One of my favorite aspects of social networking is how much smaller it has made the world. Not only is it much easier to keep in touch with friends and family members, no matter where we all live, but it is also amazing to be able to communicate with people from across the globe. People with different backgrounds. People with different ideas. People with different beliefs. Throughout my time on the interwebz, I’ve made some dear friends out of some of those people who once existed only as pixels on my screen. And I’ve had some terrific conversations with people that I never would have been able to have. I’ve had the chance to ask them questions about their ideas and their beliefs, and the opportunity to teach them about my own belief system. I’ve had some great discussion about all sorts of topics with not only Jews from a variety of backgrounds, but also Muslims, Christians, former Jehovah’s Witnesses, Unitarian Universalists, Mormons, Scientologists, Pagans, and devout Atheists (yes, I realize the irony of describing them that way).
Recently, I had such a conversation with a Christian youth minister. She shared some of her ideas and beliefs about a variety of topics, and asked me about mine. Finally, she got to the big one: So, what do you believe about God?
I have to say, it’s one of my favorite questions. Because it gives me the chance to ask myself that question. One of the things I love most about Judaism is the fact that there isn’t one set God belief that we all must have. There is such diversity within Jewish theology, and I love being able to explore that. And I love being able to constantly develop and redevelop my own, personal theology. Because I was recently asked about it, and I haven’t answered my friend yet, I share it here.
First of all, I want to start by saying that as a rational person, considering God is its own challenge. But I have come to think of theology as A-Rational–not irrational, mind you, but arational–a concept that is outside of rational thought. I believe that God is very real but I also realize that these are moments that science can’t explain. I believe that we will never have proof of God. I also don’t think that’s a bad thing. If we had proof, then it wouldn’t be faith any more. And, for me, sometimes the challenge is what keeps me going.
This past Sunday, I went on a God Hunt with my fourth grade class. Divided into teams, we walked through the temple building and outside, and each team had to list as many things as they could that were evidence of God. This followed a discussion about how we can see things in many ways, and if we look at things with “God lenses” then while we can’t have proof of God, we can see evidence of God in many places. (The groups, by the way, came up with 41, 42 and 48 items each. I almost told the 42 group that they won, solely because they had 42, but that was a conversation we didn’t have time for during that lesson.) And, for me, that’s the essence of this whole matter of faith and theology. When I look around, I see things–or feel things–that strengthen my belief that there is such a thing as God.
So, what do I think God is? On the one hand, God is the stuff that connects everything to everything else. God is that spark within each of us that allows for creativity and insight. God is that which we get connected to, when we have a moment where we feel uplifted (for lack of a better word) or moved–whether from hearing beautiful music, or from prayer, or from learning a new idea, or from sharing a moment with a community, or from connecting with a friend, or from helping another person in need, or from watching the sun rise, or from accomplishing something we didn’t think we could do. I like to call them God moments–they can be few and far between–but when I have them, a lot of the doubt that frequently circles around my mind goes away for a moment.
Bringing all of that together, God is that which allows us to be the best we can be. God is the force (or The Force, if you prefer) that enables us to achieve.
And that’s what I believe. Today, at least.