March 8th, 2009: Life's Big Questions: Why Is Talking About God So Dang Awkward?
A few weeks ago I had a lovely couple in my store, a little quiet, who, upon paying for their items, handed me a business card sized slip of paper offering me a free bible, a supposedly hip version of the new testament which would surely win me over to the side of God.
All I could wonder was- Do I really look that godless?
The thing is, I have no problem talking about God in my personal relationships, mostly because I like to push the boundaries of what people consider 'normal' and 'appropriate' topics of conversation, and partially because I can't help but think that if you can't talk about the really important things with the people who you're supposedly close to, then how close are you, really? But when someone that I hardly know, or someone whom I have never met brings up God, the conversation is sure to take an awkward turn.
On a very personal level, I find it offensive. In a lot of ways, I percieve a deep judgement in the act. Obviously I must be unholy, unfit, unclean. I must be saved, brought back to a path of righteousness, I must be shown the One True Way, because, at the end of the day, I'm not smart enough to figure it out on my own.
I understand that in a few religious sects there is a Mission to Save, there is a duty to talk to people about faith, to share your God. I get it, but I don't respect it.
I believe in God. Or, at least, in some conception of A God, or Many Gods, or simply something bigger and more powerful than our individual human lives. Call it Evolution or Karma or simply Connection, call it by a name, or by many. However you choose to identify your God(s), though, I think we're all approaching something that can't really be communicated.
God, or whatever part of it we do or don't believe in, is a deeply personal relationship. No one can tell you how that connection feels, no one can fully understand your relationship with it. It is something that is deeply and entirely our own, and so I think when we try to vocalize or dictate our perception of God it comes off as something Finite, as something True, not because it is true for everyone, but because it is True for Us, as individuals. God is a truth that we can only know on an individual level, and when it comes down to it, it transcends language.
So, when strangers bring up The God Question, I can't really connect with them. They can let me know what they think their God is saying, what they feel the message is. But when it comes down to it, if it doesn't feel authentic to me, then it fails to be real to me.
It's awkward because, at the end of the day, we all conceptualize of God individually, independent of other people. We may go to the same place of worship, or believe in the same lack of worship, but as different people with different personalities and perspectives, we interact with God on fundamentally different levels. My version of God isn't the same as yours, and so your version seems entirely foreign to me. And being told that your version is somehow superior to mine, that God's interaction with you is more Correct than it's interaction with me, just seems to be a demeaning, condescending way of saying- I'm right, you're wrong; I'm big, you're little; I'm smart, you're dumb, and there'snothing you can do about it.