Apr 20, 2008

God Concept

The other day I was listening to This American Life (excellent program, every time I listen to it I'm like, "Why don't I listen to this more often?") and they had this story about an Orthodox Jew who left the beliefs he'd grown up with because his hockey team lost a game that he had walked 14 miles to go see because it was on the Sabbath and he couldn't drive to get there. It was a pretty good tale, but the part that stuck with me was a conversation he and the person interviewing him had. It went something like this (and I'm completely paraphrasing because I couldn't find transcripts, but you'll get the idea):

Jew guy - I came from a kind of dysfunctional family with an over-bearing father, so when I'd go to Hebrew school and hear "Our Father who art in heaven", I'd be like "Don't tell me there's another one in heaven, he's bad enough at home!"

Interviewer - Interesting, as you say that, and I've never put this together in my life before, but my image of God is exactly like my image of my father, except bigger. Which is: he's usually not around; he'll sometimes take an interest; he means well; but mostly he's kind of like "you're on your own".

Jew guy - That's not mine; I wish that was mine. Mine was a God in Heaven lumbering around half-drunk, yelling at you and making rules that didn't make any sense.

As I was listening to this, I had a moment exactly like the one the interviewer had. I hadn't ever thought of it before, but my image of God is very close to my image of my father, but bigger. He's caring and loving, but sometimes over-bearing. Smart. Sense of humor. Plenty of rules, most of which turn out being good for me in the long run and some of which still don't make sense, but are mostly kept because I know I'll get in trouble. And for some reason, though there is no scriptural evidence for this whatsoever, I've always imagined God as a little stressed out all the time, and I'm pretty sure it's because that's how my dear father is.

I wanted to post this thought because I want to ask a question of you readers: Is your idea of God a pretty close match to your father? It seems to me that most people would find this true, but I need a wider pool to test this out.


Rachael said...

I've never really thought about it, but yeah, my idea of God is kind of like my dad. Strong, knows everything, can fix everything, solves my problems for my little payments (my dad takes cookies, God, behaving)... Although I can see Him as being like your dad too. And my Grandpa. And lots of other wonderful men I know.

As a random aside: Liesl Rosenlof is one of my new roommates. How random is that?

Valerie said...

Yes and no. 'Yes' because my dad has always taken care of us, and 'No' because I have always thought of God to be the opposite of every characteristic that bothers me about my own father.