Day 14: Re-Thinking God

Roderick’s head note today basically deals with shifting an idea of god from the straight monotheistic philosophy most Westerners are familiar with to something a bit more inclusive. Roderick begins by saying that “monotheistic religions propose that if you are a reasonable person, it should be clear to you that there is an intelligence behind the design of the universe.” and that “Monotheistic religious paths usually jup to the conclusion that the intelligence behind the scenes is, in fact, a specific, singular god.”

Naturally, there could be a lot of gods working together.

So Roderick is basically trying to stress that ‘god’ may not be anything like what we suppose him/her to be.

If you’re a reasonable person, that is no mind bender. Seriously…divinity is so much more than any of us have the capability to understand.

Exercise:

Take time today to contemplate and commit to paper your thoughts about the following questions:

  • What images of god did you hold as a child?
  • How have these childhood images influenced your understanding of the divine today?
  • Are the images of god that you know actually representative of god’s fundamental nature?
  • Are images of god important? Why?
  • What is the purpose of believing in deity?
  • Do we cheat ourselves at any level by characterizing god through image? Why? Why not?
  • Does it bother you to see the word “god” not capitalized in this book? Why?
  • Does the word “god” need capitalization?
  • What automatic, conditioned responses do you have in relation to words, letters, and grammatical formalities?

What images of god did I hold as a child? The Catholic 3-in-1, primarily. Of course, I never saw the true theology of this concept practiced by anyone. It is a beautiful concept, and its theology is not unlike that of the Wiccan concepts. However, most Catholics seem to view a distinct “God the father” as in the draconian man in the big white beard, “God the son” who was sort of an over-compassionate pushover, and “God the Holy Spirit,” who most Catholics just seem to tolerate. That’s the rough view I came away from Catholicism with, anyway. I wouldn’t say that this image representative of any fundamental aspect of the divine. It’s far too simplified and largely incorrect. The actual theological descriptions are much closer, but still seem overly restricted.

I think that images of God are important. I don’t think any human will ever be able to totally envision what divinity can be, but I think it is important to try to understand what we can. And a picture–a symbol–of what that divinity is helps in this understanding. It gives a focal point, anyway. And, as we learned with meditation, focal points are a pretty important platform. Maybe it is cheating us. Maybe we could reach a more perfect understanding of divinity if we didn’t have images. But nothing is perfect. We’ve just got to make the best of what we’ve got.

It doesn’t particularly bother me to see an uncapitalized “god.” It did when I first attempted the 366, but I’ve gotten over it. Now the word “God”-with-a-capital is strictly aligned in my mind with the Judeo-Christian god. When I speak of deity in a general way, I actually prefer the lower case. There’s less confusion, I think. So no, I don’t think it needs capitalization.

Answering what my conditioned response to words and such might be would fill volumes. And include far too much literary theory for anyone’s good. As far as what the purpose of believing in deity might be…well, I think it comes down to humility. If we didn’t believe in god, it would be too easy to assume that man is the center of the world. Believing in god sort of lets us put ourselves in with all the other life on the planet, to see ourselves not as some Darwinally lucky creature that is now master of the entire domain, but rather as a piece of a large, masterful puzzle.

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