November 11, 2010

Why Are People Afraid to Speak About God?

Normally, I don't have an agenda when I write. I go with instincts, writing whatever comes to mind, letting my thoughts flow freely. However, on occasion a topic surfaces that deserves more than that. This one falls into that category. Recently, one of my friends and a follower on my Gusto page on facebook, where I share some of my thoughts and experiences, had this to say when I asked for a topic that people wanted to hear more about: "Why are so many people afraid to speak about GOD? Why are so many people selfish, greedy and full of gluttony?"

I believe there are many reasons, but some obvious ones come to mind immediately. Before I jump into this, allow me to expand a little about this blog. When I created the website on April 9th, 2010, I had no conscious idea of what I was doing or where Ramblings was taking me. However, after 7 months, I believe the answer is becoming clearer with each passing day. For anyone who has read some of my blog or, for that matter, ALL of it, I believe it's apparent that the Holy Spirit has a hand in what my fingers come up with when I set my thoughts down in writing. In fact, nearly everything I've experienced, both in day-to-day life over the past few years and what ends up here on paper contains that Spirit.

In response to my friend's question, there are two words that pop into my head as possible answers: Fear and Pride. I've written about those human characteristics frequently and I've done my very best to live life fearlessly and with less concern for my-self over the past few years, because of my tragic experience with an insidious disease. Steps three and eleven symbolize that relationship and experience best, at least for me: "Made a conscious decision to turn my life over to the care of God." "……Sought through prayer and meditation my conscious contact with God, praying only for the knowledge of His will and the power to carry that out." There are other reasons that come to mind that prevent us from talking about God besides fear and pride. Things that distract us and turn us away from God. Our instant gratification culture we live in these days is a prime example. We have so many other things to occupy our time and minds; computers, cell phones, iPods, television, not to mention those things that occupy our daily existence; our jobs and our families. But all of those things are masks for the real reasons I've already mentioned.

What I just wrote in the previous paragraph contains ONE key word; "relationship." Our relationship with God, if we have one, is VERY personal. However, I believe many people use that as an excuse to NOT talk about God. Rather than expressing themselves openly as human beings, they instead say, "It's PERSONAL." While I don't deny that and respect that answer, I think that reasoning is simply a way of hiding behind what the real ones are for WHY people don't talk about God more. It's because of FEAR and PRIDE.

I'm an empirical person, meaning I believe in things I can measure by what I can see, hear, touch, taste, and smell. When someone says they're afraid of something, it's usually because of the unknown. "I'm afraid of the dark. I'm afraid she won't like me. I'm afraid to ask for that raise at work because I may not get it." Fear is a constant presence in our lives, restricting us from saying or doing things because we don't know what the outcome might be. Taken a step further then, fear prevents us from speaking openly about God, if only because we can't SEE Him. In order to overcome those fears, we have to rely on ONE thing and that's faith. Faith that what's there or not there in the dark can't hurt us. Faith that if we say we love that girl, she'll say she loves us. Faith that if we ask for that raise, that our actions will merit it. So it goes with God. We have to rely on our faith that what we can't measure with our conscious senses will instead be felt within our soul.

But what keeps us from having that faith? Some of it of course is fear, but the real reason why is pride. We are taught from an early age that we CAN do something; we can be good students, we can be good role models, we can be good citizens, we can be good employees, etc. Of course, if we're parents of faith, we also teach our children to honor God. At some point though, the idea of I can do things myself and faith get distorted. Many of us end up thinking we can do everything on our own and it's only when we find ourselves in trouble, a tragic health issue for instance, that we turn to God and ask for healing. The point is we have to rely on basic fundamental core values, of which one is something we can't measure, at least with our sense of sight, touch, hearing, taste, or smell. We all know when we sense something or someone that exhibits truth, respect, honor, and dignity. Faith on the other hand, is something we must simply believe in our heart and soul, not what our mind tells us we can measure with our human senses. For many of us, it's only AFTER something happens positive in our lives that we are able to quantify it in human terms with our senses.

Let me pose a question at this point and I'll also try to give you my own example. Think of something that's happened in your life, something that was so incredibly inspirational or uplifting to you emotionally or physically, that you could not explain at first. Most of us have experienced "moments" like this in our lives and it's at that "moment" when we realize there could be no other explanation than an outside force that caused it. It wasn't us. It had to be something. A force greater than our own power of will that caused it. I choose to call that power GOD. The first time something like this happened to me, I was standing with a group of others at a church in Norton, Kansas in September 2006. I remember clearly what happened. The pastor had asked if anyone wanted Jesus to come into their life and by that, I mean physically. Something I could FEEL. He went from one to another, placed a hand on them, and asked if they felt the Spirit. I remember no one reacted as if they did, at least from what I could SEE. Then he came to me and without even touching me, he simply began speaking in "tongue." I'd heard of this before but hadn't given it much credence. Then something incredible happened. My eyes were closed and I felt this incredible surge of energy. Suddenly my arms started coming up at my sides, my spine started tingling, I felt wobbly, yet I continued to stand. My arms slowly reached above my head until I thought they would pull out of my shoulder sockets because they were pulling so hard on my body. I was shaking and tingling all over. I sensed two people behind me that were ready to catch me in case I fell. I didn't. I simply stood there with my eyes closed, and just relished at this electric sensation surging throughout my body. Then it was over. I looked around and nearly everyone was looking back at me in shock. Except for the pastor of course! It was at THAT MOMENT that I realized what had happened. Later, I remember thinking as I left Norton to return to Elkhart, Kansas how badly I wanted that experience again. Why? Because I FELT it. It was REAL. It was something I could measure. For the first time, over 4 years ago on that day, that I discovered what FAITH really meant.

There have been other times faith has brought me through some difficult times. Unfortunately, after my experience in Norton, Kansas over 4 years ago, it took more loss before I awakened. It was only until I nearly lost my life and landed behind bars for 158 days, did the realization really start to kick in. Today, I can think back on many other occasions when something positive, something great has "happened" in my life, which I can't attribute to anything I did, it was only because I had an inner "sense" of faith. That's what I mean by what I said earlier about when we experience something "in the moment" that has no explanation with our physical senses. When I reflect back on my life, it was faith that enabled me to survive the tragic loss of my mother when I was a young boy, it was faith that first brought me to California to finish high school and college in the mid-70's, it was faith that got my first job with the bank in Kansas in the 80's, it was faith that gave me children in the 90's, it was faith that enabled me to kick the alcohol habit in 2008, it was faith that brought me back to California in 2010 to start a new life and new career, and it was faith that brought the incredible woman I love dearly today into my life.

So again, ask yourself this question. "Is there something that's happened in my life that I can give no explanation why it happened and not because of something I did or didn't do?" That's the critical part. It has to be something that you experienced, not what you hear from someone else, including me. There are so many stories out there, especially on the internet, stories where you see and hear of miracles in other people's lives. Those things are certainly inspirational, and I'm sure most of them are true, but unless you have ownership in something tangible that's happened in YOUR life, then it won't have full value for you. You won't be able to identify with it in your soul. If you're honest with yourself, if you drop your wall of pride, you will see that it can be only one thing. Faith. Faith that a higher power greater than your own caused it. Call it whatever you want, a tree, a doorknob, whatever. But whatever you choose, remember, and this is a guarantee, it has NOTHING to do with YOU. That's your choice. I choose GOD.

I'll end this latest "rambling" post with this. I think Einstein said it best:

Let me explain the problem science has with religion.' The atheist professor of philosophy pauses before his class and then asks one of his new students to stand.

'You're a Christian, aren't you, son?' 'Yes sir,' the student says. 'So you believe in God?' 'Absolutely. ' 'Is God good?' 'Sure! God's good.' 'Is God all-powerful? Can God do anything?' 'Yes' 'Are you good or evil?' 'The Bible says I'm evil.' The professor grins knowingly. 'Aha! The Bible!' He considers for a moment. 'Here's one for you. Let's say there's a sick person over here and you can cure him. You can do it. Would you help him? Would you try?' 'Yes sir, I would.' 'So you're good!' 'I wouldn't say that.' 'But why not say that? You'd help a sick and maimed person if you could. Most of us would if we could. But God doesn't.'

The student does not answer, so the professor continues. 'He doesn't, does he? My brother was a Christian who died of cancer, even though he prayed to Jesus to heal him. How is this Jesus good? Hmmm? Can you answer that one?' The student remains silent. 'No, you can't, can you?' the professor says. He takes a sip of water from a glass on his desk to give the student time to relax.

'Let's start again, young fella. Is God good?' 'Er..yes,' the student says. 'Is Satan good?' The student doesn't hesitate on this one.. 'No.' 'Then where does Satan come from?' The student falters. 'From God' 'That's right. God made Satan, didn't he? Tell me, son. Is there evil in this world?' 'Yes, sir.' 'Evil's everywhere, isn't it? And God did make everything, correct?' 'Yes' 'So who created evil?' The professor continued, 'If God created everything, then God created evil, since evil exists, and according to the principle that our works define who we are, then God is evil.'

Again, the student has no answer. 'Is there sickness? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness? All these terrible things, do they exist in this world?' The student squirms on his feet. 'Yes.' 'So who created them?' The student does not answer again, so the professor repeats his question. 'Who created them?' There is still no answer. Suddenly the lecturer breaks away to pace in front of the classroom. The class is mesmerized. 'Tell me,' he continues onto another student. 'Do you believe in Jesus Christ, son?' The student's voice betrays him and cracks. 'Yes, professor, I do.' The old man stops pacing. 'Science says you have five senses you use to identify and observe the world around you. Have you ever seen Jesus? 'No sir. I've never seen Him.' 'Then tell us if you've ever heard your Jesus?' 'No, sir, I have not.' 'Have you ever felt your Jesus, tasted your Jesus or smelt your Jesus? Have you ever had any sensory perception of Jesus Christ, or God for that matter?' 'No, sir, I'm afraid I haven't.''Yet you still believe in him?' 'Yes' 'According to the rules of empirical, testable, demonstrable protocol, science says your God doesn't exist. What do you say to that, son?' 'Nothing,' the student replies. 'I only have my faith.' 'Yes, faith,' the professor repeats. 'And that is the problem science has with God. There is no evidence, only faith.' The student stands quietly for a moment, before asking a question of his own.

'Professor, is there such thing as heat?' ' Yes. 'And is there such a thing as cold?' 'Yes, son, there's cold too.' 'No sir, there isn't.'

The professor turns to face the student, obviously interested. The room suddenly becomes very quiet. The student begins to explain. 'You can have lots of heat, even more heat, super-heat, mega-heat, unlimited heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat, but we don't have anything called 'cold'. We can hit down to 458 degrees below zero, which is no heat, but we can't go any further after that..There is no such thing as cold; otherwise we would be able to go colder than the lowest -458 degrees.' 'Every body or object is susceptible to study when it has or transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit energy. Absolute zero (-458 F) is the total absence of heat. You see, sir, cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. We cannot measure cold. Heat we can measure in thermal units because heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of it.' Silence across the room. A pen drops somewhere in the classroom, sounding like a hammer.

'What about darkness, professor. Is there such a thing as darkness?' 'Yes,' the professor replies without hesitation. 'What is night if it isn't darkness?' 'You're wrong again, sir. Darkness is not something; it is the absence of something. You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing light, but if you have no light constantly you have nothing and it's called darkness, isn't it? That's the meaning we use to define the word.' 'In reality, darkness isn't. If it were, you would be able to make darkness darker, wouldn't you?'

The professor begins to smile at the student in front of him. This will be a good semester. 'So what point are you making, young man?' 'Yes, professor. My point is, your philosophical premise is flawed to start with, and so your conclusion must also be flawed.' The professor's face cannot hide his surprise this time. 'Flawed? Can you explain how?' 'You are working on the premise of duality,' the student explains.. 'You argue that there is life and then there's death; a good God and a bad God. You are viewing the concept of God as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, science can't even explain a thought.' 'It uses electricity and magnetism, but has never seen, much less fully understood either one. To view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing. Death is not the opposite of life, just the absence of it.' 'Now tell me, professor. Do you teach your students that they evolved from a monkey?' 'If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, young man, yes, of course I do.' 'Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?' The professor begins to shake his head, still smiling, as he realizes where the argument is going. A very good semester, indeed.

'Since no one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and cannot even prove that this process is an on-going endeavor, are you not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you now not a scientist, but a preacher?' The class is in uproar. The student remains silent until the commotion has subsided.'To continue the point you were making earlier to the other student, let me give you an example of what I mean.' The student looks around the room. 'Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen the professor's brain?' The class breaks out into laughter. 'Is there anyone here who has ever heard the professor's brain , felt the professor's brain, touched or smelt the professor's brain? No one appears to have done so. So, according to the established rules of empirical, stable, demonstrable protocol, science says that you have no brain, with all due respect, sir.'

'So if science says you have no brain, how can we trust your lectures, sir?' Now the room is silent. The professor just stares at the student, his face unreadable. Finally, after what seems an eternity, the old man answers. 'I guess you'll have to take them on faith.' 'Now, you accept that there is faith, and, in fact, faith exists with life,' the student continues. 'Now, sir, is there such a thing as evil?' Now uncertain, the professor responds, 'Of course, there is. We see it every day. It is in the daily example of man's inhumanity to man. It is in the multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the world. These manifestations are nothing else but evil.' To this the student replied, 'Evil does not exist sir, or at least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God's love present in his heart.

It's like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that comes when there is no light.'

The professor sat down.

PS: the student was Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein wrote a book titled God vs Science in 1921....

"Gusto"




 

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank-You, Gus this is sooooo well written. What an inspirational story of your faith walk.

We all have a journey with God to walk and how we do it is another thing. Believe and you shall inherit the earth. Words to live by.

Bond 007 said...

Thank YOU for the nice compliment! And you're right, we all have a journey to walk, HOW we do it is another thing entirely.

Cherie said...

Goodness. Gus, the time-tested challenge of mankind. Summed up by goodness.

Your question? Is there something that's happened in my life that I can give no explanation why it happened and not because of something I did or didn't do?

Honestly, this is painful. Makes me WEEP! Yes yes yes!

Anorexia. You know, before that, I was going to be valedictorian, become a medical doctor in college and go to Cornell University. I wrote it all out, tried so hard. Took a few chances, got to fearing the Freshman Fifteen and figured out MUCH later that only beer could do that to my body. I hate the stuff! So, I stopped eating. I ditched entire days of school and in Greeley County, SOMEONE always knows. I lied out the wazzoo...ate bottles of Hydroxycut and ran thirty miles at a shot. I lied CONSTANTLY and you have no idea....but that becomes you and is harder to stop than any drug, even diet pills. I weight eighty-four pounds when I turned eighteen. The fear of failure gripped me so much that it got THAT bad. That was the most pathetic low. Because of it, my brain chemistry was wrecked for YEARS. I only kept running to cope with it. I lied to my parents, teachers, coaches, brother, to God, myself and my hero....Grandma. I did horrible things that will affect me for the remainder of life on this earth. Those things cannot be undone. I don't know WHY they happened. God only knows.

When I got to college, I met another girl who was a leader in some capacity, and we were both horribly ugly and stricken. Same disease. Different people. We saw it in each other and I thank God for Andrea. The experience taught me to quit judging others. To look at the heart of a person. It has taken bad relationships, both with family and in terms of "love or lust" getting my heart broken, being used, feeling worthless and forgetting how much God loved me until every time I get dragged down, HE rescues me. I've been hungry,homeless, jobless, poor and tired of running that sort of life. I Thank GOD every day because HE is truly all I have. I know reality pretty well, have lived fifty years in 25 and feel like I'm good with God....if in fact the 2012 theory ha ha) is true. You have NO idea how stark the parallels between alcoholism and anorexia ring true, but they do.

I thank God for survivors and for the heightened sensitivity we as survivers have. The secret is that you are always shocked but MANY people have these horrors. Self-awareness is a byproduct of human struggle and the Grace of God is all that we have to hold on to, so pile it on. If more of us understood that, this world would hurt so much less!

THANK YOU, Gus!

Bond 007 said...

You just did the ONE thing I've been waiting for from those who have read ALL of my blog. You dropped your wall of PRIDE. Pride and fear. These two emotions, if you will, are mankind's biggest impediments to personal growth. It's really quite simple and once one is REALLY truthful, first with theirself and then with God, "coming out" is such a huge weight lifted off one's shoulders.

I remain hopeful that more of my fellow man comes to this realization as I have in this life. It's LIBERATING!

Thank you Cherie for your forthrightness, honesty, and your love for LIFE!