A CHANGING GOD

Between Heaven & Earth
Between Heaven & Earth

‘God never changes’ is one of the religious mantras I find troubling. So often it is a prelude to a rigid interpretation and understanding of God.

I’ve been in the south recently where I began a search for a church home. I encountered several congregations who called themselves bible based to indicate they only follow rules set out in the bible.

One church in Miami, even claimed to be a New Testament bible based church. One bizarre result is that no musical instrument is used in worship because there’s no account of any being used in the New Testament. In Ft Lauderdale another pastor, while proclaiming the love of God, provided a laundry list of people, from Roman Catholics to atheists who were not going to heaven.

I understand the need for security in an insecure and uncontrollable world where death is inevitable. I understand the need for and the good that religion has done and can do. I believe that God never changes but it’s my belief, and it includes what I believe God is and therefore what it is that doesn’t change.

Modern life is confronting a paradox unparalleled in human history. Our technology is drawing us closer together at the same time that it is pushing us farther apart.

We are all now connected in a global economy and on social networks that have no borders. However, instead of the electronic media of the past that was limited, reasonably similar, and provided thoughtful editing, today we link overwhelmingly only with those who are similar to us, and the opportunities to engage with the diversity of human experience are diminishing.

The existential quest of human experience is to see ourselves in the other person.

This is the basis of our humanity. The purpose of all religions is to guide us in bridging our instinctive self centeredness and experience this spiritual birthright. This is the essence of the golden rule and loving our neighbor as our self.

God is a concept too awesome to reduce to human proof. The ancients wouldn’t even speak the name. Our individual concepts based commonly on sacred but human sources are by definition less than the whole, limited to the sources or experiences we incorporate in them.

The most fundamental concept of God, which Christians learn from Jesus, is that our Creator is love. We are not the only culture, in human history to believe this. This is the source of that spiritual birthright, and it has been available to every human from the beginning of time.

However, our understanding of the nature of God’s love should change as we grow in understanding it more fully. Not to change is not to grow.

While I have faith in what I know, the depth of my faith is in my unknown.

It is in the humility of my doubt that my humanity is born. It allows me to see in my fellow human another of the ever changing faces of God’s love.

GAZA, EBOLA, IMMIGRATION: BETTER KIND THAN RIGHT

The world is a wondrous place made ugly by selfishness and greed. These are the real threats to our security and it is the responsibility of each of us to fight back with love, mercy and justice.

A television commentator observed recently that humans are the only specie that has to constantly relearn what it means to be themselves, i.e. human.

Our history is one of each generation relearning what it means to identify with the other as himself, or seeing the other as equally human. The history of race in America is an example of this failure.

To counter this we all have a responsibility to share the wisdom of our experiences, open to the potential of learning as well as teaching, and it doesn’t matter if it’s been said before.

The current acrimony in our public spaces blots out any consensus of a common humanity. This may be more perception than reality. But in this age of instant access, controlled by corporate immorality, the extremes have greater motivation and are noisier, and there is real danger of perception becoming the only reality.

This is evident in every hot button issue. From the hostility towards the children caught in the immigration purgatory, to the vitriolic fear surrounding caring for 2 citizens who’ve contracted the Ebola virus, and the disproportionate killing of children taking place in Gaza in the name of security, to name a few.

The majority of mankind lay claim to belief in a God. Whatever one’s attitude on the subject, human history has distilled the core of this belief system down to one central principle, do unto others as you would they do unto you or love your neighbor as yourself.

This mirrors our social evolution which shows  our fragile existence hinges on our ability to understand that our fate is inextricably woven together, no matter how insulated we feel from one another.

One is repeatedly confounded by those of all religious persuasions, wrapped in allegiance to a God of love, who are always ready to choose war over justice, cannot see the love of their own children in the eyes of another frightened child, and who choose fear over mercy for fellow Christians spreading their faith. One national spokesperson even asked why were they working in the “diseased cesspools of Africa”. Glib statements may reinforce needy egos, but anything that dehumanizes one dehumanizes all.

Love and mercy are not cheap.  Turning the other cheek requires accepting the risk of getting hit in order to end the cycle of violence. If the choice is between being right and being kind, it is better to be kind.

This may seem Pollyannaish, but if we begin in small ways to affirm our humanity it will carry over to the larger issues. The ability of good to transform evil remains our best hope, not doing the same or greater evil.  So, haltingly or otherwise let’s live it as best we can.children_on_border