12 Sep 1996
Re: Nature of God
>my head and my heart have never been in agreement concerning God.
So ... now I know why I was led to suggest that you review your theology.
>The years of my childhood were full of Pre-Vatican II Catholicism
and Southern Baptist hellfire and damnation.
Tough background to overcome. My thought was, "Run away! Run away!"
Sometime I'll tell you about my own experience in those two denominations,
but it would be much too long for this letter.
>Although I left those religions far behind many years ago, sometimes
remnants of their merciless gods pop up unexpectedly. When that happens,
I look closely at the assumption I am making, and correct it if I can.
Yes, I can see that you have been and are working at it.
>When I mentioned in an earlier letter "God continually surprises
me with gifts," I chose those words most carefully, and I could tell
in your response that you picked up on them, although you did not mention
Yep, I did pick up on those words, and their significance.
>Since 1987 -- the year of the Faustian conversation and the "light-show"
-- I have grown ever more aware of God's love and caring concern.
And that growing awareness is now "the wind beneath your wings".
>Prior to  ... my lifelong personal experience did little to
support the notion of a loving God.
Yes, it was not only bad theologies that held you back; it was also experience.
But those theologies may have biased your perception so you couldn't see
the evidence of God's love and caring concern.
>It does little good for well-meaning people to tell me it was I who
turned from God, because I know how hard I looked for Him.
Don't let anyone tell you that. You did not turn away from God. You turned
*to* God, and away from an evil spirit, *despite* your mixed feelings about
the nature of God. If anyone tries to denigrate your search for God, tell
them to go fry their hat! (And you may quote me.)
>The episode of the Canaanite woman (Matthew 14:21-28)
There is a lot more to this passage of scripture than "grateful for
the crumbs that fall from their Master's table." Apparently Jesus had
received the same marching orders he passed on to his apostles: "Do
not go to the Gentiles or the Samaritans, but go to the lost sheep of the
House of Israel" (Mt 10:5-6). However, by her inspired response to
his refusal, this woman persuaded him to heal her daughter -- and thus expand
his ministry to include Gentiles. Later, God used another good Gentile to
convey the same message to Peter. (See "Cornelius")
>My image of God is also as if He is standing next to a child at a
busy intersection. A drunk driver careens down the road, weaving madly from
side to side. Suddenly the drunk's car bears directly down on the child,
and sometimes God reaches over and pulls the child out of harm's way, and
sometimes God does not.
Yes -- that's an example of the primary problem in all religions. Why do
the gods (or the one God) save some and not others? Heal some and not others?
Protect some and not others? Prosper some and not others? Destroy some and
not others? Is there a reason for all this apparently random behavior? That
is the most basic question that every theology attempts to answer.
>I do not doubt that we are supposed to be "God's eyes and ears
and hands and feet." But we cannot always be at that intersection,
or where ever else we need to be. Indeed, sometimes we are prevented from
True, we often cannot help -- that is a fact. And many people will not help
even when they could. So one answer to the basic problem of theology is:
"The loving God needs more troops here on earth."
>Ben, I do not *like* these images of God, but they cling and will
not go away.
Images that cling and will not go away may be coming from conditioning you
received in childhood, or from past-life memories, or from attached entities.
In any case, if you did not originate them or chose them, they are not your
own, so it is not appropriate to judge yourself for them. If and when any
such image comes into your mind, recognize it as not your own, and say to
the source of the image, "No, that is not my idea of God. Get out of
>I see the darkness and sin and anguish all around us.
Yes, and they are depressing. But see also the opposites, and notice that
the vast majority of things and events and people are neither very good
nor very bad. This broader view is more realistic -- and better input for
>and I remember years of praying for God's light and receiving nothing.
Here, as in several other areas you have mentioned, you have my heartfelt
sympathy. I also remember years of praying for any message from God and
receiving nothing, years of sitting in silence trying to receive, and then
more years trying to learn how to tune my receiver to God and to no other
source. Looking back, I feel it should not have taken so long -- but what
can anyone expect, growing up in a time and place where none of these skills
>And I judge God to be guilty of sins of omission.
Me too. And not only God, but His angels also. Some years ago, I spent most
of one night screaming at them: "You guys aren't doing enough on this
planet! You're all getting fat and lazy, sitting up there basking in the
light of heaven! Sure, you can afford to be patient, but we're hurting down
here!" Later, somebody handed me a copy of Sophie Burnham's first book
about angels, and since then there's been a virtual avalanche of angel books,
so it looks like God's angels were doing a lot more than I thought they
>And all my thinking and reading and study become a trap.
Yes. It was just that kind of trap Jesus was talking about when he said
to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you continue in my word, you
are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will
make you free" (John 8:31-32). Because of their theology and tradition
and childhood conditioning, all their thinking and reading and study had
become a trap.
So ... let's continue in his word.
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