28 March 2011

On God

I was raised Baptist, though strangely to this day I've not been baptized.  I recall Sunday School from my younger years, even before I started kindergarten.  I once made a mug.  It was one of those where you got to insert a sheet of paper inside the mug.  I don't know why, but I decided to draw Jesus standing over the graves of Mary and Joseph.  Continuity-wise, I knew they had outlived Him.  The composition appealed to me, though, even if my art was pretty crude (I was four or five at the time).  I would show it to you, except my mom chucked it several years ago when she became concerned about owning anything with a graven image.

I remember defending the concept by pointing out that there was nothing known in the Bible to contradict the ability of Jesus to have stood over the graves (though, of course, I'm sure their graves didn't resemble the generic arched headstones I had conjured).  He had risen from the dead, right?  Of course, most people would think of Him joyously reuniting with Mary and Joseph in Heaven.  The notion of Jesus bothering with their graves, when He could simply be with their eternal souls, seems extraneous at best.

Eternity, despite the opportunities for such reunions, held little appeal for me.  The idea of lounging around Heaven forever honestly doesn't excite me.  Sure, I sometimes miss people and I'm curious to have met some others, but could I really enjoy their company forever?  I think that's why we're constantly reminded of Hell; if I'm going to continue existing forever anyway, I'd rather be bored than tormented.  How strange is it that even as a child the best I could say about Heaven was that it sounds better than Hell?

I have no recollection of my parents attending church together; so far as I'm aware, we didn't begin attending until my parents divorced.  My mom had been raised Catholic, what with all her Irish heritage--on both sides. She and her elder brother had gone to Catholic schools, but not her younger brother.  No one has ever confirmed it for me, but I suspect the death of her elder brother (who drowned at age 13) really put the family off their faith.  Strange that an ugly divorce would prompt my mother to resume it, but there you have it.

What does God need with a bucket?
I distinctly recall the smell of Kentucky Fried Chicken, as one of their restaurants was near the church we attended and we had to pass it on the way home.  I pictured God as looking like the image of Colonel Sanders atop the KFC business pole, but with a light blue mist surrounding Him.  Perhaps I was once wondering what God looked like while we were stopped at the red light right beside KFC and happened to look out my window.  I can't say for sure.

Once I reached adolescence, I had entirely lost my interest in God.  I figured we had disappointed one another handily, and I had no real interest in patching up the relationship.  I developed a deep resentment toward anyone who either didn't question their own faith or pushed it on others.  The bitterness has eased, but I still don't care to hear people drone on about how great God is, which makes checking my Facebook news feed particularly tedious.

I wish God would join Facebook and tell me Himself what He wants me to know.
During one of my bouts with depression I kind of rekindled my faith.  It was a tenuous relationship with God, in which I simply agreed that I would try hard to quit worrying about anything in life outside my own personal choices and actions.  Then, somewhere along the line, I just quit caring.  Too many of our social issues come down to people trying to live peaceful, rational lives being told by others that their peaceful, rational lives are an abomination unto the Lord and must be opposed.  I simply don't care.  Whatever your beliefs are, in a democracy they're to be protected--not used to vilify and condemn those whose lives do not conform to your beliefs.

In fairness, that's a problem for me to have with people, not God; like how I shouldn't resent Justin Bieber just because his fans are obnoxious on Twitter.  Yet, it carries over from worshiper to deity.  My favorite biblical story has always been the one about Jesus intervening to stop a mob from stoning a prostitute.  It's discouraging sometimes just being around my family shouting at one another; I can't imagine standing up to an armed mob.  More importantly, I loved the message.  We've got enough on our plate just trying to be decent people ourselves; no one should have time to go around pointing fingers at others.  That's a philosophy that can be appreciated even without a belief in God.  I didn't need the Holy Bible to teach me that kind of tolerance.  It's the core philosophy of Star Trek and say what you will, but I don't think any Trekkie has ever taken the life of someone for not sharing their feelings about Captain Kirk, or spewed hateful things about people in the name of Mr. Spock (the occasional rivalry with other nerds at conventions notwithstanding).

I don't know at this point whether I've stopped believing, or if I just don't care.  I don't resent those who do believe, and I'm not here to pass judgment on your beliefs.  All I'm saying is that if God really wanted to comfort me, He would let me know that when I die, that's it.  No roasting in Hell, no endless days on streets of gold; just...no more existing.  That's the kind of end I want, and the only thing that sounds peaceful to me.