Living With the Question
Dear old and new friends,
In Through the Looking Glass the Red Queen says to Alice, “Why, sometimes I’ve believed in six impossible things before breakfast!” Since morning prayers typically are said before breakfast, are they a belief in six or more impossible things? The countless many that don’t begin their day with prayer or pray at any time would say, “Since I can’t believe in the impossible, I don’t pray!”
Today religion seems to be on its deathbed. Is this because of doubts about the existence of God? A living belief or disbelief in God’s existence seems to be conditioned on the situation, such as in a television report of an approaching mile-wide massive tornado where one hears an unseen person cry out, “Oh, my God, help us!” If those coming out of church on a Sunday morning were questioned whether they believed in God, rare would be anyone saying, “No.” Yet saying that you believe in God is no simple statement but one that has ramifications, some being unpleasant.
People in every religion, Christian or non-Christian, will say they are believers usually because that answer doesn’t cost them anything. A more significant religious question to ask is, “What do you believe about God, and how does that belief shape your daily life?” Since the majority of us never ask ourselves these questions, be prepared to wait for them to dredge up an answer from deep inside. Some may say, “God is like the air, he/she is everywhere” or “God is Love” or “God is almighty,” and other ambiguous statements. A holy man I met while traveling across India had I believe the best name and definition of God. He always referred to God as “the Divine Mystery.” The Mysterious defies being pinned down, is elusive, unable to be grasped as is the mist and fog…and I would add God.
There is a story about the famous Rabbi mystic Baal Shem Tov who had a vision in which he was told that there was someone as holy and great as he living in a distant place. Rabbi Baal Shem Tov went there and found that this man was a simple peasant shepherd. The Rabbi asked him if he believed in God, and the shepherd said, “I heard those who believe have to worship God, but I don’t know how!” As the Rabbi began to explain how, the shepherd interrupted him. “But this is how I worship Him,” and he began wildly dancing, hopping here and there. When he stopped and had rested the shepherd said, “I heard those who believe in God must give to charity,” and with that he threw a handful of coins in the air. Then he said, “I’ve also heard that those who truly believe in God must give themselves completely to God.” So he sat down and he died.
If you have a question about the existence of God, don’t ask a theologian. Rather ask an uneducated migrant worker or a small child, or learn to live peacefully with that sacred question.