Friday, June 13, 2014

Instead of "God" use the word "Life" and see what happens

In the fourth chapter, What's Divine: The Experience Of God, in God Revised, Rev. Galen Guengerich describes from a historical perspective the many ways we humans have understood God. He briefly discusses the ontological, cosmological, and teleological proofs for God, but at the end of the day, Guengerich points out that our understanding of God is more an experience than an intellectual understanding.

Rev. Guengerich describes God as all our experience of Life on which we are utterly dependent. He writes "...I believe this experience of being extensively connected to the universe and utterly dependent upon it is an absolutely necessary aspect of a fulfilling human life. It also provides the foundation for the experience I'm referring to when I use the word "God." God is the experience of being connected to all that is - all that is present, as well as all that is past and all that is possible." p78

A few pages later, Rev. Guengerich writes, "But God doesn't have to be a person-like being for us to take the experience of God personally. Our experience of beauty, for example, can be intensely personal - even if there is not a person in sight.............God can be deeply felt, even if the experience isn't directly mediated by a person-like presence." p. 86

Neale Donald Walsch, the author of the Conversations with God books, suggests that instead of the word "God" we use the word "Life". I like Neale's idea. Try it. Instead of the word "God" substitute "Life" and see what happens. I think Neale's idea and the practice of it, gets to the experience of God that Rev. Guengerich is trying to describe.

It has been pointed out that God is a verb, a process, not a noun. In the Old Testament, God tells Moses I am who I am in Exodus 3:14. God is "isness". Luke Skywalker in Star Wars called it "the force" and he would say, "May the force be with you." and of course, how could it not be with you so perhaps Luke could have been more precise and said, "May you be aware of the force within you and use it well."

Guengerich points out that "Life", the Force, not only dwells within us, and on which we are utterly dependent, but we also contribute to the agency of Life/God by our decisions and actions. Reve. Guengerich writes, "To say that we are the presence of God in this world is not a metaphor. We are the face of God in this world, and God's voice and hands. God changes outcomes in this world only as we change them. God is not an independent agent, in other words. God is dependent on us. The active agency of the divine life emerges though our choices and actions." p.88

Wow! Rev. Guengerich is describing a vision of humanity as co-creators with God. When my two children were killed by a 3 time drunk driver, I never blamed God. I blame the alcohol which created huge problems for the driver and tragic deaths for my two children. Alcoholism is a terrible problem in the United States and around the world and we can't blame God for it. At some point, we have to take responsibility for the problems as well as the blessings we create in Life.

This understanding of God as a process, a force is sophisticated and difficult for most of humanity to grasp. Most of us anthropomorphize God and create Him in our own image. Our understanding of God is a projection of our own virtues and deficits onto a symbolic object which is a figment of our own imaginations. God for many people is Santa Claus and sometimes a stern and punishing bad Santa who loves some little boys and girls and hates others. This Santa justifies and encourages countries going to war and killing other people, and helps teams win athletic contests.

The conjuring of the ego has been very destructive in human history and yet recognizing and enjoying our responsibility to Life brings, as Rev. Guengerich writes "...a fulfilling human life." What kind of a religion would help people become co-creators with God of this thing we call Life? It definitely would be a religion for grown-ups who have outgrown their belief in Santa Claus.


  1. Many people blame God when a loved one dies or tragic things happen. The Prosperity Gospel claims that if you tithe God will reward you financially. It is interesting how child like many adults are. Where are the grown-ups? Maybe they are the ones who are becoming the "nones", the largest growing religious group in the United States.

  2. The older I get the more I avoid discussions about God. I just want to know how to be kind and whether other people treat other people with kindness. I guess you could say that "kindness" is my God. Does "Kindness" exist in your life and if so how is it manifested?