by James Wallace Harris, Wednesday, March 1, 2017
Sometimes I wish I had a personal God for amicable chats when I have insomnia in the wee hours. Lying in the darkness, I often wish I had someone to share philosophical thoughts. I picture this personal God like a kid’s imaginary friend, or even a big pooka rabbit, like the one Jimmy Stewart conversed with in Harvey. I imagine my imaginary deity as a mashup of Mark Twain, Robert Sheckley, and Kurt Vonnegut. Maybe this God should look like Clarence the guardian angel, clueless and hapless. (Again, a Jimmy Stewart reference.) I suppose my guardian angel could look like the suave Dudley (who looked like Cary Grant), but that wouldn’t be as funny. Loretta Young would make a sexy guardian angel, and I can picture her being very insightful.
(I wonder how many people under 60 get my angelic movie references?)
I once dreamed I had sex with God and was shocked (in the dream) to discover God was a woman. She was a stout matronly female in her sixties, with big soft bosoms, who looked somewhat like an older Sophia Loren. In this dream, I’m having very pleasurable sex with this zaftig lady, and my reaction was fucking an older woman was a lot of fun, especially one so jolly – but then I realize she was God. Seeing my shock she laughed at me with a deep throaty laugh, like the laugh my father’s mother had. I’ve always wondered what Freud would have made of that dream.
I was in my forties at the time. When I woke I was a little embarrassed to be enjoying a sex dream with a grandmotherly woman. (It didn’t bother me she was God.) I’ve had some very strange dreams over the years, and I’ve run into God before – but not as this woman.
So I suppose my personal God could be a she. I might even prefer that. When I first thought of having a personal God the name Fred popped into my mind. A good, no-nonsense name. I could have some great conversations with a God named Fred. But I sort of like God being a woman. Probably, I’ll call her Gladys or Gloria.
I’ve been an atheist since I was eleven years old. I remember my mother making me go to church as a kid, and me trying hard to believe. I even asked to be baptized thinking it would let me see what everyone claim to see. But after nothing was revealed, I took the path of unbelieving. I’ve never been the kind of atheist that advocates disbelief. I know too many people who find great comfort in theism to ever want to take it away.
And when I say I’m an atheist, I mean I have no doubts. God does not exist for me. When I talk with God, I know I’m pretending. It’s better than talking to myself, but not by much.
I believe we are all bubbles of consciousness that have accidently emerged into this infinite sea of random reality. I use the word reality because I don’t believe the universe is everything. I believe reality is quite indifferent to us and infinite in all directions and dimensions. People want a God because they want a father figure. They want their lives to mean something. When I think of my imaginary personal God, I’m really pretending I’m talking to reality. I know reality isn’t listening and doesn’t give a shit, but I like to pretend otherwise.
Many of my atheist friends would like to talk to God too, to curse the creator for all the suffering they see and experience. I’m not that way. I’d like to thank God for my existence. I used to have a lot of questions, but I’m satisfied now with what I know and don’t know. There are some things I’d like to kid ole Gladys about, though.
Like last night, I had friends over to watch A Man Called Ove, and at one point in the film, I glanced to my left and noticed my friend’s foot. It was beautiful. And I don’t mean in a sexual fetish way, but in an existential existence way. Gladys, why is one portion of reality more beautiful than another? Why are we here and not nothing? Why is the foot more aesthetically appealing than other objects in the den? You can be very weird at times. Your sense humor can be so trying – I can understand how I got old, fat, and bald – but why not shut off the sex drive as we age? Very funny, Gladys.
I accept the random nature of existence. I even accept what I fear and don’t want. So I’m content without God, but bantering with a personal God could be satisfying. It would be fun to have Gladys to chat about the beauty and absurdity of this existence.
“By the way Gladys, can you explain Donald Trump? That’s really going too damn far!”
20 thoughts on “A Personal God of My Own”
It will be interesting to see what response this post gets. I don’t know what age it was for me, but long before I ever heard the word atheist. I was lucky in not having any religion to reject, leave, or recover from since it wasn’t a part of my childhood. I’ve never wanted even an imaginary god, and I wonder if it’s you or me that’s the minority.
That’s interesting Catana. I had to deprogram myself. My mother gave me too many religious memes when I was very young.
I don’t know about you, but I know I’m in a minority. Both my theist and atheist friends think I’m weird.
Some people have experiences of god through the use of entheogens or psychedelics, do you feel this is related to the dream material you write about here?
I’ve had that kind of experience with God too. With me, that experience came from a loss of self. God is a convenient label for many forms of the unknowns we experience.
Even though I’m not religious myself, I believe religions are languages, and where needed I try to speak those languages. Probably not very well, and with a thick atheist accent.
A loss of self would scare me.
I was raised catholic and I have tried for many years to believe in the old fashioned ‘God’ just to fit into my family and have something in common to talk about on holidays. The truth is that I can’t, I think of religion as being an ancient piece of social architecture and that it was useful in the past but we have grown past it.
Like James, I get why people have still have a God, a religion, the need to believe that they matter and their lives serves somehow for the greater good and frankly I envy them for that. Now personally on my quest to find Catholicism since I was a kid I have been replacing the figure of God by many other concepts mixing them up trying to see what other people see, first I tried with Aliens (since god came from the heavens …), then nature, then caos… all the popular alternatives concepts for God but still nothing did fit and I stick religionless and Godless so to speak.
If I had to pick a personal God I wouldn’t think of it as a human, or human shaped I think that three dimensions wouldn’t be enough to describe such a being. I have always been amazed by physics which is nothing but the study of energy in its many forms and thinking how everything we know and are is energy, just in a different form, is poetic, beautiful. If I had to pick a God, it would be Energy.
But Augusto, can you talk to energy? I tend to think people believe in a personal God because they want someone to talk to when no one else listens. But if you personified energy like Casper the ghost, I can see talking to it.
I’ve always thought that science fiction was a substitute for religion. Outer space equals heaven. Superior aliens equal gods. Etc.
In that sense I believe you are right. I kept my mind on finding something that could answer some of other basic assumptions that almost every religion has like life after death and the omnipresence of the Being called ‘God’ , how it could be in everything and everywhere and how it is and aways has been. In that molde I believe that energy fits quite well.
God as someone you can talk to and share your feelings and concerns is a concept that I have abolished in such a long time that I haven’t considered it at all. But you are right, having someone you can talk to and be your raw self is crucial, and I can see that ‘God’ fits perfectly into the role.
I don’t think even Gladys has the answer to that one … I could get on board with a Sophia Loren God! 😀
“I don’t care if it rains or freezes, long as i”ve got my plastic Jesus…”
Like you James, I got myself baptized (Southern Baptist) in my early teens. Testing the hypothesis as it were, but the experience only confirmed my suspicion that the reason none of my Sunday school teachers had any answers was because there was actually no there there. Again like you, I don’t go out of my way to attack anyone’s religion, but I do feel most religion does too much damage to regard it as anything but a pernicious blight.
It’s sad that so many people ruin religion for other people. I don’t mind religious people that use their faith to raise children and live a quiet, decent life. It’s the people who combine guns with religion that cause the problems. My problem is with theocracy.
My favourite line from Samuel Becket (one of them): comes from endgame where one of the characters says : âletâs prayâ. He starts gabbling âourfatherwhoart inheaven â¦â stops and says âThe Bastard! He doesnât exist!â
Being angry with God because you suspect he doesnât exist. I love that. I suspect Iâm one of those Graham Greene characters with 995 doub and 1% faith, but I do find myself praying fervently â often not even on my own behalf â on strangers I encounter on my train commute. God knows, in South Africa there are enough people to pray for, as I suppose there are everywhere.
I have to tell my friends who do believe, that I sometimes pray atheist prayers for them. Even though reality doesn’t care, I want it to know that I do.
I wonder why your quotes came through funny.
Hi all who have taken part in this conversation, I was a born again Christian, a very keen one, who read my bible, went to bible study groups with my church then decided I should study theology, during the course I had to write many essays on the subjects I was studying, most I passed but on some I was given a failure, on these I thought I was right also. I began to seek MOORE, it is said, ask and you shall receive, so I simply asked in my mind and out aloud, for I was told long ago that God is every where so if God is every where God should here, quite some years passed , in this time I was caring for my wife of many years who had a terminal illness, but some how I personally experienced peace, I would just talk to God about everything that was going on.
My wife eventually died, much had to change as over the years we had used up any money we had saved, and my children had been paying the mortgage and they wanted to sell the family home and clear up depts. This of course took time, and mean time , through a friend of a friend I meet and to my amazement found love with a lady who was We married on a Friday the 13, which was the same day she retired from her job, we visited her country to find out all was not well with her parents her father died soon after and she seen her duty was to care for her mum, she asked for a divorce so she could be free to do her duty, so within 6 months I was free again so to speak, I had found that when a door shuts another is ready to be opened, a saying came to mind ” when the student is ready the teacher will appear”, I again said to God , I want something big, now, I am free to pursue what ever you send. About a month later while driving to work it only takes me 10 minutes, in that time, listening to morning radio I heard of a book ” Conversations With God” by Neal Donald Walsch.
In reading these books I meet the same God I had studied, but in a very different way, I went on a journey to discover God, left religion and faith behind and reached what I will call a “knowing” of God .
I have created a web site named ” facetofacewithgod.com” where I have assembled the major understanding given by God. If it is hard to find you could add in the browser” God speaks in the 21st century” may help.
Sorry if this seams to be a bit of a mess, I have been more of a hands on worker, not a writer, but I read more now, a learn from all of you who write.
God has created us free, and that includes your freedom not to believe.
The path to knowing God is , ask, followed by determination and perseverance, like any other learning.
Sorry to say, Bruce, that I hope the blog owner removes this. Yeah, free speech and all, but this is a place for discussion, not a religious rant. And one that turns out to be self-promotion. No one read this blog to be preached at.
Catana, I do control comments, and even delete them when absolutely necessary, but I try not to for a number of reasons. I don’t want to censor people (although I do have to at times). So I let through comments that attack me, provide honest criticism, or contrary points of view. I automatically delete comments that are hateful to other people in general.
I thought Bruce’s comment reflected why I wrote my essay, which is about talking to God. I don’t believe in God, but I know other people do, and that they get a lot out of it. The point of my essay was to suggest that having a God to talk to would be rewarding. Of course, I made up my imaginary deity, and I believe Bruce is making up his, although he doesn’t think so. I believe Bruce’s comment gives us a good real-world example of how someone talks to God and believes it. It adds to our conversation here.
I am quite confident in my beliefs, but I know I could be completely wrong. I expect other people to be confident in their beliefs. So it doesn’t bother me when people testify for their religion. I’m not against religion, but I am against theocracy. I don’t think Bruce crosses that line.
Cantana, I also value your point. Religious people need to understand that their ideas are not always wanted.
I thought he went over the line, but I can certainly see your points. I admit I have less patience for that sort of thing as I get older.
Love your comments, James. I decided I was an atheist when I was 13 and subsequently had a huge argument with my parents who thought I just didn’t want to go to church. Turns out I’m still an atheist 25 years later. Through the years I’ve changed from being very angry at religion to realizing a lot of people just need something to get through the day. I can get that, cause I do too. I’ve just chosen other ways. It’s the willful ignorance of some that I still resent.
jameswharris, have you read the Brian Aldiss short story “Amen and Out”?
The entire populace has access to personalized, battery-powered portable
shrines with the Earth’s supercomputers posing as God…
I don’t think I have, but I do think I have it in an anthology. I’ll track in down. Thanks!