If I Ever Hear God's Voice, I'll Shit My Britches

 Let me begin by saying that I’ve never heard the voice of any god, demon or angel.

Never! Trust me, I’ve never even gotten a phone call from one. I’m just as relieved to tell the you the truth, because if I ever did hear the voice of a god, any god, I’d shit my britches. On the one hand, it would be the most earth shattering conversation I’ve ever had, assuming that god would let me ask a few questions. But even if I’m rendered speechless from wonder, I can tell you that my life would never be the same again. And, if I actually got to see god, I probably wouldn't be able to ever recover from the experience.

 Lots of people that I’ve known personally claim to hear from god on a pretty regular basis.

Their casual approach to dialoguing with the creator of the universe is rather mindboggling. It leads me to believe that they know very little about the wonders of our vast universe in the first place. No one in their right mind would approach the creator of such marvels so nonchalantly and about such petty concerns otherwise. Nor would they go away and quickly forget the experience.

 My mom talked to god all the livelong day.

She carried on casual conversations. I could hear her in the back room mumbling things, and I knew she was at it again. She’d lose her car keys and god would help her find them. She’d be worried about some earthly detail and ask god for advice. Her endless hurts inflicted upon her by my dad were often discussed with god. Sometimes, she could be heard beseeching god to drive the demons away. In my mom’s world god was her constant companion even while demons lurked in the shadows. Yet, she had a very simplistic view of the universe, almost no knowledge of science and few explanations for the wonders of the natural world. I contend that if she had known a little bit about how things worked, she’d have been significantly humbled.

For all the talk about hearing god’s voice, something that I think should rank higher than meeting the president or a movie star, I see very little evidence of the experience changing people’s lives.

Believers slip into these rambling often self-centered conversations with their imaginary friend far too casually and then go about their daily business making risky choices and doing foolish things. You’d think that talking to the supreme power would have more impact on their behaviors. You’d think that having had such an amazing experience, they’d gain wisdom. You’d think that there would be less fear and anxiety after meeting god in such a personal fashion.

 But it doesn’t appear to be the case.

Instead, the devout can meet with god over breakfast and then fight with their spouses over some triviality by noon. They can brag about how they have this personal relationship with an almighty being but rely on alcohol to get them through the night. They consult with god for advice but still choose terrible life partners and raise damaged children. If knowing god in such a personal fashion has no more affect than that, I’m suspicious.

 Of course, I don’t believe anyone, anywhere is hearing the voice of a god.

It’s far more likely that they’re simply talking to themselves. My mom did a lot of talking to herself and her children sat by and watched her. When we were tiny, we really believed that our mommy was hearing god’s voice. We took it for granted actually that her daily consultations were protecting us and helping her solve problems. We grew up to whisper a few prayers of our own. I use to make a deal with god. I promised him that I’d never ask for a favor for myself as long as he’d let me live long enough to raise my children. And, I never did. I always worried that favors might be limited and so I was very careful to save my requests for a rainy day.

Now, I look back on those days of prayer and realize that I’d been indoctrinated from birth to believe in nonsense.

It was one great, big social construct that my culture had invented and no more real than the story of Hansel and Gretel or Cinderella. Once, I managed to eradicate the god virus in my brain, which took considerable effort, I saw my mother’s conversations with god as absolutely ludicrous and even a kind of borderline child abuse.

 It’s too damn easy for people to make these fantastical claims about hearing god’s voice and about god answering their prayers.

Once again, it’s their word against no word from god. None. I can't check out their outlandish claims by hearing god's voice for myself nor am I willing to confuse a warm fuzzy feeling with angels singing glory, glory, glory. In order to play their game, I’ve got to declare that the emperor is clothed even when it’s plain to me that he’s as naked as a jaybird.

So I call their bluff!

It’s no longer difficult for me to do so either, because If I ever did hear the voice of a god, demon or angel, you can bet your bottom dollar, my life would never be the same again. It would rock my world, changing me and the way I view life beyond recognition. Unlike those who carelessly claim to hear from a god every day of their unimpressive lives, I can give a hypothetical god her proper place in the universe knowing full well that to hear her voice would be a miracle.

Until I do hear her voice, I can be pretty sure that no one else is hearing from her either. Guess what? It’s been pretty quiet out there in the great beyond for a long time.

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Comment by moT on January 31, 2018 at 10:52pm

Do the voices in my head count??

Comment by Michael Penn on January 26, 2018 at 4:11pm

It scares me to death, Teresa. I know people just like your dad and at 71 I'm old enough to remember all the changes in Fundamentalism. Your religion is personalized when you "know" it's going to happen in your lifetime. That's exactly like those 12 disciples were supposedly told by Jesus sooo many years ago.

Comment by Teresa Roberts on January 26, 2018 at 3:57pm

Michael, I think you are absolutely right in saying that there are those who are fanatical enough to relish the idea of the apocalypse. My dad was one. He never bought a grave plot because he was certain that he was going to be raptured. Needless to say, he died last year at age 86 and was buried whether he liked that idea or not. To have people with these notions in all levels of government now is pretty damn scary. 

Comment by Michael Penn on January 25, 2018 at 9:05am

The gullibility of "bow your head and close your eyes" when you pray and "talk to god" has brought us ignorance in many ways. Houdini and James Randi battled Spitiualism but the religious believers keep bringing it upon themselves and want to include all of us. Anne Graham recently said that god would deal with America, and possibly through a nuclear strike. (Kim now works for god) Bachmann was know to have said that Obama was "bringing on the Apocalypse." The odd thing here is that people with this kind of thinking would want it to happen and they might even want to have their own finger on the nuke button.

Comment by Teresa Roberts on January 25, 2018 at 8:50am

Hi, Michael and Loren. It's always irritated me that people make these silly claims that they hear god's voice. Prayer as a means to talk to god has equally annoyed me. It seems too arrogant. Then, when these same folks tell me what they asked god to do for them, petty concerns like getting a job or finding their car keys, I'm even more blown away by their audacity.  

Comment by Loren Miller on January 25, 2018 at 7:48am

Even if you WERE to hear some disembodied voice, how would you know it was god and not some other spirit / demon / boojum / whatever?  And as for those who claim to talk to god, note that god never tells them anything they couldn't know themselves, at least nothing that isn't verifiably true.

Comment by Michael Penn on January 25, 2018 at 7:27am

Years ago I was in Texas in a little church service where the sermon topic was that you are nothing until you hear god call your name. The preacher made it sound good and others were up in the aisles weeping and crying. You hard the words "yes" and "Jesus" often. After the sermon some said at the dinner that it was all true. The weeping almost started again.

I also remember that I was working on my car once and laying on the ground under it when I heard a voice call my name. Was that god? I couldn't see who it was or know from how far away it came. What would god sound like? Does anyone other than me have my name?

Just a few thoughts on god calling your name. Even today I have friends who claim they talk to god all the time. Personally, I'll just stick with Casper.

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