God the Father?

T his has been bugging me for a long time, and I’ve only recently been able to put my finger on it.  I’ve got a really good friend who’s mom is turbo Christian.  Like, ridiculously Christian.  She’s one of those Christians who always seems to find a way in every single conversation to kick over some rock that allows her to bloviate about how awesome God is within ten minutes, and once that crap starts it’s going to go on for EVER…  It’s like talking to your pathetic single friend who is cool to hang out with for the first 2 hours/7 drinks  until they inevitably start winging about how sad and empty their life is because they can’t  find a serious boyfriend, and oh yeah I got wasted last night and hooked up with the fifteenth “coolest guy in the world” I got drunk with at the bar this week and now he won’t call me, what the hell is that?  Great.  Now it’s 2:17 AM and Benny the emotional tampoon is saturated with your annoying and largely forseeable problems,  and is seriously considering flushing himself down the toilet because  A) he can’t take listening to your emotional gulag of endless cyclical failure resulting from you allowing guys to treat your vagina as an ashtray in a desperate, futile attempt to blot out the fact that your daddy didn’t love you enough and you seem unable to come to terms with it.  -see Appendix 1 below “Perpetual Douchebag Syndrome” , B) he doesn’t really care how much you say you cut yourself at night because he’s got a wife, dog, cat, mortgage, and several jobs, all of which give him give him crap and are why he went out to the bar in the first place, so he’d really like this to a be a joyful, divirsionary experience rather than another stressful bummer, and C) if you were really going to cut yourself you’d have gone to the emergency room at least once in the fifteen years I’ve known you rather than sitting at the bar pretending to slit your wrists with a 3mm thick paper coaster because you’ve got an audience, so let’s cut the crap and agree that you should start growing up right this very second before I make good on your desire to punish yourself by smacking you across the temple with a pool cue, and leave you unconscious on the floor in a puddle of your own piss, in a vain, benevolent attempt to save whatever poor soul you gloam onto at the end of the night from having to justify leaving you in that very same condition on your  apartment floor when he steals the chapstick from your purse and sneaks out of an open window at 4 AM so he doesn’t have to spend the next morning listening to a literal replay of  the problems he was barely able to pretend were interesting last night when he at least had the carrot of casual sex dangling in front of his nose.  Shut the F-K up and stop killing my buzz, Cathy.   

Now I’m not saying using a man as emotional crutch while engaging in insincere self-abuse pagaentry for sympathy points, and tantrically, publically worshiping god to demonstrate your self-absorbed holiness are totally analogous, but it’s kind of the same thing. 

So this mom of my friend was literally sitting in my living room carrying on about how thankful she was for god helping her to cope with even the most banal details of her otherwise pointless existence, with her high-pitched, infinitely penetrating chicken-cluck/loose-fan-belt/elastic-band-the-size-of-a-weightlifting-belt-poofy-waist-tapered-leg-mommy-pants voice which is perfectly audible on Neptune at a whisper, and doing so in a way that conspicuously blocks anyone else in the room from mercifully divirting the conversation away from her self-centered religiousness and on to something more interesting like the feasability of recreating the plotline from Murder on the Orient Express in my living room sometime in the next fifteen minutes.  It’s lame. 

But as annoying as it is, I am generally able to deal  with small doses of this nonsense because I’m a good midwestern boy and I’ve been highly trained to smile and nod when polite company is saying stupid things.  However, recently there came a point where I just cracked.  Wide open.  She said something that was so unbelieveably stupid I just couldn’t hold it in any more.  And you have to understand, once that dam breaks, that’s it.  It’s all going.  She was  sitting there, wide-eyed and bushy-tailed, indirectly stroking her ego by telling us how humble she is and how much she has left to learn from Jesus, and somewhere in the midst of this torrent of complete nonsense, she out with:

“…and I was just so thankful to Jesus that I was able to get to the grocery store between {whatever stupid thing I don’t care about that Jesus helped you with and that other stupid thing I don’t care about that Jesus helped you with}.  I just needed a few extra minutes and he heard my prayer and changed the lights so I could get there just in time to get the toothpaste.”

Now hold the hell on.  I don’t know much, but I do know that if Jesus really does answer prayers, he doesn’t intervene on your behalf, changing the very fabric of space-time and all existence, natural physical  laws governing motion and electrodynamics, ruining lives of other people who are now going to be late to work, and conceivably altering the fate of the entire universe…because he wants you to have time to buy toothpaste.  Look at all the people who died, seemingly alone and abandoned by god in a giant tidal wave/earthquake/nuclear meltdown in Japan, and for that matter,  everywhere else on the planet every day, and you’re telling me Jesus is willing to perform a legitimate, transparent miracle on your behalf but is unwilling to step in and sweep away the suffering of people who really need his help?  What about their prayers?  I’m sorry, but there are other things that need to be hard, and toothpaste can’t be one of them.  If you are in need in divine intervention to make it to Rite Aid in a timely fashion, then you just aren’t going to make it in this world. 

So we sat there awkwardly for a few minutes, and then she left.  Oh, wait, I see you’re confused.  You think that commentary was somthing I extemporized on paper just now or thought in the safe, solitary emptiness of my personal subconsious narrative.  My mistake.  There should actually be quotes around that paragraph, because that’s exactly what I said to her right in her face. 

Noooowww it’s awkward.    

She did not take that very well, but I’m sorry;  when you start talking about needing a magical invisible friend to help you drive six blocks to a pharmacy, I’m already doing you colossal a favor by not calling the state and having you medicated.  You have officially allowed yourself to become so impossibly brainwashed into inferiority that you view your continued, painless existence as nothing more than a boon your have unworthily had bestowed upon you by the supreme ruler of the universe.  You know where else they do that?  North Korea.  The “Dear Leader” makes the sun rise and apparently once shot a 38 for 18 holes of golf including 5 holes in one, and every single aspect of day to day life for your average North Korean centers around not forgetting that the only reason you are allowed to continue living is because of the bountiful munificence of the leader of your country, who also happens to completely control the military, police, government, and prison system.  Listen, at that point you may as well just step in front of a bus, because it’s the only thing you can possibly exhibit any personal control over.

And that right there gets to the very heart of why I think this “God the Father” idea has been perversely mininterpreted for millenia.  Think of your father.  Sure, when you were young he told you what to do all the time, and basically controlled your entire universe because you were six and didn’t know how to drive stick.  And naturally, children are designed to see their parents as supermen and women who can do no wrong and love you unconditionally.  That’s normal.  But when you get a bit older, all that stuff changes.  Your parents, at least if they are good parents, realize that at some point you have to let go and allow your children to make decisions on their own.  sure, mistakes will be made, but unfortunately there’s no other way to figure out how to take over when it’s your turn to be a parent.  Seriously, imagine the life a few people live where their parents still, even to the age of 40, try to control their kids’ lives and demand constant attention and affection.  Those kids are horribly stunted and damaged by the unwillingness of their parents to allow them to grow up, and generally have difficulty forming normal social relationships with other people.  Being a good father is about knowing how and when it’s time to give a child wings,and besides, most parents don’t want to be the dictator for life anyway.  Ask a 60 year old man if he wants his son to move back in and see how fast that conversation terminates.  

If there really is a God up there he’s being a crappy father indeed if he expects his children to spend the rest of their lives supplicating themselves before him and asking him for help every second of every day just to make it from point A to point B.  Personally, I think that at this point in history mankind is acting like a 19-year-old idiot who hasn’t quite figured out that dad would like them to grow up, get their crap together, get a freaking job, and start taking some responsibility for their own lives.  If he really loves his children, our relationship with him is going to have to develop past “my daddy says the clouds are made of marshmallows” and we’re going to need to take some responsibility for making our world a better place.  Sure, call him up and chat now and again.  Ask for advice.  That’s what he’s there for.  But for godsakes, please get a job and move out of his basement.

Ben Tomkins is a violinist, teacher, journalist and critically acclaimed composer currently living in Denver, Colorado. He hates stupidity and generally believes that the volume of one’s voice is inversely proportional to one’s knowledge of an issue. Reach Ben Tomkins at BenTomkins@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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