Thursday, August 18, 2011
The God of Peace and Love
In my youth, I attended Catechism. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, Catechism involves the indoctrination of children presented as 'religion class.' For me, religion class was after school, at the house of a member of the church. This church member typically had their own child in the parish, and certainly had no formal education or training in the instruction of youth.
That didn't matter, though....there was a book. A guide on how to bring children into the loving embrace of our lord and savior, Jesus Christ. The cover of this book typically had a picture of a cloud, with a ray of sunlight breaking through. God's love illuminating the world, no doubt.
A large part of being Catholic, I learned, was to accept the teachings of God through the prophets of the old testament, as well as the new. It was important to really know and understand that long before Jesus walked on water, Jonah had lived in the belly of a whale. Long before Saint Peter spread the good news, Moses had the Israelites wander around the desert for 40 years. Long before the holy spirit put upon The Christ all of the sins of man so that he may die and give us peace, God was gambling with the devil over how much he could beat the shit out of Job and still be loved by him. (That's called Stockholm Syndrome, Job.)
So I learned about the temples of Jerusalem, and how the temples built on this particular spot in the Middle East were the place where God touched this earth, the place where God chooses to sleep. There is no closer connection to God than these stone buildings that were destroyed, these Temples of Solomon and Herod.
I learned of Solomon's Temple, and how it was burned at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar II. I learned of the Jewish exile, and the return to build the second temple, Herod's Temple. I learned that this new holy site was destroyed by the Romans.
I learned of the belief that one day the temple will be built a third time, and this will signal the beginning of the end times. How a final battle must take place between God's chosen people...and God's chosen people. Hmm, problematic.
The Temple Mount is currently occupied by a Mosque referred to as 'The Dome of the Rock.' Apparently, During one of the times when the temple was on hiatus, Mohammad went to a rock standing in the middle of where the temple once stood, and ascended to heaven. It was there that Mohammad had a conference with Jesus Christ, Moses, and Abraham. Upon returning to earth, and stepping off of this rock, Mohammad began his Ministry on earth.
So, as a twelve year old, I was confused. I was taught that the Jews, Muslims, and Christians were all worshiping the same God. God is good, no matter what you call him. I was taught that they have their way of following faith, and we have ours, but we are all following the same guy.
My confusion was fostered by the idea that this spot in Jerusalem was clearly very very holy, and everyone seemed to agree. If we were all worshiping the same God, and God had deemed that particular spot 'good,' then we all should recognize it as good. I certainly could not make any sense of the fighting that was constantly occurring over this plot of land. Mohammad had lunch with Jesus, Moses, and Abraham, for christ's sake, why couldn't we humans do the same?
The answer I received when asking this question was "It's more complicated than that."
I'm sure it is, but my basic question has persisted for 22 years without a sufficient answer. the Advocates of every religion on earth are espousing that 'God is Great.' They purport that their God is a God of love, and that one only needs to allow him into his or her heart to know true peace and joy. They state in absolute terms that god is the only arbiter of an absolute morality. Every single major religion states that killing is wrong.
It seems to me that there are complicated questions, that maybe even God would struggle with. Stem cells, abortion, euthanasia, who can say? But this one seems easy. All the books say 'do not kill.' All the books say 'keep holy that which is holy.'
If God is unable to stop the fighting that occurs over a wall and a rock, and that fighting is a direct result of said wall and rock being an influence of peace and love on earth, then God's almighty power and majesty is certainly suspect.
The basic tenants of peace and love are bullshit. You don't believe in it, theists, you never have. You state it in public circles, and then go behind closed doors and calculate how you can further your agenda. You need to stop pretending that your God can be 'good' and 'right' at the same time.
With the genesis of all of the world's dominant religions has come death, destruction, suffering, and torment. Think about that the next time you want to claim the higher ground of moral superiority.