I just read three stunning sentences. They made me stop and reflect on how they are calling to me. They are from a book that my friend and co-teacher Tom O’Brien recommended. We were preparing for our class (God, Politics and Culture) at Florida Atlantic University’s Life Long Learning Society and we were talking about “The Problem of God”.
We were asking, what does the word, God, mean? The problem is when people proudly say; ‘I don’t believe in God”, something inside me wants to respond and sometimes does: “Which God do you not believe in?” More often than not, I don’t believe in that God either.
The book is called, “A God That Could Be Real” by Nancy Ellen Abrams. Here are the sentences: “Has something terrible ever happened to you or to someone you love? God had nothing to do with it; God doesn’t control events. God influences how we see the events and interpret them.”
Maybe out of context they are not as stunning as I thought they were. But this is what they said to me. This world is hanging on by a thread. There is so much violence, anger and terror. Perfectly innocent people get killed at a moment’s notice as they fly home from snorkeling in the Red Sea, as they walk near a mall in Beirut, as they wait for AAA by the side of their car in Florida, as they sit in a classroom in their University, as they attend a concert in Paris, because they are black, because they are white, because they are women, because their gender identification calls them to dress differently, or for no good or bad reason at all. And it is not God’s fault. “God has nothing to do with it.”
So what does God do if God doesn’t hang out there in the universe moving people, clouds and planets? And why is it important anyway? Because people are getting killed in God’s name (again); because people are using what they call religion to justify evil behavior (again); because people and politicians find that the God word is a convenient excuse to bully people into believing that there is only one path forward for America, one way to make America great (again).
I recently heard Rabbi Donniel Hartman speak about his new book, “Putting God Second”. I love the title. It is a great metaphor almost like theological poetry. I hope this isn’t blasphemy but for me, that’s where God “resides” – behind us motivating and inspiring us to put people front and first. The image in my head is from Genesis when the “wind” of God is hovering over the surface of the waters. I see the water rippling and God is pushing it so the dry land may appear. I feel God separating light from darkness so there can be daylight.
God is behind the scenes inspiring me to be the best I can be so that the world around me is more compassionate, kind and caring. And one more thing: God can only work through us. Our actions, our love, the way we walk through this world and navigate with the people around us, all of the above, allow God to “be”.
It is early morning; the house is quiet; the traffic hasn’t hit its peak; I can hear the birds singing outside. I wonder if they feel the wind of God lifting their wings, pushing at their backs also.