Tell me how you see your god, and I'll tell you who you are. The Bible and Q'uran are both inherently interpretive by nature, as is the Talmud. There's a reason each of these faiths - Judaism, Christianity, and Islam - has different sects, with different practices and rules, and different interpretations of their holy text. My grandmother was a narcissist. Her god was petty and jealous, spiteful and vengeful - a tyrant like her, and I think that's how I saw god as a very young child.
As a child you have the god of your parents, the only god you've yet conceived of. But as you grow and learn and expand into your own person more each day, your view of god begins to take on some of your own nature. As a child I saw a god who cared about the starving and cold children I saw on TV commercials. As a child my god was a Republican god - focused on the Bible, Southern heritage, states rights, and the protection of unborn children. My fourth grade class went down to the media center so that we could watch Bill Clinton's inauguration live. I cried tiny little Republican tears, convinced that we were - officially - in a handbasket headed for hell. As I grew into more of my own person, and less a replica of my upbringing, my views changed and my god did with them.
As a freshman, I participated in letter writing campaigns, joined Amnesty International, signed petitions to get the school board to provide a vegetarian lunch option, and participated in a silent in-school protest to get the principal to allow us to form a student Gay-Straight Alliance (we won). My god became liberal, permissive, progressive - kind of a hippie, which was great because I spent most of high school stoned. My favorite book of the Bible went from being Deuteronomy 28 to Ephesians 2, from "I will curse you as you go in, and curse you as you go out" to "By grace ye are saved, not by works, lest no man shall boast".
Grace instead of the Law? It sounded great and besides, I had to rebel against the Law, against my childhood. Alexander* died my sophomore year. Samuel died a few months later. And Marie* was battling breast cancer the whole time, and I took it hard. I had to get away from that, but my whole world, my mind was black-and-white. So when I knew I didn't want that, I just did the opposite.
I wanted to please god, but I was terrified of having a coerced relationship with him, of him being that domineering parent or abusive boyfriend. I didn't know how to describe this almost commitment-phobia I had with god. I knew I wasn't allowed to ever leave him. There would be grave consequences if I did. So I tried to stay in this relationship, that felt like the worst power-imbalance imaginable (all-powerful ancient diety vs. scared, confused, hormonal teen girl) and tried to exert my independence, make my small bids from freedom, at the same time. It was horribly conflicting. I didn't don't know what I wanted, so I tried to have it all.
As an early adult, I tried to see god in nature - in the crash of the surf off the coast of Florida as I drove down the A1A by starlight; in the cool, fat raindrops that I tried so hard to believe were some communication from Him; and in warmth of the sun against my skin, that I thought of as god's kiss to me. We had a distant relationship. I still unquestioningly thought that god was good, but we weren't close. I reached out, but I never heard back from him. It was a very spiritually lonely time in my life.
I taught Sunday School. I remember spending the night of February 13th the year I was twenty writing twelve copies of 1 Corianthaisn 13 in calligraphy, while I had a pint at the bar. I taught the middle schoolers. I loved that group. I remember telling people that those kids were in my favorite age group for Sunday School because they were starting to ask questions and form their own opinions and religious identity. It's possible I was a wee bit subversive as a teacher, but it was never my intention. I just wanted it to be true that you could live a full, fun secular life and still claim a personal relationship with Jesus.
There are so many Christians all around us. Some you come to find really aren't much more than deists who believe there's some guy in the sky. Some are of Fred Phelps' ilk. Or Pat Robertson. Or Pat Buchannan. Or Billy Graham. Or James Dobson. Or the two new openly gay bishops of the episopal church. But I think you'll find that people create for themselves a god which seems most good to them. Only a magical-thinking mentally-ill narcissist like my grandmother would choose to worship a god like the one she described. Likewise fire-and-brimstone types would want nothing to do with the Hippie Jesus god of my high school years. The way soemone sees god says more about their own character than it does about their god's, or the religion as a whole, or their holy text. Does the Christian choose as the verse to follow "an eye for an eye" or does he "turn the other cheek"?
During my final years of faith, I started to read the Bible more earnestly. I don't think I've ever been able to make myself keep at a daily devotion for longer than three months, until this past year as an atheist. I never went more than 6 months before I started trying to keep myself on schedule for a devotional yet again. A bought one of those "Bible in a year" study books and a bible with 365 portions, with each day having a reading from the Old Testament, the New Testament, Pslams, and one verse from Proverbs. I knew what god said about being lukewarm, and I wanted to really commit myself to God. And it was the first time in my life that I realized my god and I shared no values. The Bible was full of nonsense, lies, and violence. The book goes on and on and on about how to assemble the tents and curtains and bronze oil basins of the ancient temple. And not one word against rape, or owning slaves. Again, I was trying to reach out to god, but no one answered my call.
Of course I don't believe in god anymore (it would be rather disingenious to run an Anti-Theist website if I did), but I still think that the way a theist describes their god says something. My mom thinks god is merciful, because she values mercy. My godmother believed god was colorblind, because she honestly couldn't understand why people didn't know that her white natural-born daughter and black adopted son were siblings (it was so *obvious* to her). My grandmother believed god was a vengeful task master, because she was vindictive and cruel. Her god was the god of Abraham, and he was a monster, just like her.
Totally side note but my mom just called and we exchanged Dawkins quotes for CS Lewis. Hmmm, tell me who your apologist is and I'll tell you who you are?