“Listen.” Welcome to GOD: An Autobiography, The Podcast. A dramatic adaptation and continuing discussion of the book God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher by Jerry L. Martin. He was a lifelong agnostic, but one day he had an occasion to pray. To his vast surprise, God answered- in words. Being a philosopher, he had a lot of questions, and God had a lot to tell him.
Read God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher.
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GOD: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY - THE PODCAST
JLM - Narrator (Jerry L. Martin) - voiced by Scott Langdon
Jerry - Jerry Martin - voiced by Scott Langdon
GOD - The Voice of God - voiced by Jerry L. Martin, who heard the voice
EPISODE ONE - Where I pray to a God I don’t believe in.
(A musical introduction. The music lowers and we hear the first line)
The first time God spoke to me I didn't believe he existed.
I remember psychologist Thomas Szasz's comment: "If somebody talks to God, that's praying. If God talks to them, that's schizophrenia."
I had been raised in a Christian home, but those beliefs did not survive Philosophy 101, where arguments for the existence of God were shot down like clay pigeons. Since that time, I had been what one of my professors, Philip Wheelwright, called himself: a "pious agnostic"--respectful of belief in a higher reality but, when it came right down to it, staying eye-level with the natural world, the world of experience as I then knew it.
It is said you do not have to believe in God in order to pray. That is what happened to me.
I had been divorced for many years. I always thought I would be happier married, but as the decades rolled on without Miss Right showing up, I began to think she never would.
Then one day, the phone rang. It was Abigail Rosenthal. She was a professor at Brooklyn College, a school with an outstanding liberal arts curriculum.
The new college president had decided to replace core courses that opened students to the whole world of learning with--telescope from wide vista to keyhole view--a focus on the borough of Brooklyn, the one thing the students knew already, in fact, knew better than their professors.
Rosenthal and a colleague in the history department were fighting the change. They had succeeded in rallying most of the faculty, but the administration was driving a steamroller. She called the higher education organization I ran in Washington, D.C. Could we help?
"Yes, that is what we do," I said.
Our only hope was to take the issue to the public, and we did. The battle raged in the press through the spring and into the summer. Abigail and I talked almost daily, strategizing, and getting the story out. None of the talk was personal, and we never met, yet I found myself thinking, "This is a very remarkable woman." In fact, I fell in love with her over the phone.
Oh, and we won the fight.
I was not just in love; I was completely overwhelmed. I had never really believed in love, not romantic love. Being in love was a delusion, based on projection--even the poets call it a from of madness--the kind of thing you expect to outgrow as you get older. I was only looking for compatibility. Instead, I found myself so totally, deeply in love that it did seem like a form of madness.
“If you knew how much I love you, you would think I was crazy," I told her. I was a pretty buttoned-down, levelheaded guy, but on one occasion I said, "I feel as if I have always loved you."
I am not sure what that meant, but I know it is how I felt. I would have been in sad shape had Abigail not had similar feelings, but she too responded to what she called "the summons of love."
Dinner last night was disturbingly interesting.
That was, according to Abigail, her diary entry the day after a lovely New York dinner we had following our victorious campaign against the administration of Brooklyn College.
Thinking to maintain her feminine elusiveness, she nevertheless warned, in a stream of modals…
If there may be or might be or possibly could be something personal, at some point perhaps, between us, we should make sure it doesn't interfere with our efforts for Brooklyn College.
My lips said, "Of course, the college comes first," but my heart said, "She loves me!”
Being in love was not only a profound experience; it shook my worldview. My whole life took on a new meaning. No, that is not quite right. My life went from a collection of purposes to having a meaning. It went from black and white to Technicolor. No, more radical than that. It went from a two-dimensional to a three-dimensional--or as it turned out, n-dimensional--universe. I felt surprise and joy and gratitude. I did not know whom to thank, but an extraordinary gift had come into my life.
One summer morning I felt an urge to express my thanks, to pray--to Whomever. I did not see any reason not to express what I genuinely felt. So, I fell to my knees, as I had been taught as a child, and thanked "the Lord."
I now believed in love but not much else. I did not know if I was praying to the God of Israel, to Jesus of Nazareth, or, for all I knew, to the Lord Krishna worshipped by Hindus. Or simply to a benign universe. I didn't worry about that. I just poured out my heart in prayer.
A few weeks later, I felt this same urge and said another prayer of thanks, still addressed to a Lord I did not actually believe in. This time, to my surprise, I offered to be of service. To a God I didn't believe existed. Inconsistent of course, but not insincere.
Toward the end of a long summer day, Abigail and I were siting on a park bench along the Potomac, across from the Lincoln Memorial. She was writing in her journal, and I was pondering the challenge of making a future together. Without thinking much about it, much less expecting an answer, I prayed again, this time asking for guidance.
Immediately a visual image appeared, like a hologram, a few feet in front of me--a rising, sparkling, multi-colored fountain. It radiated vitality and promise, an answer to my prayer. But there was more.
A voice spoke...
The voice did not sound particularly different from my own inner voice, but it wasn't me talking. I looked at Abigail to see if she heard it, but she continued writing, undisturbed. I asked, not out loud:
What is this voice? Who are you?
I am God.
The God of Israel?
I am the God of All.
The questions that led me to pray evaporated. The encounter was over. For the moment.