Time To Rant

I’ve reading a couple of blogs from my internet blogging crew and got a bit worked up and want to let off some steam. My friend Luke recently posted on using the word “biblical” in front of something. My friend Yael then talked about on her blog how we sometimes act as though we have “God in a pocket.” Those things really light a bit of a fire in me so I am going to let loose.

Way back in college at a very ultra conservative religious school in the midwest, I noticed something that met me with a fair amount of disillusionment. It looked to me like the college would hire people who were sub-par performers at whatever job they were going to do just because they labeled themselves as “Christian.” That bugged me. Do we really have to settle for mediocrity because it is somehow the nice thing to do? Can’t we expect the best out of each other?

I see this same kind of thing happening today too. I used to have my kids in a Christian school because, of course, it was supposed to be the best for them. Public school is evil because there isn’t some direct connection to Christianity you know. But at this prior school there was available a Christian business journal. It almost gives me the creeps to think about it. It was full of a bunch of adds all with cute little fishies in the bottom corner or sometimes in all four corners. So I am supposed to think that these guys and gals are the best because of the fish. And maybe some of them are the best in end. But it is the exclusivity of it that bothers me. It almost heaps guilt and shame on the reader for choosing something other than the fishies. In fact, it probably does heap guilt and shame. That is the flipside of the message. Of course, I am a heretic for saying such. Who cares.

I think we use God as a genie much more than we care to admit. We decide what we are going to do, and then we assign God to it. We give it God’s blessing. We look up some obscure passage in scripture which proves that little green men live on the moon. And then we are all proud that we are following God’s will. And that of course is the ultimate trump card. Who can refute what God told us? It closes the door. My friend Yael says that she thinks we see in the bible whatever we want to see, and I think she is right. Fred Phelps looks for his justification for hating gays. Jim Dobson looks for his justification for heaping guilt on Christians who voted for Obama (which I did and I don’t). George Bush looks for his justification for pre-empitve war. Britain looked for its justification for the Crusades. And they all and we all thought we were doing what God told them to do. We use God as a genie to bless whatever it is we want to do. We treat God like a toolbox that we can pull out and use when we need to and then wail in grief when something bad happens. What a joke.

I think most of use worship idols. We work out our nice little theologies on how God is, on what God is like, on what God’s will is, and then fail to realize that God is too big to be boxed in. When we think we have him all figured out what we actually have is a golden calf. We have an image, a snapshot of God. But we worship that snapshot like it is God. That is idolotry. If you lose the fact that God is partly not able to be nailed down, you are committing intellectual idolatry in my opinion.

The Bible too. I see people treat the Bible like it is God. Our former Christian school had a statement in its list of crap that the Bible itself was the source of all truth. Really? All truth? There is no truth outside the Bible? The Bible tells us all we need to know about physics and medicine and rock climbing and triathlon and reading and educational technique and I think you get the idea? A rebuttal might be that it contains all the truth about God which is the ultimate truth? Really? Nature says nothing about God? Human experience says nothing about God? God doesn’t say anything to us other than through the Bible? I just don’t buy that crock of crap anymore. Treating the Bible like that is treating it like it is God. And it is not God. It is a book about God. But it is not God. To worship it is idolatry.

If I sound sarcastic and a bit angry then you have definitely read my tone appropriately. I am both of those things. It suprises me a bit to be honest, and maybe I have uncovered something within myself that I need to explore a bit more. If you care to know more about these ideas read How Not To Speak of God by Peter Rollins. A difficult but very good read. I have his second book coming soon from Amazon.


6 responses to “Time To Rant

  1. “We use God as a genie to bless whatever it is we want to do” (Doug)

    This is part of my personal battle – a reason to write a blog and converse about it – I see it and I do not like it. However, I am also guilty of it also and I recognize my self weakness in the debate. However, we all have to admit in our seeking of God there is always ‘self’ involved and this will taint some of it. I try to lessen my tainting – this is the best I can do.

    “If you lose the fact that God is partly not able to be nailed down, you are committing intellectual idolatry in my opinion.” (Doug)

    Didn’t Jesus die on a cross? I kid. We are limited people – what we know we have to be open for it to change. But our limitations also limit God – humans anyways. I am not sure this is idolatry – if so – no one person is exempt. I follow a more traditional reasoning for idolatry – worshipping something as another God.

    I do agree with you Doug – faith and life and experience and all this stuff we do – we can talk about and see where it all goes/leads. The answers are within you – this much I know is true – but sometimes the answers are discovered in conversations/learning. I have found this is true for myself – 3 years I have blogged – those 3 years have done more for me than 4 years in theological school.

  2. Its sometimes hard not to be angry when you realize the lies that are perpetrated by others, but most of all it is hard not to be angry when you realize the lies you told yourself. Good for you for seeking the truth, which is “we dont know it all” and “were all in this together”


    Thanks to Luke for the Song.

  3. Good post. You’re allowed to vent just like the rest of us. I’m not bothered that Torah can say what I want it to say, because sometimes it says what I don’t want as well. Then do I try to gloss it over, explain away, or do I remain bothered by it all? It depends, I suppose. What bothers me is when people quote Torah as if God said. Maybe God said, maybe God didn’t.

    I’m going to link one of my favorite teachings Rabbi pointed out from Torah: Knowing it All. I posted this on Jason’s blog once in response to someone who told me I was wrong about something. I think he finally got it that I wasn’t bothered by the thought that I could be wrong, but I don’t think he ever got it that HE just might have been wrong as well!

    Well, hope you got it all out of your system for a day and you’ll be having a good time celebrating with your family. Merry Christmas, o heretic one!

  4. “…we all have to admit in our seeking of God there is always ‘self’ involved and this will taint some of it. I try to lessen my tainting – this is the best I can do.” (Jason).

    Can’t agree more. I apologize if I implied that I am not subject to the very thing against which I rant. I am. It is one reason why I am thinking that God’s work of redemption may in fact be universal. We are just not good enough to be good.

    “I follow a more traditional reasoning for idolatry – worshipping something as another God.” (Jason)

    I agree with you. But I think my comment fits your definition. Isn’t an image of God, even if it is just a theologic picture in one’s head, “something another?” I think it is. Merry Christmas.

    Yael. Thanks for the link. It is good. One of the things that I find about the atheists that I have conversed with (on deconversion for instance) is that they are just 100% certain that if it can’t be objectively proven, then it isn’t true. That is as close minded as religious fundy’s just on the opposite end of the line. It is fine to hold firm positions with confidence, but there has to be a willingness to “follow wherever the evidence leads. ” (Antony Flew). Happy Hanukah.

    John. We do lie to ourselves and we do it often. It offers some sense of security to lie to ourselves, telling ourselves that we have it all in a nice box. I am learning that in order to be honest with myself, I have to comfortable with uncertainty. Merry Christmas.

  5. dude.. heavy. thanks for the shout out.

    you exegete where your heart is… meaning you read onto the Bible what you already believe. i think those of us who get this are a step in the right direction.

    to think we have God “nailed down” just revisits, for me, the whole tragedy of the crucifiction. our doctrines are like snap-shots, our traditions like beautiful protraits… but all are static and NONE are God. God isn’t something to be endlessly debated between us over the details, God is incarnate and among and within us. God is something to be met and be in relationship with.

    Love of God, neighbor and Self means all things that being in a relationship does. we’ll argue, fight, and wrestle with ourselves, but all these things are holy events if all are done out of love. RAWK

    merry, merry!

  6. HAPPY NEW YEAR…………Woohooooooooooooooooo

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