Adjust your dial for static, tune in to the right frequency, and listen to a unique radio station featuring the rhythm of the universe's divine hum and your extraordinary story. Stay tuned for a special broadcast direct from God- does He have your attention yet?
Scott and Jerry engage in an insightful conversation about God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher from the series What's On Your Mind, responding to exciting stories and spiritual experiences from readers / listeners: Letitia, Alice, and Nilda, and their reactions to God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher, expressing a desire to hear and discern God's will throughout the journey of life.
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Related Episodes: [What's On Your Mind] Trusting God; Is God Hiding?; Seeing With Divine Eyes; Mindful Moments; God's Frequency; Spiritual Living; A Relationship With God; Spiritual Judgment
Related Episodes: [Video] Is God Trying to Get Your Attention?
80. Reader And Listener Responses | Series: What's On Your Mind [Part 6]
Scott Langdon [00:00:17] This is God: an Autobiography, the podcast. A dramatic adaptation and continuing discussion of the book God: an Autobiography, as Told to a Philosopher by Jerry L. Martin. He was a lifelong agnostic, but one day he had an occasion to pray. To his vast surprise, God answered- in words. Being a philosopher, he had a lot of questions, and God had a lot to tell him. Episode 80. Hello, I'm Scott Langdon, and welcome to episode 80 of God: An Autobiography, the podcast and the sixth edition in our series What's on your Mind? This is where Jerry Martin and I read and respond to emails from listeners of this podcast and readers of the book God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher. Today, we share with you three stories of experiences of God shared with us by Letitia, Alice, and Nilda. We share their emails today because they all three express, in their own way, the desire to hear and discern God's will for our lives. And those are some of our favorite kinds. If you'd like to share your experience of God, or if you'd like to ask a question or leave a comment, please feel invited to email us with your questions and comments to questions at God and Autobiography Icon. Thank you for spending this time with us. I hope you enjoyed the episode.
Scott Langdon [00:02:20] Welcome back dear friends and welcome to Episode 80, this is our 6th edition of What's On Your Minds. That's where Jerry and I talk about some of the e-mails that have come into us from listeners of this podcast, and from readers of the book, and Jerry, we get to really dig into what it means to have a relationship with God and to share that experience of that relationship with one another. I love doing these kinds of episodes here.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:02:49] Yes, I just find them so illuminating. It's the only word for it, you know, in the sense of lighting up part of the sky, because everyone has their own experience, and each experience is one we can learn something from and learn something different, a bit, from what we learned in another one.
Scott Langdon [00:03:12] You know, the more seriously I take my photography, the more I get a sense of this idea of seeing things through our own lenses. You know, sort of it's our-- everyone's experience is everyone's individual experience.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:03:31] Yes.
Scott Langdon [00:03:31] And we talked a lot on the past few episodes, really, about this idea that God and you and Richard talk about it in the last couple of episodes, of separate and same, that is the essential nature of us is God. And, so, here we are on the earth, in our humanity, in our lives, appearing and acting and being separate, while being ultimately connected. And, so, when I experience the world as me, that's, sort of, that's my version, and yet it's on behalf of the collective in the sense that I'm compelled to find out other people's stories, and tell my story, and have other people hear my story and vice versa. It seems like we were wired for that- here's my experience, what's your experience? We crave that, we love it.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:04:29] Yeah, no, that sounds exactly right. We're here to impart, to interact with each other, and to learn from each other, and to be open to each other. And open in the sense of love, and so forth, but first of all, just in terms of understanding. You know, we talk about listen. Listen to God is such a theme, it's the name of part one of God: An Autobiography, but we also listen to each other. As a friend of mine says, when I'm talking, I'm not learning anything.
Scott Langdon [00:04:58] Oh, right. Right.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:04:59] I'm learning.
Scott Langdon [00:05:00] Right. Yeah. You hear-- I have heard a lot of cliche before about how important it is to listen. You know, you have two ears and only one mouth for a reason. That's why God--.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:05:11] Okay.
Scott Langdon [00:05:11] You know, all of that. And it's, you know, you've heard those kinds of things. And, you know, but it really is true. There really is something even more than to be said. There is really something very important, essential to developing the art of listening well. Where do you need me, where do you want me? And if I sort of listen and then lean into that, the faith is that God makes that known in my heart, in my mind, in every step I'm taking.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:05:47] And one of the things you need to develop is the capacity to trust, not uncritically trust, but to basically trust your own sense of when you're picking up the harmony when you're connecting and it's the right fit. This is where I'm called, this is what I need to do. And that's at a personal level, you know, in a marriage or family, it's at the community level, and the national level, global level, and it's also at the cosmic level. God talks to me, it's in the book, about the divine hum of the universe. Among the things God is, is the divine hum of the universe. And so you kind of think is that a kind of music of the spheres that I can get in tune with? You know, and take into my life and synchronize, you might say, be in the right rhythm and on the beat with the divine hum of the universe.
Scott Langdon [00:06:50] Yeah, that is a desire. And I've heard that term before, before we even met, the idea of that divine hum. And I've always been interested in that and excited to be led by that. What, the mystery of it, and I want to, and when I-- So, the faith is that when you put out to God, you know, your prayers say, you know, I want to do Your will and I want Your will to be done. And then it's not always for me as cut and dry as, okay, God leads me to a way. And I say, oh, I don't want to do that. Or it's not-- it's less about obedience and sometimes more about the discerning. So, in other words, well, for example, I always get nervous about doing these episodes, this What's on Your Mind, and then What's On Our Mind, when you and I talk because I want to just be a servant of God on this. Like, just, I don't want to say the wrong things, or I want to say the right things, or, you know. And, so, I want to get it out of the way, and just let God. But, and yet, I have to recognize that I am the agency here through which God is doing it. So, I want to be available and ready, and just trust that it will be what God wants it to be. That's a difficult-- that's the difficult part. It's not that I don't want to. It's that I--ahhh, what's going to happen, how's it going to turn out? I don't know.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:08:29] Yeah, and am I up to it? You could probably write a rather nice little children's story about the flute who feels, oh, gee, I'm just a flute. You know, God's going to pick me and play by me. But this other guy, he's an organ. And, you know, there's going to be a massive sound of stops pulling out in different directions, and so forth. I'm just a flute. Am I really up to it, you know? Well, the flute is up to the role of the flute. And that's 100%, that's the best you can do is be up to, you know, just take home fully whatever you sense that your assignment is, our rightful place is. God, you know, I'm always following orders, because-- but, you know, I'm criticized for that in God: An Autobiography, that it should be less like, I often quote this, I serve with a sense of here I am, which means like a soldier reporting for duty. But I'm told no, no, it's more like joining an improvisational musical group where you just come in and chime in with the others, you play off the others. And social life is kind of like that. It's not imposing an imprint on everybody. It's bringing out who am I, where am I located, what am I sensing is my role here? And there are many roles we play and there's not, like, a generic answer to what is most needed in the world. Different people pick up on different parts of the tasks of life, and that's how it should be. And that's part of why, although at some deep level were all parts of God, aspects of the divine, the Divine needs this diversity of our personalities, talents, interactions, and so forth to make a fuller, richer reality.
Scott Langdon [00:10:34] There's not a single one of us that is lost in that. In other words, you know, every one of us is bringing something completely unique. You know that is probably the-- if there were a match that lit sort of the fire of a recent awakening for me, it's that notion that no one has ever been duplicated.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:11:00] Yeah.
Scott Langdon [00:11:01] You know that each manifestation of it is-- there's never been another Scott, there never will be, Scott Langdon, same thing with Jerry, and yet, you know, God keeps doing this over, and over, and over, and over, and over again in all of these ways, and each one of us has our experience and has our trip, and it's completely unique, this unique journey.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:11:24] Yeah. And it's not just to, like a flute giving expression to some divine piece of music, but our own stories are important. It's not just that we're instrumentalities of some greater greatness, but our own stories are important, and part of what we're doing is getting our stories played out as best we can.
Scott Langdon [00:11:49] Mm-hmm. Yeah. Yeah. One of the ways that we do that is in community.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:11:56] Yeah.
Scott Langdon [00:11:57] Right? So it's the individual and how do we fit in the community? And with the way our technology is these days, we see often on television and hear in media and sources, the global connection, the national news, and many on national politics and things like that. And may not even know, often, what our smaller communities are about in terms of God and a relationship with God in history. Religion has played a role in community and how one gets to know, you know, the story of God, and God with, you know-- And the revelation of this book is very much about, you know, where God is everywhere, where God was active in all of the religious expressions and searches. And now that we're in a time where we can really examine so many different religions and ways of trying to find God and what other people are doing, what other communities are doing, there is a sense of a much more global understanding. And yet, on our local sort of community, everyday level, religion has changed some. And for those emails that we want to talk about today, the first one comes from Letitia, and Letitia is curious about what religious community God can use her best for service. I'll read it and then we can talk about it on the other side. So, Letitia writes in and she says this, I” would like your input on my situation. I’ve been seriously considering conversion to Judaism from Christianity. I’ve been attending Shabbat Services, and as the Rabbi requested, continued services at my Catholic Church. The Rabbi asked me to make an appointment to speak with him about my experience in attending services -- what I felt and what my thoughts were. When I first began to attend, he told me to continue my services at the Catholic Church while I feel my way at Shabbat Services. I did set up my appointment with the Rabbi. We spoke, he saw some changes in me. He told me to now set up an appointment with the priest at the church to discuss my possible conversion. I don’t know why he would want me to discuss my conversion with the priest. Well, I went to Shabbat last night as usual and attended the Catholic Church today at 5 PM. I spoke to the priest. He stared at me as if he saw the devil because I was wearing the Star of David. He was rather rude and nasty to me. All the priest did for me today was make my decision easier. I truly believe God has me going on this path for some reason, not just my own reasoning. A while back I prayed to God. I told HIM I was at a crossroads in my life. I asked for guidance in what direction for me to go. I also said that, if it be HIS WILL, then let it be done. I guess the priest’s attitude towards me was my sign. I started attending Torah study two weeks ago.”
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:15:17] Isn't that a wonderful communication? And I like it in part because so many people go through this kind of decision. You start out in a church, usually the one you're raised in by your family, and then at some point, you start thinking, well, maybe I should go to this other group. And that's a very difficult- can be a wrenching decision. Well, anyway, here's what I wrote to Letitia at the time, “The decision facing you is not uncommon, Letitia. God calls some people to stay in the tradition in which they were raised; He calls others to a different place. The rabbi was wise in asking you to speak to your priest. Sometimes people change faiths for light and transient reasons — the minister was boring, or they took offense at something. The question is not about particulars you like or dislike. It is about your relationship with God. It is about where God is most available to you or wants you to be. As far as I can tell, you are going out this decision exactly this spirit. Thank you for sharing this with us.” I mean, isn't that amazing?
Scott Langdon [00:16:41] Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's going to be interesting going forward, generationally, to see how people encounter God because religion has played such a part of that forever until now. You know, your own small community sort of raised you up in the way you should go kind of thing, we've passed the tradition on. And it seems like that's part of what God is revealing to you in the book and to you and that you've written about in the book. Maybe it should be our desire to look for God in places that are different than the ones we grew up with. That's often looked at as a negative thing, you know? Oh, you've got to hang on to what you've got, don't stray too far from the path kind of a feeling. But there's a curiosity that's in us, innately. I think that we want to know what's going on elsewhere.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:17:43] Yeah. Yeah, that's right. I was among the many skeptics of this turn toward the spiritual, but not religious. The disaffiliation and finding the spiritual here, there, and everywhere. Well, there are some really negative streams of life within that. On the whole, though, I started looking at the churches and saw, well, there are a lot of them are religious but not spiritual. And I started learning more about the people identifying as spiritual but not religious and learning many of them are very, very serious about the spiritual side. At first, it just sounded like, oh, they want the good of religion without the burden, something like that, without the cannots, you might say. And no, no these are a younger generation, mainly, seeking something real, something real and positive and vibrant and meaningful in their lives. And they don't find it in going into it, you know, open two doors and they welcome you in, and they say, here's the list of things you have to believe. You know, here is the creed. Here are the do's and don'ts. You got to do this. You can't do that, and here are the penalties, often, if you violate these rules, you know, you're going to be a heretic and no good, maybe go to hell at the end. Well, that's not very spiritual. You know, they're not getting food for the soul in that kind of attitude. And this is what this in Letitia’s report, this is what the priest manifested to her. I mean this is a guy, I mean, I don't know anything about him, and this may not be the totality of this fellow, but he certainly is presenting her religion that is not spiritual. He is not giving a spiritual response. The rabbi was, and that is interesting. I mean, he knew, you don't jump ship for no good reason. And so, wait a minute. We're not just trying to get recruits, here, you know, everybody sign up, get as many as we can. We're trying to make sure people are making the right decision for their lives, for their relation to the divine, and so go check that out first.
Scott Langdon [00:20:06] Letitia, when she's dealing with the rabbi and then the priest in this particular situation of hers. The rabbi, upon her asking for more information and counsel and what should I do, basically, you know, puts her in a situation where if she wants to find, she'll do the seeking. Right? So here's a book, you know, he said study this, continue to go to your services. In other words, he's telling her there, don't be inauthentic about it. Don't try to pull a sneaky one and just stop going to church, and start going here, and hiding your face if you see the priest, that's not authentic. That wouldn't be truthful, you know. And so when she has the encounter with the priest and he becomes very, you know, nasty and rude about it's down to the personal level. It's down to how we treat one another. Who was kind, who was offering a way to help her along the way? In this particular case, it was the rabbi. That's where she was being pulled to. The priest, on the other hand, after the counsel from the rabbi to talk to him and set up an appointment, the way she received his feelings was negative. She felt he was nasty, and so that turned it off. And I'm never... I'm not... I don't know how I feel about signs and stuff, but part of listening is, okay, I'm listening now I need to hear and sort of discern that, and that that's a difficult thing to do, but the feeling is there. She got the feeling the rabbi is helping me, the priest in this situation is pushing me away. And we go with that. I feel like that's maybe a sign, maybe she is right about this.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:22:08] Signs is a very troubled area because you don't pay attention if there are signs. Sometimes there are. On the other hand, you can't jump to conclusions like the people who bet on the horse races. They see the name Blue Bonnet on a dairy product and they think, oh, blue bonnet in the fifth. You know, bet on Blue Bonnet. Well, no, you got to not be like that, right? Let's not be like that. However, you do need to go where God speaks to you and where you have access to the divine. And you're not going to have access to the divine by means of somebody who's talking to you the way the priest done, and you have got a good chance at it with the way the rabbi is talking, the seriousness, and so forth. That is a genuinely spiritual openness that the rabbi is revealing. I was aware, you know, I was uncomfortable when people write these things and think, well, how do I know what she should do? You know?
Scott Langdon [00:23:09] Right, yeah.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:23:11] I know if it were a personal friend, I would ask first, why do you want to leave the Catholic Church? She doesn't tell us really anything about that upfront.
Scott Langdon [00:23:21] Mm-hmm.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:23:21] What do you hope to get out of being Jewish, out of this conversion? She doesn't tell us that. But maybe that's too much of a formal procedure that I'm thinking kind of a rational decision-making procedure. And maybe in life, you mainly do probably what she's done. She has a restlessness, spiritual restlessness, probably, that somehow I'm not getting out of my Catholic involvement, what I feel I should be getting out of it. And when I start going to these Shabbat things and talk to the rabbi, oh, I am getting something! And the way I conceptualize that is, ah, that's where your access to the divine is better. The Divine may be most available to somebody else through that very Catholic Church and that very priest, but not Letitia. And she has to go for the divine that is most available to her, and that can be outside religion altogether. It can be a walk in the woods, you know, it can be music, poetry, art, fellowship, you know, friendship, family. There are many, you know, the divine is all over it in all these places. And so you don't need to think of finding your best relation to God, or to the divine reality solely in terms of which religion should I choose? As if you go to the grocery store and there are four different brands of milk. It's not like that. The God is all over their many expressions, all of these cultural expressions have the divine behind them, including the voice of conscience that I always talk about that, you know, because I don't think it just comes from DNA. I think that's a divine empowerment. You got a total atheist, you know, totally secular person, but who really lives by the best lights of his or her own conscience. Well, then they're doing what God, one of the things God most wants us to do. Right? I hope Letitia will let us know later how that is going for her. That would be very interesting to follow her story.
Scott Langdon [00:25:44] Yes. She said that she had started the Torah studies.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:25:48] Yes.
Scott Langdon [00:25:49] And I wonder if she's feeling through those studies more of this presence of God that she had been talking about?
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:25:59] Yeah. Yeah.
Scott Langdon [00:26:32] Alice sent in a wonderful email where she likens this idea of hearing God or sort of tuning into God in a way that I used to kind of think about, and I still try to express it in this way from time to time. Here's her email. She says this, “We are all tuned to different frequencies. Simply because you change the station does not mean the station has stopped broadcasting. Religion and beliefs, they are all our “stations” and God broadcasts differently for each of us. For a being who claims not to believe in God, I ask them this, by your non belief/denial etc. aren’t you acknowledging there is a God you choose NOT to believe in? Show me a man, who has created galaxies and universes, planets and original life forms, without splicing two things to make something new. Man is NOT God, but, we are a reflection of him/her/it/them etc. I have had my own personal experiences, and for what it is worth, you don’t have to believe, he loves you anyways. However, you will be in for one heck of a shock when you cross the great divide.”
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:27:43] Well, yes, yes.
Scott Langdon [00:27:45] That's Alice for you.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:27:47] Yes. Yes. Yeah. I just thought this was a fascinating metaphor that she has given us, and I guess you have thought of it, Scott. I don't think it occurred to me exactly. But anyway, I write to her, “Alice, I like your image of being tuned to different frequencies. You might be able to get God on different (Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, etc.) stations. Sometimes when I pray, it seems as if there is static, just like the radio. The challenge of the spiritual life is learning how to “tune in” to God and finding the station where you personally get the best reception. Thanks for sharing.” So my response was simple but that is what I think a lot of the challenge is, and it explains a lot of the differences. You know, people listening to one frequency, one radio station, and that's the station they listen to all the time. Right. And so they think that's the total story and that that's all there is, and that anybody who isn't listening to that and picking up on its message is making a big mistake, is all wrong. But in fact, there are many stations, many frequencies. They don't entirely say different things, but they say a lot of particulars that are different one from another. And the question for a person is how to find the one, as I put it simply, that you tune in to best. Sometimes the station you listen to, the radio, you dial along, there's static, static, static. And then you find one that comes through clearly. Well, so that's the one you listen to. And so that's what we do with God. We listen to where God comes through clearly. And it's most helpful for religions. But just, as we were just talking, Scott, there are all these other frequencies or stations. You know, nature is a station and it's more than one station, and other people, community is a station. There are just these many ways in poetry, and art, and music and so forth, though, that you can pay attention to and get the divine resonance within them and be sensitive to that and open to that. And some just listen to them and don't get that. But maybe everybody's getting some of it because at least according to God: An Autobiography, from according to what I've been told, God is working through all of those things, all these cultural forms it's talked about at one time, that God is expressing the divine self through all of these cultural media. And so take it in him, you might say take it in.
Scott Langdon [00:30:38] Yeah, when I was a kid, we lived just outside of Philadelphia in the suburbs, and the local ABC affiliate is Channel Six. And on the FM radio dial, if you turn it all the way down to the left, all the way to the lowest number like 88 something, you could pick up the television, you could pick up the audio of the television show. And so, when mom and dad would send us upstairs to go to bed, I would go into my room. I was, oh, I want to watch this TV program. They'd say, no, it's not for you. I'd go upstairs and I'd get my radio out and I'd tune it into that station so I could still hear the program downstairs. Which you go that, you go to the place where it'll tune in. You go to the place where you can- oh, I really want to hear this thing, this message, this program, this talk, and you go to where you get that. You hold it above your head if you have to. The days when you get the antenna, hold it where you can. But it was my desire to hear whatever it was that the message was, the TV show. And I feel like God operates in that same way, if you are desirous, desiring of hearing God's will for your life, when you just- where do I go to get it tuned in? And when you do, it comes in loud and clear. That signal always came in loud and clear when I got to the right spot.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:32:06] And that's a good point, because you hear this in religious testimony about religious experience all the time, and it is puzzling and I'm an epistemologist, which means we're trained to doubt everything. Socrates started that- honorable judge, what is justice, do you know, can you tell me? You know, so you're always kind of embarrassing people by these hard questions, including, do you really know what you think you know? So for me, having that legacy of doubt is part of my professional training and maybe temperament, the way religious people would say God told me this is what God wanted for me. And, God told you? Now, I heard a voice one day, and there, okay, I understand that literal. But they'll say, God spoke to me in my mind, is the most typical kind of expression. And one of the striking things is and it was true of my experience, too, it's like the clearest and realest thing you've ever encountered. It seems strange, the little still, still small voice, you know, either has a voice or as your own thoughts that are, you know, are not your thoughts. You know, it's God thinking in you, you might say. And people have a remarkable clarity about that, and a sense of the reality of it. And they'll often say and it's very puzzling, it's like it seems more real than what I see with my eyes outdoors. And yet that is part of the experience. I found with my own experience of a God voice, here, I had a legacy of doubt and a kind of naturalistic worldview. And I can certainly subject the experience to doubt, you know, I can put it like a butterfly pinned on the mat and study it. But in terms of the experience, I could never actually doubt it. It was as real as talking to my wife on the phone. And people talk about that, and that is part of the religious experience. It's a widely reported and puzzling and distrusted by many. I'm inclined to lean toward trust. That you, if this comes to you, you better pay attention. It's a precious gift, in fact.
Scott Langdon [00:34:36] Yeah. As we're doing this right now over Zoom, we're recording this, whenever we have a meeting, our regular meetings with the others on our staff, on Zoom. There's multiple screens here with different people. I'm listening to my headphones and I'm looking at a screen. When you're talking, I know it's Jerry that's talking. When our assistant is talking, I know she's talking. And you know, we know who at the back and forth. And yet it's all in my head and all in my ear in that sense. And who am I talking to? If somebody were to walk by my window and look inside, who am I talking to? I'm talking to the air. But I know it, I know that I'm talking to you right now.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:35:23] Yes.
Scott Langdon [00:35:23] And I hear when you tell me that you're experiencing that, it's very like talking to your wife. It's like talking to me right now, I believe we are having a communication, and that I hear your voice, and not everyone gets communicated to like that from God.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:35:44] No. Right.
Scott Langdon [00:35:45] In that in that auditory way. And yet I know, now, and I realized that I've had these experiences all along, but I know now, that the same feeling of knowing from hearing you right now, I have that same feeling of knowing when I feel like God wants me to go this way or wants me to go that way. I-- the knowing is the same as knowing I'm talking to you right now.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:36:15] Yeah, it's quite amazing. And you're right, mine was rare. And some people want to say, well, easy for you to say, but no, it's not exactly easy to pay attention to God, but it's not difficult either. You do have to put a lot of distractions out of the way, and I think bringing a bit of attitude of trust helps if you're just constantly going to try to shoot down anything you experience or any thoughts and ideas and feelings that come to you, then you're going to get nowhere. You're just going to throw out the baby with the bathwater. You know, everything is going to go subject to a civic doubt, but, or other explains away. There are people, I know people who do a lot of study of the brain and neurological systems, and so forth, and it's all a fascinating thing, and some theologians do that. And there's one guy, you know, this is like the radio station, you know, the brain can be seen as sort of making everything up or it can be seen as a kind of receiver, you know, as though it's picking up the airwaves and the TV waves and so forth. And those are just two different paradigms. And one guy I know, and to do one of these ways of thinking is very reductionist. You know, you're just brain, your brain is just protoplasm, and you know, a bit of physical matter, and I know one person who's so fascinated by the complexity of the brain, that you feel he's almost worshiping the brain. Even though he's a theologian. Wow, isn't it amazing? Let's bow down to our own brains. I started off to say something about, you know, they say, okay, I hear a voice. Well, that makes it easy. But people have the experiences that you have, Scott. And they have other experiences of just moments of epiphany, you know. Where, wow, something about the meaning of life just hits them. I've sometimes I've written about, I think it's mentioned in God: An Autobiography is a book by two psychologists, clinical psychologists called Quantum Change. And most clinical therapeutic work, you go through many, many steps and people slowly progress with regard to what their personal issues are, but they occasionally have a patient who one day will totally changes, transform totally from one to another. Often these were attached to a voice. A voice saying. You need to leave that man or stop drinking and then they'll report- I never had another drink after that. Somehow this voice, sometimes the voice seemed to be like God speaking, a divine voice, sometimes it was just like a powerful inner thought or insight, just whammo, but it was one moment, and their behavior immediately changed for the rest of their lives. One of the guys was someone who'd always thought, the whole aim of life is to get everything you can get by hook or by crook. And it just kind of then dawned on him at some point- oh, well, gee, these other people I'm trying to rip off, they're people just like me, you know? It never quite dawned on him that they're fully real people like himself. They're people just like me. I don't want people ripping off my stuff, you know? And the inside of the ethical dawned on this guy. But you need rules fair to both sides in, you know, human interactions and transactions. And he'd never had that before. Never had that before. Was, you might say, an ethical person after that, which he'd never been at all before that. So anyway, these transformations can happen, and sometimes they do come. This was just an insight. It wasn't God speaking to him, but maybe it was God speaking to him. One of the nice points Alice makes is just because you're not paying attention doesn't mean the station isn't broadcasting.
Scott Langdon [00:40:34] Right, right. Yeah.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:40:36] Right? And the station is broadcasting even to people who don't know, it's the station broadcasting. They're just picking it up like music and it seems like music in their head or something. They're just picking it up and that's important to understand, and that the station is broadcasting again, not just through the religions and not just through profound religious experiences, but in all kinds of ways that you need just to be, you might say, sensitive to in your daily life. Sensitive to others, sensitive to events, sensitive to other phenomena like art, music, what people are saying, events of the community, the local town parade, you know, these are all events of significance. And to get the significance, you have to pay attention to them. But the radio station is broadcasting all the way, broadcasting to the atheist, as she said. And I often say that's fine. There are probably a lot of atheists doing just what God wants them to do. That's fine. They're listening to conscience and they have interpersonal sensitivity. They, you know, they love their families and they participate in their community and constructive ways instead of destructive ways. Okay, then the station is alive and well and broadcasting, even though they do not conceptualize it as God coming to them.
Scott Langdon [00:42:08] I know for me personally, if I find out that someone wanted to talk with me or wanted to ask me a question or wanted to get to know me better, but I didn't know that they didn't tell me, you know, I hadn't had words sent to me or anything. You know? I feel like, oh, I'm sad I missed out on an opportunity, I wish you would have said so. And I feel a sense that God might often be like that. Like, I would love to, I'm right here, would love to have a relationship with you, just talk to me. And in this third email that we're going to share today, it comes from Nilda, and she writes something so basic, and yet profound. Very simply, she writes this, "Me, I talk to God.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:43:12] Isn't that wonderful, isn't that wonderful?
Scott Langdon [00:43:13] That's the whole email.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:43:15] That is it. And I think I said to you in conversation, Scott, she cut the Gordian knot. Everyone gets all up in a tangle, all knotted up about these issues, of is it God, is it not God, is it this, do Catholics have it right, the Jews have it right, somebody else has it right, the atheist is right? You know, they get all balled up, and is God listening and so on? Nilda just talks to God. Just talks. And I've often felt in, I'm thinking especially of marriage relationships but probably applies to friends and other relationships, the person who wants something needs to let the partner know. Rather than the partner's got to, I mean, I've seen in sitcoms, you know, a guy says, what's wrong? It's often the guy woman dynamic, and the woman says, if you don't know, I'm not going to tell you.
Scott Langdon [00:44:12] Right. Right.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:44:13] You know, that's not very helpful. And it's very helpful, and it's something my wife, Abigail, is very good at. She'll say, "Well, I bet you're really proud that I could make such a good dinner." And then I say, ah she's letting me know, "Yes, I am very proud. Thank you. It's marvelous." That's my cue.
Scott Langdon [00:44:34] Right.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:44:36] You say that. I mean, what do people do with each other? They think, oh, he doesn't appreciate the dinner. I'm sitting here smoldering in anger, and meanwhile, he's going along blissfully ignorant. Well, you know, there's an issue that he dropped the ball in some respect, but these are precious opportunities. And one of the great things about God is He's there. He's listening. You know, He's there all the time. And one of the basic things is to, with one another and with God, is just to let Him know how it is with you.
Scott Langdon [00:45:18] Yeah.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:45:19] And I know I have a friend who's a distinguished Jewish philosopher. But not a theologian, not a religious studies scholar, philosophical type, scientifically inclined. And he certainly prays. But I know over dinner, he said, but is anybody listening? And I kind of probed this a little. Why would you think God isn't listening? Well, it's as though, why would the God of the universe listen to me? You know, it's kind of, I'm one insignificant person. Why would God listen to me? And I thought, gee, you must think God has very limited capacity. You know, as though God couldn't attend to him, and Jerry, and Scott, and the next several million people, you know, billion people. God has that capacity. And I was just thinking about this and thinking, you know, I can pop in a question to the Internet, and there are all kinds of answers. You know, I could tap into all the answers that the National Institutes of Health have, which I occasionally do go, or the Mayo Clinic, you know, there's this vast reservoir and that's responsive. You just pop in a question. I've only recently fully discovered how nifty that is. You can pop in any random question and answer, answer, answer comes up, and resources, and so forth. But so anyway, if the Internet, the simple human communication based on electronic connectives can do that, why would we think the God of the universe couldn't pay attention to each and every one of us? And of course, my sense and what I'm told in the book is that's precisely the main thing God is doing. You might say.
Scott Langdon [00:47:22] Yeah.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:47:23] Also keeping the stars and planets moving, I guess. But the main and most interesting part of God's duties is paying attention to individuals. And it's right down to the personal, day by day, moment by moment level. You can pray- what shall I do right this minute? And you can, when you're tuned in, well, you can get some kind of sense of what you should do right this minute. And that's the availability of God. I quote in the book, the historian, British historian, a bestselling historian, Paul Johnson, writes in his spiritual memoir, He's Catholic, in his spiritual memoir, he says, "I once had the experience of calling the prime minister's office, expecting to get the secretary's secretary, the prime minister herself answered." He said, with God, that happens all the time. You know, with God, it happens all the time.
Scott Langdon [00:48:27] You know, I play a lot of supporting roles, character roles in my career. In fact, I'm doing a play right now where my character is the supporting role. And essentially what that means is what it sounds like, is that the story is really the main character's story and the other characters are there to support that story, provide information, or whatever.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:48:49] Yeah.
Scott Langdon [00:48:50] And so, it can be tricky at times to fall into that role. It's hard to know one's place in a role like that where you need to be real and true and available in every moment of the scene, and yet you're, while you are important, you know, you're shaping the larger story, and so you have to kind of navigate that, that idea sort of, where do I fit in this story? And so having come up in my career playing a lot of those kinds of roles, I have this sort of sense of everybody being important.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:49:30] Yes, right.
Scott Langdon [00:49:30] You know, I feel like God has given me that gift because I have made a decent career out of being important and being valuable and being that part of the story the best it can be without being intrusive, without trying to be, hey, look at me without, you know, and delivering in that way, and I feel like it's very analogous to God in that relationship.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:49:54] Yeah, that's interesting that we're all in supporting actors to the big story, you might say, but to one another. But there is no big story without all the characters right there. There's no story at all if you just have the main character, go stand on stage. But it's those interactions and so forth and background, etc., that make it a make it a story.
Scott Langdon [00:50:20] If a bad guy comes into a restaurant, let's say, if there aren't people in the restaurant, you, the audience, you're not scared. When there's people there, you're sort of scared for what's he going to do to them, right? They may, you may not even see them for more than a quick flash or a second, but because they are there, they serve that story. So each one of them is so unique as we all are in our lives.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:50:45] I guess you would have an eye for it. I sometimes wonder. I kind of look at those actors in the restaurant when let's say the mobster comes in, and I kind of noticed and I kind of wonder, well, how do they know what they should be doing? Usually, they're just having dinner and be chatting a little with one another, but each one is doing something slightly different, and I know this is planned. Not you know, we're not actually filming it down at a restaurant, and then they start reacting when the gangster who enters starts doing things and they're puzzled what's going on, you know? But you see it, that, whereas the gangster came into an empty restaurant, well, again, there's no story. You know?
Scott Langdon [00:51:32] Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:51:34] There are these people.
Scott Langdon [00:51:36] And they are unique interactions in the moment. You know, a filmmaker who would be filming a scene like that might cut to one of the extras that's making a reaction face, you know? And they want it to be the most compelling and truthful one in that moment, you know, and so that each moment you're looking for these individuals to sort of pump up the story. And that's the-- it just shows the value of us.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:52:04] Yeah, it doesn't have anything to do with being important. I think one of your points, that you don't have to be the lead or something to be not only important but essential.
Scott Langdon [00:52:14] Essential to the story. Absolutely.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:52:17] And we're all, yeah, kind of essential to the story. And you don't need to be a world-historical figure, Napoleon or something. And also, I always come back to this, Napoleon's personal story was no more important than yours or mine or anybody listening in today or tuning in. Each of our lives is of incalculable importance. And the religious traditions often kind of say that in their various ways. And so we're part of a big story. We ourselves are living a story, but it's not a story alone. We don't walk onto an empty stage either. It's a story of interaction with all those around us and in large historic ways. We're on a march to Washington about something or whatever, or we're going off to abroad to save people from a flood or something. Or it can be we mowed our lawn today because the neighbors were shaking their head that it was getting awfully shaggy. And so, you know, that's one of the things we do for one another. And that's important too on this me, I talk to God. The same Jewish scholar, I think I ask him this question because he's written about both Genesis and Exodus, early in Exodus, God says, the people of Israel cried out to Me and I saw their suffering, or something saw their plight. And then the interesting additional thing, and I remembered my covenant with Abraham and Joshua and Isaac and so on, and then I asked the scholar, Does God-- I guess I prayed about it before I ever talked to the scholar. I prayed about it and say. Well, you know, you're your God. You certainly know what we're thinking and feeling. And if we're suffering in bondage in Egypt, you would know that, right? And God says back, well, I'm not sitting here reading people's minds. And so it's not that God couldn't know. But it's our job. I'm told, direct, it's our job to let God know how it is with us. And if we want God to do something, I don't do much petitionary prayer. I do prayers of thanks repeatedly because I've got an awful lot to be grateful for, and find out what am I supposed to do today? Or do about such and such? Those are my two prayers. And so I don't do- please help me in this, please help me in that. But I'm told it would be perfectly okay to do that. And God wants to know how it is with you. And God wants to know what you need, your sense of what you need. So maybe your sense of what you need is right or wrong. Maybe you're inaccurate about what you need. But anyway, let God, know because that's part of communication. It's a relationship. And I was even thinking about the friend who wonders, is anybody listening? And this radio station that's always, Letitia talks about this, the radio station is always there, and the rate at this, that God is a radio station doesn't just send out messages, this radio station takes in messages as well. Suppose you called a friend because you have a terrible experience. A dear person died tragically, and you call your friend and suppose you just let it all out? And the friend doesn't say anything, the friend doesn't need to say anything, you haven't asked the friend to say anything. You're just sharing your experience with your friend. And then oops- the doorbell rings, you've got to go. And other than hello/goodbye. The friend never said anything. The friend's not going to do anything, can't bring back the person. Yet, that sharing would have been a valuable human interaction. And the friend not doing anything, not saying anything back, even so, is listening and that's meaningful. So God is always listening. And so you may, may or may not feel anything coming back to you. But if you have some, you probably need some sense of divine presence, but if you just have some trust that the divine is there listening and caring, then this was a significant communication. So when Nilda says, "Me, I talk to God." Isn't that her language? I talk to God.
Scott Langdon [00:57:27] Yeah. Yeah.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:57:29] Good for Nilda. And if this program had, you know, sent people off with tasks at the end of each episode or something, the task would be- hey, everybody, go spend some minutes talking to God. You don't have a lot of time, it doesn't, you don't have to take a lot of time, spend 2 minutes talking to God and it can just be telling God how it is with you. And that would be, you do that each day for 2 minutes, this is going to be a valuable experience. That's going to be a valuable interaction with the divine.
Scott Langdon [00:57:45] Thank you for listening to GOD: An Autobiography, the podcast. Subscribe for free today wherever you listen to your podcasts and hear a new episode every week. You can hear the complete dramatic adaptation of God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher by Jerry L. Martin, by beginning with episode one of our podcast and listening through its conclusion with Episode 44. You can read the original true story in the book from which this podcast is adapted, God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher. Available now at Amazon.com, and always at godanautobiography.com. Pick up your own copy today. If you have any questions about this or any other episode, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and experience the world from God's perspective as it was told to a philosopher. This is Scott Langdon. I'll see you next time.