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Friday, November 30, 2007

Searching for God

On a whim this morning I did a Google blog search for “God” and got over 30 million hits. The top results reveal our culture’s conflicted views on the Creator, though I’m not sure they would help a person who was genuinely searching for God. First I clicked on All About God and was greeted with the message, “We have all sinned and deserve God’s judgment.” It’s a well organized, conservative site that attempts to answer serious questions like, “Does God exist?” and “Is the Bible true?” though if I were designing a site to tell people about God, judgment would not be the first thing I’d mention. I started wondering if a more loving image of the Divine was in the top Google results and found God is for Suckers and Joe. My. God. with pictures of Bernadetee Peters, Barak Obama, and an ad for gay dating.

On another lark I figured I’d do an image search of God, just to see what the Internet came up with. I wonder how many people secretly have this image, an old white man, not reaching out to us from a cloud, but with his finger on a button.

What interests me most is how our images of God affect the way we live every day. Scrolling down the list of blogs that mention God I started finding people grappling with the issues of lived faith. One blogger questions if God wants her in church because she has tattoos, even though she knows it is the people in the church making her feel that way, not necessarily God. A religion writer wants to know if God wants us to genetically improve our children, and another post talks about giving from our hearts, referencing Joan of Arcadia, a television show my family loved before it was cancelled. These topics are much more interesting to me than the sites trying to prove or disprove God’s existence. I want to know how my image of God affects what I wear to worship on Sunday morning or what I get my children for Christmas.

As I was perusing the Internet looking for God, a friend came in to the coffee shop where I’m hanging today and starting talking about all the anxieties parents carry, from germ-phobias to the fear of crime. Her ten-year-old is upset by the murder of Washington Red Skins player Sean Taylor. When their family prayed for his family at bed time last night her son asked, “What if there is no God?” My friend sighed, admitting that it was a call to deepen her own faith.

We can’t inoculate kids from doubts any more than we can protect them from every germ. In fact, in my own life, facing my doubts has strengthened my belief in a Higher Power, just as being exposed to germs strengthens our immune system. Turning from the Internet to my friend reminded me that, after several years away from organized religion in my twenties, it was the example of people I respected who drew me back into an active search for God. Today I find spiritual nurture, not in well crafted arguments about God’s existence or judgment, but in the everyday struggles of other people, whether in coffee shops, meetings for worship, or online.

(Note: Out of respect for artists and intellectual copyright, I wanted to link to the original source of the above cartoon, rather than just copy it. However, it has been copied so many places on the Internet already--by both religious and atheistic sites--that I could not locate the orignal source to ask permission or give credit. Thanks cartoonist!)

11 Comments:

Anonymous How to Cope with Pain said...

Gary Larson, I believe, one of my all-time favorite cartoonists!

9:23 PM  
Blogger Eileen Flanagan said...

Gary Larson, of course! I knew the style looked familiar. Apologies and thanks to Gary Larson. Perhaps the ethics of using other people's work on the Internet will be a future blog topic.

12:51 PM  
Anonymous curtismchale said...

Thanks for the link. I don't struggle so much regarding if God wants me in church for my tattoos but if other Christians want me in church with them.

1:09 AM  
Blogger Lone Star Ma said...

Look! I'm posting on your blog! I got a new computer and now can see it! Yay!

9:58 PM  
Blogger paperdreamer said...

How ironic, that I went on a browser search today, asking: Where is God on the internet?" I wanted to find him here. I found your blog on the first search page, and have been enlightened. Was I lead here? *smiles* I loved reading it so far, and will be back to read some more.

8:29 PM  
Blogger Ali said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1:27 PM  
Blogger Ali said...

wonderful article. I found your site by doing a search on "God watching down from cloud line art" and saw the Gary Larson cartoon you had on your thread for "searching for God."

Really like your blog, it's Very intelligent and thought provoking writing. Just wanted to say Thank you. Would like to add your site as one of my daily reads. :)

Sry for the delete and repost.

1:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dont know if you are still searching. But i want you to know that i searched all my life for God and found that it was not true in all other areas. Finally, when i was 18 Jesus Christ changed my life radically. I realized that it was about a relationship with Jesus Christ and it was not organized ritualistic religion. Jesus Christ wanted a relationship with those who are willing to follow him, and place faith and trust in him and reiceve what he has done on the cross. God proved his love to us in yet while we were sinners Christ died for us. I realized that during that time in my sin, that sin was miserable and world had nothing to offer me. I had had all of its tastes and whims. When i embraced Jesus Christ and received what he had done on the cross, paying the debt fot the sins that i should have had to pay for in hell, and understanding that i needed him and to follow jesus, i received a love that i had never before in my heart. I was set free. If the Son has set you fre you are free indeed. He set my heart free with his love that came flaming in my heart!!!!!!!! Now HIs Spirit resides in my heart. Amazing love how sweet the sound thst saved a wretch like me. Perhaps you are still seraching, but i want you to knwo that He is waiting for you...if you want to know more of what im speaking of go to notreligion.com and click on Jesus who :)

8:31 PM  
Blogger Eileen Flanagan said...

Glad you've found peace, Anonymous.

1:35 PM  
Blogger Anders Branderud said...

Searching for God.....
I recommend all readers to read the introduction in www.netzarim.co.il ; click at the page "Christians"...

It helps in learning how to relate to the Creator.
Also for atheists I recommend the page bloganders.blogspot.com -- se proof for a Creator and His purpose in the left menu...

Anders

3:13 PM  
Blogger Patmos Pete said...

Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.

7:47 AM  

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