Sunday, June 6, 2010

Some Say, “God is in Control”: We Ask, “In Control of What?"

Is God really in control, or is this just another mindless cliché that serves as a tool of obfuscation to those disinclined to accept personal responsibility for what happens to them or to those disinclined to look a little deeper into what they see going on in the world around them?

How many of us look around at the calamities going on in the world such as the BP Deepwater Horizon oil gushing crisis, the banking collapse, the “forever wars” in the Mideast, the implosion of residential real estate, the exportation of our manufacturing sector, the escalating unemployment rate, the rioting and bloodshed in Greece, the Columbine styled school shootings, the bombing of the Murrah building, the collapse of the Twin Towers, or the Hurricane Katrina aftermath, and sometimes feel compelled to label or categorize these events as being or representing something outside of our own control and miraculously separated from the choices we individually make whether we are talking about where we choose to live, our choice of employment, our recreational pursuits, our personal associations, our political worship, or how we choose to invest our money? It is much easier, when faced with such seemingly unexplainable events and calamities, at least by mainstream media’s standards, to place them all in the “too hard to do bin” by making the rather weak and unconvincing proclamation that, “God is in control,” thereby automatically dismissing out-of-hand any personal responsibility for the outcomes we may encounter along this journey we call life.

In making the statement, “God is in control,” does it not appear to be an effort on the part of some to simply avoid thinking about cause and effect or the associated implications (consequences) of their beliefs, decisions and actions? If we can quickly shift personal responsibility onto something outside ourselves, doesn’t it tend to make for more happy thoughts? When someone is attempting to mindlessly shift their personal responsibility onto God’s shoulders, with such a reckless cliché as, “God is in control,” the automatic response bursting forth from our lips is, “In control of what?” What is God in control of? Do we, or do we not, have freewill, or are we all just hapless victims of a cruel joke played upon us by our Creator? Are we really just robots or automatons? Does holding on to the “God is in control” paradigm encourage us to be more responsible for our personal behavior, or less responsible? Does the holding on to the “God is in control” paradigm encourage us to be better stewards of our natural resources, or less so? Does the holding on to the “God is in control” paradigm encourage us to be more loving of our neighbors, here and abroad, or less loving?

Ironically, many Christians who proclaim that, “God is in control,” when faced with overwhelming calamity that they are not willing to accept responsibility for, are the same ones who cheer on or actively participate in the annihilation of brown skinned babies, of Muslim parents, because they think God may have fallen asleep at the switch and that he may need a little nudge. They may verbalize or intellectualize that “God is in control,” but their contradictory actions, even if it’s just a warmongering wink and a nod, from the safety of their pews, bespeak something else entirely. Their contradictory actions imply a degree of impatient benevolence towards a God who apparently does not know what is going on in the world and who needs their help to bring on Armageddon to the Axis of Evil (anyone not bowing to their whims, desires, and expectations). This contradictory push-pull is much like an adult rendition of the childhood straw squeezing game where giggling little girls pinch the straw and verbally speculate, “He loves me, he loves me not,” being replaced, in the adult Christian version by, “God is in control, God is asleep.” So, which is it? Is God in control or is he asleep? God can’t be both, can he?

Do we really want to sit back and entrust others to play squeeze the straw and discover the answer to that question for us, or do we want to more broadly explore our own questions and answers that don’t serve to limit the outcome to such narrow and equally disturbing possibilities? Neither of the two possibilities, above, seem very complimentary to a loving God who made each of us in his own image to autonomously rule over the animal kingdom, plant kingdom, and our own families, does it? Is it possible we sometimes attempt to mold and shape God to our own skewed images?

The two conflicting and contradictory paradigms, “God is in control” and “God is asleep,” often held by Christians simultaneously can only be embraced, in such fashion, by those who’ve awkwardly and vainly attempted to compartmentalize and segregate their spiritual lives from their secular lives. They represent a sort of Jekyll and Hyde dual personality struggling to achieve congruity between their incompatible religious and secular belief systems. In their minds, killing little brown babies is justified because God must be asleep at the switch in allowing Muslims to exist and pursue their dreams of autonomy and that Armageddon must happen within their lifetimes because the Bible says so. Never mind the fact that their Bible is the same Bible their parents, grandparents and great grandparents read and that Armageddon didn’t materialize within their lifetimes. They, without the least bit of shame, postulate that maybe if they kill even more brown skinned babies that maybe they can prove to a loving, kind, and compassionate God that they are actually worthy of the rapture for which they are desperately longing.

Is there possibly a third paradigm we need to explore that makes much more sense than the contradictory and opposing “God is in control” and “God is asleep” paradigms many so-called Christians equally and contradictorily embrace? What would that third paradigm be?

A third paradigm that makes much more sense to us is the one that says, “I’m responsible for everything I do and everything that happens to me…period.” Although we recognize that God instituted the natural laws designed to keep our Universe from spinning out of control, we also recognize that within this framework of natural law that we, as human beings, are blessed with the freewill to design our own destinies. The more closely our life design parallels the natural order of things, the more peace, joy, love and happiness we experience. When our lives continually bump up against the sharp edges of natural law, the more pain we experience. When we seek and embrace natural law and make it our ally rather than discovering it haphazardly, we show gratitude and allegiance to our Creator and experience more peace, joy, love, happiness and abundance. When we embrace man’s law, on the other hand, we experience all manner of mischief, calamity, inequality, scarcity, hate, strife and discord.

We, as human beings, are not victims of anything other than our own choices…good, bad, or ugly and we cannot realistically separate the consequences of life from our own beliefs, decisions and actions.

We can already hear a few readers mumbling, “Yeah, but what about…babies born with physical and mental challenges? What beliefs, decisions and actions are they responsible for making that brought them these challenges?” These are the ‘lifeboat cases’ that are invariably raised by those disinclined to accept personal responsibility for their beliefs, decisions and actions. They’re hoping to philosophically piggyback or hitch a ride off the infirm. Ironically, how many instances have we witnessed autistic children becoming virtuosos in some field of endeavor? Or, what about those who’ve overcome severe physical disabilities and achieved personal fame in the sports world? Yes, it would appear that some may have been dealt a bad hand, at the inception of life, but what is our excuse and who are we to judge their challenges as being disabilities? Who are we to judge their purpose in life as being subpar to our own? Who are we to judge and place limits on their capacity for achievement?

Those inclined to put on their victim faces and philosophically hitch a ride off the infirm will be shamed to tears after viewing the following video:

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