Sunday, February 20, 2005

In Whose Image?

It is written in the Bible that man was created in the image of God, but I've got to tell you that it appears to me that, for Christians, it's the other way around. In various places in the bible, God is described as behaving jealously, angry, irritated, pleased, etc. When God is jealous or angry, he tends to punish people. When he's pleased, he generally rewards people.

These are LOWLY human traits, the kinds of behavior that Christians usually label “sins of the flesh”. When any of us behaves in such a way, we’re supposed to feel guilty AND we’re supposed to repent. So, if we are indeed created in God’s image and it’s a-ok for God to be jealous, why then is it wrong for US to behave in a jealous manner?

But the problem is worse than that. As children, we're taught to control our anger and not to strike out at others when we are angry. Yet, you can read in the good book about God behaving in precisely this way. For me, it boils down to a really strange philosophy in which it appears like God is saying to us, "Do as I say, not as I do."

Now, most of us know that such advice is not very effective. Children learn more from the genuine actions of their parents rather than from what they say. For example, a child whose parents say “don't use drugs”, while the kid knows the parents ARE doing it themselves, generally ends up using drugs. A father who warns against the dangers of violence – while beating his wife and/or children – generally produces kids who grow into adulthood thinking that it's okay to “solve” problems through the use of violence.

This begs the question: If God is the embodiment of perfection, why in the world would he behave in such a human [imperfect] manner? And, as asked above, if it's okay for God to do ugly things when he's jealous or angry and we're created in his image, why then is it wrong for any of us to do the nasty things we do when we’re angry or jealous?

What becomes painfully obvious is that Christians have created a God in OUR image, a supreme being replete with all of humanity’s warts, blemishes and quirks. They have created a religious entity that
  • kills outsiders who view the world differently when he is angry (Canaanites, Egyptians, etc.)
  • backstabs allies when he’s being petulant (turned Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt)
  • orders the state to execute an innocent person to absolve the guilty (his OWN begotten son)
  • sets out to destroy the entire world when he is really ticked off (the BIG flood) and
  • bestows wonderful gifts (like wealth and power) when he’s pleased as punch.

The Almighty, as depicted by the Christian faith, actually resembles all the worst traits of Dirty Harry, The Terminator, the Sheriff of Nottingham and Rambo rolled into one.

The first verse of the Tao Te Ching states, "The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao." What this means to a Taoist is that the ultimate reality is so beyond human comprehension that, as soon as we try to quantify or explain it, we've missed the boat entirely. It's simply too expansive for our feeble human brains to understand. So, we don't spend much time at all thinking about what we know intuitively we can’t begin to know.

When the time comes to be one with Tao, it will happen naturally, whether we want it to or not.

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