Some years ago, I was in a romantic relationship, in which a quarrel-free day was enough of a reason for a celebration.
During one of the fights, when he was charging his jealousy at me, I replied, “God is my witness, I am innocent!”
“Stop it! You and your obsession with God! You’re a fanatic!”
His comment was flabbergasting. What started as a jealousy fight, ended up as a fight about my belief in God. The days that followed, when I was talking with my parents or friends from my home country, I started paying close attention to the words they used. I became more aware of what had been taken for granted for all the years. I concluded that I had grown up in an environment, where we are accustomed to pronouncing the word God, in almost every mundane conversation. Whether we express our hopes about the future or the frustrations about the present, at one point we say “May God help us!”. At the same time, I started paying attention to how friends from his culture were talking. They were at the other extreme, never mentioning anything about God. Even those who did believe in God.
Back to the current stage of my life, when reading Jesse Bering’s book, “The God Instinct, The Psychology of Souls, Destiny, and the Meaning of Life“, I found this quote on the mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin, who in 2005, publicly declared his theory according to which the hurricane Katrina was caused by God: “Surely God is mad at America. Surely He’s not approving of us being in Iraq under false pretence …”. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Was he serious?!
Reading Mr Nagin’s declaration, I remembered that before the USA’s invasion in Iraq, I happened to watch on TV one of the public speeches about the need of invading Iraq by the president George Bush Jr. Of course, I can’t remember the exact words, but I do recall that the ex-president mentioned something like “in the name of God”.
Does anyone know what God may or may not want? If yes, how can they know? I, Mr Ray Nagin and Mr George Bush Jr had a similar way of thinking: we gave God an active role to whatever happened in our lives. Though, we had our particular ways of doing just that. During my fight with my ex boyfriend, I had given God the role of the moral Witness of my life. Mr Nagin gave God the role of the Judge who disapproved the actions of the American nation, hence he sent the Hurricane Katrina upon America. Mr George Bush Jr, gave God the role of the Arbiter who gave the permission to invade another country.
I try to imagine how this world would be if we tried to let God be what He is. If we did that, then we would need to possess lots of integrity to be responsible for our own actions. If we did that, then we would need a huge amount of inner strength to still believe in God, even when bad things happen to good people.