Wednesday, January 4, 2012

God Has It Made

I don't get involved with religion much. I don't attend church and I don't watch televangelists. Most of my friends are Christians, to one degree of devoutness or another, but we don't discuss their faith. I don't try to talk them out of it and they don't try to talk me into it.

Then came Facebook and suddenly, religion was everywhere. Facebookers wear their hearts on their sleeves, so to speak. The posts are a cascading collection of messages and sermons and cartoons (both innocuous and profane) and music and videos and photos and political statements and jokes and statuses. The fun of Facebook is that it is all things to all people.

I often read the religious posts, having always been curious about faith and how people found it (or it found them).

The conclusion I have come to is that God has it made. He receives all of the credit for anything good that happens and none of the blame for anything bad. He doesn't have to justify any of His decisions. Figuring out His intent is on us and woe to us if we are mistaken.

Prayer requests flood into Facebook and prayers flow out to the asker. (I always politely say I'll send good thoughts and I do). Sometimes, everything works out. The husband's surgery is a success, the child is cancer free, the dog survives being hit by a car. Yay! Thank you, God! Other times, not so much - the surgery isn't so successful, the chemo didn't work, the dog died. Well, we must simply have faith that God has a plan and that the baby's leukemia is part of the plan and therefore, must be a good thing although I have a difficult time imagining what can possibly be good about a baby's suffering.

People in Facebook say that we should "listen" to God to find out what he expects from us. So far as I know, God has never spoken to me and I don't have a clue what he wants. (The only guide I've ever had is my own conscience coupled with the Golden Rule). If you think you hear God and you make a choice that turns out badly, then either you didn't listen closely enough or it was the devil in disguise. If anyone should know how fiendishly clever the devil can be, you'd think it would be God, but it appears that He doesn't give credit for good intentions. Just know that it is, somehow, your own fault.

I've asked people what it is like when God speaks to you. Does he actually whisper in your ear, is it like a serendipity, how do you judge if it is really God? No answers. It must be difficult to explain.

A picture of Tim Tebow on his knees on the football field draws a flurry of comments defending his right to pray in public. Of course, I think he has a right to pray in public too although I doubt that God is a football (baseball, football, hockey) fan. I support Jimmie Johnson wholeheartedly but I'd be ashamed to pray for him to win a race. If I thought I had even the slightest influence with God, I'd pray for the baby with leukemia instead. I lose a little respect for an athlete who prays for his own success when God has so many more pressing problems. You assume He hears beseeching prayers every minute of every hour of every day - from people whose entire families have been wiped out due to genocide, to refugees in living brutal camps, to those whose world has been swept away by tsunamis.

I remember back during the Vietnam War, my aunt prayed constantly that her two sons should not have to go to war. In the end, one of them failed his physical and the other drew a high lottery number so that the war was over before he was called. My Aunt was convinced it was God. I asked her, "but what about those mothers whose prayers he didn't answer? Did they not pray hard enough or long enough? What makes you so special?" I wasn't being a smart-ass. I was truly interested in her answer. She didn't have one. Her sons were safe. End of story.

I read the entire Bible one year. The Old Testament was full of punishment by pestilence and plagues and famine and the killing of first-borns. That God was too cruel for me to accept. Then in the New Testament, He wanted to reach His followers and the method He chose, was crucifying His Son? Whew! If the Bible is our instruction manual on life, it is full of mixed messages, written in God-speak, a language in which few of us are fluent.

Those are the thoughts I have about religion...not that I express them on Facebook.