The notion of father—Can we really change in our Western world what we consider to be god/the oneness/that which is from a patriarch to a matriarch? It is so ingrained in the way we think and the way that we have grown, to contemplate, that which is other from our every day experience.

“If you see a man on his knees looking up and speaking to a lamp shade, you think the man has schizophrenia. Remove the lampshade, and he is in prayer.”

What differs schizophrenia and insanity from religious piety? If we have truly embraced the idea of what God/Oneness/Universe could be in the guise of a mother rather than a father, then it RADICALLY changes how we see the world, and our position in it!

For most of us, the ideal of a father is something that we have gleaned from TV. Our parents generation got their notions of what a father should be from television shows like Leave it Beaver, Father Knows Best, or Bonanza. For my generation it was The Brady Bunch, The courtship of Eddie’s Father, and the Cosby show, Different Strokes, Silver Spoons, Growing Pains, and Family Ties.

People let me tell you ’bout my best friend,

He’s a warm-hearted person who’ll love me till the end.

People let me tell you bout my best friend,

He’s a one boy cuddly toy, my up, my down, my pride and joy.

 

People let me tell you ’bout him he’s so much fun

Whether we’re talkin’ man to man or whether we’re talking son to son.

Cause he’s my best friend.

Yes he’s my best friend.”

 

This idyllic version of what a father should be set us all up for failure. The parents on the television shows were perfect in everyway. They knew the right answer, knew how to be coddling or loving, and knew when to be strict at the right time. Came in with the one-line zingers that made everything OK. The funny statements that forced you to laugh even when your heart was breaking. Mrs. Cunningham on Happy Days brought a jar of peanut butter and a spoon to Jonnie when she got dumped by Chachi—saying, “This always makes me feel better.”

As a society, we have taken on that mantra, in order to assuage our feelings and our pain…we resort to food because Mrs. Cunningham isn’t coming. She isn’t on her way up the stairs with a jar of peanut butter. There aren’t a lot of rich white guys in New York adopting two black kids, and no you aren’t Ricky Schroeder and your father isn’t a zillionaire who is going to find you and lavish you with money, toys, and love.

No, the sad reality is that we project these myths, and that is really what they are, the myth of the perfect father, the myth of the perfect mother. We demand these of ourselves, and our progenitors.

How many women today are trying so desperately to be that “perfect” mom? They want to be ideal they think is attained by people like Kelly Ripa. Beautiful blonde, runs marathons, owns her own business, perfect body, funny, witty, looks great in a black cocktail dress, has 3 kids, and is still a vixen in the bedroom while getting all the laundry done.

They even just came out with a movie defining this myth, “How Does She Do It” with Sarah Jessica Parker. No one can do it. And yet we try. Men are no different; we try to be John Wayne, Brad Pitt, James Bond, and Batman.

The idea that any of us can do it all be the CEO, a super dad/mom, hot, run 10 miles a day, and be the president of the PTA, and and and and…

It is impossible, and yet there are so many people trying to fill that niche in their children’s lives. Question, “Are their children happier?” I use to leave the school with no homework to go and play. We would jump in the creek, chase snakes and frogs, and have fake sword fights with sticks. Now, most children’s days are regimented. After school they have piano, ballet, gymnastics, tutoring, and then go home to do copious amounts of homework. An eight year old puts in a 7-hour day at school (work) then goes and works another 7 hours afterward!

It isn’t uncommon for most high school kids to stay up till midnight in order to get their homework done. We have regimented kids lives to such an extent, that we make “dates” to play!

So where has this gotten us to—this idolization of who we are, who we should be, and who are parents and children should be?

Who we are, who we want to be, and what we define as ideal or perfect parents or children directly inform how we see the divine. For most people, the person that they love and fear the most are one and the same. Father. For some it is Mother.

Is it possible to love and fear god/the divine/the oneness the same way that you love or fear mother? Now most people have a different idea of who a true mother is as compared to a father. We see them as all loving. Look what happens to a woman’s body during gestation and birth; she is ravaged by the act. She gives away from her own life source, stripping away her own nutrients, calcium, and proteins in order to form that inside her womb. She gives life to such an extent, that her own is taken from her.

We know statistically that most women die shortly after a major life event. Most commonly this isn’t one of their own events, but those in the lives of their children and grandchildren. Grandma, dies as week after Christmas, after the wedding, after the baby has been born. They hold on, they fight, and struggle through the pain of the last years of their lives in order to see the completion of a life-affirming event in their children’s lives. Then, once across that threshold and seeing the evolution of an act in another’s lives, they feel that their work/time is complete, and are able to let go, and slip to the other side.

That idea of mother, a person dedicated at all times at all cost to our benefit to our good is one that frankly I’m just stunned that we don’t see as God. If we look at the mother bear, cow, or females of most species—they are dedicated to the death for their progeny. Bulls or males view the offspring being the impediment to their goals, meaning screw as many momma bears as possible. Therefore, to eliminate the competition for the momma bear, you kill the babies, and you have the momma bear to screw.

It is the momma bear that IS the protector, who IS the lover, who IS the provider although she is weak from hibernation is still willing and able to give of herself to give birth and suckle her young. The mother hawk leaves the nest and returns to regurgitate her own food, and give to her young. Now granted there are plenty of animals where the males play a major helping role, most notably the penguin and some animals mate for life. But there are the countless female spiders that after mating eat the father.

So, if given a papa bear and a mother bear, who would you want to be the representation of your deity?

Would you want the person who would fend off an attack perhaps even dying herself, although she is smaller than the male, she would willingly go into combat to protect you at all costs, no matter what. Wouldn’t you want that person to represent you as your deity?

Consider your mother. Consider my mother. Despite the atrocities that we have done to them; the name-calling, the door slamming, the backstabbing, the insulting, the general maligning we all do in our adolescence and sometimes in our adulthood. Consider that they persevere despite what we have done to them. Sometimes they aren’t perfect either. Sometimes they lord our failures over us, and constantly remind us of our shortcomings…they are human but they are humane. The very fact that you and I are here is testament to the fact that someone cared enough to feed us and provide a little for us. At the very least, someone was willing to carry you to term. That in and of itself is an act of kindness or love

But return to whom we as people, as a culture, and as a world we perceive mother to be. Think of June Cleaver. June Cleaver as an archetype of who the deity is…or other?

Having met my father at the age of 12, and having no idea about who he really was, I had only the archetypes of the television shows I watched as reference. Against the litmus of Family Ties, Different Strokes, Growing Pains, and a whole host of icons depicting what manhood and fatherhood was. My father never stood a chance.

My expectations of him were so high, and convoluted to some extent, that he never had a chance. One step across the line into a paradigm different from the Cosby Show, and thus my Dad would “fail” according to my expectations.

I too had my own preconceived notions of what it was to be a son. I’m sure my father had expectations for what a son was. How could we not look at our own childhood and our own relations with our fathers for a map of what is possible with our own children?

My father has become one of my heroes. Like most he has weaknesses, but he also has an incredible amount of strengths. And the character and the spirit of will that have formed who he has become in his own evolution in his own life, makes him all the more worthy of praise, and a person worthy of emulation.

As a small child, I found his shadow so compelling, that in small ways consciously and sub-consciously I have absorbed and adopted characteristics and mannerisms present in his disposition. Obviously I had my vision and perception of the world were colored by his worldview. How I viewed women, how I viewed daily interactions, how I viewed wealth, cars, and art were all directly, indirectly, and demonstratively influence by what he said and did.

Sub-consciously, I changed the way I coughed, the way I sneezed, the way I laughed, and the way I yawned were all changed to emulate who he was, and who I perceived he wanted me to be. Because he represented the Male, and he was an amazing male. He was and is and AMAZING male. He is talented, articulate, well dressed, incredibly intelligent, and a great artist. Why would I not want to emulate this man? Who else did I have in my young adolescence worthy of such emulation? He was just my dad and he was an amazing man. Who else was cooler? Hell, my dad was cool; he was a trendsetter, a fine artist, and a high society elite. He wasn’t like the fuddy-duddy, hillbillies, loggers, and truckers in Oregon. He wore Armani and Hugo Boss, drove fast cars, and cruised the oceans on a sailboat. He was awesome.

And though I loved him so, and dearly love him evermore so now, it is somewhat in his image that I have somewhat manufactured God. It is somewhat in Bill Cosby’s image that I have mirrored God. It is somewhat in Michelangelo’s interpretation of what God is that I see God. And, I see God in the Zero. The Hindus were the first to contemplate the concept of zero. To the Romans and to the Greeks, the concept that there is nothing was scary and inconceivable. The idea that there could be a nothing…was to be avoided.

The Hindus however, because of their views spiritually/cosmically saw something in nothing, and nothing in something. The two were inextricably linked and intertwined. Even when you have absolutely nothing, you still have something, that void is a thing. And they were the first to incorporate the zero into their mathematics, and massively pushed their mathematics forward.

How did they represent this concept? A circle encircling—nothing.

A continuous loop going round and round, never reaching a destination, never having a point of origin or one of terminus. A continuous loop for all eternity. The infinite contained within a circle, within that circle—nothing. The circle is nothing, within it is nothing, and yet it defines something…the empty set.

Set theory predates numerals. What is a set? A set is a grouping of a number of things. If I have five apples in a pile and I have five walnuts in a pile, the concept that those two are interrelated somehow is a leap of imagination that we take for granted everyday. To say that one is somehow correlated to the other defies empirical reasoning. But they are both a set, a group. One has 5, as we know it, the other has 5. Thus, their correlation is made for all men to see. The fact that we can make the extraordinary mental jump to see that 5 walnuts, 5 apples, 5 trees, 5 atmospheres, 5 universes, or 5 ants are somehow similar by the set of them predates numbers. Later we ascribe it a numeral- 5 or V that describes that grouping. This of course makes it different from the set of 4 or of 6.

Georg Cantor, the father of set theory, found that sets predated all of mathematics and even numbers. Famously, the giant tome on the subject of set theory was at the printers and nearly ready for publication, when he received a letter from a colleague named Russell. Russell had read over the manuscript and sent Cantor a paradox that stopped the presses.

The paradox is given in the contradiction of the town barber. Suppose there is a town with just one male barber. In this town, every man keeps himself clean-shaven by doing one of two things:

1. Shaving himself, or

2. Going to the barber.

Another way to state this is:

The barber shaves only those men in town who do not shave themselves.

All this seems perfectly logical, until we pose the paradoxical question:

Who shaves the barber?

This question results in a paradox because, according to the statement above, he can either be shaven by:

1. Himself, or

2. The barber (which happens to be himself).

However, none of these possibilities are valid! This is because:

▪   If the barber does shave himself, then the barber (himself) must not shave himself.

If the barber does not shave himself, then the barber (himself) must shave himself.

It is that set theory, and the concept of zero and one for which we compute all our binary codes that run our computers, cell phones, and iPads. The idea of something vs. nothing, the completeness and the emptiness, is at its essence…how we define God.

I am not a Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Baha’i, Shinto, atheist, or agnostic. But, I realize THIS is here. This planet, the solar system, the universe, and my thought all prove something exists in nothing. Like Descartes 400 years ago, Cogito ergo sum; I think therefore I am. But, it is out of me.

Where do I think from? Where is the ultimate observer? We have a heart-brain, and we have a brain-mind. We have a brain stem that controls our breathing, our balance, and our heart beating. We have our limbic system that controls our emotions, and we have our neo-cortex that somehow allows us to choose. Choose self or choose other?

We are supposedly shaped in the image of God. But, we have shaped our image of God in OUR image. The Abrahamic faiths state that we were formed in the image of God, and yet throughout our evolution we chosen to imagine God in our image. So, who do you want your God to be?

Do I want my God to be the person that I most fear and most hate? Do I desire a divinity given to tirades, tantrums, and vitriolic fits? A deity that uses misdirection, underhanded deceit, and willing to smite me for smallest infraction whether purposeful or woefully ignorant?

Or would I rather see it as the unity, the oneness, and the empty set? That which is everything and nothing. To see that which is as a mother and a father, who despite what I do in this life, whether I am perfect or flawed, chooses to love me anyway.

My goal is to act in like stead. My mission is to love everyone, for everyone (yes even Hitler) is worthy of the love of a father, a mother, or a child.

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