in my frequent struggles with religious belief or lack of it, one of the thing that i quietly boggle over is the deeply, deeply-ingrained imagery of g-d as Some Dude who can Do Stuff, like the Wizard behind the curtain...
there's a lot of apocrypha that's been lost or 'discredited' over the years - i think it is telling that it's shouted down and ignored by the same sort of people as described by the OP, who use Hell as a threat to the innocent to cover their own evil, because they weren't tyrranical or controlling enough.
In losing these stories and concepts, we lose a lot of the aspects of religion that make it ... well, possible, to my view. that make any interface between the Creator and the Created even possible, bearable, conceivable, dare i even say enjoyable.
G-d is not Some Guy. Every religion "of the book" has some pretty stringent rules *against* this view, yet in the absense of a solid idea the human mind must invent *some* imagery as a referent. And so we create G-d in our own image, and rail at Its flawed nature of our own devising...
i'm going to share a brief old story that has helped comfort me when i paint myself into any kind of corner, mental emotional or otherwise. i hope you can see the parallels to everyday life. Please understand that i am attempting to sum up and do not wish to push or detract any particular point of view - the absolutes in the story are the story's, not mine
Avram who became Abraham's story is basically this: everyone was an idolator, making these figures that stood for everything they didn't understand, and worshipping them, appeasing them, fearing them and appealing to them. They were, in this region, of course, made of clay.
Avram's inspiration - his contact with the True G-d - the flash of insight, the story of G-d taking up clay and fashioning Man - is the reverse of this. Do you see why?
The idols we make, the iconic meanings we give things, come from ourselves. They are smaller than us; we made them. Yet we then place attributes on these man-made things greater than ourselves. A true G-d cannot be contained in any silly shape we form for it. Over time, when you worship any idol, you forget that its shape is of our own devising and the form overtakes the meaning. The form *becomes* the meaning. The true divinity is lost.
When an unjust law or rule persists and is mindlessly obeyed to the detriment of those it was written to protect, we are idolators.
When the pursuit of money takes the place of the goals we thought we wanted that money for - stability, providing, doing good works - we are idolators.
It is not "a sin" for its own sake, and it is not simply self-inflicted slavery: it is both, the greater sin is in the self-inflicted bondage to our own limitations, mistaking them for a greater truth, and in doing so, moving further from the real Source.
When i get angry at G-d, i remember that i don't even know what it is i think i'm angry *at!* It is said that every person has their angels assigned to them, not as seperate beings given some job of guarding or berating or comforting, but connected and inseperarable and unique. When you do good, are happy, spread love, they dance around you and sing and lift their faces. When you cause harm, are sad, lose generosity of spirit, they shuffle morosely at your side and stare at the ground.
It is a reminder that each and every one of us has power, and for some of us to have it all of us must. Our abusers caused harm. They had that choice. They had that power. The worst thing to do now is to forget and deny our own power. For it comes from G-d, and the devious and the maleficent may conceal it from us or make us forget it is there, but *they cannot diminish it for they have no power over G-d.* Not the source.
If you wish to see the hand of G-d at work, look to the end of your own arm. The truth of it is in the results. Are we capable of doing good? Of helping in worthy causes? Of making someone feel better? Of making someone feel safe? Of Love? What else is G-d?
I understand the dangers and the problems so many have with this. Cause i have had them too! I'm not responsible for good or ill, it's all G-d, it's not me, what's the point, but no, it is all of us. All of us and G-d. There is no seperation. No castle in the sky where the Some Guy with a beard dwells apart and Makes Us Do Stuff.
And can we cause harm with those same hands? Yes, and so we have choice. If we didn't have that choice then we *would* be the puppets of Some Guy, meaningless in doing 'good' like some remote controlled robot. Because we have the choice, good has meaning.
because we have to make the effort.
And it's pretty ^&$#?!!ing hard sometimes.
this became a LOT longer than i thought it would. like my first post. ehehehe... thanks for sticking with it, apparently i need to vent :rolleyes: