Is God Dead Yet? I hope so!
Saturday, May 21, 2011 is the End of the World according to Harold Camping and his followers of the Family Radio Ministry. The Rapture is to occur accompanied by catastrophic destruction and suffering. Those who claim Jesus as the Messiah will disappear from the earth and the wicked will be left behind to endure torture and and agonies of death (before they go to hell which is apparently not enough torture by itself.)
I am quite sure that I will be here on earth on May 22.
This is not because I do not claim to be a Christian. I am just not the kind of Christian Harold Camping and his followers claim to be. I used to be! But a long time ago I saw the futility of a believing in a literal form of Christianity that arose out of tribal documents of many hundreds of generations. I am talking about the Bible. To take these sacred texts and twist and contort them into some personal need to see innocent and loving people suffer seems to me to be a perversion of the worst form. God seems to be more like Satan under this kind of theological interpretation.
Instead of causing me to abandoned Christianity it drove me to seek deeper and eventually mystical truths of Christianity. I had wonderful and brilliant teachers whom I sought out. They showed me a faith that we rational and beautiful. But to arrive at these new understandings I had to allow my literal old beliefs to die not once but many times. This journey I have put in an autobiography.
I think one of the most vain things one can do is write an autobiography and yet it seems necessary in order to pass on wisdom. I have written many books but the biography can express learned truths in a way no other form of literature can tell it. The first person voice is powerful and compelling. So, I have been writing my biography. I cannot seem to finish it.
I have titled it Is God Dead Yet? I hope so!. It is a provocative title but it sums up a profound truth that has led to wisdom of a kind that I cannot call my own. Allowing my previous conceptions of God to die have opened a door to a world that it beyond but within me.
This book will disturb and upset you if you are one of the following kinds of Christians. If you are an evangelical Christian you will be upset because I do not accept the bible as the inerrant word of God. It is more than a rulebook to be slavishly followed. It is so much more. It is literature and imaginative fiction mixed with real history. If you are Roman Catholic you will be upset because I believe in a God of unlimited Grace and unconditional love. I am against the use of sacraments to punish people and withhold the love of God even if this is possible. If you are a mainline Christian of the protestant kind you will be upset because you have forgotten to preach the gospel and have substituted social ministry for transformational power of God’s love to change human lives. If you are a “purpose driven protestant” of the Rick Warren kind then you will be outraged by this book because you cannot make up your religion. God breaks through our addictions, our polite mortgage based life; he breaks through the shadows of the towering shopping malls that lure us to the false hope of happiness, and shines his light on every creepy thing we have ever done and every skeleton without backbone, and reveals our fake, unhappy, deadbeat existence.
If you meet God on the road…kill him! This of course is a variation on a Buddhist proverb. What this really means is that the idea of the sacred we hold onto and use to define ourselves is an illusion and construct of our self righteousness and self centerers. The sooner it dies the better. Unfortunately these various ideas of God are institutionalized in our various denominations. If you attend a Joel Osteen church in Texas you would think the Jesus carries an American passport, loves football, and would love nothing more than to be your psychologist. This is not the God I know and at some level on consciousness this is not the God that authentically transformed people know. It is just that there are few other options for a Christian who lives in the land of Touchdown Jesus. If you are an Irish Catholic who attend church in Boston you live in fear of excommunication for holding an idea that abortion is sometimes the most compassionate decision and action. Pat Kennedy, congressman from Rhode Island was recently denied the Eucharist. You punish people with sacraments that are supposed to represent the love of God? Wow, this is some church that will punish a politician for not believing the infallible teachings of the church. Boy, what a tough and powerful God. I guess that would keep me in line. How is this supposed to appeal to the person who is broken by bad decisions, the injustice of poverty, and the oppression of the powerful of society? Tell this person to come to the altar and receive the sacraments of life….only be careful because you might be given a test on the teachings of the church and if you do not pass then we will withhold these most precious gifts from you. Just forget that these gifts are freely given to ALL and have already been paid for by the blood of Jesus. I would rather see the sacraments in the hands of the poor, the neglected, and destitute than on the clean altar cloths of the church.
Is god dead yet, the god of vengeance whom the Psalmist asks to smash the heads of his enemies babies against the rocks, the god who can be blackmailed with prayers for prosperity, the god who will entertain you on Sundays with rock bands and movie screens? Is this god dead yet and replaced with the God who is beyond anthropomorphic description and control, the God who loves unconditionally but treats us with all seriousness and never gives up on us? Is this God alive and well? I hope so!
I write this autobiography for no other reason than to pass on a central wisdom. My life is none of my business. It has taken many years to learn this truth but I believe we are all destined to confront this truth. My life in and of itself is not important but in connection with larger historical forces and a universal consciousness that pokes its head into the business of living a wisdom beyond, a wisdom deeper, and higher begins to emerge.
So what is my business if it isn’t my life? It is hospitality…service to others. There is no other way to find our life than to lose it in service to others. It seems counter-intuitive at first but the fact is we cannot see our own face unless we look in a mirror. The faces of those we serve mirror back to us our true self.