Wednesday, March 09, 2011
I’ve written and re-written this blog post a few times. I will probably want to re-write it again after it’s posted.
So, what do I believe about God? Being a typical UU, I’ll start with what I don’t believe:
I don’t believe what I was taught in church about God.
I used to believe that God thought women were second best. I was interested in religion, and wanted to do more than babysit children in the nursery or teach Sunday school. But that was the role the church assigned to women – as well as being wives and mothers. Nothing wrong with being a wife, mother, or teaching Sunday school – I am a wife, a mother, and I’ve taught Sunday school. But that church said women couldn’t be ministers, or question the authority of the men who ran the church. They quoted scripture that said women were to be silent, and claimed it was God’s rule.
I used to believe that God would save some and condemn others to everlasting torment, for not believing in the right way – or in the right god. And this was the god who allegedly accepted the sacrifice of Jesus to atone for every wrong thing anyone would ever do.
I used to be scared of that God. Even after I left that church, I spent years worrying about the state of my soul, and where I would spend eternity. I worried about being left behind in the Rapture.
I don’t worry any more. I don’t know what happens after we die – but neither does anyone else with any certainty. But, I am a Unitarian UNIVERSALIST. Whatever comes after physical death will come for all of us – you, me, the Dalai Lama, and Fred Phelps – all of us. Whether I believe in one doctrine or another will not change this. I agree with Hosea Ballou, and Philip Gulley, that if the grace promised in the Christian scriptures is true, then we are all saved – whatever that means. And if it isn’t true, then we’re still all ending up at the same destination – whatever that may ultimately be.
A few years ago, I heard a song by Patty Larkin with this line: “I’m a believing nonbeliever.” That line intrigued me. A ‘believing nonbeliever’ felt like a good way to describe myself.
I believe in the holy. I believe that I am/we are part of a tapestry of existence that is larger than we know, maybe larger than we can know. I believe there is a creative process at work, creating, building, occasionally tearing down and rebuilding. We see the process at work molding and shaping this planet, and in the birth of new galaxies and black holes. I sometimes use ‘god-language’ to describe this process, even though I don’t believe in a personal deity who knows all, sees all, and manipulates events in real history.
The traditional God is omnibenevolent, omnipotent and omniscient. Well, really, I think that’s asking a bit much. Start with theodicy, explain how evil exists with an all-good, all-knowing, and all-powerful deity. It’s a lot easier if at least one of the omnis is eliminated.
I think another “omni” is more important. Whatever God may or may not be, God is omni-loving. God is love – that’s what the oldest member of a historically Universalist church told me she was taught. Everything she ever read in scripture or doctrine was tested against that simple dictum: God is love. What a concept: simple, elegant, universal, welcoming.
What do I believe about God?
For me, God is the creativity and love that flows through each of us, and through the universe, always present yet ever-changing. Holiness happens in our relationships and our connections with each other and the world. Whatever god may be is here and now, not far-away and later; whatever god may be has an open mind and heart, embracing all and rejecting none. Whatever god may be is bigger than any god yet imagined…
Here's another view, in song. Please note that some may find some of the images offensive - NSFW, for those who speak text...