Catholics, Mormons, and Stephen Crane

My Organized Response to an LDS Missionary

Chapter 13 - Unlock the Temple Doors

July 2001


LI

A man went before a strange God-
The God of many men, sadly wise.
And the deity thundered loudly,
Fat with rage, and puffing.
"Kneel, mortal, and cringe
And grovel and do homage
To My Particularly Sublime Majesty."

The man fled.
Then the man went to another God-
The God of his inner thoughts.
And this one looked at him
With soft eyes
Lit with infinite comprehension,
And said, "My poor child!"

Stephen Crane:Black Riders #51

But who is God? And what is He like?

I have spent a lot of time pondering this question when searching to find my personal theology. A lot of priests and nuns, madmen and missionaries have tried to fill my head with their beliefs. And the Baptist, the Methodist, and the Mormon do not agree, yet all defend their own and deny the others views.

Like the simple story of the Centurion, I have used another simple yet famous piece of Bible verse to define my beliefs about God. It is said (somewhere in there) that man was made "in God's image". We can agree that we are God's children (his wards, so to speak). But I interpret this verse to mean that we are somehow "like" him. We are a sub-set of the things that He either is or wishes to be. We are a clone, a spin-off, a cutting, that maintains portions of the essentiality of its root but is lacking in many or most other areas.

If we are in God's image, than we might look at ourselves to try to understand God. If we are a subset of God's gifts and abilities, wants and wishes, then God is by definition a super-set of us. Let us look at the things that we are and try to sift thought them as "good" or "bad".

Let us assume that we are a lesser being, that has the "essential element" of the rootstock but is a poor translation or fuzzy picture. If there are errors, lets try to airbrush them out. Where there is good image, lets organize the rest around that. In other words, let try to recreate the root God from the resultant man that is "in his image".

Like the way an anthropologic coroner and homicide detective take a corpse or skeleton, various nearby fibers and footprints, and builds an image or decent guess about the unknown murderer. Let us use one of God's gifts to us, attention to detail and ability to draw conclusions from diverse input, to try to better understand Him.

I began to really develop my sense of "God" when we had a child. I watched my own instincts change, well, instinctively. I watched my very priorities alter radically. As a father, I would do anything, give anything, try or risk anything of my own to insure the benefit of my child or prevent its harm.

I believe that the metaphor of our "father in heaven" puts upon God many of these same traits toward me. If those instincts do not come from God, then where? I am like that helpless, defenseless, ignorant baby. And He will try to protect me, aid me, teach me. He has already laid down his own life, suffered the ultimate atonement for me. Why would he do all of that and then cut me off on some other front?

I believe that God has a sense of humor. Surely Jesus laughed, and sang, and enjoyed a good story. How could man possess these traits if they were not a part of God? Humor and delight are not something that was "smudged" into the gene pool accidentally. Just like order does not come from disorder, delight is too complex to leave it to happenstance.

But what about hate and vindictiveness. Man possesses those complex traits too. Since God is God, and we believe him to possess "perfect love" and Jesus preached such lessons as goals for man to strive to achieve, I can't help but believe them to be mankind's folly and overcome by a "perfect" being. If I ever evolved into being God (a blasphemous thought in almost all of the world's religions), I would expect to have left pettiness and vindictiveness behind me, and filled myself with the quiet confidence that would come from being all-powerful and all-knowing and all of that other good stuff.

God must have been clever, and smart as a tack. I respect people like that, and we try our best to unite behind the people (or the ideas of these people) that can draw diverse inputs into a single coordinated result. Some men are wiser than others. And we respect wisdom. Therefore it must have come from God with varying degrees of success passing it on to each of us.

God is understanding and compassionate. He knows our faults and shortcomings, yet accepts us as being "human". So when we find ourselves openly accepting others, suppressing the instinct to exclude them from our love, we are doing God's work.

God accepts each of us as we are. How can we expect less than that of ourselves. Like a father to a son, God will do anything for us. How could we expect less, less than we would do for our own child (despite our own imperfect parenting skills). Jesus taught about the prodigal son, who has returned and is celebrated. Why can't we celebrate the differences in the many children of our Father? Why must we separate and segregate? Why must we invent secret differences (that come from man and not from God) such that some can be "chosen" and others "abandoned"? Jesus spoke of the shepherd that leaves his flock to find the one stray. What could possibly be misunderstood from that powerful message?

Why must man invent an arch-rival, and attribute any unexplained or misunderstood event to this imaginary "angel of evil"? Why must man use this invention to destroy where he was taught to build, to hinder where he was taught to help, to separate where he was taught to unite, to brandish like a sword to render when Jesus explicitly taught us to bring together?

Why do some men choose to cut and paste snippets and words from divine sources to put together a patch-work crazy quilt theology, using God's words sometimes to preach lessons that exactly contradict the lessons and parables of the new testiment? What can be misunderstood about "love thy neighbor" and "whatsoever you do, you do unto me?"

And how dare such men cloak this explicit disobeying of divine authority as being divine directive?

When an evil man is godless, harm and destruction is the logical outcome. That is the basest part of mankind. It is from such godless leaders that slaughter and slavery and destruction came forth. From a "god of evil"? No, from the evil that lives within each man's soul, unless he can overcome it.

But when a man claims to embrace God, quotes His lessons, then searches about to "cut and paste" together a mishmash of theology, pasting over any holes with all-purpose "divine revelation"; this perversion requires the opposite form of human baseness. It requires a charismatic ego-maniac, driven by vanity to lead others, awash in power and adulation, at risk to surrender to earthly human corruption. You must run from such tyrants as you would from those ancient invading barbarians.

God's voice talks quietly, and speaks of simple lessons. All the rest is for naught. Abandon the false teachings and embrace the god of common sense and uncommon love. Discard that which is the silly invention of earthly men, designed to halt intellectual exercise and suspend individual morality, designed to use the weapon of fear and the false reward of conditional love and earned grace. Discard ridiculous rituals, and accept in your heart the calling made plain in the New Testament. End the missions. Dismantle the institutions. Sell off the cattle ranches and unlock the temple doors. Disregard the false prophets.

Pray in the words our Savior gave.

"Thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven".

 


Brent,

While I realize that this is asking a lot of you, it is my wish for you.

....Dave

 

Copyright, 2001, All rights reserved

Chapter 12 Return to Main Page

Introduction & Background

7.

I'm Right and They're Wrong

1.

Serene Futility

8.

Under Duress

2.

Damning Hypocrisy

9.

Money in the Bank

3.

Institutional Corruption

10.

The Carrot and the Stick

4.

God's Voice

11.

Heaven Must Be Laughing

5.

"All Religions are Corrupt"

12.

God the Bouncer

6.

Sealed with Chains

13.

Unlock the Temple Doors

Catholic & Mormon Links Page




Originally Written: April 2001
First Upload: July 2001
Last Update: November 4, 2001