February 24, 2017

Cornucopia / Cynthia Dewes

Life goes on … and so should we, as hard as that may be

Cynthia DewesSometimes we like to ponder the biggies, like why am I here? Or where did I come from? But I like to think that the biggest question of all for us is, who/what is God?

We tend to think of the biblical times’ conception of God as Charlton Heston standing on a mountain, with his hair and robes flowing in the wind, pointing to Truth. God was fearsome, judgmental and quick to punish humans. It was, after all, a more credulous time because people were largely uneducated and unsophisticated in their reasoning. They could believe what they saw or were told by an authority, and not much else.

Nowadays, we’re aware of wind machines and more imaginative depictions of our Creator. Not that we don’t fear God today. God is all-powerful and controls our lives, so how could we not? Still, we tend to dwell on God’s forgiveness and downplay the wages of sin.

And speaking of that, remember sin? We don’t hear much about it anymore, and certainly not the word “sin” itself. One of my kids was actually offended when I referred to another’s action as a sin in the eyes of the Church. Apparently, they call it something else, because it sure does continue to exist.

We can take the touchy-feely interpretation of God too far sometimes. In the current Church-of-What’s-Happening-Now theologies, God may be pretty much whatever we’d like God to be. If we just can’t bear to give up our favorite (gasp) sin, this God will let it go. Never mind that God gave us free will to choose the right thing which, of course, will always be God’s will but not always ours.

Pagans believed in plural gods who were in charge of natural events as well as people’s individual lives. Today we think of these folks as making God part of a mythological explanation of our existence. These gods were like the humans who invented them, being sometimes petty, jealous or confused. Luckily, sacrificing a lamb or something could take care of the problem.

No matter what name they give their deity, i.e. Allah, God or the Prime Mover, I think most people worldwide, including the non-religious, think of God as the original Creator of everything, including all life forms and the natural world.

There is a natural desire within each of us to seek out God personally. It’s hard to define, but if we are honest I believe we all have this inner craving. And for Christians, the answer is Jesus Christ. When God sent his own Son to help us journey to heaven, this need was fulfilled.

Others who’ve not received the Good News may find God in other pathways. Jews, Muslims, Hindus or whatever also long for God. Secular people who believe in and embody what we call Christian virtue do the same. That sneaky Hound of Heaven is always at work.

To me, God has many faces. First, God is the arbiter of my behavior. He is fearsome alright, because God knows my every thought and impulse. I can’t get away with anything. But God is also my friend. When I talk, God listens and answers, although not always right away or as I expected.

Best of all, God is various and wonderful in presenting joyous sights, events and people, just for our pleasure should we be open to finding them. God is so many things, and we’ve only experienced a few!

(Cynthia Dewes, a member of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Greencastle, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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