Saturday, October 14, 2006
Thursday, October 12, 2006
This came home to me when I was talking with a friend, who was saying something about confusion and chaos permeating every aspect of our world. I responded, instinctively, "not in my house!"
I mean, I have a say in who or what enters my home, just as I have a say in what enters my mind, my body, my car, what plays on my stereo. In my home, I am Queen!
Now lets just suppose that every day I try to cultivate the surrendering of control to the divine, whatever that means. Gradually, God regains control because it is given.
This is a bit like pacifism, I think, when you come down to it. The objection that people have with non-violence is that if you are committed to nonviolence people can just walk up and beat the shit out of you for no good reason, and then suffer no consequence, and it would seem that you are stripped of the ability to protect yourself. I had a strip torn off of me by a complete stranger once, for stating anti-war sentiments. She felt that if my child were being tortured or raped in front of me, my pacifism wouldn't be worth much. That may be true.
But it's like so many things that require the collaboration of humanity. Violence can never stop until someone decides not to retaliate. Pollution will not stop until vast quantities of people commit to stop tossing mcdicks bags out of their cars. God could be in control of this world if only the world would give it up.
These are three things that I wish would happen, but don't hold much hope for. Nevertheless, I can name one place where there is peace, and God is in control.
"Advancing the Kingdom of God" used to be about winning souls for religion, and I suppose that the militant overtones work for the right wing evangelicals out there, but the idea has changed dramatically for me. A certainty is growing within me that Love and God are the same thing, and that there's good news in that. Advancing the kingdom of God seems to me more like spreading the territory over which God may regain control, and that's a good reason to help people find love, and peace, and divinity.
That is not to say that I think it's a good idea to make sure people understand God the way I do, or bring them under a brand new law that reflects my values, but rather to help people to value themselves enough to find what God means to them.
This is where I think Jesus hit the nail on the head. His was a campaign of unconditional, radical, selfless love, and what better way to repair the planet. If God is love, then loving people is like saying "here, this is what God is like" not rules and guilt and distance but validation and compassion and safety. In doing so you spread that kingdom just a little bit further.
*Please note that when I say God is love, I do not include codependency, desperation, manipulation, sex, or any other unhealthy or selfishly motivated perversions of the twisted word that we in our culture call 'love.' I only use the word love for lack of a purer term denoting selflessness and compassion, amongst other good, healthy and beautiful qualities.*
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Growing up, prayer was a lot about words. "Dear Lord Jesus.... so on an so forth, ratatatat, yada yada yada....." the idea was to be eloquent as you covered all the bases. Give thanks, say how beautiful god is (as if you've ever seen him) ask for forgiveness, pray for so and so's salvation, and so and so's healing... in Jesus mighty name, amen.
The thing is that these are all just words. And most of the time they came out of my mouth or brain while I was laying in my bed, staring at the ceiling, as though the stucco would answer my prayers. Part of me always thought that the ceiling was the end of the road for all those good intentions.
Over time I've come to consider prayer to be less about the words I send into the eaves and more about the yearnings and sadness and hope and joy that proceed from my insides. I think that this is a far more accurate assessment of things.
But beyond that.... prayer confounds me. It occurred to me at some point that whenever I think about "answers to prayer" that I have experienced, it could be explained away as a coincidence, or a natural eventuality. For example, if I prayed that I would find something lost, and then found it, would I have found it anyways had I not prayed? When someone prayed that I would be healed of my cold, and three days later I miraculously recovered, is it possible that the illness simply ran its course?
Is God truly not in control, and if so, how could He manipulate the universe in such a way as to selectively provide answers?
Nevertheless I can't deny that there's something to this whole prayer thing. I could rationalize it away all day, but in the end, I will still catch myself doing it, my insides involuntarily communicating with..... something, and I wonder when it happens, what is God like and what effect do my prayers have on His frame of mind?
I plan to pick up some books on the subject. Do you have any thoughts?