Monday, August 10, 2009
Before I go off on my next idea, here's a bit of housekeeping, a defining of terms. I want to be able to use the word "God," but of course, when I use that word it may mean something entirely different to me than what it means to you, leading to some confusion. It certainly means something different to me now than it did when I blithely told a young Jewish man I met at an icebreaker in college how happy I was that God was my best friend. (Yes, I really did do that and it gives me shudders down to my toes to think about it now).
I didn’t use the word “God” at all for a long time—I avoided it even in my head when I was just thinking. What the heck does it mean? I’ve said this before, but is “God” some kind of sentient, all-knowing, all-seeing Being in the Sky? Is it a cluster of ideas shared by a community that takes on a life of its own in the collective mind of the group? Is it something individual to each one of us? Is God, as the new age folks used to tell me, within me? And what the heck would that mean? Is God a Higher Self, a Divine Source, a Deity Within? I don’t know. I really, really don’t know. Further, I don't think it's possible to know. But I sort of tentatively decided about a year ago that I had been at this long enough that I could go back to using the word God to describe a certain force in my life for which I have no other name. I don’t really understand what that force is, (ouch, I just remembered Star Wars and The Force and that’s not what I mean here, but how else am I going to say it?) but it is convenient to have a name for it whatever it is, and God works as well as anything else and also conveniently fits into a number of other ideas. It also enables me to have conversations with other believers without endlessly saying “I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know.” Although in that instance, it may unfortunately give them the idea that I agree with them about the nature of God when in fact I probably don’t. How could I, since I don’t really know what God is?
The point that I’m so convolutedly trying to make here is that when I use the word “God,” what I really mean is “What-I-think-of-as-God.” But it would be entirely tiresome to type that out every time I want to refer to “What-I-think-of-as-God.” I did briefly consider using a cutesy acronym (WITOAG) but thankfully I gave that up quickly. So, that’s all I'm saying. Just don’t take the word “God” too literally-- here, or anywhere else, come to think of it. And I'm still capitalizing it. I considered not doing that, but it just didn't seem right.