Saturday, March 3, 2012

God Talk

"Once upon a time, God lived at the North Pole."

So wrote theologian Robert McAfee Brown in his book, The Gospel According to St. Hereticus.

As a Baby Boomer growing up in the '50's, my image of God as an old, white-haired man sitting on a throne was not unlike the Santa Claus that I loved to visit at the Fowler's Department Store in Binghamton, New York. (I have a wonderful old photo, but I don't know how to upload it!)

Years later, I was still grappling with that image when I entered the seminary in the late 60's and heard the following joke:

"Have you heard about GOD?...She's Black!"

When it comes to human attempts to define or characterize God, we do well to confess that all our efforts are inadequate. Indeed, even that statement "I believe in God" means different things to different people. I recall a story about a college chaplain who was confronted by an angry student, protesting that he did not believe in God. The chaplain simply responded: "Tell me about this God that you do not believe in--maybe I don't believe in that God either."

An old Calvin and Hobbes cartoon makes a similar point. They are sitting on a hill, and Hobbes asks,
"Do  you think there is a God?"
Calvin pauses, and then answers:
"I do believe there is Someone who is out to get me."

If we are honest, we must admit that even the Holy Bible leaves us with questions. One of my favorite cartoons puts it simply, as one angel in heaven asks another angel:

"Is he the God of the Old or the New Testament this morning?" 

Maybe "She" is both and neither!?!


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