In yesterday's post, I quoted from the book, Poor Old God, He Always Gets the Blame by Arlene Claire Cartwright. In the book, the author also talks about the schizophrenic God so many religions teach/preach. While looking for the URL for the "Hey, God" book I mentioned a few posts ago, I came upon another "Hey, God" book. Hey, God; Got a Minute? By John Barr.
It is a tongue in cheek story about a guy named Herman who has a series of visits with God...in his dreams, sort of...and he gets to ask God some of his (many) questions. Herman does most of the talking in these encounters. God is somewhat elusive and cryptic. He reminds me a bit of the God in all of those "Oh God" movies but with a bit more "attitude." Most of us can relate to Herman's questions and ponderings and confusion about who God really is.
Some of his opinions about preachers and teachers might explain some of the contradictory images we have of God. Some excerpts from the book follow:
"Hey, I still got things I don't know, God. But the kind of guys I'm talking about don't instruct as much as they bully. They tell you what to believe, how to believe it and what's going to come down on you if you don't. I once had a guy hand me a list and say, "This is what we believe. You want to join us, you gotta' believe it too."
"They are encouraging you to open your mind to their words Harold"
"Yeah, okay, but it doesn't sound to me like they got much room in those words for debate, and that means that they intend the opening-of-the-mind thing to be one sided. You should hear these guys, God"
.....it's anybody with a loud voice and the idea that you've called on him to "spread the good word" even if that "good word" contradicts the next guy's "good word." I gotta' ask you God, doesn't that ever...eh, get you mad? I mean, it's like these guys think you have a split personality, that you hand out contradictory callings?"
"Anyway, these guys can also be found in basilicas, bethels, churches, mosques, synagogues, tabernacles, temples, you name it--I mean if you want to.
God also says:
"If you are referring to a time when they gather in worship, it is likely that the one doing the speaking feels he or she is being guided by me."
"Well, that's what I mean about thinking it through, God.. He thinks he's being "guided" into saying "black" at about the same time a guy in a place down the street thinks he's being "guided" into saying "white" I mean, I got enough smarts to see a problem with that, why don't they?"
Anyway, their audience just sits there nodding and smiling, as if there couldn't be any doubt about the truth of what they just heard. I tell you, God, this gets me to thinking that there's nobody out there who has any idea what the real skinny is. They come on like they do, but it's obvious by what they say, and by what other guys say about what they say, that they don't"
This doesn't really solve the dilemma but Herman certainly identifies the problem...and clarifies at least some (most?) of the reasons for the existence of so many contradictory images of God.