One of my favourite fictional characters is a guy named Virgil Flowers who is an agent for the Criminal Apprehension Bureau of Minnesota. He is the main character in a series of novels by John Sandford, one of the authors I have been reading for years.
What makes Virgil interesting is that in addition to being a damn fine detective he is also a writer, an avid fisherman and a bit of a playboy.
But he is also another thing. He is a spiritualist.
He thinks about God. Just for a while. But every day.
There are a lot of people in the world who think about God. Relatively few of us are raised without some sort of religious influence. We are taught about God, whether his name is Allah, Buddha or Jesus or whatever.
All these gods, and there are a ton of them, are defined in pretty much the same way. They are all benevolent. They all have rules by which we must abide, in order to obtain our eternal reward. And they all espouse love for our fellow man.
So, when you look at it that way, you have to really start to wonder what the hell is going on. Because ever since people started worshiping these gods who exist as symbols of love and peace and benevolence, the primary activities on this planet have been hatred and war and intolerance.
And all in the name of God.
I don’t know about you, but I think that’s pretty strange.
I was raised as a Roman Catholic. I was baptized, took my first communion and was confirmed in the Catholic church. I was also an alter boy and a member of the Columbian Squires, which was like a junior league of the Knights of Columbus, which is the old boy’s network of the Catholic Church.
But one day in the summer of my 14th year on this planet, I was lying on the grass under a tree in Oakes Park in Fort Erie, thinking about God when something happened.
A question popped into my head.
The question was, “If God is all-present, as the Catholic religion and, well, probably every other religion that has a single god tells us, why do I have to go to a special place to worship or be close to my god?”
This question was really the beginnings of a revelation that changed my life. Because it stuck in my head and would not leave. And on the Sunday following that ‘revelation’, for want of a better word, I asked my mother that same question.
My mother was a pretty devoted Catholic herself. But I think she just liked to get all dolled up to go to church, cause she was a bit of a cutie. And it was kind of a social thing back then as much as it was a ‘religious’ thing.
She looked at me for quite a while. I could tell she was thinking it through. Then she just shrugged her shoulders and said.”I don’t have an answer, honey. At least not a good one….but I’m going to church. You can come if you want.”
And that was that.The day I excommunicated myself from the Catholic church.
I didn’t really think of it in those terms. And I honestly didn’t really mind going to church. It was very peaceful there. There was good energy and there was something strangely seductive about all that prayer going on in Latin.
I didn’t know it at the time but it was the beginning of my evolution from religion to spiritualism.
I thought about God a lot after that and it took a number of years before I was able to think of God as anything but the religious icon that the Catholic Church had burned into my brain.
But one day in February 1979, I finally understood. Because that was the day I first saw my son Daniel come into the world.
And on that day, and in that moment, it became clear to me that God is not something that is apart from us. God is something we all have inside us.
We are God. And God is us. The life force that we all share, this mysterious energy that powers us…this is God. The plants that grow. The thousands of different animal species… every living thing…this is God. The way our planet spins around the sun with our ever coming too close or getting too far away…this is God.
And just like the Catholic Church taught me, God really is all-present.
If we could only see that.
If we could only strip away the veneer of dogma that forces the separation between us. If we could only learn to see clearly how much alike we are. If we could only learn to ignore the meaningless differences and get on with living this miracle as part of one God, which is all we really are, who knows how far that could take us.
I know this will never happen. Because let’s face it, not everybody here on earth lives in the same century.
But I think about God, and what you have just read is pretty much my main thought.