About 3 years ago I saw a documentary about Saddam Hussein and his rise to power. In that documentary there was a chilling scene where Saddam was sitting - confidently, calmly, and authoritatively - in front of a room full of all his closest and most loyal advisers and friends, smoking a cigar. He'd called them all together because he believed there was a traitor among them. There was a gentlemen on stage with him who stood up and confessed to conspiring against Saddam. After this traitor confessed, he pulled out a piece of paper and began to call out the names of his "co-conspirators". According to the narrator of the documentary, this was evidence of Saddam's paranoia as these men were truly his most loyal confidants and were not involved in a plot to overthrow him. They had done nothing wrong, yet without the opportunity to understand what was happening or the chance to ask "why", they were, called out, taken outside and killed.
Each man was immediately removed from the room and executed--no questions asked or answers given. The men who were witnessing this madness, seeing their close friends hastily removed, and hearing their quick and violent execution right outside the doors had no idea if they were next. As I watched the documentary, I could only imagine the terror they must have felt as they wondered who would be next to die at their leader's whim. In that moment, they had no power...no way to exert their will...no control...and no escape. All they had was uncertainty and a deep, dark fear of death. From this fear --borne out of lack of control, absence of free will and diminished power-- blossomed the most intense outpouring of worship, praise and reverence for the man who did have the power--Saddam.
Cacophonous cries of "long live Saddam" filled the space.
Raucous applause and shouts of praise drowned out the sounds of men screaming as they were dragged from the room. Wealthy, influential, respectable men fell to their knees in tears as they reached out to this all-powerful, almighty leader to shout of their undying love and unquestionable loyalty. I can imagine that for someone with such power to spare their lives, produced a feeling of specialness and purpose. Saddam could have pointed at them, but he chose not to. Not because they were so good, but because Saddam was so powerful and made the choice to live, for them. The fear that had, just moments before, signaled pending doom seemed to have been transformed to love for this one who could, with but the mere pointing of a finger, determine whether they lived or died.
These men did not love Saddam. They most likely despised and hated him for reducing them to balls of fear that had to beg, pretend and barter for their lives. These men had to live a lie in order to exist. They had to pretend to love someone they detested in order to safely take their next breath. Fear of death, not love, was the fuel behind the worship. Fear of annihilation, not love, was the cause of the praise. Since I've announced the upcoming publication of my book Firing God, I've come to see (even more clearly) several things (but I'll only stick to one for this blog post). I see that my worship and praise for God, as I was growing up, was a cover for my intense resentment of him. Underneath the praise was hate. I hated God with such an intensity that I had to hide it. Under the guise of "worship" what I was really doing was hiding and expressing my hatred and fear because of what he had done. And what had he done? He'd taken away my choice, my power, my will. My life was in his hands. I did not love him for that; I hated him. I pretended to worship and praise him because I had no choice. He had all the power! I didn't want to die or be punished forever so I had to sing, lift my hands, cry and acknowledge him as the one with all power. I had to do this, not because I loved him, but because I was afraid...I was afraid that he would point at me and take the one thing that's truly mine--my life.
I've gotten several nods of concern from individuals who have heard the title of my book. They are seriously concerned for my life and the life of my family. They are concerned that God will choose for me and make the decision for death and hell. Why? Because he can. It's his choice, not mine. If I don't choose Him, I'm toast!! What kind of choice is that?! Since I no longer buy into the reverence and praise, my loved ones are hastily and lovingly praying for my redemption and reminding me of the fear that compels us all to worship. I must worship, praise, serve and love. If not, I will die. Then die I must. I can no longer hide the hate. I can no longer suppress the fear. It's here, all around me. I had to acknowledge the obvious. So that's what I did. In the book, I talk about how I told the truth. To really feel the hatred and resentment and look at the fear has been the most freeing experience ever. It's by telling the truth that I can see it's all been a mistake. "God" has done nothing and neither have I. What God? My will is free and it has always been free. Fear of death is nonsense...laughable even. Love has no opposite. This is you. You will always be this, but you will never realize this until you look...until you tell the truth. The journey to awakening is not about finding the truth, it's about telling the truth...the simple truth that you Are...
...and there is nothing else.