Please join me for “The Passion: In Arts, Texts, and Music: A Contemplative Retreat for Lent,” 9 a.m. – 12 p.m., Saturday, March 8, 2014 at Columbia Theological Seminary.
The tribal*, nationalist, and creationist gods are the tiniest of all. To think of God favoring a tribe or a nation, or to insist that earth is a mere 6000 years old, is a sign of hubris and ignorance that actually “disses” God—in Anglo terms, disrespects and dismisses God.
The movement gods are closer to recognizing the reality, I believe, whether that of the Jesus movement, for instance, or the gods of the ecumenical, interfaith, progressive, New Thought or New Age movements, to name a few examples. But these gods too can be trapped when enshrined in inflexible doctrines and institutions, domesticated like a pet to respond to our expectations.
The god of nature, of the environment, of the cosmos at least de-centers our anthropomorphic way of limiting God. The agnostic god recognizes our inability to imagine God adequately, while the god of atheism too often is a mirror reflection of a god rightly resisted. These three options, despite their alleged disbelief, seem preferable to a god that is nothing more than a tribal, national, fundamentalist, or movement pet.
As a participant in the Jesus movement, as much as I love Jesus—what he taught and how he lived and the life he still gives me—I have needed to move beyond the claim that he is the only child of God.
Rather, I have come to believe that he and many who followed him remind us that ALL are children of God, including the birds of the air and the lilies of the field, and that we are each to have, in author Karen Blixen’s words, “faith in the idea that God had when God made us.” To paraphrase the sage Rabbi Zusya** in my own faith context: in the life to come, they will not ask me why I was not Christ, but, “Why was I not Chris?”
And further, why didn’t I recognize that my god is not God?
*I intend that “tribal” includes any group that thinks only their group knows God.
**Rabbi Zusya famously said, “In the coming world, they will not ask me, ‘Why were you not Moses?’ but ‘Why were you not Zusya?’”
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