Friday, February 19, 2016

God, the Concealer.


God as “The Concealer”

If religion were to advertise itself it may say that it is the conduit that allows humans to see the Divine. Religion in all its myriad forms, whether simple or complex, involves understanding God through revelation. That seems pretty straightforward; humans desire to understand the world around them, and themselves and thus seek God who imparts knowledge to them. Seeking God usually involves certain specific activities such as praying, reading sacred books, listening to sermons and so forth. God, it is said, can be reached via these methods. For many, contact with the divine involves emotion. God may evoke tears or laughter or solemnity—this feeling reminds us that the spirit of God is present.

But what if the person in need of answers finds none? What if, upon reading the Bible or other such book, nothing of importance stands out? What if religious services are attended, prayers are made, and there is no emotional validation? Critics allege that because of times such as these, that God does not exist, or is at best just a figment of our imagination.

Often it seems that instead of revealing God’s self to us, God instead seeks to conceal. Life is hard. Pain and suffering are ever-present. Many ask, “Where is God?” 

God can, and at times, is very present, such as when a person recovers from a serious illness in a miraculous way. But more often God hides. God does not rescue us from harm. God does not jump into human events to positively change the outcome. Even those who devote their lives to following God, at times, question with the idea that, maybe, God is uninterested.

I wonder if a new way of thinking about God needs to be utilized. Instead of providing answers religion, and by extension, God provides questions and uncertainty. Yet we tend to posit religion as a way to discover the truth.

I have often thought that trying to explain God to an atheist would be like trying to explain the need of a boat to someone who has lived all his life in the desert. It seems unnecessary and absurd.

Instead of presenting a faith that has answers, perhaps it would be better to highlight the uncertainty, the paradoxical and the incomprehensible. Religion is not a closed box.

Mystery perhaps should be understood as the thrust of religion—an exploration of the mysterious, not as way towards understanding, but as a way of recognition that we, as humans, are always “in the dark”. This is not a platitudinous faith.

We need to always search. God seems to enjoy playing hide and seek. God is found, only to be “lost” again. Like the waves crashing upon the shore, there is always more to God.

We need comfort and solace, but we also need space and freedom, usually at the same time. Our lives are thus paradoxical, and counter-intuitive. God works within that schema. We can recognize this, if we focus on the mysteriousness of the divine instead of looking for the absoluteness of God.