God As We Understood Him
WARNING: The following essay, although sincerely and thoughtfully written, is very offensive to Scientologists, smokers, Christians, spirituality, and especially to Zeus. To history’s other 2,000 + Gods, past and present – I have offended you most of all by ignoring you.
By bob k
Verse 16 Chapter 3 of the Gospel of John is one of the most famous verses in the Christian Bible. It has also been called the “Gospel in a nutshell” because it is considered a summary of the central dogma of traditional Christianity:
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
In Exodus, one of the books in the Old Testament, God lays down a few rules:
You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents…You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” (Exodus 20: 1-7)
The Father, as we are told above in the gospel of John, so loved the world that he gave his Son. And now the Son is the only way back to God:
I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)
Christianity, as do most other religions, puts a priority not just on calling upon God, but on calling upon the RIGHT God. All of the above militates against “Why don’t you choose your own conception of God?” having any effectiveness. In fact, such action is an affront to (the real) God. “You shall have no other gods before me.” Further, should I choose a conception of God that follows a path through, say, Allah, then, according to John 14:6, I will not reach the Father (God).
Let’s be a bit silly, to make an additional point. If someone chose Zeus, or Thor, or the sun as a higher power, and in fact, the Highest Power, and as a result was relieved of ANY desire to drink, and thus recovered from alcoholism through this spiritual awakening, did Zeus (or Thor, or the sun) do it? Certainly, for the “saved,” the grace of Zeus has been irrevocably proven. “There is One who has all power. That One is Zeus. May you find Him now!”
There is a second possible interpretation of the miraculous recovery. The “real” God, and not Zeus, has brought salvation to our dissolute protagonist. Though he had reached out to a false god, the “real” God has intervened and supplied the necessary salvation. Choose your own conception of God, pray for His divine benevolence, and the “real” God very graciously supplies it. Problem solved. Riddle unravelled. Mystery demystified.
EXCEPT that then the biblical quotes above must be taken to be untrue. “The way to the Father” is through ANY higher power you chose. The Lord thy God is not the least bit jealous, nor does He bristle at being called the wrong name. “You shall have no other gods before me. You know, on second thought, forget I said that – have WHATEVER gods you want! What the Hell, that was thousands of years ago. We didn’t even have the Internet then!”
“Although I AM the way, the truth and the life…“ Hey, maybe there are many ways. Go ahead; pick one – Hell, the damned Druids worshipped trees! Should I hold it against them?
Back to Willie Wilson and the miraculous salvation of the disgusting drunks: We have now outlined two solutions to the enigma of the effectiveness of calling upon ANY “God as I understand Him,” clearly conflicting with the religious truths learned in childhood.
POSSIBILITY 1) Calling on Zeus, Vishnu, Shiva, Loki, Odin, Sophia, Triple Goddess, Ein Sof, Pleroma, demiurge, shamanistic creator spirits, new age powers, crystals, nature spirits, aliens, the Force, universal spirit, math, the Great Spaghetti Monster, an elephant-headed Ganesha, or a crabapple tree to achieve divine relief from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body – all these methods work because all of these “conceptions of God” exist. Each of them has the divine power necessary to help those who are beyond human aid.
POSSIBILITY 2) The “real” God steps in to perform the miraculous healings. He is unoffended that the petitioner has called on false gods. The Old Testament is wrong. Additionally, “the way to the Father is through me” must ONLY refer to being with the Father on an eternal basis. In the temporal world it is PROVEN that I can reach the Father in a myriad of ways. Clearly, a great many have “gotten to” the Father for relief of their worldly afflictions, such as getting sober, without accessing the beneficence of JC.
Of course, a third possibility exists, and it is far less problematical than both 1) and 2).
“Selfishness – self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles.” (Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 62) What is extremely constructive in overcoming this largest of our problems is the humbling action of seeking God’s help. If there were an ACTUAL intervention by God to provide this aid, then it would be OF EXTREME IMPORTANCE that we reach out to THE RIGHT GOD! And as it turns out: it is NOT.
“It was only a matter of being willing to believe in a Power greater than myself. Nothing more was required of me…” Of course the quotation continues “…to make my beginning.” (Alcoholics Anomymous, p. 12) Within the more homogenous culture of 1930s America, it was hoped this simple opening would bloom into a full-blown Christian faith. Not so today, when fully developed faith might be Hindu, native American, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Scientologist, Extra-terrestrial, Pantheist… and on, and on. Some spew the very atheist-compatible “God is Love” or “God is Good.” Most popular of all of course is Spirituality – touted erroneously in modern AA (by so very many) as vastly different from, and superior to, religion. This modern view, although not in concert with the writers of our book, probably represents the majority position in 2012. Step 11 took most early members to a study of The Book of Revelation. Not so today.
Why is it virtually irrelevant which God or Higher Power is selected as the ticket to the needed spiritual rejuvenation? Being “beyond human aid” (Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 128), how can it be that ANY higher power has the divine capability to save me? Can I be benefitted by praying to a light bulb?
“The answer, my friends is blowin’ in the wind. The answer is blowin’ in the wind.”
The key to recovery from alcoholism does not come from God – we see above the difficulties in accounting for the viability of “your own conception of God” as a workable solution. The VALUE of prayer, meditation, pleading for help from ANY God (actual existence – not a factor) is in the reduction of self-centeredness and self reliance.
Making the universe God-centered, not Bob-centered brings tremendous benefits. That the God, gods, false gods, or non-gods that I choose are right or wrong, real or unreal, seems not to be an issue. This lobbies for “moral psychology” as the critical factor. There is no intervention by the supernatural. Calling on God, and in doing so reducing one’s self-centeredness, is what aids in producing “the personality change sufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism (Alcoholics Anonymous, Appendix II).”
A final benefit of this secular view of the process, is that it removes the problem of trying to understand why a loving God brings miraclous salvation to an eleventh-hour repentant drunk while allowing millions of innocent children to die from disease or starvation. The recovered alcoholic then demonstrates his enormous gratitude to the Creator by smoking fifty cigarettes a day and dying of lung cancer.
Glad I was able to clear this up for y’all.