Letter to Christopher Neiswonger
Let me begin by apologizing for misidentifying you. The way your masthead appears on my screen I read your name as ‘Neiswonger, Douglas’. Obviously the error was mine. Secondly, I did not engage in any name-calling. I laid out a garment and you are the one who decided it was cut to your fit. I didn’t tell you to put it on. Thirdly, do not misquote me. I wrote; ‘Your paraphrase of God sounds like the self-justified rantings of an abusive alcoholic parent.’ You put the following in quotations: “god is an abusive parent you’re just too childish to understand thing”. This is not what I wrote and is significantly different in tone and meaning. I did not say that God is an abusive parent and I didn’t say that you are too childish to understand God. Obviously, your misquotation is how you internalized my comment and there’s nothing I can do about that except to encourage you to read more closely. Seeing as how I mistook your name, we can all take a lesson in that.
I have not seen ‘The Devil’s Advocate’, and generally don’t use Hollywood movies as a source for slaking my spiritual thirst. I find them childish. It seems to me that you really don’t want to address anything I said so have instead pulled out a convenient strawman in the persona of the Devil from a ten year old movie and have decided to argue with that and call it me. That’s fine. You sure did show that old devil.
You say, ‘Any God that will not act appropriately in response to moral evil is insufficient for our obvious and actual need. A real God must be more sturdy.’ Where was this sturdy God when six million Jews were offered up to him in the Holocaust (the word itself means a sacrifice completely consumed by fire), or when the planes hit on 9/11? Did God favor the Muslims that day? I contend that during the Holocaust God was in the hearts of people like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who tried to do something about it. I contend that God was in the hearts of the firefighters and cops who ran into those towers and God was in the hearts of the soldiers who ran into the inferno to rescue their fellows and God was in the hearts of the passengers who rushed the cockpit.
I base this fervent belief on the parable of the Good Samaritan. A lawyer in the audience asked Jesus how to attain eternal life. And Jesus said, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.’ The lawyer agreed and then, trying to find a loophole, asked, ‘who is my neighbor?’ So Jesus tell the story of a man who is beaten and robbed on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. He is passed first by a priest, who sees him and avoids him, probably because to dirty himself with blood would have violated his purity. Then a Levite, a member of the tribe of Israel that has special religious duties to the Temple sees the man and passes him by as well. Then an enemy of the Jews, a Samaritan comes upon the man and comes to his aid and takes him to an inn where he pays for the man’s lodging. Jesus asked the lawyer, ‘Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves?’ The lawyer can’t even bring himself to say the Samaritan, but acknowledges that the man who helped was his neighbor. Jesus then says, ‘Go, and do thou likewise. ‘
I’m not certain why I have to explain that the Greek philosophers understood that their deities were metaphors and that they believed in a single God beyond all of them. However, you seem to be accusing me of being a pantheist, so I suppose I must start correcting you by pointing out that your example of pantheism isn’t a particularly good one. But then, most of this paragraph is devoted to nothing more than you deciding my idea of God is that of an effeminate pansy based on your assumptions about my idea of God. However, you do say a couple of interesting things that give some perspective as to your idea of God.
You refer to ‘my God’ not caring about the ‘major events of the day’, implying that ‘your God’ cares about the ‘major events of the day’. ‘The major event of the day’ we were discussing was a bridge collapse in which thirteen people may have died. Certainly the loss of life is tragic, but over a hundred people died that same day in traffic accidents across the country, to say nothing of the countless tragic occurrences across the planet. Does God consider the bridge collapse a ‘major event of the day’ because it was all over the TV and newspapers?
If we could be at the center of the world on the night Christ was crucified, we would think that it would be outside His tomb, but that’s not what anyone living at that time would have thought. No, at that time the center of the world was in Rome in the person of the Emperor. And if we were there and could speak to this man who was considered by millions to have been god incarnate, we could tell him that on this night, God incarnate was crucified outside of Jerusalem by Pilate. Then we could tell him that in mere centuries his empire would worship this crucified Jew as God and that one day his palace, the Senate, and the entire Forum would be stripped bare to build a tomb, not for the crucified Jew, but his fisherman friend (who that very same night three times denied even knowing his Lord!). Such a tale would be considered quite fantastic indeed by the mightiest and wisest men of that time. Do not think you can be certain as to what God considers ‘a major event’.
You seem to be saying that you believe in an angry invisible giant who lives in the sky. I believe in Jesus. If you think that compassion is weakness, then you can have no strength. If you think that women are weak, then you don’t understand strength. If you think that you can contain God in your mind, then your God is a weak shadow of your own neurotic narcissism. I may look like I stand alone without a shield or sword, but that is a mistake people often make when they meet me. I wear my faith on my sleeve and between my lips I wield a flaming blade I call ‘Sarcasticus’. If he left you singed, be thankful I didn’t try to cut you. I’ll presume to be honored that you thought my response merited an entire blog posting (as opposed to thinking that you wanted a new venue where your misquote might not be caught out) and return the favor. Thank you for your time in considering my words.