I'm not here to defend Bill Maher, who did say some pretty awful things about God in his closing monologue recently, but, as is par for Bill, he's said some pretty awful things about everyone and everything. That's what he does. He's a comedian.
He's famous not in spite of, but because he drops F-bombs like they were raindrops, because he conjures up yucky sexual images, and because he's as free-wheeling about the use of drugs as any pharmaceutical company out there.
He's a comedian.
From all I've seen and heard, God (not that scary angry OT God of long ago) has a delightful and sometimes wicked sense of humor. It takes a Big Man to laugh off that kind of silliness and get on with His life. As near as I can tell, when it comes to Big, in certain circles God is unequivocally it.
Since I don't know God personally, I'm constantly confused about who He is and how He is able to draw such a crowd. He is a singular God, yet His actions and motives are open to as many interpretations as there are stars in the sky.
Gandhi said, "Belief in one God is the cornerstone of all religions. But I do not foresee a time when there would be only one religion on earth in practice. In theory, since there is one God, there can be only one religion."
He said, "Religion should pervade every one of our actions. Here religion does not mean sectarianism. It means a belief in ordered moral government of the universe. It is not less real because it is unseen. This religion transcends Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, etc. It does not supersede them. It harmonises them and gives them reality."
That would be absolute sacrilege to most religious people. A Christian is not a Jew. A Buddhist is not a Muslim. A Catholic is not a protestant. A protestant is not a Mormon. A Baptist is not a Methodist. An Apostolic Lutheran is not an Evangelical Lutheran. And so on. "Affiliation" is the byword. Community.
But then there are His most vocal, often vicious defenders--God's Warriors--the ones who claim God as their own, yet don't seem to like many of God's Chillun.
(Note to God's Warriors: He's God. He's got this. Relax.)
Take that guy, Tristan Emmanuel, a Canadian Christian activist who took personal offense at Maher's performance. He put his own argument up on YouTube and published the text on a website called Barbwire.
"Here is an example of how America once dealt with the likes of Bill Maher: 'Be it declared and enacted by the Lieutenant Governor, Council and Representatives, convened in General Assembly, and it is enacted by the Authority of the same, that if any person shall presume willfully to blaspheme the holy Name of God, Father, Son, or Holy Ghost; either by denying, cursing or reproaching the true God; his Creation or Government of the World: or by denying, cursing, or reproaching the holy Word of God… everyone so offending shall be punished by imprisonment, not exceeding six months, and until they find sureties for good behaviours; by sitting in pillory; by whipping; boaring thorow the tongue, with a red hot iron; or sitting upon the gallows with a rope about their neck; at the discretion of the court…' — Massachusetts General Laws.
Lamentably, in 1952 the US Supreme Court decided, 'It is not the business of government in our nation to suppress real or imagined attacks upon a particular religious doctrine, whether they appear in publications, speeches or motion pictures.' And ever since then atheists have freely and very publicly ridiculed God, challenged every public demonstration of Christian religion, belittled Christians and attacked every institution bequeathed to us by our Christian forebears. But I gotta say, Maher’s comments are the most shocking and heinous public utterances of blasphemy on U.S. airwaves.
And worse still, Christians — and especially Christian leaders — have said very little. America is hanging on by a thin thread of longsuffering divine justice. The pugnacious degenerate Bill Maher may think blasphemy is a laughing matter. The nation of America may think it can hide behind the First Amendment. And Christians may falsely think they are demonstrating Christlike love by remaining quiet in the face of profligate profanity. But mark my word, a day of reckoning is coming. God is very clear. Exodus 20:7 'You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.'"Tristan, bless his heart, published a follow-up to his piece after some people were mean to him about it. He says he wasn't actually calling for a Maher-flogging--obviously--but then he says,
"At any rate you so-called Christians helped to prove my point perfectly.
You do not care about God’s honour and yet you have the audacity to call
yourselves Christians. Therefore I say again, America, and especially
American Evangelicalism, is hanging on by a thin thread.
Don't be surprised if God sends an unlikely candidate to judge your lawless society. Just like he used the Babylonians in the past to judge apostate Israel, I don't doubt for a [sic] monument that he will use a twisted distortion of Old Testament law--sharia law--to teach mealy-mouthed Americans what happens when you reject His righteous rule and law."
So there. And okay.
These kinds of arguments among people who call themselves religious leave wide-open questions about the real nature of God and how it is that there are so many interpretations of a Creator's wishes for His own invention, the human race.
Who is God? The obvious answer is, He's whoever someone wants Him to be. He is the deity each church, synagogue, temple or mosque wants Him to be. He's so many different things to so many different people, the call to find God seems all but impossible. Yet every person who believes in Him claims to know who He is.
I don't know and can't know. For me, the jury is still out on whether or not He exists, so, as an outsider looking in, I ask. . .
Is the God who loves and cherishes the Earth's inhabitants the same wrathful, intolerant God revered so passionately in the "God Hates Everyone but Us" churches?
Which God looks kindly on the poor and afflicted and which One shines His light upon those who are actively fighting against using any governmental advantage to help those sad souls?
Which God looks the other way when TV preachers use His name to con gullible people into sending them money and which One is thinking of ways to smite Bill Maher, the comedian?
Which God thinks He should be a prominent fixture in government-funded public schools and in public places and which God is satisfied with His ability to give humans the capacity to learn and think for themselves?
Which God expects His people to define the books of the bible wisely and lovingly and which One says fugettabout the Golden Rule and stick with the juicier passages highlighting sin, suffering, discrimination, and hate?
Which God shakes His head at the willful destruction of His handiwork and which God chuckles at tee shirts in his name?
Which God works overtime trying to teach the world about humanity and tolerance and which One spends His days helping His chosen people find everything from spouses to pets to car dealers?
Which God is it?
Will the real God please stand up.
(Cross-posted at Dagblog and Alan Colmes' Liberaland)