the bodies of those who have the correct attitude and theology.
Many drug addicts have become Christians and experienced “deliverance”, but should I say that an Egyptian has never quite smoking? This “becoming whole” phenomena seems great in concept, but wouldn’t you think that the entire world would be stunned at what makes the spiritually redeemed people so uniquely healthy. How could the sighted people blend in so well with the blind? While we persuade ourselves that we have seen beautiful truths, an invisible God disappears from the mind.
During years of active Christian life, I perceived to experience many wonderful things with God.
Often, I felt a beautiful sense of peace, an awesome presence, and I would marvel at how clear God seemed to be. The feelings of joy and liberation were profound. Large amounts of time were spent involved in what seemed so deep and solid.
At that time I was not aware of the psychology that was at work. The psychology that I unknowingly used was guaranteed to provoke powerful and even radically unique perceptions.
In order to become a believer, I was required to choose to believe certain concepts that might actually be appropriate within the man/God hierarchy, but these concepts are entirely destructive to any functional relationship. The first belief which I adopted was: “I am a bad person”-- “I am a sinner”.
“My badness is such, that on my own I can have no pride”. Without much thought, I condemned myself.
Another belief was, “on my own, I am powerless and helpless”. “No matter how hard I try to be good, I can never be good enough.”
Another was “If I don’t get help, I will be punished severely forever”.
When I internalized beliefs of “condemnation”, “helplessness”, and “fear” I became desperate. I started out desperate.
Next, I found the relief that I needed by choosing to believe that the problem had dissolved. “I am free!!”, “I am O.K. now!!”, “I have been forgiven!!”, “I am new!!”, “I feel the acceptance of my creator!!”.
When I moved from desperation, to “perceived” liberation, I had exceptional emotional experiences.
It’s a classic self-fulfilling prophesy.
Like any emotional “high”, after a certain amount of time, the “high” starts to ware off. With enough belief and cooperation, this perceived experience lasted many years. With enough dedication and well-meaning cleverness, I was able to nearly replicate my “first love” excitement over and over.
What I find is that, rather than using my experiences to prove an invisible reality, I will use them to prove that I am an emotional creature. Given the equation, the results occurred as they would naturally. Though I once had speculated that I was a new “spiritual creation”, reasonably, I had instead only seemed to have found a new “spiritual concept.”
It is often said that God is the answer, though He seems to be more of a question than an answer.
Imagine if I told you about someone who I thought that I had known for thirty four years. If I told you that I had never seen him before, I had never touched him before, and I had never heard his voice. If I told you that I thought that we took walks together “philosophically”. If I told you that I thought he communicated with me sometimes, but it was often hard to be sure what he was saying. Virtually every detail I learned of this person we’re provided for me in second hand fashion.
I thought he said that he loved everyone, but then he seemed to permit the atrocities suffered by even children.
Imagine if I said that he seemed to have many different names with different meanings, he seemed mysterious, and frighteningly unpredictable.
In the absence of the essentials of relationship, you would say that I had never indeed known him at all. The supposed relationship could only have been found in my creative mind.