Synomously - the Infinite Creator. I believe that prayer works. I also believe that talking to your wife works, and keeping an open and honest relationship between you and your wife is a cornerstone to being happy. I believe that the woman in your life is a blessing from God and that you should keep her at a priority second only to God. This is of course, difficult to do sometimes - you will have these moments when she wants to watch figure skating and you want to watch baseball. I also believe in absolute possession of the remote control to the TV. Don't even think about it. Mine .
As a footnote to the above, to qualify my absolute and unquestioned possession of the remote control and other responsibilities of my office ..(crushing fuzzy bugs + spiders, not asking for directions, pouncing her bones, opening pickle jars, taking out the trash..) -- figure skating is alot like skateboarding and surfing if you look at it a certain way. Instead of radical ollies and seriously sick cutbacks they're doing things like triple axles. Plus the girl usually looks pretty hot. The guy usually looks pretty gay. But I never notice him anyway because its always the girl going for sick air. He's only there for the landing - and who cares if some dude is wearing light blue stretch leotards when some fairly hot girl just pulls of a sick 360 mcTwist and lands in his arms? Ok. Wait. Where were we...
Prayer. Prayer, on the other hand, when focussed toward God - is a different thing than talking to your wife. Why? Wellp. First off, you've got priests that are constantly trying to define the concept. Most priests are talking heads. They're interchangeable, like batteries. A little bit of history here...
In the old days, we lived in an agrarian society. If you were strong, handsome, suave, debonair, ripply muscled all across the chest and smart enough to be a nuclear physicist - like me - then seven gets you five you were double-press on the craps table at the come-out line bet to be into some serious farming. Which also meant, at house odds - that you were going to be married. And yes, by the way - if you're my age - and you're not married - then something's wrong with you.
On the other hand. There was also the village idiot. Some dude who really couldn't work to save his life. He was usually pasty-faced, kind of overweight, probably all flabby and smelled like axle grease and fried chicken. If you didn't smell like axle grease and fried chicken, you could get a job in town government. The pasty faced types, if they left it at that - would be seriously employable as librarians. You could even run a mortuary and still get laid. But thats not where this particular guy is going to go. He's saving himself for God.
So this leaves one profession. The Priesthood. Now, what's interesting - is that society decides sort of quietly - to tell him, thats ok - as long as you don't have any kids, you're going to be just fine.
Fast forward to the 21st century. Now, there are a lot of pasty faced, flabby dudes that still smell like axle grease and fried chicken - who are running hedge funds on wall street and have diamond rings all over their fingers. Its no longer a hard physical requirement to be like me, a muscled Adonis - with seriously dominant and kinky tendencies - a man who has posed for nearly ever harlequin romance cover (my favorite was the one where the girl wore that old southern belle dress.. the ruffles gave me a nipple erection). In fact, pasty faced nerds are really part of the divine plan - because clearly evolution is working in some pretty strange ways - and being someone who physically resembles the village idiot is no longer grounds for disqualification. Note I have carefully left out +who+ will disqualify someone. (Yes, Dear. Coming. Just a second...)
Where do we find the guys in the powder blue televangelist suits before they start flashing their phone number across the bottom of our TV screen? Where else. Theological seminaries.
These venerable institutions are designed to attract, and teach entire classrooms full of potential celibates - that there are mystical miracles and strange invisible beings all over - doing all kinds of wonderful things. Kind of like Republican congressmen from Florida running around after naked little boys - only all invisible. In some religions, they even give you a free set of full body length underwear as a bonus. Mostly they just sit around and teach relatively smart people to mentally masturbate to the open pages of really old and almost irrelevant softcore agrarianism. Plant that seed baby. Oh yeah. Give me some soft dirty earth. More. More.
So. Back to prayer. This leaves us with two problems to solve before we can really begin to pray in our lives. First, the priests - after they leave theological seminary - commonly head out into our communities and make a living out of begging for small change that we drop for them each sunday into little anonymous envelopes - so that noone can see just how little we're actually giving. And second, once they're there - they start screwing with our concepts about prayer at an early age - again, mostly because they're trained in seminary to try to get to us when we're young. Most of the bullshit they've been taught doesn't work on adults. See also: Florida Republican Congressmen political platforms.
It's really no different than government - to tell the truth. Since you throw money at them to keep them around , you basically have a vote as to whether or not they stick around and do anything for you. If you find one that seems fairly harmless, throw more money at him or her - and encourage them. It's like voting for the lesser of two evils, or the democratic party.
And church, as well, is no different than government either. You have a large, unwieldy institution whose purpose is to take money from people and then lose it somewhere while they're trying to deal with their own problems related to prime commercial real estate mortgages, and covering up sex scandals. It's kind of like the republican party.
But at the end of the day, if you drop all the bright boy stuff from your head. Blank everything out. And then open your mind to the force of the infinite creator. If you're lucky you will get just a whisper. Maybe a hint. Or a clue. Of what to do next with your own tiny little life on a minor planet circling a G2 star in the outer edge of nowhere.
Which can be very cool. If you do it right, you might feel just like that time when you hit a hole in one on the golf course. Or the time you held your daughter or your son for the first time. Or you spent some time in the green room....
Hey. Listen. Don't pray for a new Mercedes Benz, or for the Waffle House sign across the street to burst into flames. When the sun, swollen from its orb - expands out into the intersecting path of earth - that Waffle House sign is going to get it. God has just enough of a sense of humor to make you wait that long. Drop the whole waffle house sign-burning thing.
And praying for a new Mercedes Benz? Ok. I understand how that works. But instead, pray for the strength to work hard enough to buy yourself a new Mercedes Benz. Pray to be able to listen to others around you - and to understand other people - pray for empathy. Pray for things that you can generate within yourself to help others.
Or you can just drop all of that noise. And take a single thought. And then back it up three seconds. And try to find the origin of that thought. And then back it up again. You'll see Florida sunlight through big stained glass windows soon enough.
I believe in an infinite creator. Whether or not he or she is truly infinite - or that we can perceive him or her in a way that we can understand and relate better than just flashing a number on the bottom of your screen and praying for the sick - probably depends on our own ability to understand infinity itself. I'm working on this. You don't exactly mail off three box tops and postage and handling - to get a secret decoder ring. It would be easier if there were a woman in my life if anything just to have a raison d'etre..
Of course, there are guys who would tell you otherwise...