on not wanting a ‘conversation with god’

Last night, I had another tetragrammaton moment, where all the elements — the yud, the hei, the vav, and the hei — come together, alchemically bound and perfect in every way. Well, it wasn’t that. There were only three of us, and I was the only hei, but never mind that. It’s not what I wanted to say; it just made me remember what ‘it’ is all about.

A friend posted a link the other day to a piece called ‘Conversations with God’ and it was pithy and clever and delightful and even invoked one of my own personal divine beings, Isaac Asimov, for which I’ll give it ten points. (Forget that. I just accidentally slipped into grading-mode)…

And because I had a delightful night, I woke up delighted as well. I also woke up knowing what my problem is with all this talking-to-God stuff. It’s not that it’s nonsense (I mean, even apart from the whole non-existence of God bit). No, I’m willing to go for metaphor, being in a good-tempered and generous mood at the moment.

I had an epiphany. Not sure if it’s major or minor. And I’m not sure it’s really anything new exactly, it’s just that I understood it in another context.

Conversations with god/God are all about getting answers. We know that. All about trying to live with misfortune, getting comfort, or dealing with the anguish of not-knowing. And so we invent this all-knowing-God so we can ask, and if we’re lucky, get some response. A response we can live with. And that asking is not really interesting to me.

Why take all the fun out of discovering things for yourself? Getting answers from an All-Knowing-God is just plain boring. And certainly not as compelling as, say, the scientific method and empiricism. Or just plain playing with possibilities.

But I think that’s what ‘most people’ want: answers. And that’s not the most interesting thing about ‘God.’

Instead, why not focus on Creation? And Creation is something I know something about. I know, for example, exactly how it feels to grow a living creature from scratch and have it manifest into the physical world. I’ve done it. And not just twice (a boy and a girl), but over and over again. In my garden.

Which brings me back to the other concern (apart from getting all their questions answered) so many folk worry about when they think about God. Being ‘good’ enough to qualify to be a resident in some post-mortem garden. You want a garden, grow the damn thing yourself.

Go ahead. Create something.

Being the Gardener is so much more fun than waiting around till you’re dead to live in someone else’s Paradise (along with billions of others you don’t even know). Remember ‘heaven on earth’? Well, why not manifest it? Although, to be sure, being the Gardener also entails activating one’s sadistic impulses (for ‘the greater good’ as Gellert Grindelwald would say). Come out of the supernal S/M closet, and go ahead and prune. Weed. Cut those limbs off, and rip those others right out of the Garden. Choose who lives and who dies, and who loses a branch or more.

Don’t talk to God—be God. See what it feels like to have that kind of power. And just how judicious you have to be with that power to not risk ruining the Garden as a whole.

Pruning and weeding. Big difference. While pruning looks like a more major big deal, conceptually weeding is the more drastic measure. With weeding, we want that thing entirely out of our Garden. Right down to the roots (if we’re being not lazy). Otherwise, the Garden might look like it’s thriving, but it’s just teeming with discord right under the surface. Pruning, on the other hand, might seem extreme, especially what I call ‘radical pruning’ but what we’re doing is more akin to just plain good grooming. A major haircut, or better yet, having let it all grow, now it’s time for a major waxing of the whole body at once. Ouch! But such a yummy good looking pain—that makes us glow afterwards.

The weeds, we know, will come right back. So what does our vigilance and care get us? It gets us the gift of being active in the garden. The gift of paying attention.

The ancient Near Eastern pantheons distinguish between two types of gods, the passive and the active. The passive gods are the Creators, who created the world and the living beings within it, and then lost interest. Like that guy (maybe you know him/maybe you are him), who, once he’s come is dead to the world. The Creator gods are exactly thus. And the next generation of deities rebel, destroy them and replace them. They are the active gods, the gods who take interest in the world.

We Mothers know better. If you lose interest, your Creation is lost.

We Gardeners know better. Lose interest, and everything goes feral…

So. Conversation with God? Boring! Or just plain self-serving, and not creative at all. A conversation with God is kind of like a little kid wandering alone at ToysRUs. He’s hit not only with sensory overload, but with a bad (and sometimes incurable) case of the gimme-gimmes—selfish, and impulse-driven.

So. My vote’s for embodying the gods. Less talk. More action. And a whole lot more fun. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. Oh, and PS— great to do in a group. Being part of a pantheon, being one-fourth element of the Tetragrammaton, for example, is even more fun than being a single-parent deity trying to work Creation out all on your own. Oh, and remember the lessons of those ancient Near Eastern Pantheons (from Egypt, to Ugarit, to Mesopotamia…) the passive gods get creamed in the end. Active Gods rule…

A kaddish for passive gods…

About mira

Mira Z. Amiras is Professor of Comparative Religious Studies and founder of the Middle East Studies Program at San Jose State University. She is past-president of the Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness, and has served on the Executive Council of the American Anthropological Association. She is co-founder, with Ovid Jacob, of Beit Malkhut, a study group in Jewish sacred text. She’s most attached to the creatures of her body and her household — first and foremost, her kids, of course: Michael and Rayna — and then the other folks large and small of various species, including Roshi and Vlad, a whole lot of hummingbirds, the old parrot who lives next door, and a beautiful garden that does what it will.

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2 Responses to on not wanting a ‘conversation with god’

  1. BoneFolder says:

    Careful, Mira(remember I brought you to Stormy Leather that time and gave you that first transformative experience there) so I'm not sure I can get behind the S/M closet notion… Most of the time the weeds and overgrowth don't LOVE being pruned. It's a two-way street, dont'cha know.

    Sure, it's not always the case, but women always hate it when the god comes and then he's dead to the world. Why wouldn't they? But I submit that it's *because* of that that the yummy glow of the freshly waxed feels so nice, especially after the sharp shock of getting there. Isn't THAT the S/M closet?

    There are points where talking to god and being god are one and the same. Where creation and devotion merge. One assumes the mantle, becomes a vessel and a spokesperson, creates the tetragrammaton just because it's the best way to experience, well, anything.

    I'm sitting in a bar, watching the women go by dressed optimistically in sundresses and the like despite the fundamental gloom that is a part of San Francisco life. And I'm reflecting on the night, and my ease back into the role as the Vav. It's not hard to imagine what could have happened with that particular combination of elements there; the answer is, of course "anything". T'was ever thus. It's true that another Hei was needed and I know where she was (does that make Grey and Holden vowels?), but if we had formed a complete tetragrammaton it would have changed our lives — again. Are we ready for that? It could be arranged, you know.

  2. mira amiras says:

    You were always ever the yud in my eyes! But yah, we've always needed that other essential hei…

    It wasn't the S/M closet of which I spoke, but of the supernal S/M closet, which is something else altogether!

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