Brie preface: Look, I'll admit this will sound kooky, but I don't care. Sometimes, I feel like my conscience speaks to me. Wisdom comes from the places I least expect and I can find myself in conversation...with myself, helping...myself, overcoming the issues I'm dealing with. I interpret this as God. I'm not one who relies on him to tell me how to tie my shoes or when to wake up in the morning, I'm a firm believer in free will, in personal responsibility for choice, but the God I have a relationship with is, I'm certain, very different from most Christians. I'm not begging people come over to subscribe to my interpretations, but rather, to provide a different perspective from the individual that is me, and the relationship I have, rather than the supposed institution that people may think runs my life.
I had a nice little chat with the big man about the supposed Judgement day that was supposed to go down last Saturday, May 22nd (at 6:00PM I believe?). Here's a little transcript.
"So what's the deal here?" I asked Saturay, in the coffee bean, eating some yogurt, God in my head.
"What's what deal?" He asked.
"The Rapture." I said. "It's 11:00AM...still no signs of...anything."
"First of all? It's not the rapture. It's Judgement day. A little different."
"No, no. Just...now you know."
"Judgement day actually did happen though!" God fired back quickly. "You missed it!"
"Yeah! Only one guy made the cut though, so no one noticed...you know, because it was just the one guy. Very subtle. All you rule breakers are in hot water!"
"No. Not really."
"Why would you say that?"
"I can have a sense of humor too you know know."
I glared. "Touche God."
"But yeah, I didn't have any plans for it today."
"No. Did you?"
"Well...I mean there's all these billboards and jokes and people going a little nuts. I guess, well not that I actually BELIEVED it would happen, but just that it'd be interesting if SOMETHING happened."
"Nah, no. Nothing specific to it, but then again, things are happening all the time aren't they?"
"It's always the beginning of the end, as they say."
"Are you quoting people?"
"But didn't you make people?"
"People say great things sometimes. I've got to give credit where credit's due."
"Isn't credit due to you?"
"I want people to feel good about saying SOME things. But then again, people say a lot of stupid things, and I certainly don't take credit for those. Case in point...Judgement day apparently happening today."
"Then it's official? It's postponed."
"Why'd he say it was in the bible then?"
"Why do people say millions of things are in the bible that aren't?"
"Don't ask me that question. You're God. I ask you that question."
"This is like your Sophomore geometry class, when you asked a question and were answered with another question in hopes that it would cause you to find the answers."
"I passionately disliked that class."
"I know you did."
"But I get it, I get it."
"So then, was the whole point of having nothing happen like some deep existential God pun? Like the world has gone to hell long ago and Judgement day came and went and no one noticed because we've been living in our own filth for so long anyway?"
"Haha. No, no. But that's good."
I was pleased that the Lord had a chuckle.
"But look," He said. "People are so focused on their own gain, that's when things get messed up. When people say I say the world is ending, I usually think, Wait, what? Did I say that?"
"And you didn't."
"No. In fact, I said no one will know when it happens. It's not a trip. You're not supposed to have time to back your bags."
"Uh huh." I chewed my lip.
"People are products of their environment--"
"An environment you created!"
"Sure. But I also made it so you guys have choices. I don't force you to do anything. I don't whisper into people's ears to tell them to take advantage of people. That's not me. This guy, Harold Camping, no one but I knows what influences he's had in his life, whether or not it's been a hard life or an easy one, only I can know his past, his present, and future, so I get that people think he's horrid for doing this. I certainly think it's terribly off the mark, but is he the most despicable human being on earth? No, I forgive him."
"Really? Even though he put words in your mouth. How about the Westboro Baptist Church, they love saying you say things you've never said."
"Some things give me a hearty laugh, and some things fill me with deep sadness. People who have been lead astray throughout their life by others, who now lead others astray, that's really very tragic. I'm certainly not happy about that. But I don't intervene like people hope I would."
"That sounds very unfortunate."
"Well, a lot of people take this laid back Holy Spirit will do things for me attitude. That's just sheer laziness. Miracles are still at work, I'm always working, but honestly I rely a lot on you guys to know what's right and wrong and for you to help those who are having trouble. I'm working within people. Like that thing that popped into your head all those months ago about me."
"When God is working within you, God is working within all that you do."
"Exactly. So, if I'm a a part of everyone, then I'm always working. So long as those works are good works. I'm not killing people. I'm not a murderer or an evil psychopath. I'm a lover not a fighter, as they say."
"You sure do love to quote people."
"You guys are pretty swell, I must say, I'm proud of that invention."
"How about the platypus?"
"Like I said, I've got a sense of humor."
"I'm proud of platypusi as well."
"Platypuses." He corrected.
"Ah. Of course."
"I have to ask you, because it's always a thing that bothers me, this whole money thing. You know, using Judgement day or the Rapture, or just you in general to generate tons of money..."
"Yeah well, I'm still on the top of the New York Times Bestseller List."
"Zing. But seriously --"
"I don't like money. When people put all this focus on raising money, money, money for me, me, me, it's again, more of the same reaction of, Really? Did I say I needed that money?"
"Yeah I --"
"Look buildings need to function and people need to get paid. That's basic economics. And money makes the world go round in that way. And, on the broad topic of misinterpretations, it isn't money that's the root of all evil, but the Love of money."
"Right. I know that."
"People who are all doom and gloom about me like I'm going to rain hate and fire down upon them always quote half a sentence, or half a paragraph. That's silly. I would be lying if I said God doesn't need AMPLE context."
I just nodded.
"Like, you know John 3:16 right? Probably the most quoted part of the bible. For I so loved the world that I gave my only begotten son, that whoever believed in him shall not perish but have eternal life, you know."
"But why do people just stop there? What about John 3:17? I quite like that piece as well. In fact that's really the entire idea of the New Testament summed up into one sentence. That I didn't send the kid into the world to condemn it, but to save it. So when the book says things like this, it's always a kind of conundrum when people gravitate naturally away from something like that. If I'm saying it's not about condemning, then why do people always think I'm all about condemning? You guys draw your own conclusions based on what you want. It's less about what's right in front of you and more about what you want to do, regardless of common sense. So I'm just saying, the bible isn't that complicated. It's really not. This whole difference between money being the root of all evil and the love of money, if you read the whole sentence, there's not really any wiggle room about what I'm trying to say."
"So this whole, 'I think the Bible is up to our interpretation'?"
"Come on. When it's up to your interpretation, things like this happen, like saying Saturday May 21st 2011 is Judgement Day. That happens. Or that I hate soldiers, and gay people, and I'm happy about people dying in the middle east."
"You're not, right?"
"Of course not! The most frustrating thing in existence for me is people putting words in my mouth. Like I said, the book doesn't discuss any of the specifics people try to tell other people it does. When did I say I hate things?"
"Well, it does say that we should hate something."
"Yeah, and what is that?"
"Evil. We should hate evil."
"Right. Again to quote your peers, it isn't rocket science when it comes to the apparent 'rules' I'm laying down. Love all this is good, Hate all that is evil, but don't hate humans, don't hate animals, don't let that control you. That's when you become a bigot, when you lose friends, when you become nutty."
"I'm always thinking about this whole, kind of George Harrison existential within you, without you thing. Like I'm not for anarchy, but I think the lack of a system is good."
"Yeah well, communism is great in theory."
"That's what I always say!"
"It's not about what appears impossible. Fight for the theoretical! You know, like world peace. To actually get to it is hard. But I'm not asking you guys to win the war, I'm asking you to keep fighting and striving to win the battles. At the end of time, whenever it comes, I'm calling the end of the war. So don't spend all your time focusing on never winning the war, focus on always winning the battles. Otherwise life is nothing but failure, as opposed to all the victories you've seemingly over looked. It's this sort of emotional flogging. Don't beat yourself up because you can't save the whole world, commend yourself for trying your best."
"I like that."
"Life is difficult, but goodness is not as far off as people may think. People who are leading others astray and taking their money like this Harold Camping guy, that's a personal thing. He wants attention, he wants his fifteen minutes. Fine, let him have it. But how do you think that makes me look to the people who believe him? A lot of people are in a desperate place at certain moments in their life, the people who jumped onto Camping's train because of this, many if not most of them will fall off because they'll feel betrayed. You can't make promises like that, promises in my name that you know, at your core, may be untrue. I've made the promise, let me make the promises, I won't go back on my word. But if you put words in my mouth, it seems like I do."
"I never thought of it like that before."
"I promise simple things, easy things, basic things. Not the things that lead to people falling away from their faith. If I promised you'd have something silly, something so minutely specific, that's dangerous. Remember when you were a kid, and you'd make a wish upon a star, and you'd wish that when you woke up in the morning you'd have new toys?"
"If I promised that to you, versus you having hope, you'd be crushed if it wasn't there. Sure you were disappointed when you woke up and found no new toys, but that's very different than me, apparently, telling people you will absolutely, with 100% certainty receive something...and then never receive it. That hurts our relationship, and I'm not interested in doing that."
"So we're substituting Toys for Judgement day."
"Maybe, same concept. Toys obviously are happy and fun, Judgement day a little scary. But that's the idea. I won't promise people specific things that are easy to disprove. Why would I set myself up for failure? I want you to like me and to want to get to know me, not feel betrayed by me. So it's back to putting words in my mouth. People are so susceptible to assuming the leaders of their beliefs have all the answers, that when they speak for me, they need to be careful. Just quote what you know is the simple truth, don't stretch it."
"Can I touch on the Westboro Baptist Church?"
"I don't like them."
"A lot of people don't."
"I feel like they're giving me a bad name as a Christian."
"Giving YOU a bad name?"
"You're right in your feelings, but don't hate them. People spit on them and scream and shout and swear at them, doing in essence the exact same things they're doing. They say I hate all these things. Come on. Like I said, I hate evil. And you should too. But evil is the absence of all that is good. So the people themselves aren't evil, but something is there driving them to do it, that's what's evil. When you pray, don't pray that people be cast into hell, why would you do that? Pray that whatever is making them hateful be cast out. Pray that they can come into an understanding of what it means to be good, to love."
"I'll try and wrap this up a little, since I know you're busy--"
"Right! Not like I have all the time in eternity for these discussions..."
"Haha, right. But I wanted to ask you, I'm big on Love. That's my thing, as I always say, I'm always talking about it and trying to communicate that as the most important thing. I guess, what I feel like this Judgement day thing has done is come so far away from talking about Love that people just think God is all doom and gloom, and that's IF you even exist."
"I want people to exercise their free will. So they're free to think what they wish. But if they're going to explore me, I think it's important they understand that I don't like rules. That's what religions do really, it's men, it's people who have created these rules to govern the people, because for some crazy reason, people need rules to function. But that's not true, they don't need them, but they want them. There is a big difference. If people focused more on their needs rather than their wants they'd find rules are just slowing them down, and the focus becomes, 'These are all the things I CAN'T do because of God' as opposed to, 'These are all the things I CAN do because of me.'"
"More open doors than closed doors..."
"Right. Love is like the door opener. Rules inhibit love to tell you the truth. It's supposed to be a free thing, you're supposed to feel like, when you have love, you can do more, not less. So I just want people to focus on love, not on rules, the natural rules of life will fall into place, and by that token, you'll find there are few. Love precipitates goodness, so when you love, you're doing the right things. When you preach doom and gloom and Judgement day then people stop listening. People will call you crazy for that. Heck, they'll call you crazy for loving, but the difference is, love is what changes people's hearts for good, and not for only a moment. Anyone who converts purely because they think the world is coming to an end has shallow faith, and when they see it's not over, they quit. But people who feel loved, who understand what love is, who want to give love back, that's the foundation of faith."
"One last question! Faith. A lot of people think having faith is stupid. There's books, you know, the God delusion, about how faith is relatively foolish."
"Do me a favor, look up the word in the dictionary."
"Everyone has faith. To say faith is silly is to say there is no sun. Faith is simply whatever you believe. Do you have a problem with the book The God Delusion?"
"No, no. I want to read it actually."
"You should. It's essential to study up on the things that challenge you. See everyone always says I'm testing their faith so they turn away from learning, and just close their eyes to what's going on in the world, as opposed to accepting that whatever you do is a learning experience, and you need to encourage good discussion with people who aren't like minded. Not everyone is out to get you, and if you have confidence in your beliefs, if you are well grounded and level headed with them, you'll learn as opposed to feel threatened. It's good to have the like minded there for support, but if it's just you and them, you're just circling the same ideals over and over and over and never learning anything new. Whatever religion you are, read all the books, the bible, the torrah, the Quran, the Satanic bible, anything that gives you some perspective as to why people are different. Everyone is. If you live in a bubble, one day that bubble will burst, and you'll be lost. Ground yourself by understanding that faith is simply what one believes, and everyone believes something, so everyone has faith."
"So what I've gathered from all this time we've spent together is...I have to read the Satanic Bible."
"Hahaha. Flip through it! Seriously. I think it's on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble."
"Are you making a book plug?"
"Hey folks, check out the Bible, the worlds best selling book of all time...still on sale! Now with silver lined pages and Jesus' words in blue!"
"You are a shameless busniess man!"
"I have no shame, neither should you in your beliefs. Neither should anyone. It's all about learning more, and becoming more whole."
"If I said I loved you, I know what you'd say back."
"I love you more."
"I'm okay with that."
Then I picked my book back up, sipped my coffee and kept reading.