Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Very Important Cog in a Much More Important Machine

"At some point, you have to stop and say, 'Lord, why?'" said my doctor. "But thank God we found this early. God really did protect you! Most people end up in the ICU for a week!"

There are so many things about these statements that do not ring true and clear for me.

I will absolutely never tell people what's right when it comes to religion, spirituality, and a divine being... except, perhaps, that I do not believe any higher power would approve of hurting others except in self-defense or the defense of those who cannot protect themselves. Beyond that, I only know what feels right and what doesn't... and I don't feel that any one organized religion has it entirely "right."

This makes me a grade A agnostic, and there have been times when I considered myself an atheist. So, I'm no authority on God.

But I don't think I would ever stop and say to God, in whatever form I believe in Him/Her/It, "Why would you let me develop diabetes?" If there's one thing I do believe about divinity, and I do believe there is some kind of divinity, it is that we are all very important cogs in a much more important machine that is the universe. Everything happens because that's the way the universe, and the divinity that made or is a part of this universe, works. That doesn't mean there was a conscious divine plan for me to get diabetes, just that it is one of the tiny little processes that make up this amazingly complex and ever changing universe.

And do not believe that I am so uniquely special that a personal god would protect me with an early diagnosis. Not when there are small and innocent children who develop the same disease and don't know it until their parents have rushed their limp little bodies to the emergency room, racing against time and death. This does not mean I consider myself insignificant to a personal god, but rather that I am no more special to Him than those children.

I do not consider myself cynical in this lack of belief in a personal god who makes things happen in my life or protects me. It doesn't even mean I believe there is no god, or that God must be impersonal if He exists. I believe, rather, that any such god would be an eloquent designer who created the universe (and everything that happens in it) exactly as it must be, and who would see all good people as equally deserving of whatever benevolent intervention He might offer.

But developing a chronic disease that puts me in a much higher risk category for other life-threatening conditions has certainly gotten me thinking about belief. I believe that there is divinity in the universe, though I've leaned away from picturing that divinity as a being... But my sudden sense of mortality made me ask: Is there something there for me after I die? And if I were to pray for help, is there someone to listen? And would that someone actually be willing to consider answering my prayers?

I still haven't learned those answers, or even developed much of an opinion on them... but I am no longer content to not ask them. Perhaps this is one good thing diabetes has given me.


  1. To me, the world was perfect until sin happened. Death, sickness, pain, and suffering are a result of the curse that resulted from the first sin. What God did do was provide a way to escape the punishment of this curse and gives grace for our lives. Anyway, complex subject, I struggle with the very same thoughts at times, but I then remember, gotta look at this from a different angle... :)

  2. Elizabeth,

    I love your blog!! You are so open and honest and raw and transparent. These are all very very good qualities.

    Last semester I had to read a book about morals. That book is titled, "Whatever Happened to Good and Evil." I don't have the author's name in front of me right now... I want to say it was Ross-something... Not sure. I'm sure you can google it and find it. It's a small book of under 150 pages or so. I think you would really enjoy it. It is not a book pressing for a conversion to Christianity. But it is a book that makes a case for objective morality, and outlines a case against subjectivism, which negate most religious belief systems.

    As a Free Believer, who didn't convert to Christianity until my 20's and then did it with much gusto (meaning I went from super liberal to super conservative w/in just a matter of years...and now I'm somewhere in the middle), I can say that I have been at the end of both sides of the spectrum... not believing at all in any god and then coming to know God. And having allowed myself to just walk through each season, and fully BE whoever I was going to be, has paid off well in my mid-30s. That of which is hard to explain, but I think once you get to your mid-30's it makes sense.

    Anyway I would be more than happy to send you my copy of the book. It has some of my notes in it here and there. I have a bit of a different view of Christianity than most and I disagree with SOME of what the author says about Christianity in his book - but overall...I agree with about 90% of the text.

  3. eletelephant: This actually reminds me of where I came to some of my beliefs... While studying the theology theories to better understand Milton's "Paradise Lost" and "Paradise Regained!" One of those theories was in response the the question, "God is omniscient, so he knew Adam and Eve would eat from the tree of knowledge before he even created them or the tree... Did he SET US UP to fall?" And the philosophy here is that no, he didn't set it up, it's just how things are designed. The ideal religious state was meant to be our salvation through Christ, but that salvation never could have happened if we hadn't fallen in the first place. God didn't decide to make us fall and suffer as a means to an end, but our free will and resulting fall could only serve to move the universe toward What It Was Meant To Be. Fascinating stuff.

    Sarah: I went through something slightly similar, but I was an adolescent at the time. I went from Wiccan to "saved" Christian at the age of... 15 or 16? And I had that teenage extremism going on, so I was SUPER DUPER Christian. Then I calmed down after a while. Adulthood has progressively moved me more toward agnosticism and the more Eastern idea that, while there is great divinity that drives everything in the universe, it's not in the form of a specific being.

    That book sounds interesting, and I'd love to read it. Especially since I think morality is VERY relative, and believe that the morals that are universal are really ETHICS (ethics generally being based on how other people are affected by your actions). It's sort of just a case of semantics, but I find the distiction useful. When I taught college freshman how to write argumentative papers, I really drove home the difference. Argue ethics with people, and you're talking a more universal language that will also call for the writer to explain "why." Argue morals, especially from a religious point of view, and you've immediately given yourself a handycap because people with different moral or religious backgrounds will read it in a vastly different context, and I find that too many people give "because that's the way it's supposed to be" as the answer to "why" with morals that do not ALSO qualify as ethics. I even required that IF they used the Bible as a source, they also had to use the religious text from at least one other religion in order to appeal to a broader audience and avoid alienating non-christian readers.

    I'll stop rambling now...

    It's awesome to see that you have a blog, too! I'll have to check it out. :)