Monday, March 24, 2008

a petty god

From Philip Pullman's The Subtle Knife;
"There are two great powers and they have been fighting since time began. Every advance in human life, every scrap of knowledge and wisdom and decency we have has been torn by one side from the teeth of the other. Every little increase in human freedom has been fought over ferociously between those who want us to know more and be wiser and stronger, and those who want us to obey and be humble and submit." (pg. 320)

This passage brought back, quite vividly, a memory from about ten years ago. I was newly returned from serving in the mission field. I was saturated in the gospel, my testimony rock solid, I had never been more assured that I would never lose my faith. Then one day I was sitting in the temple, my mind wandering just a tad during the endowment session, and an idea began to grow of this petty God who knew that his only way to maintain the little power he had was to make his subjects think they had to constantly humble themselves before him, never question him, always obey and always submit. this God knew that if they ever stopped debasing themselves before him they would gain great power, and not need him anymore, and he couldn't tolerate the idea of his losing what little authority he had. What an idea to pop into my (fully faithful) head during the temple endowment (a ceremony set up to re-enforce the notion of submission and obedience to God). I was quite shocked at what my mind had conjured up. Where did that come from? This little fantasy of God as a petty power-hungry manipulator using a smokescreen of omnipotence and mercy, what dark part of my mind did that crawl out of? Later, I remember mentioning it to my father; "so, have you ever wondered if...?" The response was immediate: "Absolutely not!!!" Of course, I didn't believe it either... but I was a little disturbed that I had thought it.

Reminds me of another passage from The Subtle Knife, the words of an officer of the magisterium (the church;) "By their fruits shall ye know them. By their questions shall ye see the serpent gnawing at their heart..."

Now, ten years later, it is the church that I don't believe in. Perhaps I had a little snake snacking on my heart, perhaps not. Who knows all the different paths I could have taken. But this is where I am. I have no faith in any religious organization to represent God. But I do still believe in God. Sort of. Sometimes. Okay, I have to admit that my concept of God is taking quite a beating. Really not sure what to think about deity right now (aside from a lingering trust that there is something bigger out there).
But that is for another post.

P.S. my copy of The Amber Spyglass is at the library, waiting for me to pick it up! I have really enjoyed this trilogy.
P.P.S my copy of God's Problem just came in the mail!!! more about that one soon....

1 comment:

Lessie said...

It's amazing how crazy things become after we have these changes in perspective, isn't it? Things that I used to take as givens have been completely ripped out from under me. I won't ever be able to go back to how I was before. I don't know where I'll end up, but it will be very different from where I started. The way I saw the world before will never work again. If God is there, I hope s/he it isn't petty, but I'm having a harder and harder time believing that. Sigh.