I suppose because of Christmas and the holidays, and Hanukkah, my next-door neighbors kid wanted to ask me about “where is God? And who is he?”
from a kid, that is not a weird question..his mom knows me, and he knows me, and he knows I read a lot of books, and have too many opinions. But he also knows I’m a sarcastic SOB, and my philosophy tends towards politics and skewering our local political jerks and monsters.
But he’s seen some of my books in my bookcase, so when he started getting to the age of asking all those questions, that parents don’t know the answers to, he knew that I’d been reading too many books and he knew he could bug me about it.
“sit down, you want a cookie? I don’t eat them myself but, I made some. It’s only half a batch, munch out; it is Devils food cake cookies.” I said to him, and I poured us some tea. “Okay, so what do you want to know? And why do you think I can answer your questions any better than your parents?” I said, waving a cookie. (I have to admit they came out pretty good.)
“I asked my parents, and they just gave me all kind of confusing answers. They said that God was up in heaven, he sees us all the time, he looks out for us, and when we die we go to heaven; stuff like that.” He looked at me funny, like he was disappointed in those answers. He was a pretty smart kid already.
“I guess I think it’s more complicated than that, so I thought okay, I’ll ask you as long as I’m asking everybody else there will talk to me about it.and I seen some of those books you have in your bookcase, I don’t know if you read them; but you must know something more.” He bit his lip. “My mom said I could go to ask our minister, about it and I’m thinking of doing that I expect he will say the same thing my parents did.”
He continued on, getting more momentum as he went.”but I don’t understand where computers, and war, and death, and people being miserable and homeless; I don’t understand any of this. What does that have to do with being good, so you go to heaven when you die? It doesn’t it doesn’t make any sense.” I had to admit he was getting pretty smart and older.
“Besides that, I don’t think it’s true. I’ve seen people who are really good,, and they really get screwed over anyway! They lose everything, I know a whole family that got homeless, and it wasn’t their fault and they were not bad! And yet, I see all those dictators everywhere, and billionaires who put everybody else small out of business, and they don’t go to hell or get bad stuff happen to them! It’s a big lie!” He exclaimed.
“It’s the opposite of what they say, of what parents and people tell you! If you’re a good person you’re the one that gets clobbered, and screwed over!,” his eyes were very wide. “And it dictators and the drug dealers, and all the really big bad guys, they get everything their way, and nothing bad happens to them!”
he stopped to bite into a cookie, looking morose. I began to see what I was up against; this kid really wanted some answers, and he wasn’t going to be content with reading “chicken soup for the soul” or “why bad things happen to good people, and who cares anyhow?” I would ‘n t recommend those books to somebody in this case.
“say, Joey, have you been noticing certain things that your parents do, and wondering about them?” I ventured. “Is there anything in particular?”
“Yes, they cheat on their taxes, and when I asked, they were mumbling about it,so I said, “why are you cheating on your taxes, if you’re supposed to be good so you can go to heaven?”
And my mom said, “well, honey the government isn’t part of heaven and the government isn’t part of God. The government is trying to screw us.” And she looked at me funny, because she rarely swears.”I mean, they want money out of us that we don’t have. And your dad finally found a loophole. Finally! It’s really hard to find any tax shelters at all now for us.we are considered “middle class”, and the middle class don’t get tax loopholes anymore.”
Joey continued, “so I said to my mom, “so it depends on who your bad to, or cheat, whether or not you’re being good or bad? You mean the government is on the bad list?”
And my mom said, “no honey, it’s just that the government is absolutely HUGE, MONSTEROUS, and we can’t support it anymore. You know that I haven’t had a new pair of shoes in about five years? I have to keep having these repaired, and they’re wearing thin on the soles all the time.they’re hurting my feet.”
“And then my dad said, “never mind, Joey, when you get older you’ll understand. Good and bad is not black and white. Ah, I can’t explain it! Can he go to the minister, talk to him?”
And my mom answered “I don’t think it would work in this case, letting the minister know we are cheating on our taxes to avoid bankruptcy.”
“to tell the truth, I didn’t know we were financially that bad off. I mean, we are never really spend – happy! Mom doesn’t throw away a lot of money on anything!”
“and that’s when my mom said, “why don’t you go next door, to our nice neighbor, who does all the reading, maybe she’d like to talk to you about it.” And so, she called you up. And that was it.”Joey looked at me, with those big eyes, as if I myself knew all the answers that his parents didn’t.
I felt absolutely cornered; maybe this was one of the reasons I never had kids. So I didn’t have to explain everything to them, that all of the adults don’t know anyhow! But I did have to make an attempt.
“First, Joey, I know that your parents are good people, and it doesn’t make them really bad if they’re trying to find a loophole in their taxpaying. They’re right that you will understand later on when you get hit by taxes yourself. It’s kind of something you have to experience to understand – like love or sex. Although getting hit by taxes is nowhere near as enjoyable. But it is quite an experience.”
“but that’s not exactly what I mean, “explained Joey further, “I mean, I know my parents are okay.but then, who is a bad person? I don’t get it. And why does God let things like this happen to my parents, and us, so that we have to do stuff like that? Doesn’t he want us to be good?” He did look thoroughly frustrated.
“well from the first.here’s the main rule that always applied to everybody; you always have to try to take care of yourself anyway that you can. This is one of the biggest rules.your mom and dad want to take care of you and the family. So if they do something wrong, yeah, it’s true that is bad. And it doesn’t excuse it.” I finished.
“What I’m trying to say is, the world doesn’t fit together nice and neat, the way everybody tells you. Like, the thing about being good; you already know it’s not true. You already realize that your parents have to find tax loopholes, just to keep a roof over your head.,and that doesn’t make them bad people; it just makes them real, struggling, human beings who don’t want you to wind up homeless someday like those friends you know.”I finally saw where this was going.
“Joey, the world is not perfect. Life isn’t perfect the way we like to have it. And people aren’t perfect either. Painting people good or bad is not really the answer. Because I don’t think your parents would do that, if they didn’t have to. You understand that?” He nodded his head
“but if there is a God, the way he made the world, it is perfect. It’s perfect in its own way. Look at all the trees in the forest and all the beautiful greenery, and all the wonderful nature. He made all the animals, and the birds of the sky; those are his perfections.”
“A lot of people have their own idea of what perfect, and they don’t see that the world is already perfect, everything he made is perfect, and it’s up to them, the human beings, to try and keep the world in good shape. Because God already made it completely perfect and beautiful; so we are the stewards who have to take care of it. We are his servants down here on earth, doing his work.”
“ Yeah, I like all that,” said Joey. “I realize that a lot of it is great that he made. I just don’t understand the rest of it, why it has to be this way.. So it’s not just as simple as people who do bad, and people who are good?”
“That’s right, it’s not that simple. If there is a God, we are part of his work here. So we’re responsible for what happens here, and what we do to each other, and I really don’t think you can say.that it’s reasonable for God to take all responsibility of making everything okay..WE need to take that responsibility, here on earth.”
Joey asked me “that means, we have to watch out for good or bad ourselves? We are responsible? And he’s not going to interfere, and make it okay?” “Now you’re getting it. Very sharp! That’s it.”
I went on, “it makes it easier to say that God is responsible for everything that happens, but he put us here to be responsible for him. So when he’s not up there in the sky or he’s elsewhere, we have a lot of responsibility here to do something about good and bad, and really try to repair it .
“and for the idea of “having to be perfect” that’s not going to happen. Because there isn’t any perfect world, and we’re not really able to make one . and you, Joey, have your own mission here on earth to do something important.” He looked at me puzzled. “Everybody on earth was sent here for a purpose, and it’s your main goal to look for that purpose and fulfill it. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be here.”
“really? Even me? I have something I’m supposed to do here?” I nodded, “yes, you are a very important person on the planet. Everybody is. And everybody has a mission to perform, and something that they alone can do. It’s your job to find yours.. (Want another cookie? You could take him home with you if you like.)”
I looked at him, scrutinizing the big eyes. “Does that help your question? I can always talk to you more later about lots of things, and I’d be glad to lend you a book or two.
“Does this kind of help to explain it? Kind of like, God has his own rules and laws, and his own idea of perfection, and that’s just what we have to pay attention to.it’s not as simple as good or bad. Every other grown-up is going to say “oh, it’s too complicated I can’t explain it wait until you’re old.” But getting old doesn’t necessarily mean you understand it any better. Unless you make the effort.”
“I guess that explains a lot better than my parents explanations. You mean, we kind of fumble along, trying to understand what we were sent here to do? And everybody has a specific mission? I like that idea. That makes a lot of sense. Things that I’m interested in, that I’m good at I’d like to do.” He finally smiled a little.
“There is good and bad in the world, Joey, that is true. There’s no way to avoid putting some labels on things. But somebody else’s version of wrong might be your version of right. I mean, if you’re a huge dictator, and you want lots of power and money, and you will do anything to get it, you really don’t think you’re a bad person. You just think, oh I want this and I need this and I’m going to do anything to get it because I deserve it.and you won’t let anybody stand in your way. And to you, you’re good.”
“But to other people, you’re being bad! And as far as dictators go, they have a right to believe that. After all, the dictator doesn’t deserve to have everything and own everything and have all the power. At least that’s how people feel about it. So there you have us trying to work out who’s bad and who is good and what is right and wrong. You’re just at the beginning of looking at it.”
“but to finish off, remember our first rule; you have to take care of yourself anyway that you can. That’s your job. And you’re on earth for some particular reason, some mission, and you have to find out what it is. Because you fit here, perfectly somewhere, and that’s why you were sent here.” I decided to end it with this.
“As far as good and bad goes for God, it’s not the same type of interpretation that we understand. It is true, he or it is very complicated and different than we are.we’re still trying to understand this creator; in fact, were still trying to find out just exactly WHAT it is.we don’t think that he has the same rules and laws that we do about everything.that’s why we don’t understand him as well. And all the things that he does.”
“I like that explanation better,” said Joey smiling. “That I was sent here for a specific reason, and purpose, and my own mission, and I just have to find out where I fit in and what it is. That’s kind of nice! That makes me feel like I really do belong.” He thought about it for a second. “So it’s not as easy as black and white, as I was thinking it was. Well, that’s okay.”
I sent Joey home with a little bag of cookies, and a pat on the head, and I told him could come back any time ask me more questions about it if he didn’t understand anything.and of course he should ask his teachers and really smart grown-up adult, and come to his own conclusions.and also, that it was okay that it wasn’t simple, or something you could just put your finger on easily.
I had tried to explain, that it took THINKING. PONDERING. Asking people questions, talking, and finally coming up to your own solutions. And also, it’s a heck of a lot more FUN.
If God were perfect, we’d all be too happy and satisfied, and so lazy we would never open a book, or try to research quantum physics, quantum mechanics, never tried to understand how matter is made, and never discover that boson thing they just found.
And if God just supplied everything in the world, and made it all perfect so that we never got hurt, and he completely watched over us like a helicopter parent,we would never do anything responsible to take care of the planet or ourselves, and we never do any thinking again. Just let that brain get a layer of fat on it,, like a nice big fat PIG! And we would be, especially me, BORED TO DEATH!
and we would never, delve into the mechanics of quantum physics, try to find out what exactly the universe and ourselves is made up of. A fascinating subject in itself.
Let’s put it this way; the perfect God,, is one who stays out of your way. Haw Haw.Oh, and maybe he makes devil’s food cookies with no calories!!ha ha ha HAW HAW!! I think i just found a recipe for pumpkin muffins!!
(Sandraminadotty , signing off on 12/8/2012, pouring herself another cup of tea. 🙂 )