Not What is God, but who? That’s a zillion dollar question, that if I could answer, well let’s just say, the world would be my oyster, or pomegranate, as you wish.
Probably at some point every one of us humans asks the question. We then give it a life time’s attention, or the time it takes to run the trash from the back yard to the curb. We all have some answer, whether it takes hours of logic-filled lecturing or a few seconds, mostly ending with a shrug.
Those of us of a religious persuasion spend probably more time at it, though I wonder sometimes whether we get closer to the mark than does the casual “who knows” kind gal. I suspect what we conclude is driven (as polls suggest) by combinations of peers, neighborhoods, parents, and church going.
We have discovered that if we are determined to pin God down to a book, we have one view, and if we tend to see that book as just another document of antiquity, more valuable than most, but still a human creation, then we have another. I say we, but I mean me, at least, and maybe some others like me.
For surely there are others like me, since I read their books. It’s hard for me to separate which came first, the chicken or the egg. Did I think about God this way, or did I read stuff, and then think about God this way? Some of both no doubt.
I remember thinking about God from early on in childhood. Very early on I would say. I had trouble with things I couldn’t see. I’m not a great imaginer of fairies and dragons and unicorns. So God was hard to imagine. It was, as I recall, kind of scary. I mean somebody always invisibly looking over your shoulder, knowing way too much.
God went the way of Santa Claus eventually, not because of Santa or lack of Santa I should say, but logic seemed to negate the idea pretty much. If there was this big strong God, and he could do ANYTHING, then why didn’t I have the car I wanted when I turned sixteen, and why weren’t my parents rich enough to afford whatever I wanted when I wanted it? Not much of a God.
Once I read the bible, well I was certain this was bunk. Bloody nasty individual, this God. Ordering people to kill cows and sheep, like they were evil. People was one thing, animals. . .why that was absurd. Destroying all the people he claimed to have created because they didn’t turn out right? What was this? Like I turned over my etch-a-sketch and started over? He wasn’t very good at his job.
Of course, years later, I learned a good deal more, and saw God differently. But, much as God delights me as transcendent love today, I find that I really tick off a number of folks. These seem to like this God of war. They like the idea that God created people, but they went bad and had to be punished, that God chose from all his creation, a group he liked best, a God that continues to threaten punishment and damnation itself if we don’t toe the line. So much for being a “good” creation. We suck apparently, and he knew, and he did it, knowing we would mostly fail.
I scratch my head. I can’t believe in any God like this. One that chooses “a” people. That’s like choosing one of your kids and telling the rest to go find another home. I can’t believe in a God who slaughters innocents because their parents believe in some figure of clay. Isn’t God above the need for bowing down before him?
So I stubbornly believe that Jews, like most people, created a God that favored them and thus justified their mayhem throughout the Mideast as they fought for their piece of the pie. And I stubbornly believe that all those contradictions and errors one finds in the fine print in the bible, are really just human errors, or at minimum, so unimportant to the story they were telling they didn’t bother to verify. Or maybe facts about dates and locations weren’t nearly as important as trying to teach a lesson.
I’m reading a book by Marcus Borg and John D. Crossan about Paul. It’s impressive, and I’ll be reviewing it in a week or so. I’m learning much about Paul, and I’m quite happy to do so. My first introductions to Paul were through priest and nun, and mostly they had a fairly low opinion of the guy. Pretty hard on women, slaves, and supporting authority, patriarchy. That kind of thing. I was told to ignore him, stick with Jesus.
I’m learning that Paul was a revolutionary like Jesus, just in a different way, and if read properly (oh that is just reeking with personal opinion but anyway), he supports women’s equality and really meant it when he said there shall be no male and female, master and slave, and so on.
I was explaining this yesterday, when someone wrote that I was speaking evil. Paul was writing inerrantly, all his letters were his own, God said exactly what he meant to say, to say otherwise was, well, the bottom line, I was a dirty polecat! I am either, or, and, at any given time, a heretic, blasphemer, or apostate. I do believe that at least once I was accused of being Satan’s emissary. I don’t bother to figure out how they all differ. It just means I’m bad, not a good Christian and headed for Hell.
But I wonder, if it means what it says when the psalmist and gospel writers state that God knows the heart, then I guess God knows the truth. I’m just trying to envision him as best I can. And I gotta believe that he is better than any human and not subject to petty rules and arbitrary incantations that somehow make one faith right and perfect and another tradition worthless. To say nothing of all those who grew up Buddhist and Hindu and Shinto, and so forth.
Cuz if he’s like they say he is, than heaven is a pretty small place. Uptown Manhattan should house the saved adequately. And Hell, well, it must be bigger than the moon. We are promised that in heaven we will see our loved ones. That would fit. In Hell, no such promise–I guess the crowds of billions would make that kinda unlikely come to think of it. But then, I don’t believe in Hell anyway. Excuse, me, the trash is calling me.