When Cat shares her spiritual experience, not expecting a response, she receives an answer from Jerry and others. Joanne and Carter share their spiritual experiences in response to Cat's message, inspiring an insightful conversation between Jerry and Scott about God as the Great Constant, the rough edges of life, spiritual experiences, and integration.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin, author of the true story and reporter of his communication with God, and host Scott Langdon discuss two letters from readers and listeners.
These unique letters of relatable experiences are within the spiritual openness and development theme.
What is your story? We want to hear from you!
LISTEN TO RELEVANT EPISODES- [What's On Your Mind] Finding God And Spiritual Openness | Fear | Articulating A Relationship With God | Does God Exist
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God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher, is written by Dr. Jerry L. Martin, an agnostic philosopher who heard the voice of God and recorded their conversations.
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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 130.
Scott Langdon [00:01:10] Welcome to episode 130 of God: An Autobiography, The Podcast. I'm your host, Scott Langdon. And today it's time for another edition of What's On Your Mind. This is where Jerry and I discuss emails we receive here at the podcast from listeners and readers of Jerry's book, God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher, which we lovingly refer to from time to time as the God book. Remember, you can hear the complete audio adaptation of Jerry's book anytime for free by listening to episode one of this podcast and continuing through its conclusion in episode 44. So today we ask once again- What's on your mind? I hope you enjoy the episode.
Scott Langdon [00:02:04] Hello, everyone, and welcome back to another edition of What's On Your Mind. And I'm with Jerry Martin once again, and we are here to talk about some special emails this week I think, Jerry.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:02:14] We had something I don't believe we've ever had before, which is one commenting on another commenting on another, you know? That's nice.
Scott Langdon [00:02:22] Yeah, a nice little email thread it turned out to be. We had someone named Cat write in sharing her experience about her situation with God and what she feels was an experience with God. And that's what we like to open this entire forum up to our listeners and our readers about, which is telling your story about God if you have one- an experience with God, write in and share it with us. And you can do that by writing into us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And this week, Cat's email was really fascinating, I thought.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:03:02] Yes. And she says right at the beginning, "I don't know if anyone will read this." And then she evokes people who've read it, you know? So it's wonderful. And the one point of sharing your story is there's the satisfaction of your story being heard and understood by others. But of course, the second benefit is we can all learn from every one of these reports that come in and for every person who responds there are another hundred, maybe a thousand people who don't. How often do you respond to something by sending an email into a website or something? But, so, these are actually heard. So it's important to realize when we share these things online and then in our podcast, as we're doing today, there are a lot of people who are picking up on your story and relating it to their own stories.
Scott Langdon [00:03:59] That's right. And I think it's so important that we do that, that we tell our stories. And in this day and age of technology, you know, we've talked a lot about that and how excited I get about the idea of being able to see people in Japan, you know, immediately, you know, talk with someone. That's just incredible, it's a great time we live in. And so being able to hear people's stories and read people's stories from all around the world is really fascinating. And this week, we begin with Cat. Cat writes in and says this:
Cat's Letter [00:04:27] I don’t know if anyone will read this. But I want to share what happened to me. I’m 17 years old. My name is Cat. Before this happened I didn’t know what to call myself. I believed in God, but I didn’t. I come from a rough life. People have been in and out of my life... I rarely find myself getting attached to people because I know that they’re just going to leave. Recently I found myself thinking about how I needed a constant, and that I really truly needed to seek God out. Last night I had a dream. It was so weird. But there was a particular moment in my dream where I was on my front porch looking at the sky and I asked, “God, are you there?” And written in clouds appeared the word ‘yes.’ When I looked back, it was gone. Today, I was going through a rough day, I was crying in my room. I decided to try something from my dream last night. And so I asked God, “Are you there?” I looked up like I did in my dream, scanning my ceiling for an answer. On my ceiling there are ridges and bumps and in those ridges and bumps, I saw the word 'yes.' It’s still there, and hasn’t gone away. And I have to keep looking at it to make sure it’s real. But God is there. And He listens. I’ve been waiting for God to show Himself to me, and throughout my life I’m sure He did. But He finally gave me what I needed, and that was a clear answer. I hope that God sends you a clear message or feeling someday to you too.
Scott Langdon [00:06:20] And that was Cat.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:06:22] Isn't that a wonderful final thought? You know, Cat is thinking not just of Cat, but of all of us. That Cat has gotten what Cat needs, and hoping that we all get what we need. And I-- my response at the time to Cat, I was so struck by this word constant. I thought that was so perfect.
Scott Langdon [00:06:41] Yes.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin Letter [00:06:42] God is the great Constant, the ever-present, loving Witness of your life, the Companion who knows your suffering and your loneliness and shares your burdens and cares.
(These are really three different versions of constants, right? The constant witness, the constant companion, and just the constant being there that God provides. And I say about Cat: )
It is great that you looked to God for an answer, and wonderful that God responded in so vivid a way. Be well, and bless you!
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:07:19] And there is a lot more in this, I thought, but interesting- Is anybody listening? Well, yes, people were, we're all listening, Cat. And we're all, and God is listening too, as Cat discovers. And a lot of what you want in life is just to be heard. Right? And maybe to be understood. Heard by somebody who understands what you're saying to them, not just who words are going in one ear and out the other. And I guess I was also struck, you know, we all live in different life situations. And here's someone with a rough life. There's some tendency, I think, of the religions and philosophies to treat human nature generically. As if we all have the same human situation, human condition, human problem, and then there's one big solution to it all. That's a kind of generic solution. But the people who communicate with us have their own situations. And here's someone with a rough life, unlike, you know, all of our lives have rough patches, let's say, or negative aspects, but this is a particular kind of roughness I personally have not experienced of people coming and going. And we don't know quite what the nature of that was. I've known military kids who had that, they could never get attached anywhere because they move like every two or three years. Different bases, maybe abroad, maybe back to the States, that kind of thing. Or it can just be a very unstable family life. But that just underscored so many of our people that communicate with us have such a very excellent understanding of themselves once they pause to reflect. And that's one of the ways, we often say, Scott, pay attention. You have to pay attention. Well, Cat is paying attention and realizes people are coming and going. I can't be attached to anybody. What I need is a constant and I need God. And then takes action, you know, and but then God takes action by sending the dream. And part of pay attention is pay attention to your dreams, too. The dream isn't quite the same as the life, you know, the waking visitation. But God may have been sending that dream. Where else is it going to come from? And she enacts in the dream what she then enacts in waking life. And that's, again, a very spiritually smart thing for Cat to be doing. Okay, I had that dream. Well, that's a good idea, you know, pose the question. Pose the question and basically ask God, give me some kind of sign, evidence, answer in some form or other. And as we've talked as we've discussed past communications with people, these signs come in all different ways, and part of paying attention is to notice them rather than, you know, looking for one kind of answer. And, oh well, that kind doesn't come, and meanwhile, we're not noticing a dozen other answers that are coming. Well, Cat is paying attention and gets an answer. Gets the answer, as Cat puts it, "to what I needed." And I was also struck to go back to the beginning of Cat's communication, Cat's statement, "I believed in God and I didn't." And how true. How many of us could say that, right? That, well, yeah, you believe in... no, not really. It's more like I bought the book and put it on my shelf, but I haven't read it yet. You know, that sort of belief is just sort of sitting there somewhat inert, and you don't quite know what to make of it. And some people put it a little more the opposite way. I don't believe in God, but I kind of do. And then for that person, the challenge is to take this other side of themselves seriously and explore it, rather than settling in on the easy to settle on the side of the atheist, the purely secular person, and so forth. Many things pull you in that. But that's a perfect expression of the ambivalence, you might say, of the modern mind and, you know, which is, well, you believe things that you're not quite believing, and how to bring them into full belief is the challenge.
Scott Langdon [00:11:53] Yes, I think that's true. And when I think about my experience and experiences of other people as I understand them and as I observe, I find that a lot of the doubt when you really dig into it, really look into it, is less about God and more about a belief system.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:12:16] Yes.
Scott Langdon [00:12:17] So what often fails folks in who say, you know, "I don't believe in God," is not this sort of innate thing that comes to us all where we finally question, is there a God? Isn't there a God? I don't think that's a natural question that just pops up. I think that question does pop up quite naturally in response to a push back to something that seems not to be constant, but says that it is constant. What I mean by that is you have a belief system that says, you know, I have the information about God and our relationship to God and how we should live. And if you do X, Y, and Z or don't do A, B and C however you want to look at it, or both of those things do and not do, that will be a thing that will make your life better. And so you kind of try to apply these principles and you see other people failing and you're still failing and you go, "This doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense. Sometimes it might work and sometimes it doesn't bring me this feeling of peace. And so I'm giving up on that. But what seems to be the constant in this entire sort of argument is the desire for a constant. And Cat expresses that desire in this email as almost a response to what she sees as her life's circumstances, which are people come and go, things come and go, thoughts come and go. Yet all of these things come and go and we go- where is the constant? And sometimes I know when I, you know, when I would put my energy into the constant of the belief system and then I find flaws in the belief system and I go, "I'm just going to reject God because of the belief system." But once I realize that the belief system is, in a sense, a way for many to become closer to God, and for some it can be a hindrance. And so looking at the belief system for the constant and not God as the constant gives a lot of difficulty to folks, including me.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:14:33] Yeah, that's a wonderful way to put it, Scott. I find when I know an atheist and I ask about, you know, everybody's got a spiritual story, including the atheist, and so I ask why. And it's almost always not a rejection of God as a total concept, you might say, but a rejection of a particular religious background that they felt either abused by or at some point they just couldn't believe because they took a scientific turn in their mentality or who knows what. But there was something about that, such that it sounds ironic, and it is, and it sounds self-contradictory, and it is, but people will virtually say, "I don't believe in God and I hate him." You know, they're angry. I'm angry at God, and therefore I don't believe in Him. And often it is what I call the idolatry of belief. You know, you encounter people who believe their belief systems way more than they believe in God and believe in "God is love." They all say God is love, but without loving behavior. And even their version of God is often mainly of an angry, punishing God, a God who doesn't accept the fact that we're frail reeds, we human beings, and we're not perfect. We're not going to be perfect, and any loving God would accept that. Right? And make allowances for it.
Scott Langdon [00:16:09] One of the things that's unique that we mentioned at the top of this episode about this episode is the fact that this is an email thread and a lot of the emails that we get and that are on the website, by the way, godanautobiography.com, you can search for these emails they're on there, and a lot of them are one offs. Sometimes we've had some folks respond to your response, but this week we've had some folks respond to the original emailer, and Joanne responded to Cat in this email thread. And Joanne writes this:
Joanne's Letter [00:16:45] Cat, thank you for writing about your experience with God. I just wanted you to know that people are listening! May I share my experience? I am finding that when my heart is honest, and I am seeking, I find Him in all that is good, and right, and true. This is my knowledge of God that is beginning to become real in my life... it is changing me on the inside and helping me to become the kind of person who loves what is good.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:17:18] Isn't that a wonderful conclusion?
Scott Langdon [00:17:21] I love that response. And when I read this through for the first time, I really, really paused on that one. I thought Cat's email was so important, and then to have this response.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:17:31] Yes.
Scott Langdon [00:17:32] I mean, you can-- what we do as human beings is make meaning from things. We want to make a meaning out of something, out of everything, it seems. And so, I want to make a meaning out of this. The way it seemed Cat wanted to make a meaning out of the words 'yes,' that she saw on her ceiling. Right? And when I'm like, well, what does this mean? Well, I see God at play here with someone saying, "God, are you there?" And then the story of how this person Cat, is making the meaning of the clouds in the dream and then the yes on the ceiling. She's made that mean that, and yet the plea or the question, really, it was a statement, "I don't know if anyone will read this." But you could really change that into a question. Is anyone going to read this, right?
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:18:28] Yeah. Is anyone listening? Is anyone listening to me?
Scott Langdon [00:18:28] Right is anyone listening? Right! In that sense, I mean, when she says, "God, are you there?" God responds, putting in her mind this idea of saying yes, and then follows up with Joanne, a person who is listening and through Joanne, I believe God is saying, "Yes, I am listening.: Joanne is that instrument, that agency through which God is responding in one way. God responded in the way of seeing the yes in the clouds and on the ceiling, but a second way is through the personhood of Joanne, the agency of Joanne, to say, "Yes, someone is listening." And you can say, well, there's two distinct things. There's Joanne, who's one thing, and God who is another thing, but when we know we, and we've talked about separate and the same, I mean, Joanne is an expression of God to Cat in much the same way as the ceiling yes is. It's different of course and yet it's communication.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:19:38] And so we have to be looking for all of these and pay attention and not just count them as coincidence or who knows what. There are many ways of discounting any divine signal. But the important thing is to not discount it. You don't want to... but you take it in. You take it in thoughtfully. Does this make sense to me? Does this register with me? And surely this does. We haven't heard back from Cat, but surely this would register with Cat. And one of the best ways God communicates is through other people. Here's what I said to Cat at the time, excuse me to Joanne for her response to Cat:
Dr. Jerry L. Martin Letter [00:20:19] Thank you, Joanne, for supporting Cat and sharing your own experience of God. When, though a lifelong nonbeliever, I had my own encounter with God, I found three striking traits — God was undeniably real, benign, and authoritative. I have found God to be that way ever since.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:20:46] And that a bit goes back to God as the constant. You know, God's nature comes through in this or that experience, this or that thought, this or that person speaking to you, this or that sign that you see on the ceiling or somehow in the woods, you know, on a walk. And you take that in and then God is not going to go away. God is going to be there in one of these modes in these various modes. And that's why in my response to Cat, I mentioned the Divine Witness and the Divine Companion, as well as just the ontological constant, the great, you know, presence in the universe constant that God is. And here I was struck in part because Joanne's experience is so different from mine. Although I emphasize the commonality, God's being real benign and authoritative. But, I guess I don't, you might say, idealize God. It's more like the Old Testament to my life. And we live in a rough world and God's our partner in a rough world. Not just an emblem of perfection, and Joanne picks up on that, you might say, aspects of perfection of good, the good and the right and the true. And that's also a right thing to pick up on. And different people need different things. And I probably need a rougher God because I'm very aware of we walk on an uneven terrain and I think it's important not to pretend it's even when it's not even, then you'll trip. The other thing I found striking about the end of Joanne's communication, "God has become real in my life." Well, that's crucial, but it's "changing me on the inside." And we always have to remember the point of a spiritual experience isn't- wow, isn't that amazing? Isn't like just looking at the fireworks on 4th of July. Wow, look at that one, look at that one. Isn't God awesome? Amazing? But it's inner transformation to change your lives, to change the state of your soul. And that's precisely what's happening to Joanne. And it's changing, it's transforming her for the better by coming to love what is good, as the way she puts it. And that's the crucial thing in life. I mean, what's the problem with all of us? Is the problem when we love the wrong things, right? Of lust and greed and, you know, being power hungry and wanting to lord it over others. And to love what is good, is that, you know, once you do that, you're almost home free, as if you internalize it as Joanne is doing.
Scott Langdon [00:24:25] So Joanne's response to Cat's initial email was so fascinating to me as well. And one of the things that fascinated me is what you had just pointed out, which is that it was changing Joanne on the inside. And I've had that experience. You know, we talked the last time we had a What's On Our Mind episode, and we were talking about the transformational aspect of encountering God. And that changing on the inside is what I think prompted Carter to respond to Cat on this thread. So here is the third e-mail, or I guess it's the second response to Cat in this thread. It's from Carter. And Carter writes this:.
Carter's Letter [00:25:17] Cat, I’m very happy to hear about your Godly moment. I am also 17 and my name is Carter. I grew up as a popular kid who had sex at an early age and started sinning young. Thankfully, my brother had shown me God and that He is real through his examples in life. My brother is 4 years older than me. He has always been a computer geek and got bullied growing up. From him, I gained sympathy and compassion for all people. About a year ago, I had broken up with my girlfriend, who I had been dating for about a year before that. Throughout the relationship, I was leading her on and making her love me, when all I was thinking about was sexual sin. At the beginning of the relationship, I had been praying and praying that I’d find someone and God sent me her. I turned my back on God by creating a mindset for myself that this relationship was going to be temporary. 6 months go by and I took this girl's virginity and instantly lost all feelings for her. I knew what I had done was not right and that the lust I had for this girl was tearing me apart. I couldn’t stand to look at myself in the mirror. I felt too much shame. The pain of turning my back on God was too much for me so I broke up with her. I was devastated and at the lowest point I had ever been. The night, my brother and my mom both went on their first dates with the love of their lives. Today, they are still dating these people and my mom got moved out of her crummy house into her boyfriend's beautiful house. He's a Godly man. My brother continued to date his girlfriend until 5 months into the relationship where she was sentenced to jail for past mistakes. I witnessed my brother and my mother fall in love (for the correct reasons) and the correct way. God has displayed love for me through the holy spirit of my brother and my mom. This made me pray and pray that I may experience the love the way they did. I am here to tell you that God is more real than he has ever been, He is here! Now that I am spiritually prepared to be with the girl I love, God is allowing me to fall in love and never experience jealousy, worry, doubt, hatred, shame, or lust again.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:27:51] It's amazing. Isn't that amazing? What a story.
Scott Langdon [00:27:56] It's a real serious like life, this happens in our lives, story.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:28:03] Yeah. Yeah. Sometimes the kind of the religious platitudes kind of sweep under the rug, the rough edges of our lives. And here's a person who's certainly noticing the rough edges of his life and dealing with them. So that's impressive. What I wrote to Carter at the time was:.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin Letter [00:28:23] Regardless of wrongs, you showed great spiritual openness in correctly observing, and taking to heart, the meaning of the examples set by your brother and your mother.
(That's not automatic. I can't just take that for granted.)
Divine love and human love are intertwined. Our love for one another orients our souls toward God. That is true even of sexual love, when it is really love, not just lust. Our love flows “upward” toward God. Divine love flows “downward” through our love for one another. These are truths you have been learning from your own experience.
(And so, you know, congratulations, Carter. Carter is on the right track in life, right? )
Scott Langdon [00:29:17] Yeah. Yeah.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:29:18] At the end, he gets a little bit magical. As if now that he knows how to find true love, he's never going to have the experiences of jealousy, lust, etc. again. And, whoa, let's calm down here. Slow down. I thought it was important to say the following to Carter:
Dr. Jerry L. Martin Letter [00:29:38] You will have a long future, and many surprises ahead of you. Meeting the right girl is the greatest gift God could give you! But do not expect to glide to a perfect life. Do not be surprised, or thrown off, by ups and downs. God will be by your side in bad days as well as the good. Your task is to meet whatever challenges come your way and stay on course. Those will be lessons God sends your way. Bless you!
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:30:17] So one interesting thing is the role of guilt. You know, the God book is somewhat against wallowing in guilt. But I think here you show that capacity, you know conscience is the capacity to feel guilt or shame at doing something wrong. And here, a key for Carter's development, is he's done this wrong thing, poor girl. You know how many girls are victims of guys like that? And he knows it. And he feels shame and can barely look at himself in the mirror. Does that make sense to you, Scott?
Scott Langdon [00:31:01] It does. It does. It makes a lot of sense to me. I've had some experiences in my life that lead me to really understand where Carter's coming from. I can understand that, and I can also understand the end of his email coming to this idea that you talked about where he's going to find this kind of love that never experiences jealousy or worry. And I think that the difficulty there is what is the constant in that conversation? So here's what I mean. So when we go back to Cat, the first email that we read today, Cat's question was twofold. One is, God, are you listening? But also, you know, can I find a constant with everything that's coming in and out of my life? So here's what Cat did. Cat, first of all, noticed that things are temporary. They come in and come out - people, thoughts, perceptions, emotions - they come and go, and she's looking for the constant. Carter is also looking for the constant - looking for that love, and in a way that he may not have even been conscious to to begin with. He's saying, you know, I have this desire to love, and here's what I want it to look like, and it's going to look like a certain thing. And when you start looking for the answer in a certain way and start getting your ego caught up, and what that looks like, then it starts getting attached to the things that are temporary -- the feelings, the perceptions and so forth. And so this idea of lust is that I feel this, I feel love, but it gets mixed up in an ego so much that like you just want to grab it and sort of possess it and sort of keep it all the time like it's a thing. But those feelings come and go so often. The constant, God shows the constant of God's self to Carter in much the same way to Cat, in that through the example of other folks, the qualities of the constant which are love, he sees in the behavior of his mom and of his brother what love looks like. That It's not a temporary thing. It's things that you do on a temporary basis. So you go and do compassionate things and call your girlfriend who's in prison. You keep being compassionate and being there for her. So there are things you, little things, you do along the way, but the love part of it is the constant.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:33:56] Yeah, I think those are excellent reflections, Scott. And, you know, coming out with this rougher world worldview I have, I'm always struck of the importance of not just taking love for granted.
Scott Langdon [00:34:10] Yeah.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:34:11] You know, I believe in date nights and stuff like that.
Scott Langdon [00:34:14] Yeah. Yeah.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:34:15] You have to keep it fresh and alive and not just become like the old stuffed furniture or something that you take for granted. The stuff, furniture, may be a constant, you know, but you need a vibrant, constant. Right? And love- that's what love is. Because love has extraordinary, extraordinary resources. And I think you're right, Scott, to say you're experiencing you're in love. The love is genuine, but you're experiencing jealousy. The jealousy feels like it's a reaction to your being in love and there's someone else poaching on your territory. But that's an ego concern. That's not part of the love. That's the opposite of the love. And I've known relationships torn apart that were otherwise functional and good for both people, torn apart by a kind of irrational jealousy that then causes causes endless conflict. So the woman can't have a male coworker take her to lunch or something like that without the father being all-- the husband being all over it. And so I think these struggles go on. Though it's quite right to the extent you're focusing on love and what love really is. And that seems to be the point that Carter has come to. It might be true that, you know I love Abigail, and I might find some other woman very attractive and so forth, and men are very seducible, but I would think, "Yikes, Satan get behind me." You know, because I would know my love is so much more precious than any other satisfaction that could come along. And there are people who sacrifice a good marriage to their own careers and stuff, you know, we're making a big deal. Sorry going to have to cancel our vacation for our anniversary for the week, because I've got a big deal coming up, and there's always a big deal if that's what you're making the main thing in your life and you must have to deal with that as an actor. You know, there are constraints, your career places on you. The show must go on, right? But you always, at the same time, have to keep yourself aware, keep your partner aware of that- of your ever present love. Whatever else you have to do or go out of town or whatever your love is still present.
Scott Langdon [00:36:48] It's going to often look as though love is one thing and jealousy is another. Love is one thing. Hatred is another thing. I don't see it that way. I see love as the constant thing. Love is, God is love, let's say, it's the moving river that is constantly flowing in the same direction. And we've talked about this before in terms of a moving sidewalk, let's say, in an airport. You can turn around and go the other way, but you're going to run into trouble and complications. You're going to get hurt. You're probably going to hurt other people. These are things that you are quote free to do, and yet the consequences are likely going to be painful because they are in the opposite way of the flow, the Tao, the way, however you want to talk about that. And when we talk about it, I have gravitated often in my thoughts and in my prayer time and in my journaling to the idea of what we call being in tune with God. So I've gotten a lot of benefit from studying some of the Eastern thoughts and Eastern religions that I hadn't looked at before, especially in the process of doing the work that we're doing. And we've talked before about the idea of God being no thing, you know, what that would mean and so forth. And when you talked with Judy Dornstreich in the last Life Wisdom episode, there was a lot of that kind of talk as well. And I think for me, what I, I don't want to say compromised on, but I think it makes more sense to me as someone coming from an evangelical tradition and so forth, and having that language of Christianity to be able I can really understand in tune with God to be a similar thought process of that, that it's not completely ridding the ego. There's a book I'm about to read now. It's on my list called Ego is the Enemy, and I'm really anxious to read what that has to say, but initially, I pause on that because I don't think the ego is the enemy. The ego is part of, it's who, how we are created. It's who we are. It's how God made us. And so while the ego can bring up problematic situations for me, I don't look at it as something that needs to be destroyed or killed or gone away with. I need to, I think, get in tune with God so that my ego can serve God and serve God's purpose and not smash up against things like jealousy and hatred and all of that. Because that, as you just mentioned, is an ego situation that needs to be wrestled with.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:39:45] Something that comes out in my dialogues with Richard Oxenberg is that what one needs is something like integration. You've got all these different parts to human beings and to the world, different people, different cultures, is to not merge them, have one world, whatever, and one person whatever, but to have them all in harmony together. And I'm often in the God book given examples like a musical group and you know, where you sit around, play your instruments and play off one another a bit. I saw one in Nashville where somebody has written a song, he starts playing the song, the others sitting around, friends of his, start, you know, playing their instruments. One guitar, another violin and so forth. And they know how to just weave in and play it off what this guy is presenting. Anyway, a lot of life is like that and ego is one of our functional elements. And there are some interesting, I think I've done a YouTube about, you know, what's the deal with ego? You know, that it's more complicated. There is the functional ego and there's the dysfunctional ego. And to get them into harmony or into the kind of constant that you're talking about, Scott, is what you need to do. Not just try to stamp out some part of the world, but to have them all seem as part of a whole.
Scott Langdon [00:41:15] I love the musical analogy, especially with the instrumental musical analogy, because what's actually happening in a group setting like that is, and I've been in many of them and I'll just say it with playing guitar for one, when you're in a group that's playing many instruments, somebody's got a drum over here, a flute over here or whatever, and you're kind of jamming, as you say, an improvisational type of thing. There are a couple of things that are going on. The first thing is you have to be listening really intently. And we've talked about this in terms of obviously it's one of the big words of the God book. You know, it's the one, "Listen," right? And pay attention. There's also something else that's going on that is beyond any of the individual players. And that is the key that the song is in, that we all know what key we're in and that we all know what the meter is. So there are these boundaries in which we experience the freedom and the flow of creation in the moment. And yet there are these boundaries because if there weren't, it would just be everybody playing their own thing and it just makes noise. What is that about music that makes it music and joyful or however it is? I mean, if you go to a movie-- a lot of people don't understand until they think about it-- that a really great percentage of your experience in a movie theater watching a film has to do with the music.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:42:50] Yes.
Scott Langdon [00:42:50] The composer is leading your emotions in a certain way, and when it's about time to open that door in that dark cellar, that music is right. All of that is connected there, right? So you have to know what key you're in. You have to know what meter you're in to play in. And so these boundaries seem like they might be something that would be constricting, and yet the freedom that you can explore within those boundaries is what makes the music instead of the cacophony. And understanding that aspect in my life and how I relate to other people at work, at the convenience store, strangers, whatever, has changed my entire existence. Just thinking about it that way.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:43:36] Yeah, these analogies are used in one particular place in the God book and I can't exactly remember how it comes up, but I am told what you have to do in life is figure out what key. What key should you be playing in? You've got to you know, there's a point where you should come in, you know, so the timing is an element of it. There's a time to speak and a time to be silent. And these other aspects all have analogies in daily life that you're trying to make music out of the whole instead of just noise. It's easy to make noise. It's hard to make music.
Scott Langdon [00:44:14] Yes.
Scott Langdon [00:44:28] 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 email@example.com, 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.