Since I was about 9 I’ve had a strong aversion to the word God. I DON’T BELIEVE IN GOD I would shout at the top of my lungs.
This wasn’t always the case and I sensibly flitted between camps for a time in order to make my mind up. After all Sunday school did provide me with boys and biscuits. My first non-Christian role model was my Dad who refused to go to church. This interested me because I didn’t want to go either. He told me he didn’t have to go because he was an atheist (meaning that he didn’t believe in God) so I promptly became an atheist too. This didn’t stop me getting happily brainwashed by several Crusader Summer Camps that cleverly disguised religion in the form of pony trekking, singing and other exciting outdoor activities pulling the God over our gullible eyes but by the time I reached 12 the gig was up.
There were several incidents leading to my voluntary excommunication and it was largely to do with my understanding of religion. At the time, like most, I attached the word God to religion so automatically hated both. It is only since hitting my mid thirties that I have been able to recognise a distinction between the two.
Religion and God.
The word God has been hijacked by religion over the course of our existence. I won’t go into all the terrible things religion is responsible for but putting God on a pedestal is definitely one of them. Over the last two years I’ve been on a self-imposed journey of sobriety which has led me to read spiritual books, ponder life’s big questions and on occasion seek answers in the rooms of AA and NA. These experiences have allowed me to broaden my experience of the meaning of this complicated word.
Images of God differ depending on geography and who you’re speaking to. Our understanding of God can also be linked to our religious education. Maybe for you God has many forms; fire, thunder, water, elephants, cows, mythical figures. Maybe when you think of God you see an old man with a long white beard. Maybe you see Elon Musk.
Regardless of whether we worship Morgan Freeman or a golden cow these images are all based on the idea that some form of ‘being’ takes overall responsibility for the universe and ultimately for us. If something good happens thank God. If something terrible happens it’s God’s way. If we are frightened we can ask God for guidance. Ultimately we are clinging to a theory that offers some rhyme or reason for our existence. The questions of why we are here, what this seemingly never ending human suffering is for and what we get at the end of it all are put to God. The possibility that these things are entirely unknown, unplanned or for nothing is too much to handle for some.
God provides us with an answer.
It may not be clear or even available but it helps our psychosis from reaching boiling point. If there is a powerful, all-seeing. all-knowing Father figure that can tell us prescriptively what we are doing wrong, what we should actually be doing and what is going to happen we can all carry on the way we are and don’t have to take responsibility for anything. Christianity takes it one step further by claiming that a son of God actually came down from a heaven as an addendum to the previous scriptures. Even better The New Testament comes with its own get-out clause; if you do wrong just ask for forgiveness and it didn’t happen.
This fear driven anxiety makes perfect sense. None of us can possibly ever know if there is any meaning to existence so it is unsurprising that we have created several possibilities to reduce our very human disappointment. Fear is a big driver; fear of death, of the unknown, what actually happens to our consciousness when we die?
Humans millions of years ago were obviously bogged down with mental health issues as we are today and wanting answers they chose to seek the comfort of faith in a God. Faith is necessary. We all need it just to cross the road without having a panic attack. To be fair our reasons for dreaming up a God are not all negative. The world is full of inexplicable wonder. When surrounded by so much life bursting free in the form of planets, birds, mountains, animals, waterfalls, thunder, lightning, sunshine, stars; why would we not believe in God? Again our brains tick over trying to find a reason for the existence of such things. Maybe now that we have killed all the natural predators and sit comfortably in our alarmed, gated communities our ancient human minds are playing tricks on us. Many of us seem inexplicably uncomfortable with the idea of things just being, of ourselves just breathing, of life just uncontrollably happening.
But is this very concept not another way to describe God?
In the fellowships of (insert addictive component here)’s anonymous although the word God is bandied about quite a lot it is in reference to what is described as a higher power in a spiritual as opposed to religious context. I like these words much better. The idea is that your higher power can be anything. It can be the weather, the mountains, the oceans, a dearly departed friend or family member. The definition is a force that is more powerful than yourself.
Since reading The Celestine Prophecy as a teen I’ve believed in energy as a force. I believe that people give off energy and can sense other peoples. Even buildings and places hold energy for me affecting my experience and I pay attention to this. It’s a shame I never paid any attention in Physics as it is my understanding that Quantum Physics relates to this. My basic understanding of this theory is that we are all made of energy and as there is only a certain amount of energy in the world this energy never disappears simply changing form thus offering a scientific theory to ever-lasting life.
How can we die when our energy remains? We don’t. We simply change form.
This energy of the universe, this higher power, this God is all-consuming in the sense that it is everywhere. It doesn’t require intellectualising or explaining. Our need to constantly probe and seek answers to life suggests that we are hugely uncomfortable with the existence we have created for ourselves on this earth. We consume to relax, create to feel and destroy to obtain. Will we ever learn to simply have faith in the universe and enjoy the present moment and the beauty therein instead of constantly naming, judging and projecting to some imagined reality in the future or past? We are obsessed with definition, separatism and ego instead of just being. We live in domineering societies in which we are constantly manipulated by some person, political party or business to help them get what they want. We frequently seek outside ourselves for something to make us better, happier, safer making us even more susceptible to such manipulation.
Where does it end?
Although the feeling and overall energy of ‘God’ is, for me, present I find any form of restriction placed upon this word unhelpful. I crave answers too but feel I’m more likely to find them through living unrestricted. It’s all well and good having morals and principals to live by but why trap yourself in definitions when there are still so many things left to discover?
God only knows…
Janna Fox is an actress, writer, yogi, aerialist in training and creator of many things. She started blogging for The New Establishment in February 2017 and her pieces are published every other Wednesday. Janna also contributes to sex blog Hitting the Spot. For more information please visit www.jannafox.com