THE BLOG
09/24/2015 12:21 pm ET Updated Sep 24, 2016

Why God Is Funny

Recently there have been a lot of people in the news blaming their bad behavior on God. A contemporary version of "the devil made me do it," it got me thinking about how God is funny that way. "Saints" and "sinners" alike can fault God for what they do because God is literally all things to all people. God is love, imagination, peace, freedom, tyranny, restriction, punishment, nonexistent... God is whatever you make Him/Her/It out to be and that is ever changing. For some people, myself included, God is not something "out there" to obey and fear; God is instead "in here," guiding us with our gut instincts, our intuition, our passion and even our anger. For a lot of people God is "out there," a beneficent overseer who intervenes in response to prayer with healing, hope, comfort and even fortunate "coincidences." For other people God is a cruel despot, creator of all but "chooser" of few; this capricious judge asks his minions to follow the contradictory guidelines set forth in a book written thousands of years ago with no amendments or further instruction. Having formed the world and its people, He then apparently had some serious second thoughts and is engaged in a centuries-long process of culling the herd. God is all these things and so many more; ask a million people and you will be told a million things: God is bread, wine, miracles, natural disasters, plagues, music, art, censorship, tragedy, comedy... God is funny.

Everyone thinks they own God, even nonbelievers. This is because God is one-stop-shopping. Whatever you want to believe (or not believe) becomes your personal truth because frankly, we're all making this stuff up anyhow. God is as much our creation as we are His/Hers/Its. Our relationship to God is the ultimate in symbiosis: Each depends entirely on the other for survival. Without God there is no us... but without us there is no God. Even atheism is such an active position that it creates a defiant stance of what is "not there," much like the fabled elephant-in-the-room. We all live life following the trail of breadcrumbs we find, whether we understand that this is what we are doing or not. It is the very unpredictability of life that drives us forward; it is the same chaos that causes us to withdraw. When we are blundering in the dark, we always seek the light; when we are standing in the light, we yearn for shade. Contradiction is a natural part of living and being. Therefore, contradiction must also be the essence of God. The minute we think we "know" something, we shut down to possibility. So the essence of faith is to find the ease in uncertainty. God is often described as "all knowing," but our experience of life eventually leads us to understand that it is exactly when we don't know what comes next that miracles can happen.

For people who try to live life according to the old book that the Almighty has not seen fit to update, "Thou Shalt Have No Other Gods Before Me" is a highly ranked rule to live by. The irony of this is, of course, that they are making the old book "God" instead of letting God be God. "False" Gods, in fact, are the order of the day... anything we worship above the "still small voice" becomes our God, our true north. Money, success, fame are all popular, though capricious Gods. Some people worship science, some people worship logic; many people worship other people, be it a celebrity, a spouse, a parent or a child. It doesn't matter what we worship, if it is something outside of ourselves, we are driven by it and drawn to it. We live in the vortex of its pull, always striving, reaching, wanting. But there is an inherent flaw in worshiping anything at all: it takes away your power and puts it into the hands of the concept/thing/person you worship. But concepts, things and people are transient and fluid, so again, you will always find yourself bowing down at the altar of uncertainty. Things can change in an instant and if you are clinging to what was, you are missing out entirely on what is and what could be. Worship is a narrow focus, not seeing the forest for the tree.

We think of life as a straight line, with a beginning, middle and end, but truthfully life is a circle. We circle back to who we are, why we are here and what we want to experience, endlessly. Jerry Garcia said, "You ain't gonna learn what you don't want to know," and that is perhaps the single best description of life I have ever heard. When anyone declares they know God, they have given up the key to what makes life such a grand, intense, powerful joyride: doubt. Voltaire wrote: "Doubt is an uncomfortable condition, but certainty is a ridiculous one." When we admit we don't know, the door is wide open for everybody. Infinite possibility becomes your ruler and your guide, and everything is welcomed there. Open your mind, open your heart, open your eyes and see that when you exclude anything, you lose everything. That's why God is funny; you have to give up certainty to experience faith. You have to forget what you "know" to be who you are. "Man plans, God laughs" is a popular saying because it rings so true to how we experience our journey. Yes, we plan, but we never really know what is around the next corner and isn't that a very good thing? So let's let God do the planning, while WE laugh. Because God is funny.