Many people across the globe and throughout human history have worshiped God. God has many names and at least a couple of genders. God has had a history of being schizophrenic - that is, alternately angry and punitive and lovingly forgiving. We have been His minions and Her beloved chick brood, held warm and safe under her wing. God has lived on Mount Olympus, in Heaven and has romped the Elysian Fields. God strikes down enemies and clothes the lilies of the field.
When I was a Catholic school first grader, we had to memorize the questions and answers in the Baltimore Catechism. The first question was: "Who is God?" The correct answer, as any good Catholic school child will tell you is, "God is the Supreme Being who made all things." Simple enough. Sometimes the school Principal, Sister Mary Sebastian, would pop in for a surprise visit and make us all stand up and answer the catechism's questions row by row. It was always better to be in one of the later rows, for there were more kids than questions (we had fifty in our class) and after a while, questions were repeated. If you had been listening, you would be given the answer sometime before your turn. Robert Ruggles was in a middle row, and did not know the answers, but was listening intently. When Sister Mary Sebastian got to him, he was asked that central question, "WHO IS GOD?" Robert frowned and scratched his head. Suddenly he brightened. "God is the STRING BEAN who made all things!" he shouted triumphantly. Silence. There was no laughing or snickering in front of Sister Mary Sebastian.
I think Robert's response was, at least partially true. If God created everything, animal, mineral and VEGETABLE, who are we to decide what incarnation He may choose to take at any time? The Hebrews of the Old Testament feared and revered God so much that they would not even say His/Her name. "I AM WHO AM," G-d thundered to Moses. Okay. IAM sounds a little like a dog food brand and dog is god backwards anyway.
For all my poking, I really have very good memories of growing up secure in my faith community. I am lucky to live in Port Washington, where so many congregations are going strong and are welcoming to all. In fact, my favorite church service of the year by far, is the annual inter-faith Thanksgiving service hosted in turn by nearly every congregation in town. It is always held the Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving Day. I would recommend this service to everyone.
The Hebrews of the Old Testament feared and revered God so much that they would not even say His/Her name. "I AM WHO AM," G-d thundered to Moses. Nowadays, it seems that we all have another altar at which we all worship - the Laptop one. Facebooking, Tweeting and Instant Messaging are prayers, both sent and received. The Great I AM is just as often, the Great IM. Holy Moses.