As I reviewed the various entries I’ve posted here, I see that, through this blog as well as the feedback of some of my readers, I have been defining more and more the God of my understanding.
This powerful notion is derived from 12-Step thinking. The founders of AA noted that on the one hand the solution to addiction needed to be spiritual but that on the other hand many addicts had negative impressions of and experiences with organized religion. Thus, the spiritual solution posited by AA could not be limited to the Christian God or the Jewish God or the Muslim God or any other God. There needed to be room for the addict to find his/her own definition of God.
Some define that God in accord with a God of a particular religion. Others may define that Higher Power in terms of their own recovery group. One man even defined his Higher Power as having something to do with the theories of Stephen Hawking.
At this point, then, here are some of the aspects I’ve come to see about the God of my own understanding:
- I need a God with whom I can fight. I have heard too many stories of senseless suffering to be able to have a powerful God before whom I am submissive.
- I need a God I can find outside of churches. Some of my most powerful spiritual experiences have occurred in nature and in the presence of great art.
- I need a God who is still creating. The God of my understanding did not stop creating after seven days. He/She invites me to participate in that creation. He/She also invites me to facilitate and encourage creative energy in others.
- I need a God that does not condemn people to hell. As C.S. Lewis has written, even after we die, forgiveness is available to us. On the other hand, even after we die, we may still need to come to terms with the impact of the pain we caused. We sometimes have to wander a bit.
- I need a God I can find in other people. I tend to be antisocial and not to like people very much. The possibility that God is present in each and every one of us challenges those tendencies.
- I need a God who is not confined by any religion. Yes, I still call myself Catholic but the God of my understanding can also be found in temples, mosques, sweat lodges, and the gathering places of other faiths
- Finally, I need a God who celebrates sensation. I have heard too much over the years of spirit as better than body. Our senses may very well be a doorway to God, not an impediment.
Reflection: Take some time to explore how you define God at this point in your life
For me, the word “God” is entirely too small and too limiting to describe my definition of the divine. I love the description given by Mirabai Starr in her book “God of Love.”: z’The One shows up in Native lodges and Hindu temples, in the deep quiet of Zen meditation halls and in the ecstatic whirling of dervishes. The One whispers through the words of poets, through the curving lines of painters, sculptors, and woodcarvers; through symphony and hip-hop, Gregorian chant, hymns in praise of Mother Mary, devotional songs to Lord Shiva; through tobacco and cornmeal offered at dawn to the Great Spirit. The one makes an appearance in the heart of the self-described atheist, who gasps in wonder at the beauty of an unexpected snow that fell during the night, carpeting the garden with jewels of frozen light…The One transcends all form, all description, all theory, categorically refusing to be defined or confined by our human impulse to unlock the Mystery.”
So, am ready to hook up with this god place ….. I feel like you just defined a place that has all the potential of what a community of the cosmos faith energy spirit space could be. Lots of good things to think and feel in this post. Thanks
I too have come to believe that forgiveness is possible after death, and so is spiritual growth and friendship and love, all of the good things that we have here, but in a different form. Unfortunately I think that the bad things like anger and hatred exist on the other side too. In any case, I am with you, Dr. Patterson, I need a supreme being with whom I can argue. That should not surprise you. The difference is that my Higher Power seems to win all of the arguments. It is sort of like when my cats and my kid argue with me. I win. But my “winning” is always to their advantage.