Friday, June 05, 2009

Inventing Our God[s]

Just a little bit of a blog about one of the most important sentences you will ever hear.
Goes a bit like this -- no, wait!
Let me set this up.
I spent four years of my life formally studying the Bible at an accredited academic institution of Higher Learning. I was a full-time student.
I had many professors, but only one that stays with me, in the sense of my remembering him as post-graduate significant.
His name was John W. Stephenson.
I name him, because I hope he finds me, if he perhaps does some kind of internet search of his own name.
John W. Stephenson.
John W. Stephenson.
John W. Stephenson.

That ought’a do it!

He knew more than my other profs did, at the time. I am convinced of it.
One thing he reiterated, time and again, in class, was the following:
→ “All theology is a matter of emphasis.” ←

At the time, I think that none of us students really “got” it.
Got what he was suggesting. It has taken a lot of years of foolishness for me to realize the truth and import of his words.
But today, June 5th, 2009 – I know that all theology is indeed, a matter of emphasis.
To a large extent, we invent our God[s].
We arrive at one crisis or another, and we wonder.
Any psychiatrist will tell you that no one seeks psychiatric help until a moment of crisis forces them into the doctor-patient relationship. A decision to enter into psychotherapy is an admission that one needs assistance involving wisdom and direction beyond one’s own means.

Is religious surety arrived at, in any different manner?
I think not.

We reach a point of being unsure of our own capabilities.
This is often called “conviction” and other such things.
And so we call upon what we perceive as being beyond us. God, for instance.
And lo and behold – we sense a deliverance. A rebirth, if you will.
I myself have experienced it, the rebirth. The being born-again.

What I now question, however, is the objective reality of it all.
What assistance have I really received, beyond that which I myself could have arrived at, by simply making better decisions about….. my next decision?
Granted, whatever gets you there, to better-living, is beneficial.
And significant.
No argument.
My point though, is that many people arrive there, coming to a “God” that is very different than the “God” I came to, in my own “deliverance” story.

Admittedly, my reading of Salman Rushdie’s controversial 1988 novel, The Satanic Verses prompts this blog-posting. Because what I am seeing here in this book, one-third into it, is that we invent our God[s].
And dovetailing with this Rushdie-ism is my died-in-the-wool Christian college professor, repeatedly telling us, “All theology is a matter of emphasis.”
The two are saying an eerily similar thing.
For more along these lines, click


Beth said...

Necessity is the mother of invention...

Rebecca H. said...

Well, if The Satanic Verses inspired this post, perhaps I ought to read it! Very nice post, Cipriano.

Cipriano said...

Thank you, gals, for reading my musings.
Hmmm... is that a wrong word to use nowadays?
I'm serious, I have no idea. Political correctness and all. Do "gals" not like it if you use the word "gals"?
Is it sort of like saying "dudes" for guys, maybe?

Rebecca H. said...

You know, I'm not so fond of the word "gals," although that may be more about preference than political correctness. To me it sounds the tiniest bit dismissive -- not that I took you to mean it that way of course!