Due for an allergy shot, I sat in the doctor’s waiting room with a few other patients watching a television tuned to The Weather Channel. Film footage of flooding in Australia was followed by film footage of flooding in Brazil. Next we watched Mount Etna erupting in Italy.

“God is trying to tell us something,” said a woman to my right. “And we’d better listen.”

I looked from the television to the woman and then quickly glanced around the room. There was general agreement. As much as I wanted to say “It’s weather. It’s nature. It’s the result of climate change,” I didn’t say a word.

Flooding, landslides, people missing, hundreds killed, volcanos erupting. Sorry, but an Infinite Being that’s angry and vengeful seems petty. What exactly did this woman’s God have in mind?

Being brought up in the Catholic faith I was taught that we were made in God’s image. I’m fine with that. But I have some concerns when we reciprocate, when we ascribe human characteristics to the Almighty.

Years ago, a fan of the Dallas Cowboys hinted that God wanted the team to make it to the Superbowl. That time I did not keep quiet. I said there were far too many problems in the world for God to be concerned about football. My words were not sacrilegious, because they were not directed at the Almighty. They were meant for the Dallas Cowboys.

When I think “God,” I think “free will.” We know right from wrong. We make decisions, and we live with them. Bad things happen to good people. Everyone eventually deals with sorrow and pain. That is part of life.

I looked up “God” in a dictionary and a thesaurus. In all the descriptive words and phrases — the Divinity, Supreme Being, Omnipotent, Everlasting, Eternal, Alpha and Omega, the Absolute, the Omniscient, All-Merciful, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, the Creator — I found no words that implied God was out to get us. 

If we’re going to assign human characteristics to the Infinite Being, if we’re looking for messages from on high, let’s get back to basics. We have 10 Commandments, eight Beatitudes, all kinds of information as to how we should live, what actions we should take to be at peace. 

Example: We credit God with the commandment “Thou shalt not kill,” so maybe we should cut military spending and bring our troops home. While we’re at it, we might reconsider the death penalty.

The Golden Rule — treat people the way you’d like to be treated — exists in one form or another in every religion. It serves as a moral code for agnostics, atheists, those who have no faith at all. 

One’s beliefs, one’s relationship with the Almighty is deeply personal. I am not out to convert anybody. The woman in the waiting room has her God. And I’ve got mine.

I’ll close with a quote from one of my favorite authors, Tom Robbins. "The Devil doesn't make us do anything. The Devil, for example, doesn't make us mean. Rather, when we're mean, we make the Devil. Literally. Our actions create him. Conversely, when we behave with compassion, generosity and grace, we create God in the world.

Published: The Daily Sentinel (Nacogdoches, Texas)

© Judy Morgan 2022 — jmorgan.words@gmail.com