“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.
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)
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)
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.