jamesm's Profile Page
Information Written by jamesm
I live in a small town in Southern Illinois with a wife, three dogs and a cat. The cat I inherited from my departed wife. I am not a cat person and think the old cat will someday pass but the cat is trying to outlive me. I am madly in love with all dogs, even mean ones, but have a preference for the ugliest of dogs. So I live with, not own, two French bulldogs and a rescued English bulldog who is old and whose pix is usually on my profile, since I am even uglier.
I am a incredibly happy old guy, who loves to bike, to sing, and to love.
I work 24 hours a week at a menial job that requires lots of strenght but not much thinking. At this stage of the game I really rather not think too hard. I have been in seventeen professions and as my first boss told me, "I am indeed a jack of all trades but a master of none." Money never excited me and still doesn't. I am blessed with a relatively good mind and studied and taught psychology in my younger years. I am schooled in rational emotive therapy and have lived by accepting that my thoughts are chosen, so I am responsible for my own feelings. And so I chose to be happy.
The following is just a long, long paper that I wrote in the middle of the night, after awakening from my wife's home dialysis machine noise. It was written nearly eight years ago today. Her name was Linda and she was my first wife. The sweet wife that I have now, understands that I will still love my first wife until the 12th of never. I truly believe she does and understands. I am so durn old that I feel the need to share what I know about love. I feel like an authority on the subject and you will just have to forgive me for being so arrogant.
THOUGHTS ON UNDERSTANDING THE CONCEPT
By James A. Monroe
Thoughts in the Night
Waking from an inspiring dream last night, I realized that my wife's home dialysis machine was screaming a warning sound to alert me to needed adjustments. My wife is connected to the machine to keep her alive. I know I will soon lose her and God is almost always on my mind now. After adjusting her machine I went downstairs to the computer and had the urge immediately to put down on paper the thoughts about God that appeared in my dream.
In my own way of thinking, I am deeply religious, and have always been so. None-the-less, others like to put a label on me of agnostic or atheist, since I do not “fit the mold” that the majority of humans fit into. Clearly, I consider myself as a theist, not an atheist.
Religious History and Beginning Doubts
First of all, I was baptized as a Roman Catholic a few days after I was born in June of 1939. My childhood was one of a typical “couldn’t eat meat on Friday”, catechism on Saturday, and the taking of Holy Communion on Sundays.
My loss of respect for the teachings of the Church began as a young boy when a nun explained to me that I would go to heaven when I died, if in the “state of grace” at the moment of death. She then went on to explain that my dog “Brownie” could not join me in heaven, as dogs simply did not have a soul. That statement, raised more questions than answers, and was just the beginning of my disenchantment with conventional religion.
Upon becoming a man and marrying the girl of my dreams, I was told by my priest that since we had eloped and had been married by a Justice of the Peace, we were not married in the “eyes of God” and therefore were living in mortal sin. Not wanting to “burn forever in hell”, I convinced my young (and by then pregnant) wife into taking the necessary instruction to become a Catholic. Later, with a janitor and a secretary picked as witnesses, we were married “in the eyes of God”, as school children stood in the doorway, smiling. Within weeks however, I realized that I had made a stupid mistake in accepting that I had been living in sin, before being married in the Church. With that realization, I slowly began resenting the teachings of the Catholic Church, in regards to the nature of God. Surely, I begun to think, God would not be so narrow minded.
Complete Loss of Faith
Thereafter, I quickly realized that I could not go on “living a lie” and forcing myself to think of my God as so punishing. I dropped out of the Church and spent years looking for a faith that I could accept, finding none. Each religion seemed to feel compelled to explain the existence of God anthropomorphically. Each religion espoused teachings that required they be accepted on blind faith. Each discouraged free thinking, or worse, considered it blasphemy.
Unable and/or unwilling to find a religion that I could feel comfortable with, I went on trying to live my life in as Christ like manner as I could. Never did I doubt that this man called Jesus was indeed a perfect person for anyone to emulate. And, even though I was a former Catholic, I felt the recent, W.W.J.D. (“What would Jesus do?”) to be a good thing to ask myself, as I lived out my life. As I raised my family of a loving wife and two wonderful girls, I continually pondered the true meaning of the word, God. And in time, I came to see that this hypothetical construct that we call God to be somehow connected to all living and non-living matter.
Beginning to Understand
Surely, I thought, man was meant to “feel” and to experience this concept called God, by merely being alive and by being conscious of all the unexplainable forces around us. So I began to look for the presence and goodness of God in people and other living things around me. I found this to be somehow on the right path, yet, something was still missing. Soon, I realized that I could not exclude non-living matter (the Earth). Surely, I figured that since the earth was here before man, its greatness should not be excluded from my thoughts about the essence of God.
As a young man in college, I remember being entranced with Maslow’s, “Hierarchy of Needs”, with the final need being that of “self actualization”. I now know he was a man ahead of his time. I truly feel at peace with my world. Here I am at the age of 63 seeing God in everything, living and non-living. One could perhaps say that I worship the modern concept of God called Gaia, however that seems self-limiting, in that this world is merely a small part of the entire universe. I have spent my life avoiding labels and chose to try to explain myself when necessary, rather than to try to put everything in “neat little boxes”.
Being Human-There is Always Room for Doubt
So, am I comfortable with my personal concepts of the essence of God? Not by a long shot. As a human, I have limited ability to understand this concept called God. So, I am sure that I will still spend some time in trying. But, while I can understand that church-going people may in fact feel that they are “on the right track”, and I truly respect and am happy for them, I have serious doubts that the true thinkers among them are perfectly at ease with the teaching of their particular religion. To be perfectly at ease with one’s religion and to accept everything on blind faith would be denying both human nature and reality, in my opinion.
The Message from My Dream
What then was the “profound” inspiration that came to me in a dream? It was not something esoteric in nature but perhaps the results of someone who obviously went through the “sixties” when slogans were so popular. During those years, and continuing today, is the often heard expression, “God is love”. While it was and remains, a nice expression, I have always found it less than satisfying. My dream merely reversed that saying to, “Love is God.
Fortunately, with the reversed saying came some understanding of its nuances. If possible, I would like to explain what I perceive to be the meaning of, “Love is God”. First, we need to agree as to the meaning of the hypothetical construct, “love”. What does the word love mean? To me, the only logical explanation would be that love is a word used to describe a positive feeling (emotion) that automatically comes from having loving thoughts. And the word God is generally accepted by everyone as the omnipotent force, power, or whatever, that created the universe and everything in it.
So what does, “Love is God” mean to me? That is the easy part. If one chooses to believe that this universe just happened with for no reason, they are of course allowed that option. But to me, such a thought borders on the ridiculous. So, it is a given to me, that we are all part of this universe for a reason. That reason, taught to me by my wonderful wife, is that we were put here to be “stewards of the earth”. We came to that conclusion, in-as-much as humans are apparently the most intelligent beings on the earth and therefore the logical protector of the earth and it’s inhabitants. And a pre-curser to being intelligent is the realization that virtually all of our thoughts are chosen. They are not put in our head by any external forces, unless we allow them to be. It would be virtually impossible to truly “know” God if we merely accepted the thoughts of others, thinking they put the thoughts in our head.
Accepting that there is an omnipotent power and using the hypothetical construct called God to label that power, it is only natural that we would look for tangible evidence of this God. I believe that man may think that he can “know” God, but any attempt to do so results instead of “knowing” God’s creations. Simply put, knowing and loving God’s creations are sufficient for me.
Many religions see God in an anthropomorphic way to help “humanize” him. Yes, “him”. I personally do not know of any religion that thinks of God as a woman, for instance, and that too raises issues that I ponder, in-as-much as I hold women in such high regard. I must admit that I have trouble seeing God, in human form. I understand man’s need to humanize “him”; to “put a face” on “him”, but I feel more comfortable accepting that I can not ever know God, but only know God’s creations.
In summation, I believe a thinking person can choose to think “loving” thoughts about everything in God’s creation. And thus, loving thoughts are Godly thoughts. And that is, I believe, as close as we can get to understanding God. I am completely at peace with this. I awake in the morning and immediately thank God that I am still alive, by choosing some loving thoughts. I then check to see that my wife of 40 years is still alive and thank God again. I have done this for as long as I can remember. But understand, I do not necessarily say to myself, “Thank you God”. I merely choose to have a loving thought that can manifest itself in a hundred different ways. And because my life is close to being over, I become more thankful each day. Since I was in my early thirties, I have realized my mortality and chose to be happier with each day. I mean, if we know we only have so many days to live and if we really do have a choice as whether to be happy or not, why would we choose otherwise. Happy thoughts are loving thoughts and loving thoughts are Godly thoughts.
To choose to be miserable then, would deny reality about our mortality and the existence of God. In closing, I personally see God in the lowly spider, my dogs, my wife, my children and family, my friends, my co-workers and nearly everyone. I even see God in those who choose to be miserable. Yes, I even see God in the inventions of man, in a magnificent tree, and in a beautiful woman. God is everywhere and in everything. Why would I, an intelligent man, not choose to have loving thoughts nearly constantly, given near total choice over my thinking? Why indeed?
“Love is God”
June 10, 2002
James Monroe, Harrisburg, Illinois
As you can see, this was written while my loving wife was still alive, but I knew that I would eventually lose her to lupus and kidney disease, as I did on November 21, 2004. Today is August 18, of 2011 and after rereading this simple paper, I see nothing that I disagree with. I realize that this paper may be patently offensive to most Christians and I am sorry for that. It was clearly not my intention to offend anyone but to shed some light on my convoluted thinking. But I make no apologies for my beliefs and hope that the reader can just accept that the writer is an old ex-hippie from the sixties and seventies. I just hope the reader takes, as the main message, that the process of loving is my way of serving God. Thanks for reading.
James A. Monroe, Harrisburg, Illinois