God, Part 1

“God is a concept by which we measure our pain.”~John Lennon

            It is interesting that the majority of religions talk about having a personal relationship with God.  When I think about a relationship, I think of give and take, helping out when needed, or not, whether asked or not.  It seems with God, this is not the case.  God, and religious types, seems to have a different view on what a relationship should be.

            I was an ordained minister and have been an active church member, church leader, youth leader, youth pastor, hospice chaplain, and worked in Christian media, on the radio. Each of these “Christian” experiences has caused me to become less and less religious. Why?  Good question.  It seems that my attempts to please God by involving myself in ministry or Christian service all met with poor results and a personal alienation from, at first Christianity, then God.

            What or who is God?  Is he a magical fairy that goes around granting wishes?  Perhaps He is a cruel judge that regardless of circumstance, sentences some to Heaven and others an eternity in Hell; while some get neither and float around in Purgatory, waiting to be prayed, or bought, out. Then again it could be argued the God does nothing more than sit on His cosmic couch watching the greatest reality show in the universe. Observing natural disasters and tragedies often just shaking His head and wondering why we do what we do.

            Does God control the world or universe?  With the gift of free will we can easily believe that He doesn’t control people.  If He did there could be no “relationship” only a master to slave association.  There is no real evidence that God controls the universe, although I do believe that He does, and that He created it.  I also believe that God created man and woman as depicted in the Bible.  I also believe He regrets it every day. Well at least he promised not to flood the world to wipe us out again.

            Perhaps a “personal” relationship is similar to having a relationship with your favorite football team.  You watch them every Sunday; sometimes they come through, sometimes they don’t, but you hold to the promise of better days ahead.  Your faith is unwavering as year after year hope turns to disappointment as your team struggles to get to the “promised land.”  I would imagine that today people are more faithful in attending or turning the game on than attending church on Sunday.

            If football represents religion, then the quarterback must represent God.  We support him through thick and thin, buy his shirts, books, and send our kids to his summer football camp.  Yet do we really have a relationship?  Sure he might have signed my foam finger one Sunday afternoon, but does he know me?  What will he do for me?  I should just be satisfied if he brings home one, maybe two Super Bowl rings?

            When I think about the money I have spent supporting my local sports teams, it makes me shudder. However, at least I get some enjoyment out of the activity. There is some excitement, maybe an adult beverage or two, some camaraderie and a few stories to share.

            Church . . . ahh . . . the church.  When I think about the money I have given to various churches and religious organizations; well I feel sick.  Maybe used is a better word. It seems that many preachers, TV and otherwise, are selling you the chance at a prosperous life today for a few shekels, and if it doesn’t work out, not to worry you’ll get your reward in heaven.  It is a win-win for the church. Either you’re not giving enough, giving for the wrong reasons, or there is sin in your life.

            I had thought at one time become a full-blown evangelist, but couldn’t do it.  For one thing I am a bad person; someone that use to drink, tell jokes and have a good time.  These are some of the things most churches frown upon.  I also like to sleep at night, and ripping off poor old ladies would have interfered with my sleep pattern.

            Religion isn’t a bad thing when practiced alone in the sanctity of your own person, or even with your family.  Religion becomes a problem when it becomes organized.  Look what organized sports has done to this country, we now have a bunch of rotten, spoiled athletes parading around, complaining they don’t get paid enough and are basically modern day slaves. No comment at this time.

            Look at what organized religion has done, wars, more people turning away from the church, televangelists, and competition between various religious groups. There are Catholics, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Methodists, Baptists, etc, etc.  Don’t forget that many of these denominations even have subsets that divide religion up into smaller pieces.  Then we have the Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and the Muslims. Did I mention the real off shoots, such as Scientology and NFL football?

            I often wondered that if God, as he floats around on His cosmic recliner, just looks down on His “children” and wishes that He used a condom.