musings on God and man (and woman, too)
“Dust in the wind. All we are is dust in the wind.” (Lyrics from the 1977 song of the same name by the rock group, Kansas).
Our featured images are of colored lights at a recent wedding banquet.
It is not so very difficult to get married. The real challenge comes in staying married over the years.
It can be rather humbling for we humans to consider that God has always existed. Infinity and eternity are hard concepts for us to get our limited minds around. There are interesting implications here. Can one still believe that the Earth was created on – what was it? – October 23, 4004 B.C.? Is man the only sentient species or intelligent form of life that God has ever created? Since many of us believe that God has always existed, then He has been around for a very, very long time. Is it reasonable to think that He only decided to create intelligent life in the very, very recent past? We think that God has created other intelligent life and that there are likely other intelligent beings alive this very moment in, perhaps, many universes, and/or many different dimensions or planes of existence.
God is as He is – He is not going to change. What I mean here is that if God ever evolved in His nature that time is long past. God has had eternity – an infinite number of years or eons – to grow and evolve. He is either a compassionate, loving God – or He is not.
Our very short lives – on this speck of dust in an unremarkable galaxy among billions of others – are for what? There are those who say for everlasting bliss in a heaven or for everlasting torment in a hell. Here is the problem I have with that view. Forever is a long time. A very long time, indeed. Methinks that we have a God who is restless and may not want for us to remain in a heaven type state for ever and ever. (Would such a heavenly state be static, or would growth and new experiences be possible, permissible there?) No, dear readers, we think that there is a good chance that there will be future assignments for humans, future challenges to endure. God will raise the bar, so to speak, and require more of us. (For our own good, of course.) The struggle continues, and will our souls ever know true peace?
Some readers may think that I am immature to entertain these speculations. Perhaps, to do so indicates that I am no longer straight-jacketed by childish, irrational fears.
Please, dear readers, do not take these thoughts of mine as “dogma”. These are not intended as such.
Is all the suffering (mental, psychological, emotional in addition to physical) just a cruel jest? Does all that we endure, what we experience, go for anything, count for anything?
The way I see it things can only be put right – at some future point – if God is truly just, loving and merciful.
Could it be that the suffering we experience is intended to help us to not be so attached to living in this finite, temporary, limiting world?
For those who choose not to believe in a Creator, the current novelty is “alien intervention” via genetic manipulation, genetic engineering. 150 years ago evolution was the novelty for those who would not make the effort to believe.
Our souls come from God – not from “aliens” whether these be inter-dimensional beings, extraterrestrials, demons, whatever.
what about religion and the religious?
If one studies the history of religion, from primitive animism through pagan polytheism to the monotheistic religions, one finds that it has always been about power. Oh, yes. Priests – as the interceders, or go betweens, on behalf of us mortals with the gods or God – have preyed upon human fears and on human ignorance. When considering religion, one needs to take a step back and try to be objective and rational. The misuse of religion is very dangerous. (We see this danger today. As we type these words, the world’s attention is focused on a civilian airliner that may or may not have been brought down by a surface to air missile in the Ukraine, and on the ongoing fighting between Israel and the Palestinians. What is being overlooked or ignored is the daily murders, rapes and pillaging of Christians in Iraq, Egypt, South Sudan, Nigeria, Pakistan, etc. by Muslims. And, because of Muslim immigration, Muslims are raping women, both Christian and atheist, in Europe today and are terrorizing Jews in France.)
Some religious people, including not a few preachers, would have us believe that God cannot stand the sight of us. If that were so, I have a question. If the Fall (the Garden of Eden story) were so traumatic and painful to God that even Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary could not heal the wound, then why did not God just end the experiment and have done with it?! (We gave our thoughts on the Garden of Eden story 2 years ago in late July, 2012 on this blog – see the monthly archives.)
There are many Christians who will quote Scripture to me and yet are callously indifferent to the suffering and injustice all around them. Modern day Pharisees do not make a favorable impression on me.
If your message is immature, primitive, negative, limiting – should we be interested? It seems those trafficking in fear have little love to share.
Some religions, even today, traffic in fear, guilt and suffering. I cannot work out my salvation each and every day in fear and trembling as (St.) Alphonsus Liguori (1696 – 1787) counsels we must do. I cannot operate that way. The demands of modern life consume much energy and we cannot waste energy on fear for the sake of fear. I choose not to feel guilty for having been born into this fallen world. It seems I had no say in the matter. There is no need to seek out suffering or to glorify suffering. Suffering stalks us and seeks us out each and every day of our lives. (Masochism, which is merely sadism directed at one’s self, is no virtue.)
Synchronicity or coincidence is rather amazing at times. As I had put these thoughts down on paper last week in preparation for drafting this essay, I started to read a book that speaks to some of these same issues.
We want to quote now from Olive Schreiner’s book, The Story of an African Farm (originally published in 1883, this book is now in print again from Dover Publications). Schreiner (1855 – 1920) saw the hypocrisy and abuses of religion in her day while growing up in South Africa.
From page 160, we offer this passage which alludes to man’s temporary nature.
” . . . . She raised herself on her elbow. ‘And what, if we could help mankind, and leave the traces of our work upon it to the end? Mankind is only an ephemeral blossom on the tree of time; there were others before it opened; there will be others after it has fallen. Where was man in the time of the dicynodont, and when hoary monsters wallowed in the mud? Will he be found in the eons that are to come? We are sparks, we are shadows, we are pollen, which the next wind will carry away. We are dying already; it is all a dream.'”
From p. 215, we read this passage about what Lyndall (one of the principal characters in the book) had learned in her short, troubled life.
“. . . . Softly he whispered, asking what she saw there.
“And she said, in a voice strangely unlike her own, ‘I see the vision of a poor weak soul striving after good. It was not cut short; and, in the end, it learned, through tears and much pain, that holiness is an infinite compassion for others; that greatness is to take the common things of life and walk truly among them; that’ – she moved her white hand and laid it on her forehead – ‘happiness is a great love and much serving. It was not cut short; and it loved what it had learned.'”
And, on page 218, we have this very poignant yet touching description of poor Lyndall’s death in very early adulthood.
“. . . . The dying eyes on the pillow looked into the dying eyes in the glass; they knew that their hour had come. She raised one hand and pressed the stiff fingers against the glass. They were growing very still. She tried to speak to it, but she would never speak again. Only, the wonderful yearning light was in the eyes still. The body was dead now, but the soul, clear and unclouded, looked forth.
“Then slowly, without a sound, the beautiful eyes closed. The dead face that the glass reflected was a thing of marvelous beauty and tranquility. The Gray Dawn crept in over it and saw it lying there.
“Had she found what she sought for – something to worship? Had she ceased from being? Who shall tell us? There is a veil of terrible mist over the face of the Hereafter.”
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