“If he is infinitely good, what reason should we have to fear him? If he is infinitely wise, why should we have doubts concerning our future? If he knows all, why warn him of our needs and fatigue him with our prayers? If he is everywhere, why erect temples to him? If he is just, why fear that he will punish the creatures that he has filled with weaknesses? …If he is reasonable, how can he be angry at the blind, to whom he has given the liberty of being unreasonable? … If he is inconceivable, why occupy ourselves with him? … and if he has spoken, why is the world not convinced?”
-Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)
“Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear. . . . Do not be frightened from this inquiry by any fear of its consequences. If it ends in a belief that there is no God, you will find inducements to virtue in the comfort and pleasantness you feel in its exercise, and the love of others which it will procure you.”
—-Thomas Jefferson, third President of the US
“It is setting a high value upon our opinions to roast men and women alive on account of them.”
—-Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592), French essayist and philosopher, cited in 2,000 Years of Disbelief by James R. Haught
Though I believe in God, it is not a belief in the God of Scripture. Too many “holes” in Scripture to satisfy my inquiring mind. It may indeed point me in the right direction but I find it not only unreliable but full of plagiaristic thought and re-writing of some of history’s interesting solutions. I much prefer to trust the minds of men and women who conjecture on the basis of what we now know of our universe than those men and women who trust the minds of ancient spiritual guides who, in turn, contributed to a book allegedly “inspired” by God. It is all unprovable, either side of this argument, but I prefer to invest most of my thinking in current ideas rather than those that show little support in logic.
I am “non-religious”, not an atheist as some suppose, since after reading what I have written many wonder if I believe in “God”. I just don’t have a name for the concept, “God”, nor do I have an origination story or theological mystery tour to stretch your faith. (I have no proof of what I believe and I wonder if my belief in “God” is supportable as I have increasing doubts.) I just can’t accept an inflexible point of view that says, “I know what you need, and I know what you should know and here it is, you can have it too.” Religionists present yet another obstacle to finding “truth” as they claim to have succeeded exclusively in finding it.
Having been a part of the religious scene for years it is clear to me how easily duped we are to believe in something we have no proof of, has caused an abundance of divisions, and “territorialized” people into believers and non-believers. Furthermore, my belief in “God” equates to the larger perspective which includes an awareness of “God” in everything. I speculate at times whether or not consciousness is “God”. So, my belief in “God” does not necessarily match up to the Christian/Judaeo tradition of a being existing somewhere in the beyond or in one’s “heart”. If there is a “God” he/she/it could be anywhere and in anything. Do I hear an “Amen”?
“There’s an old saying that God exists in your search for him. I just want you to understand that I ain’t looking. ”
—Leslie Nielsen, actor and freethinker, Esquire Magazine interview, April 2008
From time to time a scene from classical painting emerges on the Internet depicting the trials of the Christian Savior. Given the story line of his final days, it is often a scene from the torment he received at the hands of the Roman government. He taught that He was the Son of God which was viewed as an act of blasphemy. The paintings are usually gory, blood being the major feature, while bruises and cuts make for a sobering latticework of rip-torn flesh. There may be a thorny crown forced across his brow with drips of crimson traced upon his forehead and a face twisted in agony as if he had just been beheaded. Grim, sad and very graphic, these depictions of the Christ cause one to wonder just how painful the course of salvation must have been. It is believed that Jesus died for our sins. And as despicable as those sins are, so also should the look of the dying Savior be as well. No doubt about it, the artists have captured it.
More contemporaneously, the movie going public have nearly tasted the blood of an exhausted Christ while watching screen antics produced by a Jew-hating actor/director. There were even undisguised whimpers and weeping during the scenes of great passion and throughout the movie called, “The Passion.” The fascination with blood, guts and gore are not the exclusive domain of the warrior but appear to have a charm for the Christian as well. Many Catholic churches sport the cross with a dying Christ portrayed centrally in their mass and visuals that make plain what the grand sacrifice accomplished for humanity.
A question comes to mind: to what purpose is the blood, guts, and gore presented? Is it to entice one to look more directly at the message? Am I to be impressed with an interpretation that has as its purpose, shock? To what objective would a visual portrait or a moving picture show convince me and my will to become a follower of this bloodied Christ? Is it the canvas or film drama that convinces?
A fascination with drama of this kind begs the question, why? Why do we need to see this? Why do we need religious symbolisms forced upon us displayed as crucifix, bleeding heart, or nails thrust through the palms of the Savior’s hands? If “gross” is appealing the Christian church has an ample portion what with a ceremony that displays the body of Christ in one of three forms depending on the resident theology. We are presented with “gross” as if it were a Sunday drive to Grandma’s, a pure, simple, and trusted journey. But, is it really? For years witnesses recounted the Golgotha debacle without writing it down allowing further elaboration to make the story as fascinating, creative and original as one could imagine. If the story be true as claimed and that the message produced personal wonders of salvation and healing, then why would it be necessary to frighten or disgust someone viewing these macabre classics for the first time? Don’t we have enough violence as part of our culture? And, why would Christian hands wish to add blood to their reputation?
“As a minister I tried to explain God’s apparent cruelty and apathy. Eventually I realized they were just excuses… bad ones.” – Dennis Augustine, former minister
All that you touch
All that you Change
The only lasting truth
from Parable of the Sower
by Octavia Butler