The movie begins with a girl being pushed and called names by a boy in a playground. The girl’s mother explains to her that the boy must have done these things because he has a crush on her and likes her. This, it is suggested, is at the root of the attempt women sometimes make later in life to interpret a man’s apparent lack of romantic interest, meanness and various things as meaning something other that appears to be the case when the words or actions are taken at face value.
I found myself thinking about the ways in which we think in our youth (and often beyond our younger years) about God and our everyday experiences. If something happens to a religious believer that doesn’t immediately make sense in term of being cared for by a loving and all-powerful God, ways are found to explain away the apparent contradiction. God is just testing you or allowing you to be tested. Satan is trying to trip you up because you love God, and/or God loves you, so much. God is showing his great confidence in you because he won’t put you through anything you can’t handle.
Is there not a profound similarity to the ways we sometimes seek less obvious but more comforting explanations for the behavior of a significant other?
I propose the alternative explanation that “God just isn’t that into you” in a somewhat facetious, tongue-in-cheek manner. But in a sense that is what it can feel like when one goes from thinking of God as an anthropomorphic heavenly ‘significant other’ to acknowledging that the universe and/or God’s plan for it may well not revolve around you. The idea that God is not compelling people with important business to nonetheless get in their cars and leave so that you will find a parking spot can be as troubling as the realization that another person’s apparent lack of romantic is in fact what it appears to be, rather than merely an indication that the person hides his or her feelings well, or something else of that sort.
God, as depicted in the Bible and many other religious texts, doesn’t seem to hide his feelings. To echo a phrase from the movie, in most ancient religious thought ‘if a god wants to make a covenant with you, he’ll make that clear‘. The Bible does not depict a hidden God but a God who reveals himself and often brings swift judgment on the enemies of his chosen ones. Our time, on the other hand, is one in which it is possible to seriously doubt whether any sort of deity exists. But the movie’s message, like that of this blog entry, is not to deny that guys or gods exist, but to encourage us to think in a different, more mature manner about who or what they are and how to relate to them.
Of course, at this point the analogy breaks down, since the movie seems to be advising an honest recognition of how men and women relate to one another so as to find someone who is ‘into you’. When it comes to relating to God, however, the key is not only to recognize that the universe is not made so as to revolve around you or me (the ultimate Copernica paradigm shift), but also to recognize the pitfalls of applying the analogy of ‘personal relationship’ to God, and even more so of taking such a metaphor as a literal statement of fact.
What do you think? Have you had experiences which led you to conclude that there is no God, or that God should not be thought of in overly personal terms, or that “he’s just not that into you”?