Sunday, January 28, 2007

A Piece for Quaker-L

As I said during in a recent fuss, I'm not required to answer every objection posed by a habitual objector. But the objection, taken as a question, was a pretty good question: How do I explain God's failure to consistently intervene in this world--while insisting that God can and does intervene? Doesn't this make God responsible for events and conditions we all consider utterly inhumane and wrong?

This question is bound to arise so far as people consider God as merely an outside force, "wholly other" as some like to put it, a maker of physical law and enforcer of their moral judgments. "Why doesn't HE get on the job?"

The problem disappears if one imagines God to be merely psychological: "Take One a day, internally, and call me in the morning!" But this is untrue as well as unpleasant.

What we have, and what we are, is God expressing into everything we know and experience, including our knowing and experiencing anything whatsoever.

Raw experience can have a random flavor--as we know from various chaotic dreams. The fact that we do remember having had such dreams indicates that whatever was going on, even if it violated our normal sense of logical interconnection, included a continuing causal thread in which we formed and carried the memories--even though the details probably soon slipped away from lack of memorable structure for us to grasp them by.

So human experience is intrinsically "experiencing plus structure." A world without the "act" of experiencing would not be a world, merely a big pointless machine. A world without coherence would be only a blurred dream. Rather than (not) finding either of these things, we _are_ each a window into a world of experience (including such "active" experiences as wanting, intending, doing.)

It is not emotionally safe for us to know ourselves to "be" God so long as we are alienated from ourselves.

It can not feel safe to grant ourselves divine power so long as we are alienated from ourselves. And so far as we imagine God as "wholy other," we can hardly feel safe from God. Therefore we cling to the belief that "we" have (somehow) independent power; those who suffer worst from this are forced to imagine God as harmlessly imaginary.

Some people imagine God as imaginary for other reasons, having been taught that this is the "only common sense rationality" ("Thou shalt put no other rationality before it!") That limited sense of what is possible can be expanded; this can be exhilarating (as well as scarey!) and the result does not have to be a mind too open to hold anything. What one gets is a roomy (Rumi?) mind that accepts far more of what people actually do think and experience in their lives.

Some people "believe in" God but in practice imagine Him limited to some theological function or other. But what we've got, in fact, is "The Living God" (You don't have to trust Him--but if you can't, this must be a very dark place indeed!) The God we've got, in fact, is willing to surprise us, but is generally gentle with our need for a predictable, dependable environment.

Beliefs, then? Where do they come into this?--What you believe is largely what you get, because the alternative would be profoundly disturbing and disorienting.

A common behavior pattern for battered women, we are told, is to attach themselves to the kind of guy they "understand"; this leads them into a relation that feels "natural" because it's familiar--and the result is not a matter of "getting what they deserve," but of preferring to think they understand--preferring to think that their experience, however unpleasant, at least makes sense.

The more fearful we may be, the harder it is for us to tolerate uncertainty. Atheism is a comforting belief that offers a world in which nothing can go wrong go wrong "because that crazy mean Tyrant all those crazy people believe in doesn't exist." But that crazy mean Tyrant is us.

We'd prefer a world without a Holocaust. ("Bad Hitler! Stop that!") But the world which gave birth to us included the Holocaust, and we prefer existing, as we are (in a world, the best way to exist) to not. Our war against Iraq goes on, and we don't like it, but we'd rather live, and see this world (eventually) come out right, than just discorporate, and see how that turns out.

A notion I get from reading Joel Goldsmith lately: God is present everywhere and always, but the manifestation of God we receive in any occasion depends largely on what we are consciously prepared to accept.

So far as we "believe in" a mechanical universe, God manifests as the Perfect Referee (but then there's nothing for us down that road but decay and death, after which we'd have to figure out "What am I doing here?" all over again.) So far as we believe in a God who does our will, we can only muster limited belief and only see limited results. So far as we're open to God as wiser, kinder and more creative than our personal selves, miracles come.

Forrest Curo

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