Monday, June 12, 2017

American Spirituality and Nameless Gods Who Never Make a Nuisance

I'm normally not a praying man, but if you're up there, please save me Superman. – Homer Simpson

(CS Lewis, regarding his past belief in Absolute Idealism): It would never come “here,” never (to be blunt) make a nuisance of itself….There was nothing to fear; better still, nothing to obey.  - “Surprised by Joy”

I think Lewis nails it here, when it comes to the defining nature of, not just Absolute Idealism, but also modern day “spirituality”: there is nothing – No One - to obey.

Now THAT is my kind of religion!

Think about it. If you have ever had a conversation with such a spiritual person, they’re quite, well, spiiiiiirrrrrritual … UNTIL you bring up, say, the god of Judaism or Christianity. Why: because in these religions there is a named god whose nature is revealed in his commands: a god who requires worshipful obedience. And the bugaboo for modern spirituality is that such a god obviously is all about meddling with your life.

Can’t have that!

Of course, American spirituality doesn’t have a problem with your worshiping Yahweh or God the Father, as revealed in Jesus Christ, as long as you don’t bring into the conversation the commandments of your god. Even here, however, if you see these commands as only applying to those within your spirituality-of-choice - your “spiritual tradition” - then you’re good to go. When, however, you assert that the Creator’s Ten Commandments are universally binding and applicable, you are a judgmental, close-minded, religious fanatic.  

I’m just not comfortable with such a god.

Or with people who worship such a god?


So you want a spirituality that fits within your comfort zone … a god that allows you to feel good about yourself, while letting you figure out on your own what works for you, what feels right to you. You want a god who respects your uniqueness but doesn’t have you behaving in ways that causes your spiritual “individuality” to be at odds with your surrounding culture.

That would be a yes … only my description would be far more nuanced.*

BTW This applies, as well, to a “universal mind,” which, tellingly, always seems to reveal what the spiritual person had already wanted to be true. Especially when it comes to morality. Come on. How is it that the universal mind always mirrors the modern zeitgeist?

Nameless gods - gods who answer to any and all names (O great Fred who sprang from the bowels of my desires, preferences, and felt needs: I really like you!) - are easy going gods: gods who respect your feelings and privacy, and who allow you the right to define personal morality according to the prevailing spirit of the times. So, what you want is Homer Simpson’s Superman who saves you from any discomfort and then goes back to leaving you alone.

If there is One God who does have a Name, however, your so-called spirituality is nothing more than so much self-worship. Or worse. 

Just something to think about …
* I’m getting to where whenever I hear the word “nuanced,” I hear, “Warning: incoherent communication ahead, whereby the speaker rambles on and on, presenting his thoughts so as to sound ‘enlightened’ while defying the laws of logic and ignoring what was actually asked or asserted.”

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2017

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