Sunday, February 17, 2013
Study It Out In Your Own Mind
Lately, questions like 'why would 'God' allow suffering though he has the power to stop it or intervene' have been discussed in the aftermath of natural disasters, massacres and social injustices. But to me, there are questions that invites only a short-sighted, here-and-now, way of looking at 'God'. And frankly, they don't interest me anymore, because they entail far too many presuppositions of what 'God' is. More pertinent questions would be: What is 'God', and what isn't 'He'? Is 'God' to be found in suffering and vice versa? Does God' *want* us to suffer? Does 'He' speak to some of us, and not others? The last one may seem like an unrelated question, but it seems paramount to many interpretations of who 'God' is to many people across all cultures.
One thing I believe about 'God': 'He' would either talk to everyone, or talk to no one; a level playing field for everyone.I have spent a lot of time exploring these two options as alternatives to the 3rd option (the one which I was raised to believe in) which is that of 'God' handpicking who 'He' talks to, in accordance to 'His' big plan. I can only explore these possibilities by being dedicated to scrutiny. As some say of faith, one might say of reason "it is found in the exercising of it". *really* turning a critical eye to the morality of my traditional, inherited God-concept, and what it must say of 'Him'...
I have never been comfortable with my inherited God-concept. 'He' has been a fearfully paralyzing, angry, vengeful, shaming, and cruel force in much of my life, and continues to be so, even though I no longer accept 'His' existence. This is best summarized in scripture(predictably enough) Proverbs 22:6 "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." a sentiment which reverberates in Jesuit indoctrination philosophy: "Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man"
7.... 8... who's counting?
I find it hard to remap the fear-induced thought patterns associated with the idea of damning myself to an eternity of "weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth" by not "choosing the right". Thus, I feel that my relationship to my inherited God-concept, and more importantly, 'His' relationship with me, is one that most human beings evolve out of as toddlers: Morality established through fear of consequences. Behaviors that are externally motivated by threats of damnation. This is poor child-rearing behavior, especially for 'God'.
What do this 'God's actions say about 'Him'? After all, our actions may say the world of us. So why should 'God' not be conceivable in the mind of someone created in 'His' own image? Surely we must *understand* 'His' actions, if we are commanded to *emulate* 'His' actions. Especially, if (as I was taught) we are to become *like* 'Him'...
One thing I could not understand was, why 'God' would make Jesus suffer so much that he bled from every pore? seems like 'gratuitous blood and violence' to me. And why 'God' would tell Abraham to kill his son? This story, among others, shocked me as a child; What if Abraham had just decided to get it over with as fast as possible? What if he hadn't opened his eyes to see the angel? (and again, I pondered these questions as a young teen, attending "Seminary"). Such as when 'God' kills an Israelite for attempting to save the Ark of the Covenant from toppling off a wagon-- a compulsive reflex at worst, and a noble intention, at best-- but 'God' had a lesson to teach everyone: 'I am everywhere. Always. There are no mistakes. Let this be a warning: Do NOT interfere with my plans, or you will be struck dead for doubting, as this man did'. Why? Because he wasn't a Levite? Didn't seem fair. And if 'He' did that sort of thing then, would 'He' do so now?
Could I get myself struck dead? If I challenged 'God', would 'He' send down a bolt of lighting? Or would 'He' just damn me for eternity, and I wouldn't find out til I died? Ultimately, I decided that 'God' knew my heart. At first, I thought "'God' knows my heart, so 'He' would never kill me for trying to do the right thing..." but then I thought "'God' knows my heart, so 'He' knows that I hate 'Him', and it doesn't matter if I curse 'Him' aloud or not, I can damn myself with my internal thoughts...." and perhaps a few years later, I thought "I'm so glad that 'God' knows everything I think, because my sincerity cannot be denied..." My sincerity has always guided me to keep searching for answers that made sense.
For a much of my life, I have though that this meant studying and hoping to encounter a certain phrasing of what I had already learned, in such a way that I could understand, or wrap my head around it. Initially, My 'God' didn't seem so mysterious. The world was also much less mysterious, because of course, my belief was that it was less than 10,000 years old, and 'God' had personally designed every aspect of my reality, and I would learn how in the *next* life. But when one comes to terms with the age of the earth, certain things just stop adding up. my inherited God-concept became more and more a mystery, and my desire to understand ;'Him' became more and more compelling. Eventually, I stopping being curious about my inherited God-concept, and started being curious about 'God', or my own, personal, God-concept.
Lately, I've been pondering upon what exactly this inherited 'God' I was raised to worship was asking of me.
In my inherited belief system, 'God' supposedly been watching over this universe for its entire lifetime (10,000- 13.77 Billion years). So, how would he allow himself, as an omniscient and omnipotent, omnipresent deity, to get into the situation of having to kill 'His' own child? and why would 'He' then want us to emulate, or celebrate that behavior? why would the suffering and death of 'His' son be the culmination of 'His' Big Plan? "Do I really want to "become as 'God'"..."? I decided I owed it to myself, to do my due diligence to the truth, and rethink my concept of 'God'. From there, I decided to re-investigate what exactly it would mean to follow the teachings of Christ, and that led to accepting him as a wise man, possibly fictitious, but no less or more compelling than the story of the Buddha, or Krishna, or Dionysus was/is to their respective age and culture.
This 'God' who supposedly spoke to an uneducated 14 year old farm boy sounds right on the money: don't explore other religions. explore your own mind. Unfortunately I don't believe the 14 year old boy was any more "chosen" by 'God' than anyone else in this world, and his take away message seems nothing short of skewed at best. The time has come for our world to retire the archaic vernacular of oppressive, repressive religion. We are "worth" our weight in 'God'.
Stop looking for the *exceptions* to be your ruler.
Don't accept that you are 'unworthy' of anything.
Stop seeing yourself as exceptionally unworthy, everyone is dealing with the same thoughts and feelings that you are.
My 'God' would never use an adjective with the root "worth" to describe 'His' own creations. If 'God' makes no mistakes, everyone is worth exactly as much as everyone else, right?
Then we are all "worth-y".