Monday, October 29, 2007

Why Do People Still Believe in Zeus?

Someone called me last week wondering how we can beleive that God is Good and that God's will is good when there is so much in life that seems NOT good.

It's a fair question, but a frustrating one for me. The question assumes an Olympian god like Zeus sitting high on a mountain top in the clouds, looking down upon us mere mortals to favor some and punish or ignore others. It is exactly how I imagined God when I was 4 or even 12, but by 15 or so I was questioning that image and exploring others and now as I approach 41 the god who looks very human and who behaves mischievously, capriciously, unpredictably and sometimes terribly is not "my" god and I always feel unprepared to answer questions about "that" image and understanding of God so long removed from my experience.

Wanting to be gentle and respectful with that person's view of God, I simply said, "God is Good and wants only Good for us. When things aren't good, that is in the realm of experience, not in the realm of divine design. Yes, our experience can be quite unsettling, chaotic, even horrifying, but I don't believe that God caused the mess, desired the mess, or enjoyed the mess. God is cheering us on hoping we'll use our gifts and skills to make things better."

I realize using such words as "hoping" and "cheering" sort of encourages the anthropomorphic image that I find so useless, but usually one would have better luck insulting someone's mother than insulting someone's god! So, I accept the limitation.

The truth is, or let me say "my truth" is that God is not a person. Jesus is quoted as saying God is "spirit." What is spirit? It's energy, power, presence, intelligence, wisdom, love...its hard to pin down, like the wind, and its essential to life, like breath. In fact, in some languages, spirit and breath and wind are all the same word!

For me God is process. God is energy. God is omnipresent Isness. God is the source of all Good, the ground of all being, the process of all becoming. God is all and is more than the sum of its parts. God is beauty and love and our highest aspirations. God is the search for God. God is our best idea of God and then much more.

God is a word that we use to describe or at least relate to ultimate reality, and "THIS" god is not on a throne tossing thunder bolts and making commandments. This God is living life as Life itself, and therefore wants (or perhaps I should say "needs") for life to be harmonious, joyous, expressive, and free. God needs this because we need it, and we are part of how God knows God's self and how God experiences life. So, when people make choices that result in bad economies or building communities where weather patterns can be harsh or that lead to war or crime or disease...that isn't God's will any more than it is ours. It is simply cause and effect, and our hope is that we can raise our consciousness to the point that enough of us make better choices that will then make the world a better place. And in the meantime, we can individually make choices that will empower us to get through the rough times and experience hope and joy inspite of difficult circumstances.

My current understanding of God (which will probably, as it always has, continue to evolve) isn't something that can be proven with a papal decree or an isolated bible verse, and if that is what someone needs, then I will find myself quite disadvantaged when trying to help them. Of course, a quip from a book never proves anything to fact, if we have to resort to thinking that suggests a Zeus-like god wrote something in a book and we better buy it hook, line and sinker or suffer a new thunderbolt to the forehead, then we aren't really looking for proof...we're looking for easy answers that keep us from taking responsibility for our lives and for our planet. For people who want that, I may not seem very helpful. But to those who want encouragement to ask questions and seek truth wherever it may be found, I continue to offer my ministerial services.

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