God Is No Laughing Matter: Art Journal Pages

Rather than blog all of it, I decided to try art journaling God Is No Laughing Matter. I learned a few things about art journaling – the importance of making background pages first and I developed a keen awareness that I could benefit from taking some of those art classes available through Itunes University.

This isn’t all the pages. It isn’t even most of them. It did wind up taking longer to go through the book than normal just because I viewed the page setup as an obstacle. If I do it again, it will just be journal-journaling.

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God is no laughing matter: Do I believe in my childhood God?

Church in Northeast Minneapolis
Short answer: no.

Long answer: By the time I got to age 17 or 18, I expressed it like this:

“I certainly believe in God. I just don’t know what I believe about God.”¬† I’m not sure what the term for this might be – it likely falls somewhere on the agnostic spectrum. I know with visual certainty there is life after death but what that entails is still foggy. But beyond that? It’s not like I can’t tell when it comes to mores around things not involving violence – like sex – somebody somewhere made up a bunch of bullshit rules because s/he didn’t like something even though s/he isn’t harmed by it. I’ve seen Mean Girls. I’ve lived Mean Girls. So I know exactly how these people got away with establishing a cultural system based on shaming people and making them miserable for being who they are. That’s not God, that’s monkey. Big Human monkey bullshit.

The situation has always made me think traditional faith as it is most vocal in the states is actually for the permanently juvenile. Mature people can dislike something, recognize it’s not harmful and move on. Immature people, it often seems, join churches. They proceed to march around demanding absolutely everyone in their path live by THEIR rules and their rules only, with no regard for whether those rules are beneficial to the people they’re essentially assaulting. (This is sweeping and offensive and at least partially untrue. But it’s how it looks to me.)

My childhood God was one of those gods. My biggest mistakes in life, the ways I’ve hurt others the most, always came from my belief in that particular version of the Christian God. I practiced the faith sincerely as a teenager – and in the process hurt and alienated a lot of people going through some really bad stuff.¬† I was hurt in turn.I was hurt more, I think, by persistent atmosphere of hypocrisy in the house I had to live in as a child. At my church, God loved everyone. In my house, God loved us all but really only if we were white, acted like ladies, avoided happiness, never expressed anger, voted Republican and let our parents make all our decisions forever. God, in that house, was a prima donna that no one could please.

Sex and religion merited a whole other discussion- especially since it was very clear to me very early that there was a whole lot of preaching and absolutely no practicing in that department. I’ve actually started and stopped several essays on that subject. My mother’s and sister’s interest in my sexual development is extremely disturbing and a bit triggering; religion was part of it – but not really. I knew it was mostly them, making things up to control me and suit themselves.

God is no laughing matter: intro

Hmong Farmer's Market March 2013

One of the odd keys to the Artist’s Way is that it requires an openness to the possibility of God*. It doesn’t need to be one of the bearded male versions out there. It just needs to be some possibility of a force for managed good in the universe. A hard atheist might have a problem… or not. Math could be God. Physics could be God. Both seem like evidence enough of cosmic order to me. Even the natural occurrence to entropy seems pretty godly – like there’s even an intent for chaos out there, somewhere.

So Some People Say that God is No Laughing Matter is, while technically spiritual, really more on creative exercise on a deep level. I need it.

I’ve been feeling a little disconnected lately – lots of things ending and beginning – and getting back in touch with my own sense of the sacred will help me fill that very necessary creative pool.

I like my gods fluid, picturesque, occasionally female or literal in a hard polytheist sort of way. Sometimes, though, I like my god metaphorical. I have even warmed up to the possibility that I am God (and you are, and your uncle is, and your dog is and that blade of grass is.) I’d grin and say a lazy “It’s all good,” but the ex-boyfriend that tweaks out is long gone in a puff of neurosis, so it’s just not as fun to say as it used to be.

However that is, I am definitely not an atheist and only occasionally agnostic.

I am optimistic about this work through. It will take the time it takes – and hopefully give me more ways to engage with other artists and with other Pagans as well. I am going to skip the stuff about parents and family; that territory has been well explored. I know how they attempted to form me and how their failed dogmas just obviously didn’t work; I’m also aware I’m a free-thinker who just hasn’t, for whatever neurochemical¬† reason, landed on atheism.

So on I forge, for who knows how long! I meant it when I said I planned to work through every single one of Julia Cameron’s books. Some aren’t particularly bloggable – the Creative Life, like her prayer books, works best as short snippets for daily meditation.

Maybe I’ll post here daily, or find myself resisting a question. Happens with every passage. As it is, I’m slowly coming to the creative coaching I’d still like to see that Cameron hasn’t written/has yet to write. Meditations on taking criticism and giving feedback, coaching through the revising process – perhaps more crassly commercial, but creativity for those in the land of social media.

Eventually there will be things here from other creativity gurus. Things like War of Art and Writing Down the Bones. Maybe a few Wrecked Journals here and there. Right now I’m still following the Artist’s Way path, book by book, date by date, morning page by morning pages.

Right now it’s leading me to a straight on look at God.

*Perhaps not so odd if you’re aware of the influence of 12-step programs on its creation.