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Monday, September 27, 2010


    When things are good I feel like God is with me. When things are bad...well that's different. Unfairly, something in me cries out in disappointment with God. It is what it is. After all, what does he expect? It is even (possibly) good theology. Just not mine. Rich Stearns puts forth some fascinating writing of what God expects of us in The Hole in Our Gospel, and I agree with him, even to the point of feeling he is a little too gentle with some uncomfortable truths. There is a popular Evangelical concept of personal intimacy with the Maker of All Things, and I struggle with this. Perhaps this intimacy occurs in the invisible world, the connection rooted in the part of my soul that protrudes into it, a spiritual pseudopod. Frankly, God seldom answers my questions in a tangible way, and I have spent greater than average effort and resources to facilitate some type of tangible interactive relationship with this Person. I read a collection of documents about him, bound together in a format that many people worship. These documents place him at the scene, either party to or the driving force behind multiple atrocities.
     They also say he loves me, and simple stories of incredible depth and impact paint a picture of paradox and complexity, seductive with promises of fulfillment and terrifyingly vague about my personal hopes and dreams. Few events build my sense of trust, and the disillusionment of my middle age, has necessitated a much more vigorous seeking in order to retain a faith in God's goodness. Even now, my beliefs dovetail neatly with the biblical principle that God's plan often involves life totally sucking for someone who loves him. Not a comfortable place to be. I have reached few conclusions, but have come up with some pretty good questions.
     There is a cultural ideal in North American Religianity of a personal one-on-one relationship with Jesus of Nazareth. You will hear people relate information obtained by communion with God, descriptions of quite meditations, and wordless spiritual 'listening'. Sudden conviction that a sentence uttered from mortal lips is a message from the Divine. Much of this is nebulous and leaves some people with feelings of unworthiness, and inadequacy...because it doesn't happen to them, or not as consistently.
     Perhaps much of this is bullshit.
     Forgive me, but I've been waiting for years for someone to say it, and I've reached the end of my patience. I realize you may be an exception, but that just proves how special you are. Whether we view God as our father, groom (EWW!), master, or friend, we are undeniably directed to view each other as neighbors, brethren, family.
     Last night one of my sisters in a third world country was beaten and raped while out prostituting because she was hungry. She performs for less than a dollar. She probably was HIV positive, or soon will be. Because she was taken so brutally, she will be to sore to work for a while, and will drop a little further toward death by starvation.
     Meanwhile, I went to a bar upset over a couple personal situations. I called a friend from my small group, and went out to temporarily avoid my feelings. I spent maybe 16 dollars in gas, beer and cigarettes. I went home and was struck by the things that seemed missing in my life in spite of my praying for them, and like most nights when I am in pain, I thought God seems distant, and wondered why, and wished it wasn't so. I wondered why God doesn't talk to me as clearly or as often as I would like, even though he must know that I want this so badly.
     Lately, over the last 90 days or so I have wondered about God as a father, and fathers in general. I think about how a father feels when a child is selfish or thoughtless, and a sibling suffers needlessly because of it. I think about what my Dad would have said if my sister was doing without something she needed, while I had plenty and was distracting myself from my luxury with my sister's salvation. Maybe I should be appreciative of the divine silence, and get off my ass before it comes to an end. Maybe God doesn't speak because he is holding his temper.
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