Your image of God

This explains a lot. I get really frustrated with people who see God as an angry dad:

Your image of God creates you—or defeats you. There is an absolute connection between how you see God and how you see yourself and the whole universe. The word “God” is first of all a stand-in for everything—reality, truth, and the very shape of your universe. This is why theology is important, and why good theology and spirituality can make so much difference in how you live your daily life in this world. Theology is not just theoretical, but ends up being quite practical—practically up-building or practically defeating.

After years of giving and receiving spiritual direction, it has become obvious to me and to many of my colleagues that most peoples’ operative, de facto image of God is initially a subtle combination of their Mom and their Dad, or any early authority figures. Without an interior journey of prayer or experience, much of religion is largely childhood conditioning, which God surely understands and works with. But this is what atheists and many former believers rightly react against because such religion is so childish and often fear-based, even if their arguments are blowing down a straw man. The goal, of course, is to grow toward an adult religion that includes both reason and faith and inner experience that you can trust. A mature God creates mature people. A big God creates big people.

5 Responses to Your image of God

  1. secondharmonic February 26, 2013 at 4:37 pm #

    Theology is the attempt to steer a course between the Skylla of what is believed by faith and the Xarybdis of reasoned discourse.
    It is not proven that such a thing is actually possible.

  2. Ron February 26, 2013 at 6:40 pm #

    Well, from his lips to their ears . . . Unfortunately, so much of ‘fundamentalist’ religion depends on unquestioning obedience that an interior journey of any kind is well beyond their imagination let alone ability.

  3. lless February 26, 2013 at 9:13 pm #

    Big bang theory, the Standard Model, quantum mechanics and all of evolution dismissed as straw men because ya know the Bible is all the science you need.

  4. quixote February 27, 2013 at 12:15 am #

    Iless, I don’t think the author, whoever he is, was trying to say you either blow away science OR you blow away the Big Guy in the Sky. The straw man the atheists are blowing down, in his argument, is the Big Guy. Religion, according to that religious man, is not the Big Guy.

    I’d say he has a point. Once upon a time, lots of people thought so. Way back in the Stone Ages, the 1970s, aggressive fundamentalism wasn’t called a religion. They were called cults. I think it would help to clarify the discussion if we stopped taking the fundies’ frame for what they’re doing. It’s not a religion. It is a cult. And it’s always about some Big Guy, whether it’s in the Middle East or the Middle West or Middle Africa. That BS needs lambasting, but that’s different from lambasting religion.

    Religion comes from words meaning to re connect, to re consider. It’s a word closer in meaning to the modern understanding of meditation, to understanding connection with a wider world, to considering one’s place in it, to thinking about how actions tie in with outcomes. I’d say it’s always a good idea to do that, whether you call it a religion or not.

  5. secondharmonic February 27, 2013 at 2:00 pm #

    quixote, as I read the article, you are right. This is a Lenten thought after all. His idea of God is Jesus. And how could it not be? An omniscient, omnipotent (or as Homer would say omnivorous and maybe omniparous) benevolent entity is basically unknowable and ineffable and unapproachable, and in this phase of matter (the one dominated by gravitation and the electroweak+strong interaction) probably doesn’t even exist, or like the Higgs field, kinda acts like an invisible substratum to every real particle. But his *avatar* that deliberately incarnated himself just so as to be understood? Maybe. And I must believe, because it is absurd. (sic Tertullian)

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