The Transfer of Shabbiness (May 2, 2013)

…Opening To…

Come, then, Lord my God, come and instruct my heart where and how to search for you, where and how to find you. Where shall I look for you, Lord? (St. Anselm)

…Listening In…

God created humanity in God’s own image, in the divine image God created them, male and female God created them. (Genesis 1:27; context)

…Filling Up…

This misguided transfer of shabbiness from myself to God is difficult to suspend. Human nature dictates that we narcissistically use ourselves as the measuring sticks by which other things are evaluated. Our ability to reason, manufacture tools, and put our thoughts into speech elevates us above other animals. We then use these factors to order other species by “intelligence.” Chimpanzees eat using rudimentary utensils. Dolphins communicate with their cackling code. Therefore, based on the anthropomorphic scale, these creatures are closer to our presumed preeminence.

But the scale works the other way, as well. Our penchants for betrayal, mistrust, indifference and our well-rehearsed disregard for the welfare of others knock a bleaker set of notches into the measuring stick. When the gut-twinging question surfaces – “Why do you care about me, Lord? – these regrettable attributes emigrate from our world and narcissistically modify our understanding of God.

Having thus remade God in my own lamentable image, the collision in my gut worsens. The Cosmic Creator looks down and sees a bunch of tiny grasshoppers, so why should that God be bothered? The Intimate Companion is probably just as apathetic and self-centered as I am, so why should that God care?

Do you see the twisted, oxymoronic reasoning that leads to these conclusions? The gut-twinging question appears when I notice my own laughable insignificance. At the same time, I use myself as the measuring stick for which to assess God’s motivation to care about me. This logic definitely deserves the red FOOLISHNESS stamp.

You see, when the prophet Isaiah expounds on God’s greatness and ineffability, he is not extolling God’s distance and isolation. Instead, he is warning people not to engage in the foolish business of looking for God in the mirror. The Holy One says, “To whom then will you compare me, or who is my equal?” The answer is quite obviously a resounding “NO ONE!” When you escape the twisted logic that seeks to anthropomorphize God, you are one step closer to resolving the gut-twinging question – “Why do you care about me, Lord?”

(We have reached the turn. Stay tuned for the good news! To be concluded tomorrow…)

…Praying For…

Dear God, you made me in your image, not the other way around. Help me return to you from the self-centeredness that can dominate my life. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray. Amen.

…Sending Out…

I leave this moment with you, God, comforted by the faith that your foolishness is wiser than human wisdom and hopeful that I might let your foolishness educate me.

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