Do you believe in God?
Why? Or, why not? And what exactly does “God” mean to you?
Spoiler alert: the 600-900 words I allow myself in these posts won’t answer these questions, but they will invite you to question your beliefs. This could be dangerous; it could be liberating.
In 1984, a management consultant named Marilyn Loden coined the term “glass ceiling” to describe, as she put it, “the sometimes-invisible barrier to success that many women come up against in their careers.” I’ve leveraged her insight to create a new term, the “God ceiling,” which I describe as “the sometimes-invisible barrier to fulfillment that all humans come up against in their lives.”
Let’s start by acknowledging that we humans are meaning-makers. Our minds tell stories about everything… then forget they did and assume those stories are facts. Our twenty-first century idea of God is a modern story - there were different versions before - but to question it is considered blasphemous, even evil, by some. Why? Because they believe their God story is a fact, and have elevated that “fact” to a position of truth. As history recounts and present day experience confirms, “true believers” will gladly sacrifice their lives and kill others in the name of their absolute truth about God.
So, we have a formula here: stories become facts become truth become absolute.
We all know the Christmas story: Jesus was born to Mary and Joseph in the little town … and so on. And… Mary was a virgin. A recent poll found that ¾ of Americans today believe in the Virgin Birth.
Various other religions include the same story. Horus in Egypt, Huitzilopochtli of the Aztecs, Erechtheus in Greece, Mars of the ancient “Gods,” and Qi in China.
Let’s imagine a tense scene in ancient Bethlehem: Mary has nervously asked Joseph if she can talk with him about something important.
Mary: “Uh, I’m pregnant.
Joseph: “What? But we’ve never… Oh, no, you were raped? Or ..?”
Mary: “No, no, no, I’m still a virgin.”
Joseph: “You’re a virgin … but you’re pregnant?”
Mary: “It’s a miracle! The Holy Spirit came to me last night and I am with child. I shall give birth to the savior of all mankind who you will worship.”
So, making it personal, just to imagine the impact: “The Holy Spirit - whatever that is - impregnated my wife. He/it didn’t ask my permission. My wife enjoyed it. The baby won’t be mine, although I’ll be expected to care for him. And then I need to worship Him.”
I wonder, could that story have anything to do with why men abuse women?
God manipulates our lives without permission. He exists above an absolute barrier under which we live. We are discouraged from questioning, encouraged to obey.
How many women confronting the glass ceiling would describe their struggles exactly the same way? Women are made to feel that they are second class citizens to men; all of us are made to feel that we are second class citizens to God.
I might get struck by lightning for daring to illuminate this God story. That would be called an act of God. But it seems to me that if we hope to develop our full potential as humans and become able to truly create – as Noon Club members are practicing every day at noon when our alert sounds – it seems worthwhile to consider anything that might be limiting our power, even something so ingrained in our belief systems.
Do I believe in God? No, at least, not the familiar God story. Do I experience God? Yes. I live every day, every moment in reverence to the Divine. But this is an experience and there’s no separation. God is my nature and God includes every human regardless of their religion, every living being of every kind. I am one in the web of life which I call “God.” Is it arrogant to claim this identity, to “be God?” Quite the opposite. It’s arrogant to assume an identity separate from God.
And what about Jesus? I don’t believe his mother was a virgin. I do believe that, if he existed as the Bible reports, he provides an inspiring example of how to live as God. But I don’t witness many Christians doing that, especially those who believe anyone who tells a different God story than they do will burn in hell forever unless they “accept Jesus as their personal savior.” What a frightening story that is!
Let’s shatter the God ceiling together. It’s easy. Just express unconditional love in every moment. Next practice session? Noon today. And remember, we’ve added Love Casting to our practice. Share the love!