Section topics: Notes on theology; Love as ultimate reality, ultimate meaning; Climate updates; An anti-fear project; Old Story Themes, New Story Alternatives, and more…
A further explanation on humanizing deity theories:
Just a note on why I include the feature of “domination” (i.e. God as Lord, King) among the barbaric features that must be eliminated from a truly humane God theory (theory of ultimate reality, theory of ultimate meaning/purpose). Domination/subjection forms of relating are common to brutal animal existence. Animals relate in domination/submission relationships, usually with weaker animals subjected to an alpha male or female. Religious traditions have embraced such forms of relating as fundamental to their ultimate ideals and authorities- their gods. See, for example, Alex Garcia’s book ‘Alpha God’.
In addition, one of the first mental creations of early humans was the myth that people were created to do the work of the gods, to serve the gods. That early myth enforced the perception that humans were to be subject to the gods, to be subservient to deity.
Critical to emerging human development was our eventual understanding that enlightened, mature people would relate to one another as equals, not as superiors to inferiors. We now understand that true human greatness is about treating all as equals, and not intervening, overwhelming, controlling, or dominating others. Not violating the freedom and self-determination of others.
Historical Jesus got this right when he reasoned with his followers who wanted positions of authority over others. His response: “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.” True greatness and glory was in serving, not ruling. This humane principle used to be the understood and accepted mandate of politicians in democratic societies.
Consequent to understanding the nature of truly humane forms of relating, we can reason that a truly humane God, a truly loving deity, will relate to all as equals, not as inferiors, subjects, or servants. A fully humane God will relate horizontally to humanity, not vertically as a superior. Relating vertically as a dominating superior would be inhumane and unloving.
Add here Charles Templeton’s point that someone demanding dominance, and attention and praise on pain of death for refusal, would be an Idi Amin-type character (see his book “Farewell to God”). Yet we project such nonsense onto the ultimate Good and Love that is God???
A side note: While life is replete with hierarchical organizations, it is possible to relate within such structures as authentic humans. Those in supervisory positions can express equality with others in the way that they relate to and treat others in lower positions. For example, by honoring the input of others on decisions that impact them. This is important because self-control and self-determination are critical to human health.
Putting something before or above people
I have just watched “The Crown” (Netflix) on British royalty. It reminded me of an old insight that Bob Brinsmead shared with us decades ago- that whenever we put loyalty to something else above people, to something other than people, whether loyalty to law, to a religion or belief system, to God, to an institution, to a nation state or an ideology, to an ethnic group or race, then people tend to be ignored or abused.
People that were loyal, first and foremost, to the monarchy and its archaic traditions/protocols/rituals, people that put the monarchy first, then crushed and destroyed real people around them. Such loyalty led superiors to stifle the diverse personalities, emotions, and expressions of inferiors.
Our primary loyalty, our only loyalty, must always be first to real people and their individual needs, not to something above people that takes priority over them and their needs.
“There are some things Love (agape) cannot do. Therefore, there are some things God cannot do. “It is impossible for God to lie” is an example. In personal relationships there are some things that Love, along with its corollaries of wisdom and justice, that one cannot do. God cannot build Rome in a day because Rome implies a human culture, the formation of a collective character, the development of a language etc. God has entered a partnership, a covenant with his creation and therefore God is limited by the principles of freedom involved in that relationship. So God is not going to intervene as we might want him or even expect him to intervene. I could tease this out, but I suggest the propositions you repeat are not a watertight logic as those who advance these either/or propositions think they are.”
“It comes down to a question of whether love is worthwhile. Life is about the receiving and giving of love. The truth is discovered by getting involved and doing it. It’s a precious gift that took a long time to make and is very precious. Creation (not yet finished) has been a labour of love, and not without pain and suffering. No such thing as the Creator bringing creation to pass without a lot of time and effort. The Creation science wants us to believe God did it in the blink of an eye – easy stuff! The narrative functions with the image of an absolute Dictator Deity using unfettered omnipotent, omniscient, etc. powers, and based on a very wrong concept of God having dominion and requiring of all absolute unquestioning obedience – as the old Calvinists used to say, ‘perfect obedience to every decree to the utmost degree.’ Sounds like the ultimate subjection of the subjects to me.”
Love as Ultimate Reality, ultimate meaning Wendell Krossa
I embrace the view that there is an inexpressibly wondrous love at the core of reality and behind all life. And that love is the meaning and purpose of the cosmos, the world, and conscious human life. We are here to learn love, to exhibit love, to experience love in all the diversity of human stories and experiences. Love is all.
I base my conclusions on several points of reason:
1. Love is our highest and most meaningful ideal. It is the fundamental defining feature of what it means to be human. It is the best and highest thing that we know.
2. Historical Jesus argued that God was love of an unconditional nature. That central insight is expressed in his statement: “Do not engage eye for eye response to offenders, but instead love your enemy because God does, giving sun and rain to all alike” (Matthew 5:38-48, Luke 6:27-36). God was unconditional love. That was Historical Jesus’ greatest contribution to the history of human spiritual insights. (Note: Hist. Jesus appears to point to deity as unconditional reality. Whether he actually does or not, matters little. I do not regard him as some final authority. It is my conclusion.)
Unfortunately, the New Testament authors, shaped by Paul’s thinking, then distorted and buried that unconditional insight with a retreat to the highly conditional and retaliatory Christ of Paul (i.e. “Lord Jesus will return in blazing fire to punish and destroy all who do not believe” Paul’s gospel). The religion of Paul’s Christ myth was created as just another conditional tradition with correct beliefs to be an included insider/true believer, proper rituals, demanded sacrifice/payment, and righteous lifestyle necessary to identify oneself as a “saved” insider of the religion (versus “damned” outsiders).
All such religious conditions were backed with severe threats to those refusing to embrace the conditions- notably, temporal and eternal punishment and destruction. See Paul’s warning to the Corinthian Christians that God was punishing them with sickness and death as retribution for their sins. It would get worse as Paul warned in Romans 12:17-20. Ultimate and eternal vengeance was coming.
3. God as unconditional love is the central discovery of a modern spiritual experience movement- the “Near-Death Experience”. Many of those accounts detail an encounter with a Being of love/light so stunningly unconditional that it is inexpressible in its infinite transcendence and wonder. With that love there is no judgment, no condemnation, no exclusion of anyone, no demanded sacrifice or payment, no punishment or destruction. No conditions at all. None. That means no religion too.
Hence, my conclusion that all are safe in that love, in the end. All are included in that love.
(Note: Any advocacy for no conditions deity raises questions regarding how order and morality can be maintained with such an ultimate ideal. Hence, the following qualifier.)
Qualifier: Ultimate safety and inclusion for all does not mean excusing bad behavior here and now. There are social and natural consequences in this world and that is critical to healthy human development. All of us must learn to be fully responsible for our choices and actions and the consequences for others. People unable or unwilling to control their worst impulses should and will be restrained and even locked up. But that criminal justice response must always be restorative/rehabilitative, as much as possible.
Leo Tolstoy- “The whole trouble lies in that people think that there are circumstances/conditions when they may treat their fellow beings without love, but no such circumstances ever exist.” Read the rest of the opening comment here