If Taylor Swift Was God
17 October 2023
Eras Tour, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, ATL
My daughter absolutely adores Taylor Swift.
A few months ago we were discussing a scenario where she would actually meet her idol. She couldn't imagine anything but freaking out and nearly having a panic attack. I asked her why and she couldn't say exactly, just that the thought of it totally overwhelmed her. I suggested that it might be that she was thinking of Taylor Swift as something other than a human like her.
How would you feel if when you stuck your hand out to greet someone their eyes rolled back into their head and they started hyperventilating? I asked her.
That would be kind of uncomfortable, right? What if you had a really busy day, and now you have a potential first-aid situation on your hands? Or what if they turned out to be an amazing human who you would have enjoyed talking to, but your time was interrupted because they couldn't actually converse and hyperventilate at the same time?
The thing is, sometimes we can fixate so much on someone that they stop being real to us. They become a screen on which we project our desires, obsessions, fears... whatever lives in our own depths.
I think a lot of people do that with God.
My friend, Charlie Mackesy, is an artist in London. He once posted a story about going in to an elementary school to give a talk to children. So he's visiting with these students and he asks them,
If you could make up your very own God, what would your God be like? (In the UK there’s no separation of Church and State, so you can talk about God in school.)
And they said things like, "My God would always love me no matter what" and "My God would listen to me and not judge me" and "My God would understand me" and... Well, maybe you get the idea. Their desire for God was pretty much what most people claim God is, absolute love personified.
So it's interesting that so few people seem to truly be connected with that God. The ones that are the most determined to speak on God's behalf, usually broadcast a different message.
My experience of God has been something that is hard to articulate easily. You know how it feels wrong to publicly describe your most intimate moments with another person? It’s not just that intimacy is ineffable, but putting it into words corrupts or diminishes the sacred. It can easily become betrayal.
Contrary to those who claim to speak for Divinity, it's just not appropriate most of the time. God, whoever she may be, doesn't need press conferences and platform statements. S/he needs friends who get her as much as those kids needed a God who got them.
My daughter has opened my eyes to the spectacular human that Taylor Swift is, I’m a card-carrying Swiftie. But my daughter can't introduce me to her idol because they aren't friends. She doesn't have a direct line, she can't shoot a text and set up coffee. And if she did, she'd probably think twice about who she told. She'd be more concerned about protecting her friend's privacy and trust, than leveraging their connection. Who knows if I'd make the cut?
If they did become friends it would not be because my daughter has thoroughly researched and memorized facts about her idol. It would be because they connected on some mutual level and experienced value in one another. Because they spent time sharing their stories and perspectives and absorbing one another's experiences. It would be because they made time for these exchanges and interactions, away from others' eyes and ears.
They say that you become the average of the top five people you spend time with. That’s not a precise fact, but it speaks to a wider reality, that who we spend our time and attention with reveals and influences our own personality. Our true friends are our friends because there are things at our core that we hold in common.
If one believes in a God who made humans for a purpose, it stands to reason that that purpose is the thing we all deeply want: love, intimacy, friendship, belonging, acceptance. The Old Testament, considered sacred text by the majority of humans, and across the most followed religions, teaches that we are made in God’s image. If so, we can understand some things about God by reflecting on ourselves. It stands to reason then that God has an interest in knowing and being known; not in being represented or spoken for. I can't say for sure, but I often get the feeling that God is looking for more friends that get her.