I believe in four Gods.
Let me clarify:
When I think about Propositional Truths I believe in one God.
When I think about Experiential Truths then I believe in four Gods.
1. The God who Loves
This is the God who must closely aligns with my propositional truth. He/She is loving, compassionate, forgiving and generous. This is the God I want to spend time with and also the one that I seem to encounter the least frequently. I have no formula for stepping into God's presence. The meditation that works one day leaves me cold the next. The music that has done nothing for years suddenly helps me encounter the divine. I do wonder though, how many of these moments are real and how many are just wish fulfillment? How much do I crave connection with the God who Loves, and how much of my desire is an addiction to an emotional state?
2. The God who is Indifferent
The world is so big and I am just one small segment. This God is like the familiar face at the grocery store I frequent. There might be a head nod and a glimmer of recognition, but they are free to shop their aisle while I wander mine. We may recognize each other, but there is no conversation or true connection. I believe that in an emergency I could shout and God would come running, but most of the time I am left to my own devices. I try and trust that God doesn't intervene or comment because He/She is happy with how I am doing, but there is that gnawing part of me that longs for heavenly affirmation.
3. The God who Smites.
It seems to be part of my wiring. Something bad happens to me and I immediately look for how I 'sinned' so I can connect the punishment to the crime. God is vengeful and angry and must be appeased. ...He sees me when I'm sleeping he knows when I'm awake. He knows if I've been bad or good so I better be good for goodness sake. This is the God who lurks in my depression, who whispers in my loneliness and revels in my despair. This is the God who tells me that if I am truly holy then I should feel guilty all the time. There are always more sins to confess, more attitudes to feel bad about, more people I've hurt, more needs I've ignored than I can ever know. I should quite whining about how pitiful my life is and feel guilty that I've never experienced true suffering, because if I keep up the complaining God will give me something to truly complain about.
4. The God who Does Not Exist.
I think on those days that I wake up and feel like God doesn't exist I should be able to call into the church where I work and say 'I can't lead worship today, I woke up Atheist'. The God who Does Not Exist is different from the God who is Indifferent as there is no distant recognition, no possibility of divine rescue. I am alone. I think some of my belief in the God who Does Not Exist is a knee jerk reaction to the God who Smites. I feel so bad being around Him/Her that I eradicate the existence of all Gods from my life.
Four Gods, and only one of them - the most infrequent one, leaves me feeling good about myself. I cling to 'Never will I leave you or forsake you' desperately trying to forget 'My God! My God! Why have you abandoned me.' I use the Hope of Resurrection to avoid feeling the Horror of Crucifixion. Nietzsche believed in 'The Horror of Existence' - a world of meaningless suffering. Maybe my belief in God is my way of avoiding that horror.
My experience tells me that something exists outside of myself. I've had moments of transcendence that I hunger for when they are over. Brief times where I feel I have touched something larger than myself, a light that keeps the darkness at bay.
All four of my 'Gods' fall short of the ultimate reality of God. They must. My mind is finite....God is not, but somehow he /she dwells within me like an infinite fractal contained in finite space. I must surrender the Gods I imagine - both good and bad, to encounter the God beyond my image of God.
This surrender feels like Apostasy.
It feels like Atheism
It feels like a deliberate denial and betrayal of all I have known.
I am Judas. I am Peter.
This surrender feels, awesome, intimidating. It feels like the Hero's journey of lore. Leaving behind the known and the familiar to venture into the unknown, to face nameless terrors, to atone and be transformed and emerge anew.
This surrender feels like a return to dust. It feels like Lent. 'From Dust I have come, to dust I will return' ~ If I cling to what is, I will never crumble to dust.
Most of all this surrender feels small and lonely. A stumbling around in the dark in a strange house. Banging into chairs and tables, limping in pain desperately seeking a light switch.
I am tempted to cling to the 4 Gods - even with their flaws, as a way of avoidance.
I guess I know what I should give up for Lent.