GOD: An Autobiography, As Told to a Philosopher - The Podcast

18. God Explains Polytheism In A Way I Understand | Dramatic Adaptation Of God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher [Part 18]

March 10, 2021 Jerry L. Martin, Scott Langdon
18. God Explains Polytheism In A Way I Understand | Dramatic Adaptation Of God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher [Part 18]
GOD: An Autobiography, As Told to a Philosopher - The Podcast
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GOD: An Autobiography, As Told to a Philosopher - The Podcast
18. God Explains Polytheism In A Way I Understand | Dramatic Adaptation Of God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher [Part 18]
Mar 10, 2021
Jerry L. Martin, Scott Langdon

Questions? Comments? Text Us!

"There is no realm from which I am absent, no realm I do not have a direct relationship to."  

Welcome to 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.

Read God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher.

Would You Like To Share Your Experience With God? We Want To Hear About Your Spiritual Journey!

Share Your Story | Site | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube |

Show Notes Transcript

Questions? Comments? Text Us!

"There is no realm from which I am absent, no realm I do not have a direct relationship to."  

Welcome to 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.

Read God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher.

Would You Like To Share Your Experience With God? We Want To Hear About Your Spiritual Journey!

Share Your Story | Site | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube |

 

Season Two - Episode Eighteen

 GOD: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY - THE PODCAST
 
JLM -       Narrator (Jerry L. Martin) - voiced by Scott Langdon 
 Jerry -     Jerry Martin - voiced by Scott Langdon
 GOD -    The Voice of God - voiced by Jerry L. Martin, who heard the voice

 

JLM

I had been told that God manifests Himself in many ways, and He often mentioned art. I did start sensing the divine manifestation in things, not only in beautiful things like sunsets but also ordinary things in their bare particularity. 

 

I am notoriously insensitive to art, particularly to painting. I could appreciate three-dimensional art--sculpture and architecture but not what I call "flat stuff." Until I encountered Andrew Wyeth. 

 

Between the melting of winter and the flood of tourists, Abigail and I took a long weekend in the Brandywine Valley, not far from home. 

 

This is Wyeth country. His farmhouse still stands, and we had breakfast at Andy's favorite diner. His granddaughter gives lively tours of his paintings at a nearby gallery. I don't know if it was a change in me or something unique in Wyeth, but for the first time, I saw paintings that meant something to me. 

 

By capturing the textured surface of things, Wyeth allowed their grainy suchness to come out, which is another way of saying he let the Divine show through. 

 

As early peoples caught glimpses of the Divine in art or in nature, it must have been natural to think there were gods in things. In fact, I had been told— 

GOD

Some elements of polytheism are merely superstitious, but other aspects are genuinely responsive to the many ways in which I present Myself. It may seem odd to your modern mind to think of fire as a god, but why do you think I made fire mysterious and fascinating?

 

It is a physical metaphor in itself—it is created out of nothing and disappears into nothing, grows and dies, gives life and warmth as well as pain and destruction, and it looks both hypnotically attractive and frightening. 

 

As you know, I am very powerful. I do manifest Myself in storms and thunder, in the ocean and great waves—in the power that drives the universe and that manifests itself in each particular event. 

 

The large cosmic forces are divine and so are their concrete manifestations. That does not mean that every rainstorm is a specific communication or is there to advance or retard some particular action, but it does mean that every rainstorm expresses an aspect of Me. 

 

Early peoples saw My presence everywhere, saw the spiritual indwelling of things, their powers and potencies and the divine element in all that. But there was always an awareness, however dim, that there was a single spiritual reality behind them all. 

 

I have told you that there are many gods but only one God, and I am He. 

JERRY

What do You mean by many gods?

GOD

In a sense, the wind and seas are gods. The elemental forces of nature are gods.

JERRY

Why gods rather than impersonal forces?

GOD

They are not impersonal. They are agents of me. They help direct the world toward its goal.

JERRY

What is your relation to the God of Israel?

GOD

The God of Israel is one face of Me. It is really Me, and I really did undergo the development recorded pretty accurately in the Hebrew Bible. 

JERRY

You have other "faces"?

GOD

Of course. I came to all peoples, but arrived in different guises. I came to the American Indians as the Great Spirit, to the Moslems as Allah, and so on. I came to the Hindus in many different forms, and hence their many stories. 

JERRY

Some of their stories are about gods as forces of nature, aren't they? 

GOD

Yes, some of those gods are indirect manifestations of Me, and some are more direct appearances by Me. 

JERRY

Lord, this sounds like the Hindu view, that everything is God or is a manifestation of God. Is that so?

GOD

Yes, that is correct. 

JERRY

Then I am God and a manifestation of God? 

GOD

That is true. 

JERRY

But I also interact with You, and according to the biblical story, You interact with peoples and act in history.

GOD

That is all true. But the fact that I am you and you are I does not prevent us from interacting. 

JERRY

Is that why I sometimes have trouble telling whether I am hearing Your voice or my own?

 

GOD

Yes, but there is still a difference between your voice and Mine, since you are a specific manifestation of Me and I am in fact a specific manifestation of Myself. So we still have to talk, and can misunderstand each other. 

 

JLM

Did this mean there is something true in polytheism? But I had been taught, "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me." And that Me was not Baal or some idol or clump of trees. The Old Testament campaigns against polytheism, against "whoring after strange gods." This required further investigation.

 

Abigail's father had been a professor, and I married into his library. It included Martin P. Nilsson's Greek Popular Religion, a classic on ancient Greek polytheism. 

 

According to Nilsson, anything that had potency or an aura was regarded as holy. Spirits lurked inside striking features of the landscape such as trees, forests, lakes, and mountains. River crossings and cave entrances would be marked with stones or statues.

JERRY

Were these valid responses to You, Lord?

GOD

You lump them all together. We would have to take them one by one. You see them as generic types of actions. I see them as specific communications or acknowledgments. One person looked at a stream and saw the current of My energy running through it and marked the spot in homage. 

 

Another was superstitious and marked the spot for good luck. Some were fearful and thought they might drown crossing if they did not place a token on the bank. Some actually stopped and prayed or meditated or sang a song of praise. These are very different kinds of communications, with different degrees of reality.

 

If your question is whether streams and mountains and so forth do in fact embody My presence, the answer again is not so simple. Of course, everything embodies My presence and it is always a good thing when someone pauses to acknowledge that. 

 

But some things do embody it more. There is truth to the sense that I am more distinctively present in aspects of energy and force than in matter that is relatively more inert. We would have to go into physics, into the physics of the future, to discuss that in detail. 

 

At particular times, I am especially present in a certain place or to a certain person. It is not mere superstition that causes people to pause before the fact of death, for example. That is a moment and place of particular interaction between Me and the deceased and their survivors. 

 

However, there are some dramatic elements of nature, such as lightning, that might be appropriate symbols for divine power but are not in fact times and places of special presence or interaction.

 

But, in general, did polytheism respond to a divine reality? Yes, it did. And any religion that does not allow for this aspect of My presence--My presence in nature, in objects, in places, and in forces--is missing something.

 

(Music)

 

 

(Chp. 19)

 

 

JERRY

Lord, did the polytheistic response affect You in any way?

GOD

Oh yes, in many ways. When someone sensed My presence in a place and responded respectfully, it increased My awareness of My presence there, and of what it was about Me that evoked and deserved respect.

JLM

Then I was given an analogy.

GOD

Sometimes someone might be the pillar of a particular institution and not realize their distinctive role until a crisis. And they notice that everyone rallies around them or sees them as their savior or seeks their advice or expects them to get them through it. In a sense, they were the pillar all along, but it was almost latent and not fully actualized until the occasion arose and they saw it reflected in the eyes of others. 

JLM

I gather that God's experience was something like that.

GOD

I am ever-present—let’s say for now and not get too picturesque about what this means. Put it negatively: there is no realm from which I am absent, no realm I do not have a direct relationship to.

 

Did the so-called polytheistic religions realize this better than the so-called monotheistic? Not necessarily. They certainly gave it full-bodied expression and awareness to the point of insanity—there were fears about every wind and so forth. 

 

But Judaism and Christianity have not failed to understand My presence everywhere, and they have understood this not just as an abstract concept but in many ways as a concrete reality. 

 

You can explore later how these different approaches or communications—polytheism, monotheism, the Way, and so forth—relate to one another and to some meaningful whole, but don't get caught up in trying to make a metaphysical scheme out of it. Think more of both-and and less of either-or. Logic is helpful for some things, but not for everything.

JLM

I understand that, if gravitational pull were slightly stronger, all the galaxies would collapse into a single lump. If it were the slightest bit weaker, nothing would hold together. 

 

JERRY

Lord, could gravity, if this makes sense, be a kind of love or an expression of love?

GOD

Yes, love exists at all levels, just as spirit or soul exists at all levels. At the physical level, it is things like gravity. At the level of human personality, it is integrity; it is the "transcendental unity of apperception" for consciousness, personality. It is institutions and mores for society, balance and harmony for art, and so forth.

JLM

“Transcendental unity of apperception" is Immanuel Kant's term for the principle that makes the jumble of sensory impressions into a unified field of consciousness.

GOD

There can be no love without difference, no harmony or balance without opposing items or forces, no magnetism without the magnet and its object, and so on.

 

Mystic merging is not quite right. You—people—need to live out your lives in relation to, in concert with Me, but it would serve no purpose, karmic or otherwise, for you to get lost in Me, like a drop of water in the sea.

JLM

I knew that I wanted to love Abigail, not to merge into her, or to have her merge into me. There is not just unity, but creative tension as well.

 

(Music)

 

JLM

The ancients posed the question: Do the gods rule the world, or does the world, in some respects, rule the gods? Perhaps even the gods are subject to Fate and to the whims of Time.

JERRY

Is that view right, Lord?

GOD

Yes, something like that. There is a rhythm, a framework, a pattern to the universe that I must yield to, work within, accommodate to, and respect. I work within fixed patterns, patterns larger than the laws of nature in this world, to achieve My goals.

JERRY

That makes you sound small, Lord.

GOD

No, that is not accurate at all. I am very large, very large indeed, about the largest "thing" you can imagine. But I am bounded. Remember that I can do anything I care to do. In that sense, My will is not limited. But what I care to do is shaped by, exists in light of, boundary conditions.

JERRY

And some of these conditions involve time?

GOD

Yes, that's right.

JERRY

Do the actions of human beings affect what is "timely" for You?

GOD

Yes! That is correct. I cannot move at a pace greater than the human reactions. That is why it is important for you to tell My story, My history of interactions with humans, from My side. You will see that a development in God is really a response to, and conditioned by, the development of human beings and their response to Me.

 

(Music)

 

JLM

I started to study other ancient cultures and religions. I began attending meetings of the American Academy of Religion. To make time for these activities, I phased back at work. I put a colleague in charge of day-to-day operations.

Abigail was still teaching at Brooklyn College. She got a Tuesday/Thursday teaching schedule, and I cut back to three days a week in the office. We needed a place from which we could both commute. 

 

We found a lovely town with historic grace in Bucks County, north of Philadelphia, within easy reach of Amtrak. We would drive to the station together and then split, one going north, the other south, and come together again at the end of the week. The days apart made the heart grow fonder--and more frustrated. We couldn't make a life together that way.

 

I am not the kind of person who, if God tells me to jump off a cliff, will jump. And now I had Abigail to take into account. Thanks to what I call her gift of belief, she was supportive of my new calling, but she thought it best we not go broke. 

 

I gradually cut hours and reduced salary until it became clear how much we needed. After a couple of years, Abigail was able to retire and draw an annuity. When our financial advisor said it was okay for me to quit as well, I resigned my position. 

 

A few months later the stock market collapsed.

 

(Music)

 

(The End)