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Friday, December 7, 2012

External, Interventionist Deities

Something about human nature loves the idea of being rescued by larger than life figures, from Superman to Santa Claus to God. There was a time in human history when such beings were perhaps necessary because so much of what happened in the world was beyond human understanding. Thunder and lightening can be pretty frightening even when we understand their cause. Imagine how frightening those events - not to mention earthquakes and tornadoes - would be to someone with no scientific understanding. In order to feel safe, there had to be some hope for protection from outside human knowledge and power.

Two thousand years later, the notion of a micro-managing God-cum-Santa who is keeping track of our deeds and misdeeds seems beyond less necessary, it seems laughable. We understand much of how our world operates, and a detached assessment of life experience should lead us to the conclusion that the sun shines on the good and bad alike. Despite this, many people of Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Pure Land Buddhist, and other religious perspectives await rescue and intervention from God, teachers, or prophets. Many within Christianity seem to believe that abandoning the rescuing God is abandoning the faith. They point to the belief that God is unchanging and seem to believe that it means our beliefs about God can never change.

For Christianity to be credible in the 21st century, it simply has to take science into account as an equally valid revelation of God. We need to grow up and take responsibility for our own behavior and consequences - and be willing to save one another when necessary rather than waiting for Divine intervention, because we in fact are Divine. You see, the problem with believing in Divine intervention is that we cannot explain why some people are rescued by God and others apparently are not. That posits a very fickle, unreliable God indeed - hardly one worthy of the Name, one who might be described as evil - and the old "God's logic isn't our logic" isn't very logical at all.

You see, there still can be Divine presence in the universe without a micromanaging interventionist waiting to absolve some of us from responsibility while consigning others to ultimate lack of forgiveness in the Name of an allegedly forgiving God. There can still be something behind love, compassion, and the interconnectedness of everything and everybody, some common link that brings out the best of us in even the most difficult times.  There can still be times when we reach deep and transcend even what we thought were our limits in the way we respond to one another in crisis. Of course, we will wonder why we don't always respond with the same level of compassion that we do in crisis, but that is the point of the spiritual journey - learning to live more and more from the best of our humanity. The standard isn't perfection, but rather effort. The fact that we won't be rescued unless we rescue one another doesn't mean there isn't beauty and transcendence - it means that beauty and transcendence is far more lovely than could ever be imagine because it draws us toward one another and dwells within us. And, if you still want to wait for Jesus to descend on a magic carpet to rescue you, that's okay. Until he gets here, we'll be standing by ready to help.

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