Of course, I never lived up to my promises, but God smiled down upon me and my little boy came home, as good as new. Thus, people who seldom think of God during the good times always fall back on his largess in times of trouble. We pray to God, asking him to save a life or help out in a crisis. We make promises we can't keep. We barter. We beg.
I seldom speak of my feelings about God because, in my mind, I have separated "religion" from God and have spent a good part of my life trying to figure out exactly how I feel. I have said that "every breath I breathe is a prayer," which is true for mothers everywhere. When I have had to leave my children or grandchildren behind, I have never failed to ask the Lord to look after them. "Please take care of them, Lord, because I can't!" Always, he complied, the world's best babysitter!
There have been times in my life that I have walked across a street to avoid an acquaintance I knew was radically religious who would punctuate every sentence with a sermon, quote Scripture, and suggest that my life was not on the path this person felt it should be.
I have always felt that these conversations were an intrusion in my life that are unwarranted, unacceptable and unintelligent. I don't know why some people seem to feel that their feelings, their faith, their interpretation of God's word are more correct, more viable, more rewarding than that of others. To me, it has always seemed egotistical to decide that your interpretation of anything is superior to that of other people.
At times, I have visited many churches trying to find one I felt I could tolerate. I came within a stone's throw of becoming Catholic, because I like the beauty of that faith, the rituals, the prayers, the spiritual sentiments. But when I thought about it all....the dreadful cover-up of pedophiles, the huge, expensive Cathedrals in Third World countries, the fact that no woman can enter the priesthood, and the thought of a conclave of old men making rules for everyone else....I changed my mind. I still love the beauty of the Church, the respect and love for Mary, Mother of God, and prayers sent to her, but I cannot accept the Pope as a religious leader, nor will I ever be able to do so. Nor could I understand why a rich, rich Church does so little for the poor. I decided that it was a Church that is stagnant, mired down in the Middle Ages, with very little compassion for the problems of modern life.
Nor could I ever join a Protestant Church, for many of the same reasons. In today's Evangelical beliefs, it seems that bigotry and hatred of others rule. There is a long list.....homosexuals, poor people, unions, drug addicts, liberals...it goes on and on. I don't know how they can equate faith with such hatreds. I don't know why God wouldn't accept a Gay Man or a Lesbian Woman with arms open, with understanding and forgiveness. What Evangelicals...and other Protestant religions seem to want is a wrathful ogre of a God, breathing fire like an angry Dragon provoked by his prey, a God who will snort and steam and gobble you up, chew you to bits, and spit you right into the fires of Hell.
What kind of God is this? Should I want this kind of Heaven, if all of my loved ones are not with me, not at my side in eternity? Should I worship this Dragon? What is it about some people that they are so fond of the thought of punishment for others? "You're Gay? Change your wicked ways or straight to Hell you go!" How can this be a loving God? How can this be a God I can admire and respect?
The other day, I was watching a young minister named Joel Osmont. At the end of his sermon, he lifted his arms heavenward and prayed, "God, be good to them! Give them promotions!"
I was thunderstruck! Did he ask God to give the thousands of people in his church promotions? Perhaps he worshiped a Money God. Everyone knows that it is easier to push a camel through the eye of a needle than to carry a pot of money into Heaven. How could this preacher not know this.
The more I thought about it, the more reasonable it became. Promotions would certainly help everyone. Better to pray for promotions than to threaten the Wrath of God and certain Hellfire if you do not become a radical, hysterical, Scripture-spouting fool!
I came to the conclusion that, if God created the universe, he must be one smart Dude, smart enough to understand just why certain things take place and why life sometimes pushes you into problems you cannot handle. In fact, he must be a very kind individual, if one can call God an individual, with some kind of sympathy and compassion for the humans he created.
Many religions believe that God is just plain disgusted with the human race, and that he is so wrathful, he will bring on diseases like plagues and AIDS, and cause Mother Nature to billow and blow with tornados, earthquakes, typhoons, droughts, you name it. In fact, there are dreadful stories in the Bible of just such happenings. In this interpretation, one must obey! Obedience is necessary. One must be prepared to kill his firstborn. One must put God before all others.
But then, he also says that "love thy neighbor" is the most important Commandment, equal to loving God himself. Love thy neighbor! I suppose that means that all war is sinful, that humans should live in peace. If so, we are doing a poor job of this, and the religious folks are leading the way!
There are so many contradictions in the Bible that it is impossible to both read it and understand it. It is chuck full of predictions of wrath, hellfire and dreaded disasters. But, between these dire and dour warnings are some messages of golden promise, of love, of peace, of prosperity. So why stand in the shadows, wallowing in darkness? Turn on the light, a blessed invention given by God to chase away the demons of night. Bask in the beauty of God's word, and leave the anger to those who enjoy anger, who have married religion to violent wars.
Many of today's Christians want to do God's work for him. They want a Crusade through the Middle East to give the Jewish people their Biblical lands, thus bringing about the Second Coming. Iraq is filled with these people, telling our military they are the "Army of the Lord!" These Endtime, Doomsday Christians fill these young, frightened men and women with this religious gibberish and send them to fight or die because they want to kill Muslims and continue their march toward the Apocalypse. If ever a group of radicals has gone completely insane, it is this bunch of savages, our President included.
Give me a promotion, God. Give one to my neighbor, as well. In fact, give one to everyone. Good things are happening. Good things will come to all of us, Black, White, Yellow, Red, Gays, Rich, Poor, Everyone! Take just a small portion from the rich Corporations and pompous billionaires and spread it around a bit, Lord! In the pit of darkness, there is always hope. There will be peace and prosperity. That problem keeping you awake at night will soon be just a memory. Time passes. Troubles fade. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
That's my faith, the unbreakable, unshakable, unerring belief that all will be well. God is in his Heaven, all's right with the world.....or will be, as soon as level heads prevail.