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“G-d – Imaginary Friend for Grown-Ups?”

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on August 1, 2007


I was looking through my Favorite Blogs on Technocrati, and came across dC – de-conversion where Roopster blogged on G-d being an Imaginary Friend for Grown-Ups. I was so impressed and inspired by his (her?) Blog Entry, that I just had to Blog on his (her?) Blog…you know the way Bloggers usually do. This lead me to two other Blog Entries, both on the matter of Prayer. I have to hand it to you guys on De-Conversion – you are honest, diligent and extremely spiritual – if religious people took their relationship with G-d (or lack thereof) as seriously as you do, we would have a far better world than we have.

From God: An imaginary friend for grown-ups?

Have you ever had a conversation with God? Have you ever heard his voice? There was a time when I would have absolutely answered these questions in the affirmative. After all, modern day Christianity is all about having a “personal relationship” with God. As with all good relationships, this relationship includes regular communication.

In reflecting on my past relationship with God, I have to ask- How is this any different than my daughter’s relationship with her imaginary friend? I recall listening to long conversations between her and “Digget.” Well, the most obvious difference is I am an intelligent adult who can use logic and reason- and she was three. Needless to say, now as a teenager, she no longer talks to Digget. (Roopster)

From What’s the Point with Prayer?

Why pray to an omniscient god? After all, it by definition knows whatever you’re about to say already. There is absolutely nothing you can tell an omniscient god. There is no point in communicating your desires to it, because it knows already, even before you yourself are aware of them. (Simen)

From Prayer: Communion with yourself

However, as my life moved on and as I learned more about the philosophical problems posed by such a transcendent Deity and by the differing “Gods” offered us by scriptures and by theologians, I began to doubt not only the efficacy of prayer but even the very concept of “prayer.”

My devotion time changed from simply receiving pre-chewed information from Christian sources into a rich time of personal thought, journaling, and a more careful selection of reading material, ones from a vast variety of sources, not just from Christian ones. Once I abandoned those preconceived notions about how we are supposed to pray, I began to trust myself again and realized that I had never really taken it too seriously from the beginning. In fact, I don’t claim to ever have communed with “God,” but I got to know myself pretty well! I think THAT alone is what scares Christian leaders the most. (-Mystery of Iniquity)

Ever since I joined a 12 step Program back in the 90’s, the idea of “G-d as we understood Him…” has been one of my lead themes. I still remember when I was having trouble with my image of G-d – having spent most of my adolescence in a charismatic branch of Xtianism, I was badly damaged, as you can imagine – and my image of G-d, or “A Higher Power” was dark and vengeful. Anyway I sat in a meeting and was just meditating on the Topic, when I had this cartoony like (I often see life in cartoons before my inner eye) image of a Big Burly Leatherman (Tom of Finland style) on a Harley coming at me – crashing through a thick brick-wall. On his leather cap the word “Bear” stood out in white. At closer analysis of this image, I realized that the image fit very well with my Inner Kids’ need for a Big Brother they could take with them everywhere. Someone that would definitely be able to defend them if they were in trouble.

For several years I called my Higher Power “Bear”. I still do at times, and I still see that Burly Guy on a Harley when I am really scared. Talk about Imaginary Friend for Grown-Ups…:-)

So what is the purpose of Prayer – if G-d (or Bear) already knows everything I am going to say? For starters – G-d is not Co-Dependent. He isn’t mind-reading us (that would be extremely unethical). One of the things we humans seem to have big trouble with is asking for help, admitting that there are actually things we cannot or do not know how to handle – practicing this skill on G-d (who won’t be offended) is a good way to start…

Then there is the matter of “Do we know what we need?” – sometimes prayer is actually discussing with ourselves to sort and crystallize things, so they become clearer to US, not to G-d (Bear). So that we know how to proceed in giving ourselves the best we can.

The last Blog entry quoted here illustrates this very well – Pagans call it “Grounding and Centering“, and that is essentially what Prayer is – whether it is directed at G-d (Bear) or just focused on “devotion time”, because we enjoy spending time with ourselves and our favorite books, music, journal.

“Prayer” is a tool for focusing, for centering ourselves, for unloading what troubles us or for simply being – the recipient is of less relevance.

I Pray Therefore I am

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6 Responses to ““G-d – Imaginary Friend for Grown-Ups?””

  1. Silly Old Bear,

    Great post! I’m glad you liked my portion about prayer. I’m a “she” by the way. Roopster is a “he.” :-) Yes, as a recovering fundamentalist, I’ve always had a “problem” with prayer. I could never see the point. My inner voice, my “instinct” always steered me in the “right” directions. Even when I DID pray, my inner voice (G*d’s voice) told me the same thing. Now I don’t claim to hear an audible voice. It’s always been “my” voice, in the sense that I hear it in my voice in my head.

    I love the image of the burly guy on the Harley!! I like to “see” things in visual in my head as well. I do this with days of the week. Strange. Anyway. Love it! :-)

    Like

  2. Thank you mysteryofiniquity!

    Yes. I agree. That voice – it really has no relevance if it’s from within us or actually G-d speaking to us – the point with that voice, when we have “cleaned it from all the garbage” is that it will guide us.

    I am glad you are recovering from fundamentalism – its hard work and you should be proud of yourself :-)

    The “you need faith” as the response to everything, including being broke and physically ill, was what told me that something wasn’t right for me in that mind-set.

    A person cannot believe more or less. So abusing people spiritually because they do not believe the same things others do is just contrary to anything truly spiritual.

    Funnily enough, I never blamed G-d for any of it, except not striking those people with a good old lightning – but I got over that, and decided that Judaism had a little more to offer me.

    I am glad you like that Burly Guy Image. :-)

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  3. Silly Old Bear,

    You know that’s true: “The “you need faith” as the response to everything, including being broke and physically ill, was what told me that something wasn’t right for me in that mind-set.” I never thought quite like that, but it’s like pasting the same template on every answer. Don’t believe? Here’s the answer. Don’t have answers to prayer? Here’s the answer. They assume that everything has that same answer and somehow we are just doing it wrong! Hmmm..Good thoughts!

    Like

  4. Cynthia S. said

    OH I DO NEED TO GET HERE MORE OFTEN!!! Umm. . . . sometimes it is hard to understand the effects and ramifications of religious abuse (in my case, various “hellfire and brimstone” Xstian churches when under age 20, and then escaping to what I thought was going to be a loving, family-esque (called each other brother & sister,etc.) religion, ie. “Mormonism” when I was 20, where once baptized upon very basic/limited teachings with extremely vital, consequential things left out (at least when I was taught by the missionaries), suddenly the toxic shaming and strict rules and finger-shaking starts to evidence itself. For example, “Never say no to a [church] calling”, or “job”. “Follow the leaders/Brethren, especially the Prophet, unwaiveringly, or your faith is weak.” (This is not supposed to be considered “blind faith”–one may pray about and “gain their own personal testimony of” any aspect ofthe Gospel” AS LONG AS the answers received AGREE COMPLETELY with the teachings of the Church!). If you get a different answer you are not listening to the “right” source–[eg. God, versus the "Adversary, Devil, Satan," etc.]!

    The reason it was hard for me to distinguish the religious abuse, despite living emotional pain continually, and my semi-adult age of 20+, is because I was raised in a very emotionally and physically abusive family with an extremely unwell, controlling mother. Add this to our church-going and it became a very “crazy-making” fertile ground for abuse of all kinds, which for me, became emotionally undistiguishable.

    Oops! Interruption–Pt. II to follow very soon.

    Like

  5. Cynthia S. said

    Pt. II- However, I have pulled completely away from this church, and do not feel a need for a building to go to where other humans have organized a religion for me to obey through them. I feel it’s like a game of “telephone”: the more people the message goes through, the more distorted it becomes.
    I believe there is a Universal Higher Power that is not just the creator of all, but all things contain his/her energy & light as part of that creation. The light inside of us is as one with any manifestation of the light elsewhere, particularly as we seek our Creator–our true Home. That is all prayer is, is making that connection in either direction. It does not matter whether we receive it as a voice, a sudden major thought in our head, a recognition of an eternal truth in a book or from something someone said, or even an angel.
    What matters is we are NOT alone—and that we have the innocence or humility of a child to accept our “Friend” and listen/talk with him/her.

    In brief, life is tough–we need to know how to survive and make truth/love-based decisions;we are here to learn & to make a difference: we have a Friend–unseen usually, but not imaginary, and we need him/her. Our Friend loves us unconditionally,although not all that we do. Our Friend will guide us, answer us,teach us,and forgive our mistakes. Love is invisible but most certainly not imaginery, either :)

    P.S. I like the biker image! Here in the US there is a national group of bikers called Bikers Against Child Abuse(B.A.C.A.).
    They work through child advocacy groups,and meet and allow each child who is facing trial against their perpetrator toadopt one or more of them. They become like big brothers/sisters to them,give them a biker teddy bear, have a picnic, give then gentle rides (with childsize helmet) around their neighborhood, and are there sittingin the back of the courtroom as the child’s “back up”! The child feels far less intimidated with their friends there, and I am sure the perpetrators notice!

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  6. Cynthia,

    Thank you for an absolutely wonderful story – well not all of it was wonderful – but your love and sincerity is palpable even through the screen.

    Do I have to tell you that the image of a bunch of bikers in the back of a courtroom, supporting some little one who’s been hurt dreadfully, makes my Inner Kid very happy. I can see them helping him/her feel bigger and stronger, and the perp feel smaller and vulnerable at the mere sight of them :-)

    Like

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