Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Jimbo the Swamp God Teaches Faith

An old George Carlin joke asks: If god is so all-powerful, can god create a rock so heavy that god cannot lift it? This question, Carlin said, was used by his fellow Catholic school classmates in order to stump priests about the omnipotence of that god. Because, of course, if god is all-powerful, surely there’s nothing he cannot do, and the cycle of hilarity that comes with watching priests squirm continues.

Nobody has the same relationship with deity. Some of us see god(dess) as a conglomeration of energy. Some see That as a creator/creatrix deity that loves each and every one of us like a parent while maintaining balance, who knows everything and can do anything. Still others see That as something more than the first but lesser than the last.

We’re also a little confused as to how our relationship should be expressed. Are we subservient to the Divine? Are we working with the Divine? Do we, perhaps, exist above the divine, creating It just as much as it creates us? Do we take Him/Her out for coffee? Can They see us naked? So many questions, so few deities…until now.

With the speed at which we’re hurtling into the future, constantly evolving in thought and belief, it has become a white hot topic of debate as to where God(dess) comes from. No, this is not a new concept. It’s actually one of the oldest questions about the divine. I remember as a small child attempting to understand the eternal nature of God after my mother and Sunday school teacher attempted to explain to me how God had just always been.

8 year olds have a really easy answer for this: Nuh-uh! One can understand immortality; that’s just not dying. You see it in the movies. You read about it in books, but one cannot see or express something that has always been. The eternal eternity. However, what if you throw this idea out of the window? Or, maybe not throw the idea out completely, but what if you make an addendum to that? A God can either be an eternal deity, or it can be a completely new creation of human thought.

This, it seems, is the argument that many have when explaining the concept of personal deity. If I believe that Jimbo the Swamp God is real, and you believe he's real, and we can get 10,000 other people to believe that he's real, then he’ll become real, because we’ve believed him to be so. We have simultaneously decided both that God(dess) created man and that man creates God(dess).

It is this kind of ‘mind over reality’ thinking that fosters ideas like the law of attraction. Man creates his own reality. Thoughts become things. Blah blah blah… The more belief we give something, the more it becomes real. I’d like to, as objectively as possible, look at some of the problems with this kind of thinking.

Numbers. It seems that the running theory is that if enough people believe in a being, that it will manifest itself into reality on the astral plane, thereby becoming either an astral entity or a deity. But, how many people does it take before the character in my made-up bedtime story told to my children can become an actual, powerful divine force? If I tell the story, I’m giving credence and origin to the being, but add the belief of, say, two children to that. Does the belief of 3 people equal a deity? Or, does it have to be the millions of followers of Harry Potter? Is there a number somewhere in between? Perhaps the kind of belief is essential. Does innocent, blind faith make more deities than skeptical, academic faith? For this to be a law of the universe, there has to be a case in which it works every time. Unfortunately, we cannot test for the validity of the god-creation, so we cannot know.

God-only. Manifestation of spiritual entities – like astral beings or deities – only works in those particular instances. I cannot, for instance, believe in an apple so much that one manifests on my desk. Nor can I believe myself out of gravity. Belief becoming reality thinking only works on something that cannot quantitatively or qualitatively be proven to exist. This kind of thinking presents a conundrum for humanity: we can neither defend it nor go against it. You cannot say that God is not real because of a lack of proof, because the very definition of God is beyond proof. Likewise, you cannot scientifically or categorically defend your belief, because you must admit that it is simply believing in something for the sake of the belief. Depending on your view of this, it’s either a win/win situation or a lose/lose one.

Properties. This is the issue that sort of gets at the very heart of the problem of man creating God(dess). If you view God(dess) as all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving, all-creating, all-sustaining, etc. then man cannot believe God into existence. If God(dess) is even one of those things, then man cannot have created him/her/it. Just like a woman cannot procreate with her husband to create a horse, man cannot give birth to something that is greater than man. Sure, we can take bits and pieces of materials and create guns or bombs or whatever, and one could say those are greater in power than man, but they cannot in and of themselves create a universe, know all that ever was and will be, or sustain the life of every being in existence.

Herein, though, lies the great fallacy. I am not a philosopher, and I honestly confuse myself when I try and think about the really deep questions of life. I deal with reality on a daily basis. My job title forces me to look at death and decay and social issues that nobody wants to deal with. I do not have the luxury of flights of fancy, because they do not actually fix problems.

So, I can talk about how man cannot create a God/Goddess/Divine being all day long, but there’s something about this that feels false.

I cannot describe myself as a glass half empty kind of person, nor do I feel it is half full. The glass has water in it. That’s the reality. Does it matter how empty or full it is? No, because there’s just enough in the glass for me to drink it. Does it matter how many people it takes to make a God real? Well, personally, that depends on my relationship with deity. And it must be remembered that all the arguments I can come up with to tell others why they can’t deify Harry Potter must eventually turn back to me. Why is my view of the divine any more or less correct than any other? It’s not.

My partner told me that his view of God is shifting, or, perhaps, evolving. He said that he feels that faith, in and of itself, is the real power. And this hits me at a very guttural, instinctual level. He said that we can call God whatever we want, because at the end of the day a belief in the divine is what gives hope to millions around the world. Faith is power. Now, I do not believe that faith is going to manifest something that is not already there. We can believe all we want in Jimbo the Swamp God, but that doesn’t mean that he exists. However, if your faith in Jimbo the Swamp God helps you get through the day, and if you believe that his great swampy-ness is what makes the breeze blow, and that’s what you need, then go for it.

After all, this world needs a lesson in hope. These are tough times for everyone, and if you can find any reason to keep on moving when life wants to stop you, I don’t care what you call it. Faith rocks.

All Gods are one God, and all Goddesses are one Goddess. She creates; he gives order. Names are inconsequential to this harmony.

Now, the line must be drawn in saying that if enough people believe in something, that it actually becomes real on some plane of existence. We do not create that which is greater than we are. The Divine does not need the perception of man to exist. We are the creation, and there is nothing wrong with that. Enjoy your place in the cosmic wheel. Find your faith, and – as the Big O would say – live your best life.

2 comments:

  1. I enjoy reading your posts. They make me think, and at my age that is a wonderful thing.
    Thanks
    Eileen

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  2. I would say that it isn't the Divine that changes. Only our perception of It does. It/They have always been there. Probably why one person's faith/belief in Jimbo the Swamp God will work for that one person, but not another.

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