Walking, talking with God, one day, I heard, “Let’s get serious.” It was a big voice. But was it God, or was I talking to myself?
A Day in the Life
I’ve heard God held responsible for all sorts of things.
Some of the worst, acts some claim God instructed people to do, are hard even to think about. Like slaughtering whole populations of nonbelievers. Just because
God makes people rich, they say, but who makes them poor or born into poverty?
Hungry children around the world want to know.
The most irritating claim is that in disasters — floods, plane crashes, war –– God blesses some, sparing them from the severest harm.
Where’s the God in this?
If so, she must have decided not to spare others, including infants, dogs and cats.
How does God decide who’s to live and who’s to die? Are the survivors more righteous and the victims undeserving?
It’s a disgusting suggestion, but it keeps popping up in news reports, year after year, as if it’s perfectly logical and inoffensive.
As we know, if He’s really in charge, God decided to make a few really decent people rich. Bill Gates, for example.
But He also dug some miserable holes in the ground, like Rush Limbaugh, rich too, while leaving kind and generous souls, abused women, for instance, and the disabled unable to work or even walk down a street, in financial misery.
Where’s the God in that?
And so, I asked God…
Walking, talking with God…
Her answer: “Let’s get serious.”
I was not heartened.
“Why does anyone think I dictate lives or what happens to people?” She asked. Rhetorically, I think. “It makes a joke of individual responsibility and invents something magical.”
“It takes dumb luck an act of divine providence,” He said. “Roll the dice, and it comes up sevens. Must be God’s work, you think.”
“But the other choice,” I interrupted, “is that dumb luck rules the universe and everything in it.”
“No, it doesn’t, grasshopper,” She shot back. “Not exactly.”
“Not anymore. It’s decades out of date, even if you like classic television.”
“How could God be out of date?” He mused. “Is that possible?”
“There have been arguments to that effect, even that you’re dead as three days old toast.”
“As you can see…” She gestured, turning her gaze downward. “Still kicking and ticking.”
If there’s a God…
“Right,” I agreed, “not so dead-looking. Or sounding. What I was thinking of was something Robert De Niro said. Paraphrasing here, ‘If there’s a God, He’s got a lot of explaining to do.’”
“Like war, poverty, disease…?” God wondered. “Didn’t De Niro make a lot of money selling violence? Isn’t he one of those anti-vacs?”
She waited a moment for me to sort that out.
“Can I ask you a question?”
“God is going to ask me a question?”
“Sort of,” I admitted.
“Don’t be,” She teased. “It’s for context, you know, for your readers.”
“If I give you tools and materials and you use them to make a machine gun that cuts down helpless civilians instead of supercomputers, am I responsible?”
It’s my fault when you get fat?
“It would seem,” I answered tentatively. “I mean, you must also have created the motivation, the selfishness or cruelty or whatever.”
“So, then, if I’ve got it right,” God said, scratching His chin, “when I give you a planet full of food choices, all kinds of eats, if you go all out in one direction, it’s my fault when you get fat? Does it work that way too”
“Same thing, though. You didn’t create just food or nutrition, you also created whatever it is that lets somebody become a fat slob.”
“Well, I created choice, that’s true. But what would be the point of living a life if choices didn’t matter? Or worse, what if there were no choices?” He asked.
Rhetorically, as it turned out for sure, this time.
“You, anyone, can make what they want out of that they have,” She said. “That’s most of what life is, at least the parts you have any power over. You make choices. You generate results.”
Like creating your own reality…
“I was really hoping not to hear any of that ‘You create your own reality” stuff… I’m a recovered New Age airhead.”
“You know who came up with that…?” God asked. “When babies are still sorting out real from unreal, wishes from hopes, the kind of universe they want to have — that’s the root of all that, but you’re supposed to grow out of it.”
“Maybe it’s like first love. You know it’s gone, but you just can’t let it go. Some people screw up every future relationship, disappointed that nothing ever lives up to what they dreamed.”
“Nothing stops people from hanging on to bad ideas,” She said. “There’s a lot of freedom out there.”
“Like creating your own reality…?”
“That one’s not all bad. You create a lot of it, just by your attitude and point of view, but of course, you’ve never walked into an empty room. And no matter what you decide, winds are blowing in every direction.”
“As God, I’m responsible for everything.”
“I’ve always thought the world was already full when I got here. When you’re a kid, you get to learn about all kinds of things, pain and fun and passion. They were all here already. Who would you want to create their own world out of nothing?”
“Well, it’s all about wanting to control everything,” He said. “That’s what’s behind those beliefs. It’s no wonder people prefer certainty to fear, but it can’t work for long. Anyway, we’re getting off the track here. We were talking about responsibility, weren’t we?”
“We were, a little while back, but we rambled.”
It happens when you’re walking and talking with God.
“Alas, another choice… Let me make it easy. As God, I’m responsible for everything.”
“Sure. There is no un-God, is there? What would that be? It’s all my responsibility.” She spread Her arms wide. “It’s all me!”
“I’m not sure I get that,” I stumbled.
Walking, talking with God: Of course it’s unfair…
“Look at it this way,” She said, “if you can only do what you call right, your life is meaningless. Anyone is just as capable of the worst things as he or she is of the best. The gift of choice is about awareness. A tree doesn’t know if it falls over onto your car or if it offers perfect shade all summer. A tree just is. When people evolved into awareness, they gave up freedom for responsibility. You know, and then, you do. And you will never be as free as a bird again. You know too much”
“How did that happen?”
“It was gift you wanted because it makes you feel secure when you think you know, but hey, who cares if you don’t really know as long as you feel safe in your bed at night? After all, you turned on your alarm and took your sleeping pill.”
“I don’t do either,” I protested.
“You can kill all you want.”
“That was rhetorical,” She interrupted, but the truth is still the same. Much about your life, the circumstances you’re born into, the world that engulfs you, is what it is, no matter what you wish it to be.”
“And children born into war and poverty…?”
“You don’t have to always take the most dramatic example, but somebody or, really, some group of somebodies built the ghetto and the war zone. Somebody also had sex that resulted in a child, knowing what they were doing and where they were. The child? The child has no choice until he or she is aware enough to make one.”
“Seems unfair,” I protested.
“Of course, it’s unfair,” He agreed. “So, why do you keep doing it? Oops, no not you. You didn’t personally, but you could have. It’s a funny thing, isn’t it? People screw other people into poverty and pain, and the victims make babies to share it all with. Why not?
“They can blame the God. And they’re right, you know. Their freedom came from the laws the God set out. It isn’t like, ‘Thou shalt not kill.’ You can kill all you want. But laws like the one about the effects of massive objects, what you call gravity, and the laws of thermodynamics.
“Evolution is just one big ramble through the laws and making it up as you go along, you and the birds and insects and bacteria and lions, mixing and matching according to laws. Look, God made the laws, but We left up to you to decide what you do with them.”
Then, the Voice went silent. God was still present, but not walking or talking.
It was enough walking and talking with God for one day.
David Stone is a New York City based writer. His most recent books are 21 Poems and Lucky To Have Her, a novel.
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