My childhood God was one I had a running conversation with. Someone told me God heard everything, I took them at their word, and by eight years old I was walking to school and filling God in on my opinion about the way he was running things.
I did not always approve. Once I grasped the concept of injustice – and I did at a startlingly young age, I couldn’t have been more than 9 – I even expressed hatred of God for allowing all this crap to go on. God did talk back; these have never been one way conversations. And while I’m still not totally satisfied with the explanation and if I were still Christian it would be as heretical as the conversations themselves, it is an explanation that rings true to me.
The basics is that the world is a work in progress and it’s supposed to be a cooperative model. A lot of humans just aren’t picking up their part on the co-creative process, because their man-made religions convince them to leave it all to God, who will get it right because according to those religions, they’re too flawed and incompetent to take any part in creation. From what I gather, God wants to be fallible, that’s how he can find ways to make things better. Perfect systems just don’t work. They’re frozen – that’s how they stay perfect. Dynamic systems, however, do, and take on a life of their own.
Most of my information about God came through my mother. I found her early on to be a suspect source, and while when I was young I couldn’t put my finger on it at the time, I realize now I was recognizing that she was being inconsistent and at times outright hypocritical. The God I conversed with was not an overtly political God – he just wanted people to be better. All the old testament stuff about being gay or practicing witchcraft or eating bacon was irrelevant to the God I talked to and that talked back. That was minor shit that had nada to do with the Big Picture.
Still, I got into college thinking of God as some distant bearded dude in the sky saying in a booming voice, “Dont look at me!” (or “Ignore me!” a la the Venture Brothers.) I still do some things out of moral belief that make my life more difficult. I find myself wishing at times I were less honest, or willing to steal, or even have the ability to be insincere and do things like show up at events just to show off for/ fake a face I don’t have to my future in-laws. It’s not that God is watching or that God would say something to me (and God would) – it’s that so many people don’t take their part in the dynamic system God created, I feel its my job to uphold those morals and follow through on the difficulties they create so that at least my strands of the system work properly.
Church God was never really my God. I went to church, I committed to the social structure of it as a child and teenager – but the only pastor I met who would have even had a two-way talk with God was the interim pastor. And two-way talks with God in that church were the sort of thing to get you medicated. Even so, even when I was a brat and prayed for things I regret (like knowing everything, that was a poor decision and God seems set to deliver throughout the course of my life so my little head doesn’t explode) – I wouldn’t trade my interactive God experience for anything. Few things are as awesome as feeling God laugh with you – it’s like being surrounded by a chuckling hug, especially when you know God’s laughing at something irreverent.