* * * *
For whatever reason, I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about God. It’s possibly a Christian thing — I’m sure some of my very Christian friends also do this. Unlike them, I don’t ponder deeply on God so I can serve Him better.
There are only two things God wants from us: worship and obedience. That’s it. I have only two problems with those two things: I seem to be incapable of trusting God completely, and I’m really bad at obeying His commandments.
If I had to give a reason for why I do something for no discernible gain, I’d probably say it’s because I’m trying to understand who and what God really is. Based on what I’ve read and what I’ve been told I’m supposed to think, there isn’t much about God that makes much sense to me.
In the Bible it says that God does not change. Certain Christians believe this without question simply because it says so in the Bible, and everything in the Bible is true. But from where I sit, God changes every time He appears in the Bible. And that’s what I’m planning on exploring in this installment.
* * * *
In the Book of Genesis, we are introduced to God the Creator. He rolled up His sleeves, labored mightily for six days creating the entire universe and everything in it, and then He rested, being well-pleased with all that He had done.
It is written that God created mankind in His image. We are God’s magnum opus, His masterpiece. That’s what every priest and pastor I’ve ever known has said. And way back in beginning, the pinnacle of human life were two people named Adam and Eve.
* * * *
Scholars that aren’t Christian Fundamentalists tend to view the story of Adam and Eve as an allegory, not actual history. Unlike all of the other humans roaming the earth, God formed Adam with His own hands. Then God planted a pretty and cutey little garden, and put the man in it.
Eden. It was a darling place. And in this garden of beauty and fruit trees, God planted two special trees: the Tree of Life, and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. And God told Adam, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
* * * *
I don’t know if the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil actually exists, but I have no doubt that the Tree of Life is real. If you eat of the Tree of Life, you become immortal. Angels are immortal. And now you know how that got happened.
That’s the only reason Adam and Eve were evicted from the garden. God didn’t want them to have access to the Tree of Life. An angel with a flaming sword guards the approach to the tree to this day, just in cases someone stumbles across it, somehow.
* * * *
Everything was hunky-dory in the garden. God and Adam spent long hours hanging out together shooting the breeze, drinking beer, and God answered all of Adam’s questions about, well, everything.
Why is the sky blue? How many stars are there in the sky? What are those two animals doing? What is sex?
So God had the Birds and Bees talk with His favorite human. And who knows what happened next. God caught Adam masturbating… Maybe he was having sex with a sheep… At any rate, God said to Himself, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
According to the story, God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, God took one of the man’s ribs, and from the rib He made a woman, and He brought her to the man.
* * * *
Afterwards, God and Adam were hanging out in the garden, drinking a beer. And God said, “So, Adam, how was your honeymoon?”
“Oh, it was okay, I guess.
“Dude! I’m your best buddy! If you can’t tell Me about your honeymoon, who can you trust? C’mon man, I want to hear every juicy detail!”
“Well, we had dinner, a couple of drinks, did a little dancing… Then we went to the bedroom. And just between you and me — I’m pretty sure I could’ve fucked her!”
* * * *
If you don’t know how this story ends, things do not remain all tickety-boo in the garden. Eve ate the fruit of Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and Adam took a bite, too.
Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked…
* * * *
Okay. There are three main reasons why this story is an allegory to me. Adam and Eve realized they were naked. Big deal! These were the two most perfectly sculpted people that ever lived. They were the epitome of natural beauty. They were young, they got plenty of exercise, and they ate an all organic diet.
See? I told you
They had no reason to be ashamed just because they were naked. Au contraire, Pierre! They should have have taken one look at each other, realized they were both totally hot and naked, then boinked their fucking brains out like lions in heat. And then boinked some more.
The second reason is this: there’s no description of what God looked like. God hung out with Adam and Eve in the garden on a frequent basis.. He dropped in to talk with them all the time. As far as I can tell, they are the only two people that God ever appeared to in person.
We know God has a physical form — presumably something very much like unto ours because we are created in the image of God, are we not? And there’s this: Adam and Eve hid from God after their fall from grace when they heard Him walking in the garden.
The story of their unique relationship with God — there’s no way they wouldn’t have passed that tale on to their children, and their grandchildren. Hell, they would’ve told it to complete strangers because it’s such a cool story! It’s a story that would’ve been told over and over again by every generation until someone finally wrote it down. And it would surely would have been included in the Bible.
But that story doesn’t exist. So neither did Adam and Eve.
And finally, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. God told Adam not to eat from it upon pain of death. When the serpent tricked Eve into eating its fruit, the serpent said, “You will not certainly die, for God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
There’s no evidence in the Bible that God actually knows the difference between good and evil. There is a preponderance of Biblical evidence that even if God knows the difference, He doesn’t appear to care. God does whatever He wants because He’s God, and if you don’t like it, that’s your problem.
* * * *
After Adam and Eve, God’s behavior becomes increasingly harder to understand. And evidence of a loving God who truly cares for all of His children… Well, you’ll have to decide that for yourself.
My very Christian friends believe that all of God’s plans are perfect, and the proof is He is able to work through imperfect tools, namely humans. That might be true, but if there’s no such thing as a perfect person, well, God hasn’t had a hell of a lots of options to choose from, has He?
* * * *
The next time God appears in the Bible is Noah and the Great Flood. I’ve written about this allegorical story already (Apocalypse Now). You can check it out if you don’t have anything better to do.
When God next appears, it’s to Abram. Somewhat Mildly Interesting Sidenote About Noah and Abram: according to the Bible, they are both descendants of Adam and Eve.
God first appeared to Abram when Abram was seventy-five years old. Again, there’s no description of what God looked like, so it can be assumed that God didn’t appear to him looking like a human. On at least one occasion God appeared to Abram in a vision — it’s possible that’s how God appeared to him every time.
I’ve often wondered if God looks like the Great Gazoo…
Initially, God seems to have been Abram’s travel/real estate agent. A couple of decades and a few geographic relocations later, God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, and promised that he, Abraham, would become the father of nations.
That made Abraham laugh. Yeah, he thought God was a comedian! Abraham was ninety-nine years old, and he and his ninety year old wife didn’t have any children. God wasn’t joking, and they named their son Isaac. Several years later, when Isaac was a young boy, God told Abraham to take his beloved son into the wilderness and sacrifice him to the Lord.
Abraham didn’t laugh this time. He had learned that his God didn’t have a sense of humor. Unlike me, Abraham trusted in the Lord, and did as he was told.
* * * *
Imagine you hear a disembodied voice, or voices, talking to you. Go ahead, give it a try. If you want to imagine it’s me talking to you, I sound like Ben Stein. On Quaaludes.
When you’re a psych nurse, you meet people who experience auditory hallucinations every day. They’re a symptom of schizophrenia, and they have got to be hell to live with. Even worse are command auditory hallucinations. They’re pretty much what they sound like, invisible voices telling you what to do.
These commands can range from innocuous to life-threatening, and they can be incredibly difficult to resist, no matter what it is the voices are telling you to do.
One of my patients at the Minneapolis VAMC was a young man named Lorenzo. He was admitted to my unit after he sliced his abdomen open from his sternum to his umbilicus with a butcher knife in his kitchen.
His brother found him laying on the floor three days later and brought him to the hospital. Lorenzo spent at least one month on my unit, maybe more. His wound had to heal by granulation, and I spent many hours packing his wound with iodaform gauze every day to help prevent infection and promote healing.
And we talked.
I think Lorenzo had run out of meds, and the voices inside his head had worsened. Then they started telling him to slice open his belly, as if he were a samurai committing seppuku.
I fought them as long as I could, but you wouldn’t believe the power they have! After awhile, their compulsion over me became irresistible. So, I walked into the kitchen… And I grabbed a knife…
* * * *
Personally, I have experienced a disembodied voice talking to me only once. I was ten years old at the time, so I know it wasn’t drugs or alcohol. I don’t know what it was, but it was real.
And it freaked me the fuck out.
* * * *
I don’t know who God chronologically appeared to after Abraham. If you’re curious, you can look it up. I’m going to jump to Moses.
* * * *
Moses isn’t a Hebrew name, it’s an Egyptian name. It means: son of in ancient Egyptian. Ra-meses: son of Ra, the god of the sun. Moses no doubt was originally named for one of the many Egyptian gods, but that name has been lost forever.
Moses was raised as an Egyptian prince. He and Rameses II were brothers. They probably competed against each other when they were growing up. As adults, they faced off against each other in the most serious game of Chicken ever played. It was a game Moses would win, thanks in large part to the Ten Plagues that devastated the land of Egypt, and humbled one of the greatest Pharaohs in history.
God became the Redeemer and Savior of His People. He broke the bondage of slavery and led the Israelites to freedom in a new land.
* * * *
There’s one thing about the God of Abraham and Moses that was unique. He was the only God at that time that traveled. Prior to this, gods were associated with a specific location or region. And they stayed there.
God appeared to Moses in the form of a burning bush. And in the form of a thick cloud. He had become the God of mystical majesty we’ve all come to kind of know.
* * * *
After Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, Joshua led them into the promised land. Remember when I said God’s behavior was difficult to understand? When the Israelites crossed over into the Promised Land, they knew they would be going to war. But their mighty God was with them, and He had a simple battle plan.
Kill everything you see. Man, woman, and child. Even the livestock. Leave nothing standing, no one and nothing still breathing.
There’s a name for this battle tactic: Genocide.
There was only one flaw with God’s plan. Because the Israelites weren’t completely amoral, cold-blooded murderers — they refused to go along with it.
* * * *
When Joshua and his generation died, so did the Israelites’ knowledge of God. They began worshipping other gods. Thus began the Age of Judges. God spoke to them and led them to military victories against their enemies. God was the Protector of His People.
After the Judges, God spoke to the Kings, but only two of them: David, and his son, Solomon. Aside from Saul, they’re probably the only Kings of Israel that anyone knows, including me. I’ve read about these guys numerous times. I can’t remember any of them.
* * * *
According to the Bible, David was the beloved of God. And Solomon was the wisest man that ever lived. According to me, David was mostly a pretty cool guy. And Solomon — he was just about the biggest idiot that ever lived.
There are 613 Laws of Moses in the Jewish faith. Three of those laws are specific to the king. Solomon ignored all three of them, and God only knows how many of the others. There’s nothing wise about that. But who am I to talk? By my own admission, I suck at obeying God, too.
* * * *
God remained the Protector of His People, but His People were a wayward collection of tribes and clans, frequently forgetting they had an awesome, and easily-angered God.
These are modern depictions of some of the ancient Semitic goddesses in the Middle East. Now I understand why the Israelites constantly strayed away from their God…
Because the kings of Israel were essentially a bunch of losers, God started talking to the prophets. There are four major prophets and twelve minor prophets in the Old Testament of the Bible. These guys, both major and minor, were respected as holy men back in the day, but their messages of doom and destruction largely went unheeded. And the results were catastrophic for the people of Israel.
God performed numerous works of wondrous power and what can only be called magic through the prophets. They may have been respected, but were otherwise scorned by the people they were trying to save.
By this time, God wasn’t just the Redeemer and Protector of His People. He was also the chief source of misery for them. God had also become The Punisher.
* * * *
Satan the devil is much more of a Christian concept than a Jewish one. However, when it comes to the forces of Goodness and Light vs. the forces of Darkness and Evil, the Jews didn’t need an avatar of malice to torment them.
Their God assumed both roles.
* * * *
Elisha was the disciple of the prophet Elijah the Tishbite. I have no idea what a Tishbite is. If you do, leave a comment. After Elijah rode off into the sky on a chariot of fire, Elisha became the most prominent prophet in the land.
On that fateful day, a group of street urchin boys decided to make fun of him, and they started calling him names.
Elisha left and headed toward Bethel. Along the way some boys started making fun of him by shouting, “Go away, baldy! Get out of here!” Elisha turned around and stared at the boys. Then he cursed them in the name of the Lord. Right away two bears ran out of the woods and ripped to pieces forty-two of the boys.
And now you might understand why I think there’s no evidence that God knows the difference between Good and Evil. Or why finding evidence that He’s a loving God can be so hard to come by.
* * * *
The ancient prophets have always intrigued me, so much so that ever since May 10, 1978, I’ve wanted to become one. I’m sure the details of how that happened are stored away in some dusty corner of my mind. I know I was sitting on the grass under a tree on the campus of St. Cloud State University. And I was really high.
That might have had something to do with it…
A lots of time has elapsed since that day. As far as I know, I’ve never come close to being considered for this position, let alone selected. What I probably have is a delusion.
A delusion is a fixed, false belief. And when I say fixed, I mean glued, screwed nailed, stapled, and welded into someone’s head. Other symptoms of mental illness may come and go, but delusions never die. They might fade into the background, but they are always there.
* * * *
In the New Testament, God stopped talking to everybody. In His stead, He sent a man from Galilee named Jesus Christ, who claimed he was the Son of God. Jesus said he was one with God the Father, and when he spoke, so did God.
You can think whatever you want about Jesus, but for my money, he’s the prototype for what all humans need to become.
* * * *
Religion is the opiate of masses. ~ Karl Marx
* * * *
I’m no longer sure religion is a good thing, mostly because so many people have done so many stupid things in its name. Religion will endure as long as people believe in gods, so I don’t see it disappearing any time soon.
Most people believe God exists and works because He wants to make our lives better, and He wants to create a perfect world. I’m pretty sure that’s what I was taught to think about God.
* * * *
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:1-4
* * * *
Perfect worlds sound cool and stuff, but there has to be one helluva steep price to pay to achieve perfection, even for God. Remember this: Many are called, but few are chosen. If you’re one of the Chosen, you’ve got it made. If you’re not, you’re basically fucked, and nothing is going to change that.
Most of us are never going to see that world.
There’s another thing: I don’t know if this will be a world that’s perfect for God’s Chosen People, or for God. It’s possible it could be perfect for both, but then again…
When it comes to achieving what He wants, God will do anything He has to in order to achieve His goal. Floods. Plagues. Genocides. Man-eating bears. God has already admitted that He killed goddamn near everybody on the planet at least once before. If you think He wouldn’t do it again, you haven’t been paying attention.
God may actually be everything He has claimed to be so far: Omniscient. Omnipotent. Undying. Everlasting and Eternal. I have no idea how any, let alone all of those things can be true… My guess is God is both more and less than what He says He is.
I am that I am.
What the fuck is that supposed mean?!? God might be many things, but humble isn’t one of them. Again, who am I to talk? I’m the least humblest person I know.
And as far as His purpose goes, a perfect world with perfect people is God’s sales pitch. But much like unto Himself, God hasn’t told us the entire truth about what He’s really up to.
Despite all of my many reservations and mistrust of God, despite the fact that I’d probably flirt with Anat and Semiramis if I ran into them on the street, and despite the fact that I’ve been far better at breaking God’s commandments than I’ve ever been at obeying them — if God offered me the job I’ve dreamed about having for more than five decades — I’d accept it in a heartbeat, even though I’m retired and living in paradise in a gringo mansion with a supermodel wife and and two darlingpreshadorbs kit-tens.
There’s a reason for that.
We, as a race, have proven time and time again that we are incapable of governing ourselves wisely. We have depleted a great portion of our planet’s natural resources. We have turned the world around us into a pig sty. We have all but destroyed the only home we have in a ridiculously short amount of time.
I would give up everything I have to work for an alien life force from another world for one reason, and one reason only.
We apparently need someone who isn’t like us to save us from ourselves.