Gaga over God

Wherein a local writer finds religion, then loses it again

Mark Drolette is a freelance writer living in Sacramento

With religion always topical, here’s what I know about God: nothing.

Just like 7 billion others.

Sure, myriad folks will claim they know about God. Some are famous—rich, too! (Probably a coincidence.) They swear they know God exists. But they don’t. How do I know?

Because I knew once. And I knew I knew, too.

Years ago, I went from doubter to believer on, well, a golf course. I was slogging through my second divorce (though had I known a third was to come, today’s story would be about the benefits of living single. On Mars. Without oxygen). I thought golfing might alleviate my misery. Only, I played horribly. This didn’t help my mindset any, nor that of the foursome behind me as I hacked away to an ugly 10.

Then, zap! God entered my life. He didn’t physically appear. (You’re probably ahead of me there.) Rather, unprecedented peace instantly enveloped me; a remarkable, ironclad sense that, forevermore, I’d be OK. I even “heard” a voice telling me I need never fear again. I birdied the next hole; if this wasn’t proof of God’s existence, nothing was. (If you’d seen me golf, you’d have believed, too.) I told anyone who’d listen of my awakening.

I’ve since realized, however, my experience was hardly proof God exists. What begat my backsliding? Let’s just say reservations about a loving God, merciful to the righteous, were driven home—literally—one hideous evening.

In 1997, a drunk driver killed my daughter-in-law. On her wedding night. In four hours, my then-stepson went from optimistic groom to comatose widower. Suddenly, bromides about God’s will fell flat, for if He’d directed that lunatic to rocket the wrong way up Interstate 80, He had revelations to make, and He wasn’t talking. (Seems the privilege of having God’s ear is reserved solely for certain anointed types anyway, who pass the word to others—once others pass a wad to them.)

Then, in 2005, I knew I’d contracted HIV. Terrified, I manifested numerous bizarre ailments while I waited the requisite weeks before testing. Finally, the results: negative. Symptoms: gone! Relieved, I’d learned about the incredible power of the human psyche (not to mention the unswerving use of condoms), of absolute “truths” the mind could concoct, regardless whether they were, well, true. These two events helped alter my view of my golf-course “conversion,” leaving me skeptical of those gaga over God.

“Tough loss,” I might hear, “but others suffer, too. And, yes, the brain is mega powerful. That doesn’t mean God doesn’t exist.”

True. And I’ve zero beef with believers—if they keep it inside. But the often-tragic fallout of devotees demonstrably “serving” their one-and-only exists everywhere. Remember the (not so) grand Sudan teddy-bear affair in 2007, when a British teacher, after allowing her pupils to dub a stuffed toy Mohammed, was convicted of insulting Islam? She was pardoned, ultimately, but not before thousands of incensed Muslims demanded her execution. Thank Allah they were devout. Imagine the ugliness had they been, say, moon-worshipping pagans.

Of course, all religionists spread their own unholy misery. (Except maybe the Quakers, who get bonus points for producing tasty and nutritious cereals, yum!) Christians have given us crusades and inquisitions; Zionists, roadblocks to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian mess. American Idol idolizers? Simon Cowell. (Saved the worst for last.)

Enough! Whatever one’s (non)persuasion, here’s the gospel according to Mark: No one knows more about God than anyone else. I’m clueless whether there’s a High-and-Almighty, and, honest to goddess, I don’t care.

I only wanna be left alone by those who do.