What do I believe about God? I try hard not to personify God. I think that attributing the characteristics of humans to God is what leads to a lot of the problems with religion including what I like to call the glorified Santa Claus model of God. Someone who sits somewhere far away, is all knowing, all powerful, and spends all their time making a list and checking it twice to see who’s naughty and who’s nice. The nice people get gifts and the naughty people get lumps of coal. It’s frightening to see that for many, God seems to be nothing more than a version of Santa Claus for adults.
Unfortunately, because of upbringing and just a lack of a better way of expression, it’s hard not to personify God. But, when I can I try to think of God in this way: God is the creative, loving energy that interconnects all of creation. That includes each and every human… God is part of each of us and we are each part of God. For me, this leads to the conclusion that every human has intrinsic value no matter if they act like it or not.
And faith… keeping the faith is something that gets really hard in times of turmoil. I’ve come to think of faith as the knowledge that God is working in your life for the better, especially when there’s no apparent evidence to that effect. I think it is easy and natural, and not completely inappropriate, to be angry at God when things seem to go terribly wrong. Specifically thinking of God as NOT a person helps me to not blame God so much but still to rely on God for strength and sense of inner worth during dark times. Faith is knowing that God is there working through me both when I can see it happening and when it looks like God has flown the coop.
As I move into the seminary experience this fall, it will be interesting to see how my views change. The experience is billed as transforming so I’d expect to change and be changed… a little scary but kind of exciting too.