When God Happens, by @jackaurquhart

“The moment God is figured out with nice neat lines and definitions, we are no longer dealing with God.” ― Rob Bell

“The moment God is figured out with nice neat lines and definitions, we are no longer dealing with God.”
― Rob Bell

© 2014 by Jack A. Urquhart     562 words

I have been thinking a lot about God and religion lately or, perhaps more aptly, about the place that notions of Deity figure in my life.  Which is not typically a very big space.  That is, until it is.

That egregious contradiction may not make sense, but then neither have the notions of Godliness embedded in the various religions I’ve studied over the last 5+ decades.  That “education” would include prolonged explorations of several protestant sects—most notably, the Southern Baptists—as well as forays into Catholicism, Anglicanism, and even brief matriculations in Judaism and the Latter Day Saints (Mormonism).

None were comfortable fits.  None saved my soul.

That is because, to my mind, each of those institutions, each “ism” and “ist,” presents such a desperate, primitive, even ridiculously humanized fiction of the Almighty—vengeful, jealous, outrageous, and vain; a God made in man’s image—as to beggar the notion of an infinitely majestic, all-encompassing and unknowable Creator.

I do not share these reactions in order to disrespect those who find respite in organized religion, but rather to express the struggles of my experience.  Try as I may—and I have, for decades!—I cannot found my faith in the credibility-defying sifting sands of any religious empire promulgating notions of the Divine that:

  • Are steeped in bloody human sacrifice as the price of God’s love and redemption (e.g., the Crucifixion);
  • Insist upon Supernal dogma in defiance of scientific possibility (e.g., the Virgin Birth);
  • Are rooted in convictions of ontological superiority (e.g., Jews as the One Chosen People); or that
  • Channel so-called divine doctrines via all too human—and thus, fallible—prophets (take your pick from among the many Abrahams, Matthews, Marks, Lukes, Johns, Peters, Josephs, et al!).

Indeed, it seems to me that too many of the “venerable institutions” of Godliness present a dogma besmirched on nearly every page by the anxious fingerprints of their human “creators.”

But all that aside (and yes, it’s quite a little rant), it would be a lie to say that I have eradicated God from my life.  Hardly that.  God still happens.

In truth, my notions of divinity offer a case study in cognitive dissonance: for me, there is no Deity—until there is.

Most times, the Almighty lies far from me, an unknowable seed, fallow in the deep, dark cosmos—all but fictitious.  Like life itself, I find it takes a perfect fertile moment to make God real, to bring He, She, It, Who Knows What into existence.  But sure enough, now and then, Divinity happens, born unbidden—and almost always in the rare moment of extreme joy or despair.

My God happens inside the small epiphany—the moment that comes while walking through a snow frosted forest, while gazing into the starry midnight heavens, or in the still, solemn, heart-breaking moment accompanying the death of a beloved child.  It is then, in the miraculous instant, that the Magisterium—not of any man-made church but rather, the universe itself—is revealed.  To little me!  Revealed in a split second of, yes, Divine wonder.  Beyond words.

And then I Know.

I know that there is Something more; Something more grand, more holy than any human imagination can divine.  Something unfathomable, whose infinitude is beyond dogma.  Beyond language.  And, for a little while, I am sustained.

For a little while, I am saved.

About jaurquhart

Jack Andrew Urquhart was born in the American South. Following undergraduate work at the University of Florida, Gainesville, he taught in Florida's public schools. He earned a Master of Arts degree in English, Creative Writing, from the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he was the winner of the Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Award for Fiction (1991). His work has appeared online at Clapboard House Literary Journal, Crazyhorse Literary Journal, and Standards: The International Journal of Multicultural Studies. He is the author of So They Say, a collection of self-contained, inter-connected stories and the short story, They Say You Can Stop Yourself Breathing. Formerly a writing instructor at the University of Colorado’s Writing Program, Mr. Urquhart was, until 2010, a senior analyst for the Judicial Branch of California. He resides in southern California.
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1 Response to When God Happens, by @jackaurquhart

  1. Beautiful, Jack…and a sense of the divine I recognize for all its heartbreak, ecstasy, and healing.

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