Feline Focus

Feline Focus
My latest puma, July 2016


Beloved companion to Sarah, Nov 2015

Window To The Soul

Window To The Soul
Watercolour Horse, June 2015

Sleeping Beauties

Sleeping Beauties
Watercolour Lionesses, Nov 2012


"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read."

"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others."

Groucho Marx

Snow Stalker

Snow Stalker
Another snow leopard - my latest watercolour offering - July 2013

02 March 2014

Deconstructing God

“Now the supreme irony here is that you have all placed so much importance on the Word of God, and so little on the experience.  

In fact, you place so little value on experience that when what you experience of God differs from what you’ve heard of God, you automatically discard the experience and own the words, when it should be just the other way around.”     From ‘Conversations With God’, by Neale Donald Walsch

Who is God?  What is God?  Where is God?  What do you think God looks like?  Does your God have another name, or names, by which you call Him/Her/It?  Do you call God “Lord” or “Father”?  If you do believe in God, or a God, whose God is it in which you believe?  And what do you mean when you say that you believe?  What is it that you believe about God?  

Do you believe that God is a person, who looks rather like Santa Claus, and lives up in the heavens, looking down on us all, out of reach, out of touch, and only to be contacted in emergencies, or at specific times (i.e. does He/She keep certain ‘office’ hours - no praying except on Sundays, at Christmas, Easter, Lent, etc, dependent on the dictates of whichever religion to which you belong), and in specific places (are churches and other religious buildings God’s offices)? 

Or, if you do pray any other time, do you not expect a direct ‘answer’, because you believe that you’ll have to wait in line while S/He gets to your request, and until the next available interpreter has time to speak to you on His behalf (your local priest, vicar, the pope, etc - ‘cos, let’s face it, you know God’s not going to talk to you directly because you’re too far down the ladder of sin for Her/Him to bother with, or to expect to be able to understand what S/He’s trying to communicate to you)?

Or do you have a more abstract concept, that God is energy, and, as such, is contained within everything, and around everything - is everything, and nothing; the beginning, middle, end, and everything in between?  And, if so, how’s that working out for you when it comes to the question of praying to, or communicating with, It/Him/Her?

And what does the word pray mean to you?  How do you do it, if, indeed, you do?  Do you pray out loud, or in an awe-struck whisper, ‘cos you don’t want to disturb or upset Him/Her?  Do you include a lot of grovelling and pleading, apologies and thanks for Her/Him having taken the time out of His busy schedule to notice you for the scant amount few minutes that you’ve dared to attempt to communicate with Her - a schedule which includes running the world and doing much more important things than bothering with you (not that you aren’t part of the world, of course, but we neglect to recognise that fact)?  

Do you recite set prayers that you’ve learnt because you think that’s the ‘proper’ way to talk to God, and S/He’ll not respond otherwise?  Do you get down on your knees, even if your knees are knackered and it causes you pain?  Do you put your hands together in a prayer position, and bow your head, and close your eyes?  Or, if you believe in the universal energy concept, do you focus on the breath, imagining it as God’s energy entering into you?

Do you believe that God is punishing?  Why?

Do you believe that God is male?  Why?

Do you believe that Jesus is God?  Why?

Do you think that you have to join, or ally yourself with, a religious or spiritual group, thereby identifying yourself with a label (be it Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Mormon, Spiritualist, Pagan, etc) in order for your faith to be considered real?  Why?

Do you think you have to be good, prove yourself worthy enough, before you can have a relationship with God, or ask for help?  Why?

Do you believe that God ‘wrote’, or dictated to His/Her special people, the words in the Bible, the Torah, the Qur’an, the Vedas, etc, and that what’s in there is therefore The Truth - definitive, literal, unimpeachable, undeniable, irrevocable, immutable?  Why?

Do you believe that people who have studied the Bible, or other religious/spiritual texts, understand God better than you, and are therefore closer to Her/Him?  Why? 

Do you believe there can only be one ‘right’ way to believe?  Why?

Do you believe that there are only a chosen few, to whom God imparts spiritual knowledge and wisdom, in order that they might lead the rest?  Why?

Do you think that God chooses sides?  Why?

Have you ever asked yourself any of these questions?  If you believe any of this stuff, and do any of this stuff, have you asked yourself why?  And, if not, why not?  Do you believe that you are not allowed to question God, or the idea of God, but simply obey?  Why?  Who is it you are obeying?  God?  Or another person, who is speaking on behalf of God, and perhaps tells you that God will be angry if you don’t do as you’re told?  Why?   

For myself, most of my beliefs about God came from the mainly unconscious absorption of other peoples’ ideas, which were mostly christian in nature, and negative (so I associated God with my dad, most likely as the result of having taken very literally the christian reference to God as “Our Father”: and believed for a long time that they were somehow in cahoots, and that if I did anything remotely ‘wrong’ (like utter a swearword, even a mild one like “bloody”) then my dad would somehow find out from God, and I’d be in trouble.  

So I spent a great deal of time apologising to this God, whom I didn't understand, for every misdemeanour, no matter how minor.  And in my confused mind they became irrevocably linked, which meant that everything my dad was, God was - moody, hypercritical, demanding, inconsistent, gloomy, etc).

I have no conscious memory of how, or from where, I picked up these ideas (much like most of what I absorb); I wasn’t raised in a religious household, and my sole exposure to religion came from school.  And yet the only thing I can really remember about them is the dreaded, once a month hymn practice each class had to endure in infant and junior school - having to sit still on a hardwood floor for an extended length of time (which seemed like an eternity to a restless child with the extra burden of unrecognised ADHD), and practice singing the same hymns repeatedly until we got them ‘right’.  Is it any wonder I equated God with punishment?  That’s how it felt, having to endure this torment.  

And, seemingly, the world around me is in agreement, because there is so much evidence put forth to support the negative view of God and faith.  I wonder why that is?  Why do I, we, find it so much easier to see what’s bad in the world?  Whatever the reason, the change began for me when I learnt that God/faith and religion are two separate things.  God did not make religion, man did.  And all the crap associated with it is man-made.  What an astoundingly simple idea, and yet it has produced such miraculous results.  God is not my Father after all.  What a relief! 

Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard
An experiment in watercolour and gouache

Quotes Quota

"Do you believe in Magic?" asked Colin.

"That I do, lad," she answered. "I never knowed it by that name, but what does th' name matter? I warrant they call it a different name i' France an' a different one i' Germany. Th' same thing as set th' seeds swellin' an' th' sun shinin' made thee well lad an' it's th' Good Thing. It isn't like us poor fools as think it matters if us is called out of our names. Th' Big Good Thing doesn't stop to worrit, bless thee. It goes on makin' worlds by th' million - worlds like us. Never thee stop believin' in th' Big Good Thing an' knowin' th' world's full of it - an call it what tha' likes. Eh! lad, lad - what's names to th' Joy Maker."

From 'The Secret Garden', by Frances Hodgson Burnett


Copied from photograph of the same name by Roberto Dutesco

Quotes Quota

"There is no way to happiness - happiness is the way."
The Dalai Lama

"If you don't stand for something you will fall for anything."

Malcolm X

On The Prowl

On The Prowl
Watercolour tiger

Quotes Quota

"What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step."

"There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind."

C S Lewis