What IF God was (one of) Us?

Last night, I watched Julia Sweeney’s brilliant introspective piece, “Letting Go Of God.” It wasn’t something I sought out; I stumbled upon it while clicking through all of the channels that Verizon’s free movie channel promo had added to my Fios experience. The short part of it I saw intrigued me enough that I set the DVR to record the next full showing. I’m glad I did even though the feelings it left me with confuse me even now, several house after watching it. I suspect they’ll keep confusing me for a while.

Religious confusion is nothing new for me; wondering whether God actually exists is. I love God. I trust in God. But Julia Sweeney made me question whether God is real or if the concept of a God – I do believe that “God” is different things to different people – is just something we all believe in to get ourselves through this life. There is no God – no deity. “God” as we believe in is just something that lives in our heads.

What a concept. Really – no God? No one to pray to? Just our brains talking to us? We’d have to be self-reliant. That’s pretty scary. Scary enough that most people don’t even want to consider the concept. Add in the years of religious indoctrination and it’s no wonder there are so few atheists. Few people allow themselves to get to that point in their thought process. Sweeney herself faced the possibility of being disowned by her parents for her beliefs. Imagine being cast out of your family just because you didn’t follow your upbringing. Was the truth that she had come to for her life so important that she’d be willing to lose them? Apparently so. Happily, they eventually grew comfortable with her beliefs.

I’m not so sure about my beliefs. When I first listened to Joan Osborne’s song, “One of Us”, I couldn’t imagine God being one of us. Now I wonder if each of us is God. We all have the power within ourselves to be that strong, that brave, if only we choose to use it. Imagine how the universe could be changed if every person in it believed in their own strength. Is religion holding us back from that? I’m not sure. I think that in so many ways, religion strengthens us. The prayers, songs, rituals that join us make us strong as a group.

Having left the Catholic Church but not yet joined another church, I identify with Sweeney’s longing for a place to celebrate life’s milestones with songs, rituals, family. A church family can make a person so strong. But like my own family, I find that it can also make me sad. That’s the reason I left the Church. I can’t leave God though. If I believe that God is in me, that makes things easier. The beauty of life, and the sadness as well, are inescapable. Can I truly believe that there isn’t one person in charge of it all? Maybe.

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