Monday, March 31, 2014

The Six Blank Pages Of Doug B

Years ago I paid a quarter for a used paperback copy of Leslie Weatherhead's The Christian Agnostic. I read it and have reread it over the years with great satisfaction.
Weatherhead titled chapter four God And Our Guess and related how "ludicrous" he felt sitting at his desk and writing God at the top of his paper. How little, he felt, man could actually know of that subject. He then wrote: "I feel that the most appropriate thing to do would be to leave a half dozen blank sheets of paper!"
That stuck with me, and I think of it often when I try to put down any of my thoughts about God.
Most people for better or worse have some concept of God that is meaningful at least to them. If we would stop being so insistent that we have cornered the market on God-thought religion might not receive such a bad rap.
Forrest Church, the late pastor of All Souls Unitarian Church of New York City, gave a good definition of God that is more than sufficient to describe my own way thinking about it:
God is our name for a power that is greater than all and yet present in each: the life force; the Holy Being itself.
There is the real starting point, I believe, for anyone who takes seriously the God-hypothesis. I could write page after page about the many coincidences in my life that seem upon deeper reflection too coincidental to be mere coincidence. That would be convince no other than myself that there is something deeper and more meaningful back of the big picture. But others who feel the same way would have their own personal verification from their own lives.
To think of God as the power that pulls everything forward and teases order out of disorder is surely not an outrageous idea. And if not, surely it wouldn't be outrageous for us to attempt to tap into that power.  
A thousand questions could be asked. Blank lines would serve as better responses than pat answers based on a caricature of God that has been passed down through popular traditions.

I am also an atheist about the God most atheists seem to object to. However, the power of the concept of a Master Mind at work in this thing called life can't cease fueling my own speculations. But let me be quick to label them that.


  1. Something that I would consider an answered prayer happened yesterday (not on the level of miracle, but more happy coincidence). I hadn't prayed, since I don't anymore, but I did wish that the situation would turn out the way it did.


    1. That is interesting. Alice, I've allowed myself to start praying again after not doing so for so long. Not the grocery list type of: "Lord, give me this and this and that".... No, mostly for guidance and help in doing my best.

      I don't think you were reading my blog at the time, but about a year ago I had a rather startling answer to a prayer. You see, I was wanting to get out of debt. I had been steadily paying my way out for several years but had one more crushing debt - to the tune of a little better that 20 thousand bucks. I was "on the hook" for another 4 or 5 years. I had felt burdened about this and prayed for help - oh, not to win the lottery or come into the big bucks ... just for wisdom, health, and discipline.

      And then it happened - suddenly, and out of the blue, almost miraculously. An offer was presented to me to settle that account for a fraction (less than a quarter) of the amount. Because I had been working hard and saving my money I was able to take that settlement and pay my way completely out of debt (save for monthly living expenses). No more debt and no more years of obligation.

      On my other blog I also related a story from way back in my life, before my divorce, before my leaving faith in God. The tires on our car were bald - bald to the point of the steel belts starting to show through the rubber. I didn't have enough money for a good set of used tires, let alone new ones. But we all prayed. Then surprisingly a neighbor bought a new set of tires for his car and threw his old ones out in the trash pile to be picked up. My brother and I looked them over and noticed they were exactly the size on my car and that still had tred to spare. So we asked our neighbor if we could have them, which he gladly allowed. Now that was an answer to prayer.

      Then I also wrote about the time a severe cold snap caused the old galvanized water pipes under our house to freeze and burst. As usual, money was tight and we didn't know what we were going to do other than pray.

      And then the next day my brother was walking home through the neighborhood and noticed a casual friend of his, an old man who had just done some plumbing at his home. There were several lengths of galvanized pipe he had discarded and he said we were welcome to as much as we needed. What's more, he also happened to have a pipe-threader and agreed to allow my brother to borrow it. So, without any outlay of money at all, we were able to repair all the busted water lines we had.

      The truth is, there are so many incidents from my own life (not to mention many more from friends and family members) that just seem to be too much of a coincidence. And through it all there has always been that still small voice that guides me, and that when I ignore it never fails to bring regret. So I no longer do ignore it (which isn't to say I don't sometimes agonize over when it is talking and when I'm just being silly).

      Thus, I do tend to believe in synchronicity (that is, meaningful coincidences). I have come around to believing again in a type of (for lack of something better to call it) "divine guidance." i Yet in no way am I tempted to go back again to the religious fundamentalism of my youth. I don't think that is it.

      People can call me crazy if they want, but I am again allowing myself to think that there is a big picture to make sense of - this despite all the bad that happens and things and don't make sense to me. I just know that for me my life goes smoother (and always did) when I stay "tuned in" to that guiding spirit in my life. (Okay that sounded weird, I know; but I don't exactly know how say all I feel inside) Stay tuned. Please.

    2. I actually do remember reading about those events...I was a lurkin' back then. It is very hard to just chalk them up to plain old coincidence.

      What gets me is that I don't pray, I certainly don't believe that Jesus died, was buried and rose on the third day anymore, but the outcomes to my prayers/wishful thinking are pretty much the same- I guess one could say even better because I truly don't expect anything and these events seem even more amazing somehow.

      Here's my thing that happened:

      I just got this job in December. Shortly thereafter, we decided that most of the kids would be going to school in the fall. At this, hubby wants me to consider working days, however the restaurant that I work at is not open for lunch except on the weekends. I don't want to look for another job, I really like it there, just learned the menu and such and wanted to put down roots. I just figured I'd cross that bridge later.

      Hubby even drove by another restaurant the other day that is open for lunch and mentioned how busy it was just as a "see" you can totally make money at lunch. I didn't argue, but knew that we were going to have to talk about this.

      Sunday, we had a meeting at work and the head honcho regional guy announced that in July (right when school starts no less) we would be opening for lunch 7 days a week.

    3. Alice, it might be time for us to start rethinking the "law of attraction." LOL! But when something like what we're talking about happens it's hard to to just say "meh."

      What has happened to you is fantastic. My "answered prayer" last year left me flabbergasted. Time to find the flow and get into it!

      Oh, and I had no idea you were lurking. Glad you came out into the open :-)

  2. "Blank lines would serve as better responses than pat answers based on a caricature of God that has been passed down through popular traditions."

    I like that. I think too many people are far too sure of their version of God. There's no shame or harm in saying "I don't know". That's as good an answer as any.

    1. Well, I think that's what got me into trouble before. Life didn't seem to fit to neatly into the tight framework of my biblical literalism and religious fundamentalism. I guess I had to work my way through all that in order to allow myself to think freely. I do, however, remember being a child and having some quite animistic views about life. The direction of my life always baffled me from way back. I think the more we look inward the more we are able to come to a unique personal understanding. Once we allow ourselves to do that, freely and earnestly, what's left is more convincing - at least to oneself - than a thousand books on systematic theology and religious philosophy. It does hearten me though when I find others who have retraced some of my steps and arrived at some of the same conclusions I have. Of course we could all be wrong together there....

  3. "God is our name for a power that is greater than all and yet present in each: the life force; the Holy Being itself."

    I can agree with this definition. It's as good as any I've seen.

    1. Lately it has been much easier for me to tell you what I think God isn't than explain how I think God should be thought about. I'm not sure I know what I do think. But some of these positive statements I come across help me.