Monday, 31 October 2011

*Please see this link for an explanation as to why in this post every time I refer to God what I am really meaning is Godde.  And even though I'm not happy with referring to s/he becuase it is clumsy and just plain ugly, until we invent a third category in the English language that is gender neutral, or gender inclusive, I can't for the life of me work out what else to call ... them/it/her/him.


It is very uncool to believe in God these days.  Whenever I hear someone referring to God like I did the other day on the radio, it gives me a bit of a jolt.  We are a secular nation here in Australia and when I attended my second cousin's Scouts meeting the other day and the Akela prayed a prayer at the end, that sort of shocked me too.  Not because the prayer was boring and perfunctory but because a group of six year olds bowing their heads and talking to God barely happens in this country.  It just felt really weird!  And I turned and sort of smirked at my cousin who was standing in the corner and it might have looked as if I was turning to smirk and say, "Wow, what morons.  They're praying."  But it was more the delivery that made me smirk.  I am always sort of touched when people pray out loud.  It is a vulnerability.

But anyway.

I remember a few years ago my cousin telling me that if I stopped believing in God, then things must be really bad because I had such a strong belief that God was just there, and didn't seem to waver off that.  And I know what she means.  For ages I that a sense of that thing that threaded its way through everything like a perfume - the golden thread weaved through all living beings - well, that was God.  It just didn't really seem to make me waver at all because I felt it there, every day.  It strengthened when I meditated, when I did creative things, when I loved.

I still do feel that.  But the last two years - only sometimes.  I have wavered over the past two years in ways I haven't in the previous 16 years simply because it has felt like God has flipped the off switch.  Just ... not there.  That sense of the golden thread is like a golden memory in some ways to me.

And then it comes back, out of the blue, and the world all turns golden.  And then it's gone again.

Maybe it was never really there all the time like I thought.  Maybe it's still here just as much now as it was then, but I'm imagining a golden age.  Memory is bizarre and weird and deceitful and we imagine things were all sorts of ways in the past that they patently just weren't.  Hindsight and frozen history puts a glaze over things, makes them seem clearer than they were at the time.

You know, it's never really been an intellectual exercise for me about whether God is there.  I find reductions of God down into doctrine and dogma to be patently really fucking boring really quickly, and everything gets lost for me then.  All the things that feel like God to me are not reducible.  They just are.  To get caught up in what therefore you need to do or be or behave in order to show that you are following after that God in the particular camp of [insert your particular tribe here and tick box] seems weird and childish to me.  I just don't want to play.

So intellectual exercises about God have never really been the main point.  It's been the experience of God that I've been after.  If God exists, you must be able to feel him/her.  You must be able to interact in some way.  When I believe that God is everywhere, I begin to see God everywhere.  It is as if a fine layer of gold dust descends on everything, and it makes people more lovable somehow.  I notice much easier that spark inside of everybody that makes us all priceless.  This might sound like squibbly bullshit but it's how it has been for me.

And Jesus ... well, I don't know about Jesus any more.  And I'm not talking about the believe-in-the-resurrection-or-you'll-go-to-hell-forever kind of stuff.  That has always seemed like banal nonsense to me from the get-go, ever since I first picked up a bible and started reading it when I was 21 years old and felt something stirring in there somehow.  I still feel it whenever I read the words ascribed to him.  Whatever or whoever he was, he had a fine grasp of the absolute shining pinpoint of it all, the gist, the stuff that humans diligently must work on all the days they breathe so that life on earth is not hell.  I am still hit by the profundity of his words.  I still love him, or the thought of him, whatever he is.

I remember reading something Mother Theresa had written maybe a few years before here death where she said that she'd dried out like an old leaf at the end of autumn in terms of feeling God's presence.  She didn't even know if she believed in God anymore.  I understand that space.  I guess we all do.  Everyone who professes to believe in God must often have doubts or else perhaps what they have is really only intellectual assent to a particular view, rather than any faith at all.

In one sense I don't feel any more separated from God.  In one sense what it feels to me is that I have come from that called God, and one day I shall return to it.  That I am a part of that creation and there can not ultimately be any separation unless it is wished for on our side.  That if there is a hell it is a purging.  That if there is a devil it is in every single one of us and we all come under its fire and influence at certain times in our lives.  And if that devil, then that god too, in every single one of us.  I do think maybe I believe those things, and that maybe they are more than just archetypes (though as real in archetypal form as in literal, and work as such too).  But those are intellectual assents.  What I would like very much is to feel God close the way I did before.  But maybe I have gone from the person of great feeling faith to the person of very little.  Perhaps that is all I need in the end.  Faith the width of a thread.

How about you?  What do you think about God?  What have you experienced of Godde?  Has it changed over the years?  Are you surprised/amazed/loved/disillusioned by/with Godde?  I know there are people who read here who cover the spectrum when it comes to your beliefs.  If you feel comfortable sharing here, whatever your ilk, I would love to hear how it is all looking for you :)


  1. God's a word that has 7 billion meanings and rising, Sue. I find the fewer words I use on this subject the more truth arises, until silence speaks the most eloquently and faithfully. Some wise fella once said, start with 'I don't know' - why not start where you'll end up anyway? I find the nature of 'whatever you like to call it' to be infinite love - whatever that means:) - and that I, at the very centre, under all the imaginings and fears, am that. So is everyone, 'cos this is the closest concept we have to the essence of everything.

  2. dried out like an old leaf at the end of autumn in terms of feeling God's presence . . .
    Perhaps that is all I need in the end.  Faith the width of a thread.

    those are the words which stood out for me in this swooping diving discourse of yours

    perhaps with age comes wisdom, or an ability to live with less certainty
    unfortunately for me, age also brings an increasing intolerance of people who think the way they speak of or believe in God is the only truth

    sometimes i wish i could go back to being like them, so sure, so certain
    but then i think perhaps you nailed it when you spoke of faith the width of a thread
    after all, if someone is so sure and certain....how can that be faith?

  3. Kel, yes, it's such a hard one, isn't it, because people who are convinced that their particular worldview is right can be so bloody irritating, or downright destructive.  And yeah, I do wonder too about how much faith they really have.  It's easy to bleat the party line that you're wanting to be a part of because XYZ happens if you're not (generally hell) and not believe a word of it.  Or at least not be able to share your doubts about that because doubting is not allowed, not even for you to admit it to youself, lest that prove your waywardness.  Yuk, yuk, yuk, yuk.

    I do like your pondering that age brings an ability to live with less certainty.  I do think that is true.  And yet sometimes when it comes to this stuff I feel like I must be about ... oh, I dunno, eight, or nine, tops ;)

  4. Hello, Harry.  I like that - silence speaks the most eloquently.  I've found that too.  And I think that's where I feel that lack of presence I talked about above most keenly.  But then, I haven't been practising silence as much as I have done in the past.  It's a bit of a necessity these days, isn't it.

    I love what you say here.  

  5. Well, Sue, you are, in your very essence, Presence and Silence. You don't have to 'practise' being what you are, but simply let the dominance of the other stuff fall away. Pay no attention to it, but just let it happen, which it will anyway. And don't ask me to explain that - I think you know what I'm talking about anyway:)

  6. Thinking on this...I'll be back. 

  7. This is very thought-provoking. I'm taking a class in Constructive Theology at a liberal (very important) theological college right now and it's VERY helpful because I've been on a journey too and thought the end would be no belief but it's turning me back actually, just in a truer way. I'll have to think about this some more.

    And I think squibbly bullshit is the only kind worth a damn.

  8. Cool.  Take your time.  It will still be here when you get back :)

  9. Okay, that sounds like something I want to hear more about.  The journey that you thought would end in no belief.  Sometimes I think that if you're travelling on it in truth and integrity you'll bump up against that potential on the side road.  But yes, am always interested in hearing about turning back in truer ways.  Like I said to Erin, take your time, but I *would* like to hear how you're seeing it :)

  10. OK, here it is...I think most of Christianity motivates a dualistic mentality that is unproductive when it comes to "spirituality", however one defines that.  What I mean is that I never felt a whole person while a believer...I always felt I had two selves that were usually in conflict with each other. I know some postmodern factions of Christianity try to do away with this duality, but I never met a theory that worked. A pantheist spiritual perspective works much better for me because it inspires and perpetuates a unity of being that makes sense to me. I don't believe in the classical concept of "God" but rather the idea that everything that exists is, as a whole, that thing that is often known as "God". 

  11. Now, that's a sad indictment, that you were made to feel not a whole person.  I wonder how many other people would say the same?  Probably most, I would suspect.  

    I'm glad you have left that space behind and are now in a space that makes sense to you - awesomeness :) 

  12. I don't know that I was "made" to feel that way by any outside entity, it's more that I never could integrate the physical/intellectual of me with the spiritual of me in the way the church indicated was appropriate. 

    Or, the Christian view is that God is something external that I must interact with as a separate entity, versus the "everything" being "everything" together, of which I am a part. Does that make sense?

  13. Yep, that all definitely makes sense.  I guess I meant that you were "made" to feel that way because of their imposition and interpretation of "this is how it is".

    I dunno - to me, your view is MUCH closer to what the Bible refers to as "God" is than theirs.   How Christianity has arrived at the positions it has when the words of Jesus are its foundation are just patently beyond me :)

  14. Yes, in that sense I was "made" to feel that way. 

    I know where I'm at works for me, but it doesn't work for a lot of people....that's the rub. Some people feel so offended that I no longer believe in their version of god. However, I'm in the right place for me. 

  15. Ah, fuck 'em.

    Okay, alright then - that approach is really not gonna work, is it?  ;)

    But it just makes me mad, all of this damn offence.  Other people's offence at where you're at offends me.  

  16. Hi Sue- I like that you lay a welcome mat out for any and all to comment. I have a traditional so to speak view of God but with nuamces :)  I think  He is so beyond comprehension in so many ways, yet He seeks for us to comprehend and relate to Him as  one of us, even though He created us and is invisble,inaudible,immaterial. I am comfrtable intellectually with God, entire Different story emotionally.  I don't grasp why and how it can be that be He IS love, yet so much  pain and suffering  happens, in various degrees, even when  those experiencing it cry out and beg for Him to let His love be felt. I like your comments at ET and on Sams blog. I actually met Erin  once   Hey pink haired lady!!!  haa  Great blog Sue :)

  17. Hi Robert.  Thanks for dropping in.  I like how you point out that you feel comfortable intellectually with God but not emotionally.  Interesting how we always have those different levels going on, isn't it.  It's always the "why does pain and suffering happen" question or a variation thereof that fuels our anger, methinks :)

    PS:  I'm not sure who Sam's blog IS, exactly.  Are you maybe mixing me up with someone else?  :)

  18. Hi Sue- yes  methinks youthinks  spot on!!!!   lol   I think the notion of God being love yet so much pain and suffering  messes with our finite minds. Plus we just don't like to be uncomfortable :)

     I found you from Sams blkog actually so I didnt confue you with anyone else. Maybe he will come by here to show you  :)

  19. Sue ... I just do not know where I am at on the idea of Godde or Jesus. I know that I am not a Christian by any means of definition any longer. I can't believe in God(de) personified ... speaking of God(de) as a person that I can relate to. I often talk about the universe or the energy of Godde ... I just don't have the vocabulary to define what I believe.

    I believe that Jesus was connected to this spiritual energy so closely and radiated love and acceptance and shook up the status quo. But I don't believe in the virgin birth or in the deity of Jesus Christ or in the death and resurrection. I don't believe in a traditional definition of sin and salvation.  I don't believe in hell at all and question everything I thought I believed about afterlife.

    It hurts when I read things I wrote in years past. When I witness my unshakable faith which is now shaken to the point of fracture. I was so sure then. How can I be so NOT sure now. What can I be sure of? Anything? Nothing?

    This time last year I was taking an online course with Jonathan Brink ... Discovering the God Imagination. He kept encouraging me that this wasn't a slippery slope ... or maybe it was but I would find solid ground at the end. He was wrong. It is. Everything that anyone ever predicted has come true. I questioned ... and now I don't believe. I prodded the creeds and now they are gone. I remember thinking if I take one more step, I will lose my faith forever. I remember walking away from that precipice. I did NOT want to lose my faith.

    But I found myself there again ... and I took the step ... and I have lost my faith.

    So what will this year bring? I don't know.

    Somehow, I had lost touch with you. I am adding you to my google reader so that doesn't happen again. I like reading your words and witnessing your process. I consider you a close, but distant, friend.

    Much Love.

  20. changing how I post ...

  21. changing how I post ...

  22. Hey there, Cynthia,

    I can really relate to where you're at.  Especially reading about things you wrote in years past.  I am SO tempted to go and delete things from this blog but I don't want to do that either.  Everything should belong, messy and as uncomfortable as it all feels.

    I am really tracking with you as well about Jesus being connected to that ... something.  That spiritual energy.  Is that God?  Is it something else?  I'm not sure either.  I do miss though the old comforting space where I knew I didn't understand what God was but I still knew that God was there.  I do still feel like this sometimes but I really just don't know.  It all feels very sad, doesn't it.

    Good to catch up with you again!  

  23. Cynthia - hello, 10 months into the future :) I just saw you commenting on Tina's post on FB earlier. How are you going these days in terms of what you have written above? I feel like I am still in the same space, struggling with any version of faith, feeling lonely for that closeness I once felt, and it still has me a little bewildered. Have you found any sort of solid ground, or does it all still feel strange ... this awful slipping away from the space where once you were so certain?

    I have that same strange feeling rereading this post. I was just thinking before about how long it's been now that I haven't been able to feel God ... and is God even there at all. I just don't know anymore. I used to be so certain.


Newer Older