In college I took a course in theology. The first paper we wrote was about God and if God had become irrelevant in in today’s culture (that was in 2000 but culture hasn’t changed too much since then). At the time I was leaning more toward a relevant God and though I don’t remember exactly what I wrote, it concluded that God was relevant but that religion or its practice needed to be adaptable and progressive, that perhaps the written word was meant as a guideline and not a verbatim set of rules.
I am not sure if I still think that way. In fact I’m not even sure if I believe in a God at all. There I times I consider myself and atheist, other times I identify more with agnostics, saying I don’t know, but there are still times, however rare that I do find myself feeling and thinking that there is some sort of a creator out there. For the most part that creator is the universe, not the mass and volume of it but the force behind it, perhaps more as a form of energy. I find myself relying on this creator or universal force when I seek some form enlightenment or connection. Be it in times of sadness and grief, or desperation and need and even elation and joy, I do find myself affiliated with a creator.
Note how I avoid using the term “God”; recently I realized I have an issue with this word, as it fuels as sense of defiance and sarcasm. It doesn’t stop there, the fact that the word “God” is considered to be masculine and the use of the pronoun “he” has the same effect. You might think this is a feminist agenda, but it isn’t. The pronoun “she” is no better. I don’t want my creator to have a gender. Not a he or a she. Assigning gender diminishes its mystic and powerful presence. My creator/universe is genderless, nameless and shapeless.
I have thought about this for a while now trying to understand where my opinions and feelings toward this concept come from. Religion is the most powerful force governing the world, even in the 21 century. Having a clear understanding of what it means to each individual is very important. Here is what I’ve come up with to explain my dislike and repulsion for the words, religion, God, and he.
I grew up in Iran as a secular person perhaps because my parents were secular. However religion played a very prominent (and for many negative) role in that country and the lives of those around me. We learned about it extensively in school and I witnessed people practicing Islamic prayer rituals. Though I did not personally affiliate with it, I suppose it did get ingrained in parts of my brain. I remember my beloved grandmother praying daily and how spiritual and lovely she appeared to me during her prayer rituals. Somewhere deep inside, I defined true prayer and affiliation with a creator, through visions of my grandmother praying.
In Iran, Khoda (that is the Farsi word for Gad) is genderless, not a he or she. Khoda is also shapeless and formless. Assigning any physical attributes to this creator is somehow believed to diminish is powerful meaning. The only physical attribute I recall from all those religions lessons is perhaps that of “light”. That is the only metaphor I recall affiliating to the creator. When I think of my past, it is no surprise that I still identify with a creator, similar to the concepts I learned in those early formative years.
For me, in those rare moments that I affiliate with a universal force/creator, a metaphysical, genderless and shapeless power/energy is more congruent with my inner belief system. I want to make a firm stand for my beliefs. I am anti religion; I don’t believe in it or subscribe it in any shape or form. I am at best a reluctant and indecisive believer of a universal force and if I have to use a pronoun that is “It”, and not a sexualized being. I opt for “It” because I find repeating the word “universal force/creator” to be too cumbersome and visually tiring. I haven’t decided yet if this creator is an intervening in our lives, but I am leaning more toward a non-intervening creator. In the end and despite all my curiosity and defiance, I am perhaps affiliating more with a creator that is similar to what I learned during my formative years in Iran. That is a sobering thought. Even my dislike of “religion” perhaps stems from seeing its negative effects in my childhood and still seeing its negative effects today through the same cynical and critical eyes.
That is my piece and now that I’ve said it I have peace!
Thanks for reading
* image taken from http://www.top-walls.com/wallpaper/nasa-astronomy/