Monday, January 16, 2012

In Whose God Do We Trust?

I’m at the age where I really need to so some serious afterlife planning. Every morning, when I hear the sound of my aching joints reluctantly snapping into place as I climb out of bed, I am reminded of my own mortality and the fact that I haven’t yet made a decision as to which God I should invest my spiritual wealth. I don’t want to make the same bad God-choices that I made with my 401k, because eternity is a really long time and I want my salvation to last. But with so many versions of God out there, it’s hard to know which one is going to get me the best eternal return on my devotional investments. After all, I don’t want to end up spiritually bankrupt.

These days though, it seems you can’t pick up a virtual newspaper without seeing a story about God. Whether it’s the ongoing praise or mockery of Tim Tebow’s heartfelt beliefs, the call for a new jihad by some wild-eyed Middle Eastern maniac religious leader or the implication by a similarly wild-eyed maniac home-grown minister that God is punishing America for its sins, God appears to be very active and very angry. It’s all very confusing to my simple mind since it seems that by following one group’s vision of Him, you automatically piss off about fifty others. All of them claim to have God’s private number on their speed dial, and also to know His most intimate thoughts and desires via His Holy Facebook pages.  

I kind of feel bad for God, actually. It used to be that everyone sort of half-assed worshipped Him on whatever specified day of the week was required by their particular religion. Usually it was a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, and we begrudgingly trudged to whatever our designated building was to pray for our heathen brethren’s salvation, sing a few songs, all while secretly resenting having our weekend screwed up. God was up there (we assumed), smiling and happy with all of us, even though He knew we were sinners and we didn’t really want to be there in one of His many houses. Think of your childhood Christmas mornings, and recall your parents forcing you to go to your grandparents’ house when all you really wanted to do was stay home and play with your new toys. It was kind of like that.

Back then, even if you felt that every other person’s religion was kind of weird, you kept it to yourself since this was America and we had the freedom to worship as we pleased. These days though, everyone seems to want God to take sides. Everyone wants Him to not only choose whose religion is the best and most popular, they also want Him to punish (in the most horrible way) those who follow a different spiritual path or worse, those who opt-out altogether. It’s as if we’re back in high school where God is the most popular kid in class and everyone wants to claim Him as his or her best friend. If you’re in the clique, you’re cool. But if you fall into the geeky nerd category, count on getting beat up several times a week. I know the monthly financial nut for keeping a church going is huge; but really, some of you are putting way too much pressure on Him.

None of this religious version of Fight Club ever really bothered me much. In fact it was kind of fun to watch grown human beings (mostly men, by the way), engage in the weekly version of My God Can Beat up Your God.  But my attention is grabbed when it comes to how MY country is run. And in the coming Presidential campaign, it is an issue that clearly needs to be addressed. So for that, let me bring in my old friend, The Constitution of the United States of America to clarify a few points. Connie, are you there?

“Yes Julia, I am!”

How are you these days?

“As well as can be expected for a woman of my age. I’m feeling a little neglected and ignored lately though.  When you’ve been around as long as I have, some people just sort of take me for granted and put words in my mouth, you know?”

Yes, it is sad how we treat the elderly in this country. After all, you have so much to offer in terms of life experiences and wisdom. Well, I for one am glad you’re still alive and kicking, as are most of the readers here are, I’m sure. I was wondering if you could clear up a few things for us today. See, we’re about to elect a President and Congress people in the fall, as you may know. And many of the Republican candidates seem to think that they have the right to impose their personal religious views on us. They want to legislate their religious beliefs into law so that their vision of America prevails; leaving the rest of us to either toe the line or incur their wrath. Can you clear that up for us?

“Oh my! Really, Julia? Oh, that IS a serious problem. Of course I’d be happy to straighten them out.”

Thank you Connie. What’cha got for us?

“Well dear, it’s all laid out in my First Amendment. You remember that one, don’t you?”

Yes ma’am, I sure do. It’s one of my favorites!

“As it should be, sweetie... But it sounds as though your Republican friends need to be reminded again, so here it is.”

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. 

So are you saying that even though we are all different and that we may not always agree on things like God, we have a right to our beliefs?

“Yes, of course! Anything less than these rights would result in tyranny and oppression and we’ve had just about enough of that, haven’t we? Tell me, why are you asking me these things? Is the country alright?”

Gee, I never could fool you could I, Connie? No, I’m a little worried about the future of America, to be honest. There is growing movement of intolerance in this country for people who are different than those in power. Lots of folks are seeing changes here that I’m sure weren’t anticipated by the framers of America and they respond to their ignorance with hatred. Frankly Connie, it worries me. I’ve never seen anything like it in my lifetime. For instance, we have a black President now, did you know that? 

“Wow! That’s great! What’s the problem?

Well, there are some, who while they don’t say overtly, don’t like the idea of a black man, a woman, a Jew, a Catholic, or a Mormon, really, anyone who isn’t like them rising to the highest office in the land. In fact, when President Obama first came to office, they waged an all-out campaign to prove that he was a secret Muslim. It seems like those folks are not judging people by the content of their character, you know?

“Well what would it have mattered if he were a Muslim, Julia? As long as he is a good person, didn’t betray his country and works for the good of all the people, what does it matter? Oh this is so silly! It’s all spelled out in Article 6. Here, show this to them.”

No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States

“Anything else, Julia?”

 No Ma’am. You’ve cleared up a lot of things. Thank you for being you!

“Aww, you’re welcome hon. And just for the record, your issues are nothing new. Why, way before I was even born this kind of crazy nonsense was going on.”


“Sure! Why way back in 1635, a young minister named Roger Williams was banished from the Massachussetts Colony after he told the Church leaders there that he thought the Church of England was corrupt and false. He also told them that the King had no right to take land from the Indians without paying them. And... He believed that freedom was a gift from God, and that everyone had the natural right to religious freedom. Oh, and he was also a strong proponent that church and state be separated. By jingo, he was a rabble rouser, that Roger!”

Connie, I never knew that. What happened to him after he was banished from Boston?

“Roger? Oh, he left there and founded Rhode Island. Hot stuff huh?

Amazing! Listen, I know you have to get going, but any words for us before you do?

“Just a couple of things Jules, before I do. All these crazies out there who want to re-write me will long be gone soon enough, but I’ll still be around. The thing is, you have to visit me once in a while and remind people that I’m still alive. As for the overly zealous religious people encroaching on your rights, just remind them of what my friend President Jimmy Madison meant when he said, “Religion itself may become a motive to persecution and oppression.” Don’t let the bastards beat you and the good people of this country, Julia. America was founded on freedom and it’s going to stay that way just as long as you remember Tommy Jefferson’s warning that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. And just remember, if you need me, I’m always here, okay? Peace out America! I love you all!

We love you too Connie! Take care of yourself!

Well there it is. You don’t do much better than the Constitution of the United States of America. The old girl knows her stuff alright and I can’t top that. So I guess I’ll just start to wrap it up now.

It is becoming very apparent that the days of the white, male Protestant’s domination of this country are just about over. You all have had a long run, for a very long time. You haven’t always made the best decisions, but thank goodness, the founders laid down some great stuff at the beginning of it all to keep you all in check. America is changing,  and if you all don’t get wise to that fact, you are going to have some extremely pissed off people on your hands.

 If the Great Experiment that is America is to work, we have to go back to our core beliefs. Just because the founding fathers never counted on the actual success of America in both elevating and incorporating such diversity into the population, doesn’t mean that those truths which they held self-evident; that all men and women are created equal are still not true. We are all one nation under a unifying spirit. It’s not your God, or my God, it’s us. We, who hold the spirit of whomever or whatever blessed us to live here, have the ability and the power to move ourselves forward and upward.   
As for what God wants, if I were Him, I’d book myself on Meet the Press next Sunday and just lay it all out there and clear it up, once and for all. Why He doesn’t is a mystery to me, but as we all know God works in mysterious ways. No matter though; I love a good mystery and can’t wait to find out how this one works out.

That’s it. I’m done bitching. Everybody hug, everybody eat! Abbondanza!


1 comment:

  1. Great post. Too many Americans seem to have forotten Roger Williams--even presidential candidates.