No One Laughs at God

Let’s get the fine print disclaimer out of the way early so I don’t get blamed for spektor proselytizing later on. I‘m one of those nut cases that actually believes there is a God (capital G) and all the baggage that relationship brings with it. With me, it’s personal, not complicated, and based on life experiences of failure and success that have led me to believe that some power, much larger than me, has had my back from the start and seems to know that I have the ability to be a persistent screw-up but worthy of second chances.

No one laughs at God
When the doctor calls after some routine tests
No one’s laughing at God
When it’s gotten real late and their kid’s not back from the party yet

It seems however, that every time I make an attempt to explain to someone why I hold such beliefs my mind is far more eloquent than are my lips ….. so much gets lost in translation. Much of it illogical and without explanation, and frankly, unbelievable to those that have no use for such things. There is a part of me recently that has wondered if there is a way to make my thoughts more intellectually, realistically and personally palatable for my friends of ‘disbelief’. I may have found it in a very unlikely place; Pop Culture.

No one laughs at God in a hospital
No one laughs at God in a war
No one’s laughing at God
When they’re starving or freezing or so very poor

Most of my enjoyable and enlightening conversations come from discourse with those that have worldviews far removed from mine; politically, socially, economically, experientially, and spiritually. Living in a region of the US where existentialism or secular humanism are prevailing philosophies offers great opportunities for discourse. These conversations with really bright people are typically circular in nature and tend to lead to the same sources; the ‘anything and everything goes’ essence of relativism, human morality, ethics, agnostic or atheist labels, and the total contradiction to their enlightenment of anything as big as something like a God.

No one laughs at God
When the doctor calls after some routine tests
No one’s laughing at God
When it’s gotten real late and their kid’s not back from the party yet

I just don’t see life like them. How could I convey the idea that life does not begin and end with what they think, feel or have experienced? That they have infinitely less control over things than they imagine and quite possibly they are light years away from understanding all there is to understand (let alone comprehend). Whether they want to believe it or not – there likely will come a time when they search for some supernatural security blanket, or a reason to explain or blame where their comprehension and understanding falls short. It’s during these times when one realizes just how small and powerless we really are.

No one laughs at God
When their airplane starts to uncontrollably shake
No one’s laughing at God
When they see the one they love hand in hand with someone else
And they hope that they’re mistaken

Regina Spektor is a Russian born singer songwriter living in New York City. She wrote a song titled Laughing With (click for music and lyrics), lyrics highlighted nearby. She has nailed what I think about but have heretofore been unable to verbalize about the proportion of God in terms of us and the stuff we face in our own lives. When my kids didn’t get home before curfew, or my dad didn’t wake up from his nap, or I failed miserably in one way or another; my thoughts didn’t focus on my ability to right the wrong. They centered on something where hope had a fighting chance; God.

No one laughs at God
When the cops knock on their door
And they say we got some bad news, sir
No one’s laughing at God
When there’s a famine or fire or flood

I have no idea where Ms. Spektor stands spiritually other than what can be gleaned from an interview quote; “”I’m always fascinated with faith, religion, and spirituality, and what those things are to each other, or how they come together or don’t come together”. That tells me she falls somewhere between Billy Graham and Christopher Hitchens. Laughing With may simply have been a fleeting thought for Regina that turned into music, but for me, it was a thought clarifier in terms that I understand.
                                                                                                                                                        No one laughs at God in a hospital
No one laughs at God in a war
No one’s laughing at God
When they’ve lost all they’ve got and they don’t know what for

Thanks Regina.  I can relate.

No one laughs at God
On the day they realize that the last sight they’ll ever see
Is a pair of hateful eyes
No one’s laughing at God
When they’re saying their goodbyes

{Regina Spektor, FAR (2009), Sire/Warner Bros. Records}

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5 Responses

  1. Thanks Scott-

    Nice insights.

    Merry Christmas!

    Kevin Stapleton

  2. Very good post Scott. Yeah, I guess Maine isn’t as God-fearing a part of America as, say Georgia or Texas.

  3. It’s true that religious belief often seems to correlate with adversity, but I’ve never understood why people interpret this correlation as evidence of truth. To me it suggests that people use belief in the supernatural as an emotional defence mechanism.

    Contrary to your fourth paragraph, the atheists and agnostics I know don’t believe that they know or understand everything. And they also don’t overestimate their importance in the world or the universe. It seems to me that it’s people who posit an omnipotent cosmic intelligence with a personal stake in their wellbeing are guilty of the latter.

    Atheists may not “laugh at god” in times of adversity, but that doesn’t mean we start believing in one either.

  4. Scott – it is so hard to explain faith…it is a matter of the heart. All I do is pray for their hearts to open so they too can experience the peace that surpasses all understanding. Merry CHRISTmas!! Love to all.
    Maria

  5. good stuff jal13 …. not understanding other people is okay, dismissing their perspectives without making thoughtful inquiries as you have done, isn’t … first and foremost let me make a distinction which you alluded to in your first sentence and that is in my life there is a major difference between religious and spiritual … religious is man-made (liturgy, ritual, denominational rulebooks) and I ran away from that years ago …. for me, the spiritual is the essence of my belief > God himself in relation to me; BasicMan …. all that religious stuff tends to take focus away from God …..
    ironically I see my faith more connected to the positives in my life than I do the adversities …. with that said, I lament that you see belief in the supernatural as merely a crutch or emotional defense mechanism during times of adversity …. I think you may be seeing only half of the story …. there’s much more to faith and belief in the supernatural than that … or maybe we simply come at this issue from polar opposite directions > I see myself as a pretty minor player in an infinite cosmic context where our existence is not the result of pure happenstance but of something far bigger than either you or I can imagine. I’m ok with that because there is and always will be far more that I do not know, nor cannot understand or comprehend than what I can.
    Allow me to ask you the same question which you posed for me except to replace some of the words; It’s true that a lack of religious belief often seems to correlate with adversity and displays itself with a sense of fatalism, but I’ve never understood why people interpret this correlation as evidence of truth. To me it suggests that people use a lack of belief in the supernatural as an emotional defence mechanism in terms of their own human limitations.
    glad to have you on the site, jal13 … from BasicMan to you > Merry Christmas – really!

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