Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Letter 'o'

The difference between ‘God’ and ‘good’ is the letter ‘o’.

In all that I say and do, in all that I think and write, that which is of prime importance is God—not the god of the images we have rendered, the theologies we have developed, nor the religions we have created—but the God of the reality of our human existence.  It isn’t of concern to me what church, synagogue or temple you attend, nor even the images and institutions you may have rejected in coming to unbelief.   What is of concern is how intentionally we each live our lives.  Are we consciously seeking ‘the good’?  I believe that is God’s concern also—many Bible passages state that rather than burnt offerings (sacrifice and ritual), God wants clean hearts; and in Matthew 7:21 we find, "Not everyone who says ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but those who do the will of my Father.”

 I believe we are created in the image of God—but most of us have a very murky idea of what that image is.  God is so beyond our ability to comprehend, we cannot know God—and those who are sure they do know, are wrong!  In our unknowing we have constructed multiple and massive falsehoods that have caused great human suffering and led many to reject the concept of a God.

What I believe about God is not only ‘God is good’, but that ‘God is in all goodness’.   You may say, “What is goodness? . . .Who can say with any certainty? . . . Isn’t it just a matter of opinion?”   But I would argue, “No!  What we like, what we champion or what we want is a matter of opinion, but what is fundamentally good is implanted in our soul and can be recognized and agreed upon when honestly evaluated.
My daughter sings a lullaby to her little one each night as she tucks her in—that is good.
A neighbor yells loudly and harshly at his son whenever he messes up—that is not good.

Genesis tells us that as God created each element of existence, “God saw that it was good”.  The issue here is not the ‘how’ of it, but the issue is of the goodness of it.  Life is the essential good; ‘to be’ opens the door to experiencing, feeling, knowing and understanding. 

What follows is that ‘the good’ is what sustains and enhances life, both materially and spiritually; while what is not good is whatever destroys life either physically or psychologically.  If we back up all the way to humanity’s first recognition of the basic good of relationships we find some form of what we call the ‘Golden Rule’ that has appeared in every society and religion.  ‘Do unto others what you would have them do unto you’.

 When we earnestly seek God, we seek the good; and when we seek the good, we are seeking God.   God contains only the good, and too, God is contained within all that is good.

* * *

Are We There Yet?

All religions are fallible—
Each structured by fallible men.
Yet each one discovers
some aspect of the Divine
that leads its followers
on a numinous path to God.
But oh how rocky the path
and circuitous the route!

Have faith, God is patient,
Evolution is measured in eons.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Heed His Precepts

In his 2015 Encyclical On the Care of our Common Home Pope Francis spoke of “irresponsible use of the earth” and exhorted all people to take heed of Climate Change.

On a regular basis now, we see record-setting storms: tornados, floods, windstorms and hurricanes.  The ice caps are melting and oceans rising.  NOAA & NASA released their global temperature data: 15 of 17 of the hottest years on record have come since 2000, and 2016 was the hottest ever.

Presently uncontrollable wildfires are raging in our country’s Heartland, in Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas over a million acres have been incinerated—this, following years of severe drought.  Also this week in New York, windstorms sent trees crashing on homes, cars and power lines.

 When will we wake up to the reality of this threat?  Our planet is in crisis!  The key to our world’s smooth functioning is equilibrium—our careless actions have upset the balance.

Pope Francis’ Encyclical made me think of Psalm 29 in which David was addressing the leaders of his time, telling them to be mindful of the mightiness of God and His great power in nature.
In my contemporary version I change from David’s voice to that of Pope Francis, exhorting our leaders to better care for our Common Home and attend to what is happening with climate change, for we are failing to honor God in Nature.
It begins with a confession—

Psalm 29  (B. S-C contemporary version)

We have not kept your precepts, Lord.
We have not shepherded the earth by your formulation,
We have plundered for private gain
            and trampled the lowly to amass profits.

Ascribe to the Lord, O world leaders,
            ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the reverence due his name
            and take heed of the splendor of his holiness.

The voice of the LORD is heard in Nature,
            the God of glory thunders.
The Lord gives us warning as we despoil the earth;
            the voice of the Lord breaks the cedars
            and howls the winds.
The voice of the Lord shakes the mountains
            and strikes with flashes of lightening.
The voice of the Lord twists the oaks
            and strips forests bare.
Look, listen and know!

The Lord sits enthroned over the waters and land,
The Lord reigns King forever.
The Lord gives warning to his people!

Heed his precepts and principles
            lest man’s choices bring destruction
            to this wondrous earth and all its inhabitants!