Why don’t Americans like to talk about God?
by jane arie baldwin
Yesterday I saw an advertisement in the New York Times Book Review of a book called, “Man Seeks God: My Flirtations with the Divine.” Two things immediately popped into my head. The first is, “I am not alone.” Meaning, there are others who dare to use the word Divine in their book titles; and two, “Oh shit! I need to get this thing finished, I’m not the only one meting out where God fits into my life.”
When I opened the opinion page there he was, Eric Weiner, author of, “Man Seeks God: My Flirtations with the Divine,” writing an article about the relationship Americans have with God. One topic he brings up is that, “a growing number of Americans are running from organized religion, but by no means running from God.” He goes on to say that, “[Ninety-three] percent of those surveyed by Trinity College, say they believe in God or a higher power, which leaves only 7 percent who describe themselves as atheists.
This is great news! It means that we are not becoming a Godless Nation as many of the pundits proclaim. It means that we as a collective have a strong faith, we just don’t know where to put it.
This is where Divine Amnesiac comes in. We are in a time of spiritual transition. We do not have the blind faith of our forebears, men and women that chose duty over mental and spiritual wellbeing. They did not have the freedom to look inward and question what was happening to them. They had to get food on the table during drought, pick up the slack when they lost a loved one to what now would be curable diseases, and they had to conform to societal laws in order to survive.
Survival is no longer a word that works for those of us who live in a Wal-Mart society. Goods are cheap and readily available. Illnesses are curable. It is the access to treatment that is questionable. We no longer live in small communities where we are governed by conformist societal laws. We live in the digital age.
Surviving was once our only choice. Today we can also choose to thrive. Thriving requires some rewiring of our thought processes and lots of practice. Where our forebears were forced to look outward and deal with the life-threatening issues at hand, we have the choice to look inward and learn from our own wisdom. That’s where God is. We are Amnesiacs because we have forgotten this simple Truth. Remembering is simple, it just takes effort to be still and know.
Mr. Weiner defines religion as, “the relationship we have with ourselves.” I agree with that definition though I cannot ignore Marx’s summation that it is the opiate of the masses. Indeed, in the history of the world, religion and politics have acted as conjoined twins to keep the masses satiated. No wonder skepticism has become the norm. Turns out, we are not skeptical of God, just religion in the old sense of the term. However, I like Mr. Weiner’s new and improved definition.
Americans don’t like to talk about God because religion gets in the way. I love it when Mr. Weiner says, “We need a Steve Jobs of religion. Someone (or ones) who can invent not a new religion but, rather, a new way of being religious.”
I believe that our society is inventing a new way of being religious. We have just not yet reached the tipping point where this universal inner wisdom has become conventional wisdom. This “religion of the Inner Self” is discovered through the creative process. Being, “in the zone,” with creative work is akin to being one with God. This is done tapping into one’s creative potential and expanding into the feelings it generates.
As Mr. Weiner says, “Like Mr. Job’s creations, this new way would be straightforward and unencumbered and absolutely intuitive. Most important, it would be highly interactive.” Then he goes on to say, “I imagine a religious space that celebrates doubt, encourages experimentation and allows one to utter the word God without embarrassment.”
When I read that I thought, “Hell yeah! Creativity is straightforward, unencumbered and absolutely intuitive!”
Creativity celebrates doubt too – Lady Gaga has built an empire on giving voice to the doubtful underdog. Creativity not only encourages experimentation it is experimentation. And creativity – whether it’s writing a song, a poem, and essay, building a sculpture or a skyscraper – can utter the word God, even in a whisper.
The religion of Self is here and is happening. The problem is the difficulty in separating Self from Ego in a manageable way for the masses. Connecting to the inner process of creativity is connecting to truth. Ego cannot hide from truth that the God we are looking for is faith in our own ability.