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July 21, 2009

God is everywhere

There is a famous and funny old sketch called the Five Minute University in which comedian Don Novello acts in his character of Father Guido Sarducci.

As he says, when the students study theology at his university, all they will learn are the answers to the two questions "Where is god?" (Answer: God is everywhere) and "Why?" (Answer: Because he likes you). I am beginning to think that the answer to the first question is absolutely correct.

Take a look at this picture of a cut tree stump that is in a churchyard in Ireland. What do you see?

mary tree stump.jpg

Nothing? Just a tree stump that someone has cut in an odd way? Oh ye of little faith! To the devout this looks like the Virgin Mary and they think its appearance is (what else?) a miracle. People are making pilgrimages to pray around it. Over 2,000 have signed a petition objecting to plans to uproot the stump, and want to convert it into a permanent shrine of some sort.

The thing that strikes me is that recently Jesus and Mary seem to be showing up all over the place, in slices of toast, grilled cheese sandwiches, womb ultrasounds, Marmite jar lid, Kit Kat bar, shower curtain, cheese curl, dental x-rays, mugs of hot chocolate, even on the backside of a dog or in bird droppings. Here are yet more sightings.

Such stories, apart from revealing religious people to be hopelessly credulous, also demonstrate how weak some people's faith is, not how strong. It is only people who are really desperate for a sign to bolster their beliefs that will seize on such pathetic things as validating their faith. The woman who saw the Marmite Jesus 'took comfort from the image' saying, "I'm not particularly religious but I like to think it's Jesus looking out for us."

This kind of thing puts religious authorities in a quandary. On the one hand, they realize that if you have too many such sightings, religion begins to look more and more ridiculous. After all, if people start worshipping tree stumps, how can you distinguish so-called mainstream religion from more allegedly primitive religions, such as paganism. Some religions actually do involve tree-worship and the Christmas tree symbol itself likely began as one.

On the other hand, religious authorities cannot categorically debunk all of them as nonsense because their bread and butter depends on people believing that god can reveal himself to people on occasion even if it in this weird way. The problem for the church is that it wants to discourage freelancers and keep a monopoly on what qualifies as a revelation of god and what doesn't as this is the source of their power and money. They tried to walk that fine line on this occasion too.

Local parish priest Fr Willie Russell said on radio station Limerick Live 95FM yesterday that people should not worship the tree. "There's nothing there . . . it's just a tree . . . you can't worship a tree."

A spokesman for the Limerick diocesan office said the "church's response to phenomena of this type is one of great scepticism".

"While we do not wish in any way to detract from devotion to Our Lady, we would also wish to avoid anything which might lead to superstition," he said.

Fortunately for the spokesman, he was not asked what distinguishes this particular "superstition" from all the superstitions that the church expects people to believe, such as that the wafer and wine become transformed into the actual body and blood of Jesus when the priest mumbles some words over it. Mary-in-a-tree-stump is nothing compared to that.

Fortunately for the spokesman, he could depend on the 'respect for religion' nonsense to deter 'polite' reporters from asking such obvious questions.

That Mitchell and Webb Look reports on another miraculous sighting.

All these Jesus and Mary sightings and the comment in the above clip that the melon message blew his tomato message out of the water gave me an idea for a new reality TV series, because what the nation really needs is another reality show. This one would consist of people bringing their candidates for an authentic god appearance and making the case for it. Then a panel of theologians would give their comments, and the audience votes for which artifact is an actual miracle of god and then worship the ultimate winner.

I think a good title for the show would be "American Idol". I hope no one has used it already.

UPDATE: Commenter Chris sent me this compilation of a huge number of Jesus sightings. There seems to be an epidemic.

POST SCRIPT: You mean the Earth isn't 6,000 years old?

Watch this statement by Arizona State Senator Sylvia Allen (R).

What is amazing is that her statement that the Earth is 6,000 years old is said so casually during a discussion of environmental concerns over uranium mining, as if it was the most commonplace fact in the world and not at all something idiotic and controversial. These people live in their own bubble world.

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Comments

Priceless!

Posted by Norm on July 22, 2009 12:16 AM

So funny!
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Posted by Ben on July 22, 2009 06:45 AM

These people can deny the entire fossil record yet they will jump to such daft conclusions - don't they know that our brain has evolved to recognise patterns instantly, particularly facial ones? oops did I say evolved?!

A Jesus Sandwich? would you like fries with that?

Posted by Ray Foulkes on August 2, 2009 01:31 AM

Nice and interesting post, i still do believe God is in all of us, we just need to realise, at some point of time i think, no use of going to Churches and Tempals, God is Around evrywhere, deep in heart.

Thanks
Sam t.
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Posted by Sam Tylor on August 28, 2009 05:01 AM

God is everywhere, including within you.

Posted by Barb on September 23, 2009 08:05 AM

I have been on both sides of this issue. A person gets so caught up in their faith that they lose perspective. There comes a point when your beliefs become absurd. That's when it's time to step back and do a reality check. Having faith in the unknown is one thing, but denying overwhelming evidence and solid scientific proof in the name of faith marks one as unstable.

Posted by Steve on October 26, 2009 12:43 PM

It is amazing how pictures and can look like whatever you want it to. I mean when people were selling grilled cheese sandwiches on Ebay because they looked like Jesus - you almost had to talk yourself into thinking it looked that way.

Posted by Tom on December 7, 2009 09:43 AM

I love the second photos... It is amazing how a piece of wood could look. I really see a true "guy".

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Posted by Daniela on March 16, 2010 09:45 AM

over imagination is very big... we can see things all over... for example I see a profile in that piece of wood, but how can I tell you that is GOD?
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Posted by george on March 23, 2010 05:16 AM

That is a very good information, very interesting blog, thanks for sharing.

Posted by Cuban Cigars on March 29, 2010 10:22 AM

I have been on both sides of this issue. A person gets so caught up in their faith that they lose perspective. There comes a point when your beliefs become absurd. That's when it's time to step back and do a reality check. Having faith in the unknown is one thing, but denying overwhelming evidence and solid scientific proof in the name of faith marks one as unstable.

Posted by Cuban Cigars on March 29, 2010 11:12 AM

I believe that each person needs to resolve this issue for themselves. Religion (true religion) has no place in religion... Once you have rituals and once you formalize spirituality, you start having dogmas, leaders, power, etc. Pure religion has to do only with what's inside a person's heart, nothing else. It is not a group thing, either. Everyone comes to his or her own understanding and realization.

Posted by Balance Sheet Templates on April 18, 2010 07:10 PM

I've never heard Guido before and now I'm a fan. I love this kind of humor! Thank you so much!

Posted by Balance Sheet Templates on April 19, 2010 12:11 AM

I absolutely believe in God, but I also absolutely believe in the absurdity of some of the things people do in Gods name and how gullible they can be in regards to the leaders of a church. Why don't people use the brains God gave them?

Posted by Retta on May 28, 2010 11:52 AM

I love Mitchell and Webb - I must have missed that episode.

Whatever we believe is true for us.

I don't believe in organised religion but I have nothing against anyone who gains a sense of belonging or who takes comfort in their religion.

To each his own...

Posted by Attracting Abundance 123 on May 28, 2010 01:50 PM

Definitely a true statement, how could you look around at everything you can see and not think that there must be a God somewhere, a true statement for sure.

Posted by The Rapid Prototype on June 22, 2010 01:51 AM

Yes - God is everywhere - Just because of one reason; HE IS GOD. - the very one who created all that we see around us.

Posted by Georgy on July 16, 2010 11:37 AM

It looks to me as if the the picture of the Virgin Mary in wood, may have been a setup - I think the guy with the saw cut it that way on purpose.

Posted by Things to Sell on eBay on July 24, 2010 02:35 PM

It is interesting to see how a lot of people get totally into physical objects. If they would care more about what is inside the person it would be great. I wish that some people would start using the bible on themselves instead of always using it on others.
The Power Rhonda Byrne is coming out on Aug 17th and I think that is a much better read than trying to find Jesus in a piece of toast..

Posted by The Power Rhonda Byrne on July 25, 2010 01:47 AM

I think we all see what we want to see or possibly what we need to see. It is a bit crazy, but as long as it doesn't hurt anyone, who cares?

Posted by Online Degrees on July 27, 2010 04:59 PM

There are many foolish people in the world who hide their ridiculous beliefs behind the veil of world religions, such as the above ones you parade before us. It's not religion you should mock, but rather the people who take advantage of faith in order to push their own agenda. There is also much thoughtful integration of religion and science, and much theology that seeks truth and does not push any agenda except to bring a fuller understanding of the universe. While Science is on a quest to understand how the universe functions, religion can still help answer valid questions of purpose, such as WHY are we here?

Posted by Miles Catlett, Spirituality Writer on August 2, 2010 07:12 PM

These people are just using religion as a cover for expressing their views. There are actually quite a lot of thoughtful religious people. Science can be integrated with Religion nicely since Religion can help answer many questions of meaning. Religion is also useful in society for many purposes. Don't allow the views of some nuts sway you from the value of Religion and spirituality.

Posted by Miles Catlett, Spirituality Writer on August 2, 2010 07:42 PM

Miles,

What answer does religion give to the question of why we are here that could not have obtained elsewhere?

Posted by Mano on August 2, 2010 07:52 PM

Having faith in the unknown is one thing, but denying overwhelming evidence and solid scientific proof in the name of faith marks one as unstable.

Posted by laptop screens on August 6, 2010 05:10 AM

I appreciate the interesting comments, Sid.
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Posted by Sydney on August 7, 2010 11:43 PM

For me God is in our heart also in everywhere. You just only remember God and God always besides you. I love this kind of humor, little crazy...

Posted by The Engraving Expert on August 9, 2010 03:15 AM

I'm reffering to "Posted by Mano on August 2, 2010 07:52 PM"

What did you actually mean by your question "What answer does religion give to the question of why we are here that could not have obtained elsewhere?"

Just waiting to hear more form your view point.

Posted by criminal defense lawyer on August 31, 2010 07:55 AM

I wish my degree had cost me $20 bucks. Sadly, I remember watching Father Guido Sarducci live in this skit. Now, what was the name of that law school he opened???

Thanks for sharing this.

Posted by C.S. Everett on September 14, 2010 10:19 AM

it is something relative... of course that God is everywhere, but sometimes we see God, even if it is not there

Posted by pams on October 6, 2010 12:56 PM

tree stump looks like mother theresa to me

Posted by Andy on November 2, 2010 04:55 PM

The problem with religion, in my opinion, is that is so controlling. It dictates so much of what you can and should do and, more in particular, what you shouldn´t and can´t.

Add to that mix all the different dominations of religion, each saying their´s is the right way and any other way is wrong, and you have a ticking time bomb.

Having said that I think society as a whole has gone too far the other way now. We need a few more morale codes that religion teaches us to be available in our societies.

Any way that´s my view.

Posted by Nigel on November 5, 2010 08:28 AM

Maybe God is everywhere, maybe he isn´t! But one thing for sure is that evil seems to have beaten him to it a lot of the time.

Also why is it some of the most religious followers turn out to be the most evil?

Posted by Nigel on November 5, 2010 09:33 AM

Hi,
I love your article and you have put in words what I could not...

"It is only people who are really desperate for a sign to bolster their beliefs that will seize on such pathetic things as validating their faith."

I do know that having faith is a work in progress. It can be weak or it can be strong, and looking for things like this to validate their faith is not the answer.

What happens when the next picture comes along? And the next!? Thanks for such a beautiful article, I enjoyed it very much.

Sandra

Posted by Sandra on November 7, 2010 07:32 PM

God or the Divine or whatever anyone wants to call it, yes, is everywhere. Can people access this energy at anytime? Absolutely. Theres something called The Law of Attraction that is a law of the Universe that anybody can tap into. Choose, and then do, the choice is always yours.

Posted by Shea on December 14, 2010 08:03 PM

God or the Divine or whatever anyone wants to call it, yes, is everywhere. Can people access this energy at anytime? Absolutely. Theres something called The Law of Attraction that is a law of the Universe that anybody can tap into. Choose, and then do, the choice is always yours.

Posted by como bajar de peso on February 4, 2011 03:08 AM

Having faith in the unknown is one thing, but denying overwhelming evidence and solid scientific proof in the name of faith marks one as unstable.
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Posted by Pareo on February 7, 2011 04:49 AM

How is it possible that God is everywhere? Read how some children responded and what the Bible teaches us about God?s omnipresence. Children's answers are fun, sometimes quirky and often insightful. Because this article features children's answers, it's perfect for reading with or to children while teaching them a lesson from the Bible.

Posted by getting my ex back on February 24, 2011 08:47 AM

Hello,

Yes, I do believe that god is everywhere and I don't understand the people who don't!

Thank you,
David Vinson

Posted by X on March 2, 2011 01:05 AM

Also I disagree previous comment from Pareo

Thank you

Posted by X on March 2, 2011 01:12 AM

Of course god is everywhere. Just who do you think created us? Wake up people. He sees everything.

Posted by Alan on March 13, 2011 11:17 AM

After getting my degree in economics and also get a law degree, more than 20 years, I assure you Father. Sarducci is almost right on target from what I remember and learn from that experience. It is very funny. The real world is recados para orkut where you get your education and is an ongoing process every day.

Posted by jenny on March 17, 2011 04:09 AM

It always makes me wonder about God being everywhere, I mean so many people really do believe that, and that is fine by me, but why is that whenever a person says he has seen God, or that God has spoken to him, everyone treats that person like a nutter.

If God is everywhere, and I hope he is, that is just fine by me. And if he isn´t, that´s just fine too.

Tom Stevens

Posted by Tom Stevens on March 25, 2011 08:12 AM

I was dying on my lunch break and then I discovered your blog article. This was so enticing that I was late in coming back to work. Can't wait to send this with my colleagues!

Posted by Jenna Rockman on March 29, 2011 11:55 AM

Having faith in the unknown is one thing, but denying overwhelming evidence and solid scientific proof in the name of faith marks one as unstable.

Posted by Michael on April 6, 2011 04:26 PM

This is a good reminder about taking time to stop and listen to people's beliefs. And you need to try to understand people's feelings and that they see something different in the world than you do.

We all have different experiences and see things differently. Before you jump to conclusions about beliefs you should seek to understand.

Thanks, keep it real!

-Gary

Posted by Gary on April 6, 2011 04:57 PM

Every time I hear about such miracles I must laugh. Sorry if it's offensive for someone, but I can't stop laughing about examples you gave in this post :)

Posted by Helen on April 10, 2011 08:17 AM

Are any of these comments neither bots nor affiliated with the "law" of attraction? Wow.

Posted by G on April 11, 2011 03:27 PM