Monday, June 13, 2011

Feeling Bad for God, Dogfish Head, and Urine as Bad Medicine for Stingray Wounds

I've been feeling bad for God lately. Poor God gets a bad rap. Really. I mean it. I do feel bad for God.

I might not feel bad for God like I feel bad for an abandoned puppy, and certainly not like I would feel bad for Tsunami victims, or cancer patients. Yet I still find myself feeling bad for God - in a sort of "what did He ever do to deserve this?" kind of way.

Since before Easter I have been meditating on the subject of the "weakness of God," and "the foolishness of God." These were my topics for my sermon on Palm Sunday, and since then I have continued considering the topics.

The weakness of God, and the foolishness of God are not commonly referred to by many Christians, because it somehow seems blasphemous, and well, rather foolish to call God (the BIG God who created all things with the word of His mouth - the HUGE God who destroyed the earth in a flood - the AWESOME God who will one day judge all people - THAT God) foolish or weak.

But Paul talked about the foolishness and weakness of God, so I figured I would give it a shot. Then I wondered if he talked like that before or after he got shipwrecked, thrown out of towns, or was told that he would just have to put up with that thorn in the flesh. But, I still thought, well heck, he's an apostle and he talked about it, so I can think about it some, and maybe give a sermon a try too.

So, I'm still here. Even after May 21st and all that rapture talk. Haven't even had a fender-bender since then, let alone a shipwreck. Well, not yet.

So getting back to the subject. Thinking about the world, and all it's problems, and all these mad people who seem to blame God, and have been doing it for centuries, or I guess that would be millennia now: I thought that it sure seems like God has put Himself in a pickle. A pickle like in baseball: it seems that generation after generation someone, or more specifically lots of someones are trying to run Him down, and tag Him out.

This thought was highlighted in my mind this afternoon while talking with my buddy Mike. Mike is a good guy. He goes to a Catholic Church and has been teaching a Wednesday night bible study for 7 years, and teaching kids on Sundays, and he organizes a youth praise band. He and I talked about people who have struggled with questions about God and the problem of evil for years.

It seems that the only options people are left with when they talk about bad things happening to themselves or to children, or to good people, or to Uncle Bob's cat, or whatever offending thing - is that God either did it or allowed it to happen. Then, of course, if He allows it there must be a reason, and if there is a reason, even if it is a good reason, there simply are some things so heinous which might happen to Uncle Bob's cat that it can in no way justify allowing it to happen.

So, I have been wondering while considering the weakness of God, and the foolishness of God: is it possible that God doing something bad, or allowing something bad might not be the only options available to us when we think about the problem of evil? Could it be that God neither performs evil, nor allows it?

And right about now, you are probably thinking, "It's about time this guy got to the point. He's been talking about Uncle Bob's cat, and who knows what. I'll bet he's drinking a beer while he writes this nonsense." Well, and you'd be right. I'd be drinking a Dogfish Head Raison D'Etre right now. At least you now know I have some smarts, because it was the beer of the year a year or so ago, and it's certainly not one of those superbowl ad, nasty, tastes like medieval medicine - the kind surfers used to use on stingray wounds - beers.

So, if God does not perform evil, and does not allow evil, what other options are there? I heard you ask that question while I rambled about peeing on stingray wounds, which as it turns out does not really help (now they tell us.) Well it seems to me that the problem of evil is the problem of freewill, and the problem of freewill is more problematic than creating a situation in which God allows evil. Rather it seems that with freewill God only has two options: solve the problem of evil created by others by getting rid of it (or in this case them, well, more specifically "us"), or allow it to go on, and try to work with these nasty little trouble makers.

God's weak and foolish plan for creating and working with individuals who are such trouble makers has perhaps injured God as much as it has injured anyone in human history. He suffers with being misunderstood, and betrayed; and these are reoccurring problems in every generation. In fact, God spent a few years on earth to try and walk us through His thought process for doing what He did, and we were so mad we tried to kill Him.

Oh, I guess we did kill Him.

And so once again God proved that this whole idea of working with us was a foolish idea, and a weak plan. Of course Paul had the foresight to see that God's foolishness and weakness would still win in the end. But, how it wins is another story. For now I am happy not to have to blame God for either performing, or allowing evil. Like us, He has to suffer with it, and He proved that He is willing to do so.


Stephen said...

Well, I hope you've sobered up by the time you read this brief comment. Your writing begins on the presumption that "God" exists and is not simply an aspect of the human imagination. We don't particularly care or even mind that animals fornicate in front of our eyes - it's natural - but when humans do it "all hell lets loose" - well there's another invented notion. So maybe delete the notion of God and Hell and concentrate of what those human invent notions of "good" and "evil" really are. And - do we really need some kind of "personification" of these concepts apparently in our own human image?

Pastor Phil said...

Hey Thorn,

If you are looking for a website/discussion which does not begin with the assumption that God exists maybe you shouldn't be reading theological ramblings. Theology can go no deeper without moving past that first thought. So your comment ends up being unrelated to the post. You can speak to the problem of evil among atheists if you like. That is NOT what I am doing here.

I do have other posts, and times I begin with the search for first question, "Does God exist." This is clearly not one of those posts.

I only had one beer while writing. How many did you consume? ;-)

Stephen said...

Well Pastor Phil, one doesn't have to be of a Christian or of an Atheist persuasion, to consider a very human concept of "God" - its a generic notion anyway. I merely point out, that you start from a premise upon which everything else for you, rests. I note in a more recent thread you presume to consider God as some finite entity who may have been to a place before you - that in any event, he goes with you, like one carries some kind of baggage. I read "He" comes and goes as "He" may. Its interesting how religious people presume not only to control others but do so by defining just how they "control" their God - or as I might suggest - their concept of God -(a very human invention at best as "it" [the concept]is bound by a very real human gender expectation). It is never wise to presume who might be at the end of a comment and/or his/her considered interest in your ramblings - for now maybe feel honoured - might not always be so.