The Jump Up, near Itjinpiri in the Pitjantjatjara Lands

Alienation

David:  It is true when someone said: If God is good, then God is not God. And if God is God, then God is not good.

Clearly if God is good, then God isn't God.  God is not up to the job.  God is simply not powerful enough to do the job of being God.  If God is really omniscient and all powerful God is not Good.  Because if God was good, he would not let the world exist ins such an evil shambles and perpetuate it with such an evil act as murder in the name of Salvation.  The simple fact is that God allows unspeakable evil to continue. (Contining from Where Now?)

Dave:  Now I know all the arguments you can have about this.  All the stuff about human will, and God having to work through history, and the reward of heaven that makes it all worthwhile in the end.  But I'm sick of all the ducking and weaving. The sheer fact is that our old traditional images of God do not work. None of the arguments of theodicy excuse God. Nothing justifies the behaviour of God in bringing people into the pain filled existence they know. If we were some kind of cosmic RSPCA God would be in the dock and found guilty. God has not prevented what any good God could, would and should.

The Christian story as we have heard it simply does not work anymore.  It is ridiculous as it tries to hold in tension a Loving God who is a monster and deserves no worship at all.  As we said in the other conversation, "The powerful and undoubtedly salvation-channelling theologies of previous generations no longer interpret the God experience.  In our age they hide God, make God irrelevant,  and trivialise our human suffering.  They make the Divine appear evil."

Jan:  So what is the outcome of all this for you?

David: It seems to me that there are a limited number of responses we can make to all this.  These seem to be how people respond in Australia if they get the message from the church that to have a different idea of God is not allowed.

1. Really, in the end, God is evil and we ought to hate it.
2. God does not exist. Grow up.  Live a good life. Be human.
3. This is an evil, blinded discussion.  God is love. Jan and David are doing
     the work of the devil, and are spiritually blind at best.
4. Religion is all bullshit.  Get what you can, while you can.

Of course, many people never think about the issue at all.  God has not been brought to their attention, so out of date is our presentation.

Jan: You don't have too many good options! 

David: Well, true, except for one thing:  And that is that this list of four responses is only true if you are seduced by the churches' propaganda that their image of God is the only one.  But it is not. We can re-image God.

A lot of the church tries to pretend that people who re-imagine God do not exist.  But within the church is a group of people who do not fit the old mould.  For them atheism is no answer, even though God would seem to be ultimately evil on the basis of much popular theology. The sense of God does not cease for them even if the ruling imagery of the church makes God senseless. 

The question is whether they (we!) can re-imagine God in a way that over comes the profound alienation that they feel.  And if they will be allowed to re-image God, or be thrown out. What I am most afraid of, is that people will give up in the kind of loneliness that Greg wrote about, or will not even hear that there are still reasonable and energising ways to believe. In some Emu* churches for example, if you don't follow the Emu way, then you are simply beyond the Christian Pale.

July 15 2001


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