Saturday, September 17, 2011

God and the empty nest


The   difference in God's persona between the  Old and New Testaments, from that of grim, avenging  tyrant to a loving father trying to save His children from their  worst instincts, may be due to no more than He had changed his mind as to what to do with the world He created. It's reasonable to think of him as a deity who is constantly changing, evolving. Otherwise we'd have a God who is static and incapable of changing; he'd be someone who'd be incapable of dealing with a continually unfolding cosmos which he put in motion in the first place. The God of the Old Testament was a bitter, cranky, vengeful deity, a bully in other words, and the message of the God we discover in the New Testament essentially demands that we serve his purpose and plans for Humankind lest we be judged and condemned to horrible, eternal punishment. He makes threats, in other words, and this is bullying behavior however you dress it up with transparent words like “love” and “sacrifice”.

 The Prime Mover, I'd think, must by definition be able to move again, and yet again, as needed, as his vast mind assesses, discerns and decides. Process Theology, put forth by Alfred North Whitehead and others, deals with a bit of this, as does Norman Mailer in most of his writings, most recently in his dialogue with Michael Lennon, On God.    It may be a mistake to think of God as omnipotent; if we are made in his likeness then our weaknesses are his as well, and this gives a vital clue that God is less than all-powerful and that he doesn't know the outcome of each and every matter before him. It's an attractive notion that God remains teachable by the very things he creates. There's a reason that it's written that God blessed/cursed man with Free Will; I actually believe that FW is central to his Divinity, in the sense that he could choose to battle his creative power and simply do nothing. The popularized conception of in mass-culture is that God is in Heaven, and Heaven is in the sky, i.e., the clouds. It’s an image and an idea that is inseparable from the way we think, in the short form, of He who we call Lord. It’s in our literature, our poems, paintings, cartoons, and our movies. Ever see “The Horn Blows at Midnight” starring Jack Benny as an earth-locked angel? Rent it, since it is an amusing comedy utilizing the popular notion that Heaven, with God in it, is in the clouds.

 The existential nature of God, though, would become bored and ill-tempered simply existing in a vacuum, and so he decided to create meaning for himself, much as we do in this realm. Free will is that thing that allows us to associate together and determine and define right and wrong, good and evil, and it is also that inspire given instinct, I believe, to empower us to fight the baser desires and instincts. Christian by birth and culture, interested skeptic by choice. God gave us minds to use, and it’s my guess that He , being God, isn’t in need of his self-esteem reinforced with coerced praise, and isn’t the sort of deity to threaten us with eternal damnation unless we play His grubby game of Theological Monopoly. My guess would further to say that this God of my understanding is likely bored with that whole business and thinks there more useful, creative ways to fill eternity . These are my views, but the ideas aren’t new. Inspiration comes by way of Soren Kierkegaard , Paul Tillich, Thomas Merton, Bill Wilson and Norman Mailer. The way the ideas are expressed are my words, though, based on my experience.
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