Made Up God?

I was watching ‘You Don’t Know Jack’ last night (about Jack Kevorkian) and there was a scene where he said ‘at least my God isn’t an invention‘ to a bunch of religious protesters outside his house. I had to think about that sentence and this blog came out.

Is our God made up? In some ways, I think God is. It’s a very culturally based God. It’s a Christian God that started under Roman culture, then branched forward. Today we see this God as American, Canadian, or British (Western basically). Dylan writes a great song called ‘with God on our side’ which reflects this aspect very well.

Even Jesus is subject to the cultural shifting. Jesus is the proverbial ‘all things to all people’ across the planet. He’s can hang and bang with the punk community (se Jim Baker’s son’s show – ‘One Punk Under God’) or he can be the blue eyed blonde hair figure we see in most pictures of him (regardless if he even looked anything like this). Jesus is pretty much a mold of clay that becomes who we think he is and what we picture him as. One only need compare various denominations teachings on Jesus to see we may not be looking at the same Jesus church to church.

God is changing, or at least, our perspective of God (according to scripture in combination with culture) is changing. I am not sure of I am dealing with a very vengeful God or a peace loving God? Is Jesus Jewish or not? Is God actively involved in human history or sitting back and allowing us to make our lives? Does God take sides in a war? When Jesus walked on water – was he wearing Nikes?

I agree with Jack, God is an invention (at least to some degree). Ever notice how God always reflects…well…you?

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11 thoughts on “Made Up God?

  1. Well to quote Marx: “Man makes religion, religion does not make man.” But let’s phrase it in a more pertinent way: ‘humanity makes god, god does not make humanity.’

  2. “But let’s phrase it in a more pertinent way: ‘humanity makes god, god does not make humanity.’’

    Wow! That statement just grabbed a hold of me and wouldn’t let me turn away. I don’t completely agree with it, but I admire someone with the guts to say it!

    My views on God has changed radically over the last few years. I used to believe in a God of intervention and judgement, but not now. I do believe, however, that the divine spark is in all of mankind if we just put aside dogma and religion long enough to see it. That’s my two cents for what it’s worth.

  3. Culture is always changing. Music, art, technology, language, fashion, etc. are in constant flux. It is like a wave and throw in something that is supposed to be absolute or never changing like god and traditional values. Well, they can’t stand up to that. The get constantly bombarded with change until it wears them down.

    Your example of god and war is perfect. As society shift its mindset to a liberal view, war becomes out. As society shifts to a conservative view, war is seen as a viable and attractive option.

    Another example of a wall trying to hold culture back is First Nations culture. We want to hold on to the past and keep it pure from modern influence. The chief of the Kahnawake reserve who wanted to evict non-native to keep his culture pure obviously is obviously not aware that modern culture is pouring into his life. He would have needed to get rid of the TV’s, radios, computers, newspapers, music, etc.. to keep his culture pure, but no he takes the easy ugly road of racism.

    The church is very much the same. They don’t want to change with culture, they want to hide from it. I remember going to church and the evils of TV, movies, playing cards, etc were preached about and I was told it was dangerous. They want to hide from culture. But I was always exposed to modern culture. I remember watching a veggie tales cartoon which had references to Monty Python. (The french peas who taunt everyone unmercifully)

    The church and First Nations people need to realize that modern culture is something to be embraced and learned from. That their values can mesh and be a positive influence on it, if they let it.

    • This post is very Zizekian (Slavoj Zizek that is) and I agree with it on all bases. Modernity is impossible to shut out in 2010, even for those that are at the extremes of the spectrum; Hasidic Jews, Hutterites, Amish, Muslims, etc.

      One of the great lessons of radical Islam (fascism) is that most young terrorists are intrigued by modernity and relatively enjoy the civil freedoms of Western nations. But their religious ideology tells them to HATE modernity. Thus they become pure reactionaries and resort to monstrous violence in order to combat not the modernity but their satisfaction in the modern world. The violence (suicide bombing) is not only a punishment to modern-life but it is a cleansing of the soul for the terrorist because he/she is attracted to modernity; which is sinful.

      Wilfred points out the exact same phenomenon within today’s Christianity and even some purist First Nations communities. All of them are seeking a relic of the past but they find that they cannot win.

  4. a theologian once stated that “doing theology for most, is like looking down a long, dark well, and seeing yourself reflected back.” sometimes he’s right. yet there are those times where something pops in your head that is so entirely OTHER that you can’t help but wonder how those neurons got connected. no way they could have done it on their own; it’s so outside how i think and where i want to go.

    maybe theology is supposed to look like that, just a little. lots of you reflected back with a little twist that isn’t that obvious coming in.. and it’s the twist that makes all the difference. it’s where God lives, not in the earthquake, the tornado, or the doctrines or traditions, but in that “nothing” that still small voice, that lone cry in the desert, that is often an echo of our initial yell that sounds so new and alien to us.

    who’s to say otherwise?

  5. Any idea that a human has of God and who he/she/it is, is a creation of humankind. The Ground of All Being is far greater than anything that a human can conceive. Words cannot adequately express it. Yet we still give it a try.

    So, YES the God of Christianity, the God of Islam, The God of Judaism, the Gods of Hinduism are made up; creations of human beings. Albeit, often the best efforts of which we are capable.

  6. The problem with “God” is the sacredness.
    As you state, everyone creates their god but then they call it holy which means “no more questioning or changing”.
    Having our own ideas about what is precious and true and calling it “God” may be fine, but “God” almost always comes with this “HANDS OFF” label. So for me, stop using the three letter word.

  7. ““God” almost always comes with this “HANDS OFF” label. So for me, stop using the three letter word.” (Sabio)

    I am not sure I will stop using the term per se…as much as I love challenging aspects of it and it’s the identiafiable term people use.

    However, I agree – God is ‘hands off’ as far as what that means to many people. I am trying to change that conversation in Christianity and get people asking bigger and better questions about their own faith.

  8. I think this is an important post to at least point people to the reality that we don’t know God fully. We all have images of God, but our images of God are not God. God is beyond our images, language and imagination.

    I’ve been thinking about this for the last few months and I think that there is a tension that needs to be upheld here. For, on the one hand, it is true that God is wholly other than us. God is God and we are not and for all of our grasping at God we’re never really able to grab a hold (interestingly, what if Christianity is not so much about grasping God but being grasped by God?). While this is all true and greatly important for Christians to realize I think that in the Incarnation we find a tension. For we are told that in the Incarnation God is fully known. How can we know what God is like? Can we even know what God is like? I think at least a partial answer is yes we can know what God is like and we can know this by looking at Christ Jesus.

    I feel uncomfortable with a Christianity that says we know God and have a corner on him. Yet at the same time I feel uncomfortable with a skepticism that suggests God is unknown and, at best, our own construction or a reflection of our own values. I think in Christ this tension exists. That God is revealed and yet concealed. Better yet, perhaps in revelation there is concealment and visa-versa.

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